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Prepare to Become a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist with a Master's Degree

There's so much to explore and do in the expanding field of nutrition and dietetics—and so much to accomplish when it comes to promoting nutritional health.

Invest in your passion for nutrition and helping others by becoming a registered dietitian-nutritionist through IUP's 24-month Dietitian-Nutritionist Program (DNP). If you have a bachelor's degree and meet the prerequisites below, you're ready to take this next step. When you complete this program you'll earn your MS in Food and Nutrition. Not only that, you'll qualify to sit for the national examination for registered dietitian-nutritionists. 

The DNP is accredited to admit 18 students across two tracks. You can be considered for both through the application process:

  • The In-residence Track is ideal only if you live within driving distance to IUP's main campus, which is 60 miles east of Pittsburgh. The DNP director arranges your field placements.
  • If you don't live near our main campus, the Distance Track is for you. You can live anywhere in the US (except California which doesn't participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA)). We encourage you to be well-networked before applying as field placement agreements must be in place as part of your application process.

What You'll Learn

  • Professional worksite experiences—supervised by experienced nutrition, healthcare, or other field professionals—are a key part of your master's degree program, allowing you to put your nutrition and dietetics studies to practical use.
  • The DNP develops your skills in popular sectors including clinical care, community nutrition, and food service.
  • You'll be introduced to many populations, disease states, and conditions.
  • You'll take most of your courses online, though you'll have to make two or three scheduled trips to campus as part of the program's simulation experiences and mentorship program.
  • You'll get to interact with faculty and peers online as well, in both synchronous and asynchronous formats.

Imagine Your Future

The opportunities available to you in nutrition and dietetics are truly endless. IUP's Master of Science in Food and Nutrition can open doors for you in a variety of job roles. Curious? Here are just a few to consider: 

  • Academia – Community colleges and four-year universities need food- and nutrition-focused professionals for both the classroom and the campus administration.
  • Clinical nutrition – Practice medical nutrition therapy and nutrition care in acute and long-term care settings.
  • Community nutrition — Provide nutrition counseling, nutrition education programs, outpatient nutrition services, and guidance for those in federal nutrition assistance programs.
  • Corporate wellness – Oversee wellness programs that inspire employees to start or maintain healthier lifestyles.
  • Food service management – Manage everything from volume food production to food safety to evaluation.
  • Public health – Promote healthier populations and communities through advocacy, education, and public nutrition programs.
  • Research – Use the knowledge and research skills you acquire during your graduate program as a foundation for a research career or to pursue further education at the doctoral level.

Annual Median Salary Ranges of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists in Various Positions

Among all RDNs in all positions


Clinical acute care/in-patient


Clinical ambulatory care


Clinical long-term care


Consultant and business


Food and nutrition management


Education and research


Classes and Requirements

Professional worksite experiences, supervised by experienced nutrition, healthcare, and other professionals, are a critical part of your master's degree program, allowing you to put your nutrition and dietetics studies to practical use. While fieldwork consists of most practice hours, a total of 191 hours is divided across the coursework, to provide students with deeper knowledge and skills through simulation, case study work, activities, evidence-based practice discussions, and more.

Community Nutrition

This 320-hour practicum consists of:

  • Education programs work: Create wide-ranging nutrition-based education materials for everyone of all ages, from lessons to displays to multi-platform videos.
  • Federally funded community nutrition programs: Build on your counseling, verbal communication and instructional skills as you provide nutrition guidance for select program audiences.
  • Nutrition counseling: Working with individuals and small groups, you'll interact directly with a variety of people on their wellness, perinatal care, weight management, and disordered eating.

Clinical (Acute Care and Long-Term Care)

In these long-term care (96 hours) and acute care (224 hours) practicum courses, you'll practice medical nutrition therapy and all aspects of the nutrition care process. You'll get to work alongside generalist and specialized dietetic professionals.

Food Service

Put your skills into action in this 192-hour practicum. Focus is on quantity food production, human resource management, application of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans, food safety and sanitation, budgeting, quality assurance, and evaluation.

Continuing Education Opportunities

Grow both your knowledge base and your professional network by attending group events such as professional meetings, seminars, and webinars.

Advanced Practice

Students get the opportunity to dive deeper into an area of interest through the advanced practice fieldwork rotation for 140 hours.

