This program is divided into twelve courses. Courses are uniquely designed to facilitate student learning through audio lectures that include dynamic interviews with professionals in clinical practice, original articles from Hawthorn University, and textbook readings. Students are given practical exercises to ground the learning activity and submit written work to their instructor for grading and review. An instructor approved research project is required for graduation.
Students purchase books and diet analysis software that comprise the basis of a professional library and are introduced to quality online sources of nutritional information. After completing assigned textbooks readings, listening to the audio lectures, experiencing the practical activities and submitting written assignments to an instructor, students take an online exam before progressing to the next course. Assignments are graded and returned to the student's website with written feedback.
Students have the option to meet together via webinars where live lectures on current nutrition topics are presented. The webinar lectures are also archived on the student website, so that students can access and review these lectures at a later date. Webinars are held every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month at 4 PM PST / 7 PM EST.
Students interact by posting questions and comments to the message boards and via email. Students have the opportunity to email or call their instructor during their weekly office hours for individual attention and questions. Technical support is available via the Help Desk.
Why learn online at Hawthorn University?
Hawthorn University's Distance Learning MHNE Program is ideal if you:
- prefer a whole foods approach to nutrition
- are motivated to learn and work at your own pace
- want to engage in online discussions with students and faculty
- want to enhance your professional career with nutritional training
- want to educate others about how to maintain good health
- want to further your education and prefer a holistic training program
- are interested in improving personal health habits
- Category: MHNE
Students with a bachelor's degree are invited to apply to the Master of Science in Health and Nutrition Education (MHNE) program. Basic computer proficiency, access to the Internet, and email are required.
Advanced placement admission may be granted to candidates with documented learning which ties their prior experience to the theories and data of holistic nutrition and includes specific descriptions of what students know and can do. Assessments include examinations, real-life tasks, or simulations. Materials used in the evaluation of prior learning include examination of course syllabi, training materials, tests, textbooks, technical manuals, and examinations. Evaluators may obtain additional information from discussions with prior instructors and program administrators, and examination of instructional equipment. Advanced placement students can transfer a maximum of seven (7) credits in the foundation level of this master's program.
Complete and return the online application. A non-refundable application fee of $60 will be charged to all matriculated students. Your application will be reviewed and qualified applicants will be contacted.
Hawthorn University does not provide English as a second language instruction and all classes are taught in English. Hawthorn University requires prospective international students to have an academic background equivalent to an education in the United States, to fulfill admission requirements and to speak and write fluent English.
For more information on the application process, click the admission's link or contact Kathy McDermott, Director of Admissions & Student Management, at
- Category: MHNE
MHNE Program Overview
One of the goals of this program focuses on preparing graduates with the skills needed to be conversant in the field of holistic nutrition education. Students acquire a sophisticated body of knowledge that will help them in their career. Students evaluate and synthesize the major literature, theories, practices, problems and ethical issues in holistic nutrition education as well as demonstrate professional skills in holistic health and wellness promotion. Working in a guided, independent study format, students learn to analyze and evaluate the strengths and problems facing nutrition educators today.
Effective and clear transmission of information, through both written and oral expression, is vitally important in the area of holistic nutrition education. Students acquire a breadth of knowledge as well as learn effective communication skills that are the hallmarks of education at Hawthorn University.
Some of the topics students explore include: the environment of nutrition education, strategies for nutrition educators, holistic health coaching, and health supportive food guidelines and nutrition. For detailed course content, please see the College Catalog or the Course Curriculum in the Program link on this page.
- Category: MHNE
The concepts of whole foods and biochemical individuality are foundational principles to the study and promotion of holistic health and nutrition. The value and necessity of quality whole foods and their relationship to health and wellness is studied. The basics of human nutritional requirements and a variety of dietary systems are reviewed. The benefits of fresh, whole, chemical-free, plant-based, traditional, transitional diets, and lifestyle improvements are explored in relationship to the concept of biochemical individuality. Environmental influences and consequences on health are discussed as related to environmental toxins, farming and soil technology, and water. (3 credits)
MHNE 601 Course Objectives:
- Describe and apply the basic principles of holistic health and nutrition;
- Define and summarize biochemical individuality, nutrigenomics, and epigenetics;
- Evaluate and summarize the differences between whole foods, processed foods, and refined foods;
- Compare and contrast the effects and consequences of consuming nutrient dense whole foods vs. consuming processed, or nutrient deficient refined foods;
- Formulate a strategy to observe, monitor, and track food intake and activity;
- Distinguish between the characteristics of various dietary systems;
- Assess the benefits of traditional and plant-based eating versus a Western diet;
- Evaluate and summarize lifestyle and environmental factors that support or diminish health.
