Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Marsha L. Spence

Committee Members

Katie Kavanagh, Sarah E. Colby


Background: The Association of Graduate Programs in Public Health Nutrition’s graduate competencies were updated and refined by an expert panel and a survey of Public Health Nutrition (PHN) academicians, which resulted in 58 proposed competencies in five domains, Food and Nutrition Science, Advocacy, Research and Evaluation, Communication and Cultural Competency, and Management and Leadership.

Objectives: The objectives of this study were 1) to determine if differences existed in calculated domain scores of practitioner rankings of essentiality for the PHN graduate competencies by demographic variables of interest (current position, years of experience, education, and/or intent to retire); 2) to determine the number of proposed PHN graduate competencies that were not ranked as “entry-level” by the majority (>51%) of PHN practitioners surveyed; 3) to determine if the demographic variables of interest were significant predictors of practitioner rankings of essentiality for the competencies that did not reach majority consensus among practitioners surveyed.

Design: Cross-sectional web-based survey

Methods: A web-based survey of PHN practitioners (n=132; 38% response rate) was administered to determine practitioners’ ranking of each competency as “not essential”, “essential, but advanced practice”, or “essential for entry-level practice”. Descriptive statistics were calculate for demographic variables; domain scores were calculated from respondents’ essentiality rankings of competencies in each domain and MANOVA was used to detect if domain scores differed by demographic variables of interest; frequencies of essentiality rankings were used to determine the number of competencies with

Results: There were no significant differences in domain scores by practitioner demographic variables. However, 15 of the 58 competencies had

Conclusions: The study showed similar opinions among practitioners in the development of entry-level competencies for future PHN personnel, which may indicate that the majority of proposed competencies met the expectations of current practitioners.

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