Supervised Experiential Learning Opportunities

Apply what you're learning to the real world. You'll receive 1,163 hours (about 8.5 months) of supervised experiential learning throughout the 24-month curriculum using a combination of professional worksites and authentic learning activities. The experiential learning opportunities cover four main areas:

  • Acute care (clinical)
  • Community nutrition
  • Food service
  • Long-term care (clinical)

Graduation Requirements

The purpose of the MS in Food and Nutrition/Dietitian-Nutritionist Program (DNP) is to educate students to achieve a successful career in the field of dietetics and nutrition. The program director, faculty, and site preceptors work with each student to ensure successful completion of the program. Nevertheless, it is the full responsibility of each student to satisfactorily complete the program, as described on this website. Successful completion of the program ensures that students will receive a Verification Statement, which is required to take the national registration exam.

For a full description of policies and procedures, review the Dietitian-Nutritionist Program Handbook.

Accreditation and Filing Program Complaints

This program is currently accredited through the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) through December 31, 2024. For more information about this program, contact Jodie Seybold, program director, at jseybold@iup.edu.

ACEND may be contacted at:

Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics
120 South Riverside Plaza
Suite 2190
Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995

Phone: 1–800–877–1600, ext. 5400; 312–899–0040, ext. 5400
Email: acend@eatright.org

Please contact ACEND for filing a program complaint.

Selection Criteria – ACEND Accredited Program Graduates

If you have a BS in Food and Nutrition/Dietetics from an ACEND-accredited program and have earned a verification statement, prior to the program’s Summer Session 1 start date, you're eligible to apply, after reviewing the required criteria below. Interested students who obtained a bachelor’s degree in a related field, as well as completed the necessary requirements to obtain a verification statement from an ACEND-accredited program may also apply, after reviewing the required criteria below.

Minimum final GPA from bachelor’s degree being used for this admissions process of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale).

C’s or better in all dietetics-focused coursework. (Note: IUP does not recognize +/- on grades; therefore, C- is not accepted.)

C’s or better in all science, math (statistics), management, and humanities (psychology, sociology, English) courses. (Note: IUP does not recognize +/- on grades; therefore, C- is not accepted.)

Meet the Required by All Prospective Students criteria below.

Selection Criteria – Non-ACEND Accredited Program Graduates

Those interested in becoming a registered dietitian-nutritionist, who have a BS in Nutrition or a closely related field and do not have an ACEND-accredited verification statement, must meet the following requirements:

Minimum final GPA from bachelor's degree of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in a closely related field to nutrition.

C’s or better in the following required coursework—no more than five years old, preferred. (Note: IUP does not recognize +/- on grades; therefore, C- is not accepted.)

Science minimum (no substitutions):

  • 4 credits of organic chemistry (lecture and lab)
  • 3 credits of biochemistry (lecture only required)
  • 3 credits of microbiology (lecture and lab)
  • 3 credits of anatomy (lecture and lab)
  • 3 credits of physiology (lecture and lab)


  • 6 credits of nutrition coursework
  • 3 credits must be comparable IUP’s FDNT 145 or 212

Math minimum:

  • 3 credits of statistics


  • 3 credits of management

Humanities and Social Sciences minimum:

  • 3 credits of psychology
  • 3 credits of sociology
  • 6 credits of English (one must specifically be in writing)
  • 3 credits of a culture-related course

Recommended, but not required:

  • Communications course
  • Instructional design course/experience

Meet the items in the Required by All Prospective Students section below.

Required for All Prospective Students

Prospective students must have a variety of knowledge and skills related to the field of nutrition. In addition to the set application criteria (see below), applicants must review and self-evaluate if they meet the program’s vital standards for excelling as a graduate student and future registered dietitian-nutritionist.

All applicants must submit a transcript to show degree completion.

Per professional site agreements (those sites outside of IUP, that take students for experiential learning), students must be able to successfully complete the following minimum requirements, at their cost (IUP uses CastleBranch to manage and store this information—CastleBranch charges students a fee for signing up):

PA Department of Human Services (ACT 114 FBI background check with fingerprinting)

ACT 34 Criminal History (PA State Background Check)

ACT 151 Child Abuse Clearance

17-panel Drug Screen (throughout professional site practice)

For those students completing experiential learning at sites in Pennsylvania, who have not been a resident of Pennsylvania for the past two years, the FBI background check through the Department of Aging must also be completed.

Per professional site agreements, students must also be able to complete, at their cost, a physical, vaccinations/titers/boosters, flu vaccine, liability insurance, ServSafe Managers Certification, provide proof of valid health and automobile insurance, valid driver’s license, attendance at one state or national nutrition conference, and purchase the required uniform components for practicum experiences.