This course aligns the foundations of research, theory, and practice using a stepwise procedure for designing and delivering health and nutrition education. Holistic health concepts are investigated as students identify specific lifestyle factors that support or diminish health while effective goal setting is taught and practiced. Identification of common obstacles and overcoming resistance to change is explored. Additionally, because stress is a significant component of all health issues, students identify specific stressors, the body’s physical response to stress, and its effects on health status. The course culminates with stress management skills being introduced and practiced and transitioning individuals toward improved behavior. Prerequisite: MHNE 601 (3 credits)
MHNE 602 Course Objectives:
- Define health, health behavior, health education, and health promotion;
- Relate research and theory using a stepwise procedure for designing and delivering theory based nutrition education;
- Apply awareness and motivation while implementing a procedure to promote dietary and behavior environmental support change;
- Assess issues and behaviors to determine behavior change goals;
- Select theory and clarify intervention philosophy translating behavioral theory into educational objectives;
- Generate educational plans to facilitate motivation and the ability to change behavior;
- Identify effective outcomes and impacts for the evaluation plan of an intervention;
- Summarize and differentiate between lifestyle factors that support or diminish health;
- Differentiate and implement the S.M.A.R.T. elements of food and lifestyle goal setting;
- Summarize the body’s adaptation cycle in response to stress and develop stress management techniques.
Students research Internet sites, library systems, nutrition, and health journals in order to be aware of recently published research findings in the continuously evolving field of nutrition and health. Students develop critical thinking processes to understand and evaluate research studies, discern the quality, accuracy, and validity of published materials, and recognize the advantages and limitations of experimental designs and outcomes. This course provides the structure for students to conduct research projects using the scientific method and utilize effective writing skills throughout their master’s course of studies including the MHNE 650: Research Project and Thesis course. Prerequisite: MHNE 604 (3 credits)
MHNE 603 Course Objectives:
- Summarize the importance of remaining current with recently published research findings;
- Integrate the critical thinking processes used to understand and evaluate published research findings;
- Identify and use Internet sites, library systems, and peer-reviewed nutrition and health journals;
- Apply the guidelines for responsibly sharing information, including how to properly grant credit for another’s work;
- Explain the scientific method as it is used in developing hypotheses and conducting research in the field of nutrition;
- Review sources of nutrition information for reliability;
- Identify potential research flaws and conflicts including funding, profit motives, fraud, data manipulation, and bias;
- Outline and apply the key steps and elements of drafting a research paper;
- Understand and properly apply APA format.
The human body systems and their functions are reviewed. This course describes how human systems work separately while simultaneously functioning cooperatively with other parts of the body to maintain health. Organs, glands and chemical messengers involved in the process of digestion and absorption are evaluated to learn the intricate mechanics involved in human metabolism. The applications of integrative nutritional strategies are introduced, including assessments of foods, herbs, lifestyle factors, and nutritional supplements that promote health. Prerequisite: MHNE 602 (3 credits)
MHNE 603.10 Course Objectives:
- Describe the human body systems (skeletal and muscular, nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, digestive, urinary, and reproductive) and their primary functions;
- Summarize the independent and interrelated functions of the digestive organs, glands, hormones, and secretions;
- Categorize the common symptoms and conditions associated with faulty digestion;
- Identify the process by which nutrients are absorbed and transported throughout the body;
- Summarize how cells regulate their intracellular and extracellular environments;
- Classify and utilize the assessments used to identify the health status of the digestive system;
- Formulate various food, herb, lifestyle, and supplement strategies that are used to support digestive health.
The macronutrients, carbohydrates, proteins and lipids are studied in the context of structure, function, and metabolism in health and disease. Nutrient density, as related to the effects of whole versus refined foods in human metabolism, is explored. Students learn to determine individual dietary macronutrient requirements as well as the therapeutic value and use of specific carbohydrates, fatty, and amino acids. Blood sugar regulation and its effects on health are studied. The whole-food perspective of nutrients, as compared to reductionist nutrition perspectives, is analyzed. Prerequisite: MHNE 603.10 (3 credits)
MHNE 604 Course Objectives:
- Explain the structure and function of each macronutrient;
- Evaluate the process of digestion with reference to the absorption and metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and protein;
- Evaluate the healing qualities of each macronutrient;
- Summarize how blood glucose levels are maintained, how glucose is taken up by the cells, and how energy storage in the body is regulated;
- Evaluate the USDA general recommended intakes for each macronutrient to maintain or improve health compared to specific biochemical individual needs;
- Summarize the value and use of specific carbohydrates, and fatty and amino acids;
- Employ nutrient analysis software to calculate macronutrients in an average day’s food intake and calculate the ratio of each macronutrient to total caloric intake;
- Assess healthy macronutrient choices and indicate how such choices can be used in a meal;
- Classify and summarize the conditions resulting from deficient or excess intake of each macronutrient;
- Evaluate and develop food plans for the restorative use of each macronutrient;
- Compare holistic and reductionist nutrition perspectives.
Micronutrients and their impact on human growth, metabolism, cellular integrity, and repair are studied. Students identify the individual micronutrients in foods, their interactive biochemical roles in human metabolism, and the health effects of their deficiencies and excesses. The importance and function of water and water balance is also covered. Selection and preparation of foods to maximize nutrient content are discussed as well as the nutrient values from food sources and supplements. Biochemical individuality as a key factor in restoration of homeostasis is analyzed. Prerequisite: MHNE 603 (3 credits)
MHNE 605 Course Objectives:
- Assess and summarize the function and healing qualities of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals;
- Identify the conditions resulting from deficient or excess intake of each micronutrient;
- Evaluate and discuss the importance and regulation of water in the body;
- Characterize and describe factors influencing the bioavailability of micronutrients;
- Compare and contrast a variety of micronutrient dense food sources;
- Provide recommendations on how to select, prepare, and store foods and supplements to optimize their micronutrient content;
- Analyze the USDA and SONA recommended intakes for micronutrients to maintain or improve health;
- Employ the nutrient analysis software to calculate the micronutrients in food intake, and compare to the USDA recommended intake for each micronutrient to individual biochemical needs;
- Outline recommended intakes for micronutrients necessary to maintain or improve health for educational purposes.
Prior to enrolling in advanced level courses, students must have successfully completed all prior coursework and passed the Midterm Examination.
This course provides information to assist the health and nutrition educator in determining nutrient needs and evaluating the nutritional content of a diet. Students analyze diets in order to evaluate and recommend areas for improvement. Emphasis is placed on distinguishing high quality, nutrient dense foods from poor quality, nutrient depleted food-like products. Various dietary systems and approaches to support health concerns and goals are presented. The process of transitioning individuals and groups towards an optimal diet is taught and practiced. Health hazards that contribute to illness and premature aging are explored, as well as suggestions for guiding individuals toward a path to wholeness and well being. Students develop educational materials. Prerequisite: Foundation Level Exam (3 credits)
MHNE 606 Course Objectives:
- Summarize diet planning principles and guidelines;
- Interpret food product labels;
- Examine and assess the various positions on the alkalinity and acidity of foods;
- Evaluate nutrient values in diet records and devise (develop) appropriate health and nutritional support strategies to meet the needs and preferences of an individual or group;
- Describe the role of nitrogen balance to health status;
- Examine and utilize specialty healing diets;
- Provide recommendations for selecting, preparing, and storing foods;
- Develop educational goals, behavioral objectives, and materials for health and nutrition education programs.
Coaching skills are employed as students apply the principles and practice the art of listening, building rapport, and giving positive feedback and direction to clients as individuals and in groups. Nutritional assessment techniques are used to determine health status and develop health and wellness plans to support health recovery and maintenance. Client forms and questionnaires are utilized to discern body systems that may be contributing to an individual’s health concerns. Students identify specific stressors, the body’s physical response to stress, as well as the effects of stress on health status. Stress management tools and techniques are practiced. Students develop audio-visual aids for the presentation of health-related materials to individuals and groups. Prerequisite: MHNE Foundation Level Exam (3 credits)
MHNE 607 Course Objectives:
- Evaluate and employ the key characteristics of communication;
- Assess the characteristics, elements, and functions of nonverbal communication;
- Apply effective listening skills;
- Evaluate the formation of groups and leadership styles;
- Summarize the body’s adaptation cycle in response to stress;
- Analyze the health consequences of stress and evaluate stress management techniques;
- Prepare for and conduct a client or group coaching session;
- Collect and interpret specific diet and health information data from coaching sessions with clients or group surveys;
- Develop trust and confidence in client relationships;
- Prepare a health-supportive program for a client or group;
- Create effective, appropriate goals for a client or group in an educational program;
- Construct educational objectives and strategies to create a health and wellness plan.