Distance Track/In-Residence Track

Internship sites for in-residence students will be found and scheduled by the program director.

Sites for distance students must be found and scheduled by the distance student.

Those choosing to apply to the distance track of the DNP must meet all of the above requirements, as well as:

  • Submit a list of professional worksites verbally agreeing to host you during supervised experiential learning practica courses.
    • For Long-term Care:
      • One long-term care site, with a registered dietitian-nutritionist (RDN) present.
    • For Acute Care:
      • One acute care site, with at least one RDN present. Size of site must be at least 30 beds.
  • Distance track students are required to find and submit a list of sites as part of their application.
    • Food Service:
      • Students must find one food service site (e.g., long-term care, hospital, summer food service program, CACFP site).
    • Community Nutrition:
      • Students must find one WIC site, one child nutrition education program (e.g., PowerUp, Common Threads), one site conducting nutrition counseling (e.g., outpatient dietitian, private practice dietitian), and one site committed to educating an underserved population (e.g., persons with disabilities, food insecure persons).
    • Advanced Practice:
      • Students must find one site (ok if a site from Community Nutrition, or Food Service is used for this rotation) that they are interested in completing 140 hours of advanced practice.

Philosophy and Mission Statement


The philosophy of the Department of Food and Nutrition's Dietitian-Nutritionist Program is based on IUP's commitment to higher education and our vision of the characteristics of the professional of the future. The professional of the future will shape the food choices and impact the nutritional status of the public by exhibiting:

  • An ability to adapt to change
  • An ability to utilize emerging technology
  • A commitment to advocacy for the profession
  • A thorough understanding of food and nutrition theory
  • Communication skills
  • Commitment to lifelong learning skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Ethical behavior
  • Excellence in the delivery of high-quality programs and services
  • Leadership skills
  • Respect for diverse societies and viewpoints
  • The ability to collaborate with others
  • The ability to educate the public using food and nutrition theories
  • The ability to manage materials and resources

Mission Statement

The mission of IUP's MS in Food and Nutrition, Dietitian-Nutritionist Program (DNP) is to provide graduates with quality opportunities to acquire knowledge and demonstrate skills essential to become competent registered dietitian-nutritionists (RDN) who advance the profession.

Fulfillment of this mission will support the vision of the IUP DNP, our commitment to prepare graduates who are highly skilled, lifelong learners who meet or exceed entry-level professional competencies.

Program Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes

Program Goal 1

Graduates will practice effectively as entry-level registered dietitian-nutritionists.

  1. Program Completion: At least 80 percent of the program students complete certificate program requirements within three years (150 percent of the program length).
  2. Graduate Employment: Of graduates who seek employment, 70 percent are employed in nutrition and dietetics, or related fields, within 12 months of graduation.
  3. Graduate Performance on Registration Exam:
    • Eighty percent of program graduates take the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists within 12 months of program completion.
    • The program's one-year pass rate (graduates who pass the registration exam within one year of first attempt) on the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists is at least 80 percent.
  4. Over a three-year period, 80 percent of employers who respond to the employer survey will "agree" or "strongly agree" that program graduates are well prepared to practice as entry-level registered dietitian-nutritionists.
  5. Over a three-year period, 80 percent of program graduates who respond to the alumni survey within one year of completion will "agree" or "strongly agree" that the program prepared them well to practice as entry-level registered dietitian-nutritionists.
  6. Over a three-year period, 80 percent of employers who respond to the employer survey will rate graduates as "satisfactory" or "more than satisfactory" in competencies/learning outcome areas of the DNP.

Program Goal 2

Graduates will use advanced knowledge and skills to elevate evidence-based practice in the profession.

  1. Over a three-year period, 80 percent of employers who complete the employer survey will "agree" or "strongly agree" that program graduates are effective in applying evidence-based guidelines to their practice as registered dietitian-nutritionists.
  2. Over a three-year period, 80 percent of graduates who complete the alumni survey will "agree" or "strongly agree" they implement evidence-based guidelines in their practices as a registered dietitian-nutritionist.
  3. Over a three-year period, 80 percent of program graduates who complete the alumni survey will "agree or "strongly agree" applying evidence-based practice enhances their effectiveness to serve their patients/clients.
  4. Over a three-year period, 80 percent of program graduates who complete the alumni survey will "agree" or "strongly agree" applying evidence-based practice advances the profession.