The nutrient and lifestyle requirements for sustaining good health for each stage of human growth and development are studied. Students examine diet and lifestyle concerns in different phases of the life stages and practice educating others regarding their impacts. Students review case scenarios and assessments while practicing the intake, planning, and educational phases of health and nutrition educating. Students formulate healthy guidelines and recommendations for specific population groups. Strategies for healthy aging processes are explored as students develop a comprehensive review on a specific lifecycle. Prerequisite: MHNE Foundation Level Exam (3 credits)
MHNE 608 Course Objectives:
- Summarize human growth and development for each life stage;
- Analyze the influence of growth, development, and aging on nutritional requirements across the lifespan;
- Assess and summarize common health conditions associated with each phase of the life cycle;
- Utilize effective communication for holistic health and nutrition educators for a specific age group;
- Develop appropriate nutrition education guidelines for different stages of life based upon physiological and psychological needs;
- Develop audio-visual aids for use in health and nutrition education to promote health for the differing life stages;
- Differentiate between the various types of eating disorders.
This course covers the conditions of and consequences associated with underweight, overweight, and obesity. The conversion of nutrients to usable energy or storage in the body and the associated impact on weight gain or loss is examined. Heredity, conditioning, metabolism, dieting, the effects of hormonal influences, and environmental toxins on weight balance are presented. Healthy long-term weight reduction/gain/management plans are presented. Students explore holistic diet and behavior patterns for achieving optimal weight and develop personalized lifestyle and behavioral suggestions that are effective in maintaining healthy weight. Prerequisite: MHNE Foundation Level Exam (3 credits)
MHNE 609 Course Objectives:
- Assess and determine energy balance;
- Evaluate the genetic and environmental factors that lead to conditions of over- and under-weight;
- Describe how weight is affected by stress;
- Explain the role hormones play in hunger, appetite and energy balance;
- Contrast various weight loss and weight gain approaches and their effectiveness;
- Examine the importance of physical activity in weight and energy regulation;
- Summarize the effectiveness of various supplements in weight loss and gain;
- Develop teaching methodologies to promote healthy weight and prevention of disease;
- Devise a nutritional support strategy to address weight management and fitness issues.
Students integrate and apply the information presented in this program to prepare for their career as nutrition and health educators. Detailed instruction is presented to support the student in developing a successful career or establishing and growing a successful business. Organization, networking, marketing, planning, and record keeping are studied. The importance of educating policymakers regarding nutrition and food policies and participating in professional nutrition associations and community networks are evaluated. Ethical aspects relating to nutrition and health educators are explored as students are taught to work within the legal and professional scope of practice. Prerequisite: FLE (3 credits)
MHNE 611 Course Objectives:
- Develop marketing materials to promote yourself as a holistic nutrition and health educator;
- Summarize the functional aspects involved in setting up a holistic nutrition and health education related business;
- Describe and develop the components of a business plan that include a vision, mission, and a strategic plan for a holistic nutrition and education related business;
- Summarize the scope of practice, standard of care, and code of ethics for a holistic nutrition professional;
- Explain professional boundaries with regards to nutrition and health educators;
- Define potential target populations for a holistic nutrition and health educators;
- Evaluate the importance of participating in professional associations and community networks relevant to holistic nutrition and health educators;
- Assess and utilize the legal parameters of operating a holistic nutrition and health educating business;
- Summarize the importance of educating policymakers regarding nutrition and food policies;
- Develop actions to positively influence the holistic health and nutrition profession.
At the successful completion of all coursework, students must demonstrate that they are able to proceed to the thesis courses by passing the Final Examination.
In this course, students integrate and assimilate the theoretical and practical knowledge learned in the MHNE program to develop a research project in nutrition. The goal of the project is to expand knowledge in the field of holistic nutrition. Through a comprehensive literature review, a solid rationale for the research and appropriate methodology is identified to form a conclusion from the project. The final thesis, based upon the project, is be written and supported by scientific research. Students work in close association with their instructor (thesis advisor) throughout the entire process. Prerequisite: Advanced Level Exam (4 credits)
MHNE 650 Course Objectives:
- Employ the process required to write a thesis;
- Develop a thesis;
- Create a thesis topic and an outline;
- Develop an IRB application for evaluation and approval if needed;
- Analyze and choose appropriate research resources;
- Utilize the scientific method for the study;
- Write a document suitable for publication.
- Category: MHNE