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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.

Virtual Information Session

Wednesday, January 24, 2024
  • 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
  • Status: Space available
  • Location: Online

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


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 (below), 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.

Learn more about Supervised Experiential Learning Opportunities.

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), long-term care (clinical), community nutrition, and food service.

Clinical (Acute Care and Long-term Care)

Two practicum courses, Clinical 1 and Clinical 2, focus on the areas of long-term care (96 hours) and acute care (224 hours) for a total of 320 clinical hours at professional worksites. In the clinical practica, students practice medical nutrition therapy and all aspects of the nutrition care process, under the supervision of registered dietitians. Students quickly progress from performing the responsibilities of support staff to working side-by-side with generalist and specialized dietetic professionals. Students perform staff relief at the end of the acute care portion of the rotation.

In addition to applying medical nutrition therapy principles, students perform a quality management project and collect information for a case study presentation. In long-term care, students complete the standardized assessment for long-term care residents (MDS), represent residents at team care planning meetings, and work with speech pathologists.

Community Nutrition

This 320-hour professional worksite experience is a combination of nutrition counseling, federally funded community nutrition programs, and education programs work.

  • Nutrition Counseling
    Individual and small group nutrition counseling practice focuses on clients in the areas of wellness, perinatal care, weight management, and disordered eating. Thus, students participate in the continuing care of diverse clientele.
  • Federally Funded Community Nutrition Programs
    Students are involved in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children as well as the USDA PowerUp nutrition education program. Continuing to build on counseling-related skills, students also incorporate instructional design that includes active learning strategies. Lesson presentations and subsequent evaluations will be observed and practiced. Emphasis is on enhancing oral communication skills while incorporating current instructional technology to provide food and nutrition education for a variety of target audiences.
  • Education Programs Work
    Students develop and implement lessons for adults and children of various ages, design nutrition education displays, and develop nutrition-based videos for use on multiple media platforms.


Food Service

In the second summer, students engage in the food service practicum, which includes 192 hours in a food-service management professional worksite setting. Students are supervised by experienced food-service managers and apply knowledge to all aspects of quantity food production, human resource management, application of HAACP plans, food safety and sanitation, budgeting, quality assurance, and evaluation.

Continuing Education Opportunities

In addition to completing supervised practice hours (rotations), continuing education contributes to updating and expanding your professional knowledge base as well as expanding your network. These group events allow students to gain hours. Students will attend the following:

  1. Scheduled meetings and transition days
  2. Western Pennsylvania Dietetic Education Study Group Seminars
  3. Pittsburgh Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  4. Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  5. Webinars, readings, and other opportunities are announced

Attendance at one or more professional meetings and/or seminars for a total of 15 hours may be required depending on availability and time of year.

All supervised experiential learning hours must be met, along with all required didactic coursework, to complete the MS in Food and Nutrition-DNP and receive a verification statement.

Program Expenses

Application Fee: $50

IUP Graduate Tuition and Fees

IUP dietetic students will receive a bill from the IUP Student Billing Office each semester for tuition and fees associated with being enrolled as a graduate student. This bill can be paid through the student's MyIUP account using EasyPay.

Payments can be made by electronic check or with the following credit cards: MasterCard, American Express, or Discover. Please note there is a 2.75 percent convenience fee assessed to all credit card payments. Electronic payments require a bank routing number and account number. Payments can be made from a personal checking or savings account. You cannot use corporate checks, credit cards, home equity, traveler's checks, etc.

All payments are due on the date set. A $10 per business day late fee will assessed if deadlines are
not met.

Estimate your cost to attend IUP, including tuition, fees, and room and board

For financial aid purposes, a full-time graduate student is defined as any student taking nine or more credits per semester (fall and spring). Regardless of semester (fall, spring, summer), all graduate students are charged per credit. This program follows the distance education tuition and fee rates.

For International Students Only

  • Orientation Fee: $125 one-time fee
  • Evacuation and Repatriation Fee:
    This fee must be paid by all international students.
    • $45 fall
    • $60 spring/summer
  • Immigration Fee: $75 each semester

Following the September 11, 2001, tragedies and the implementation of the US Patriot Act, international offices across the USA are required to provide more detailed and frequent immigration information related to all international students, visitors, and their dependents. A $50 fee will be assessed each academic semester to all registered international students. Funds generated will be used to support personnel and operating costs associated with these reporting requirements. This fee is not refundable.

Additional Expenses

In addition to tuition and expenses, students are responsible for funding additional program expenses such as uniforms, program-required CastleBranch and associated requirements (e.g., immunizations, required clearances, drug screens), memberships, travel, vehicle maintenance and insurance, health insurance, and general living expenses. The full list of additional anticipated program expenses can be obtained by contacting jseybold@iup.edu and is shared with each cohort in the first week of the program's start.

Program Schedule

Dietitian-Nutritionist Program Schedule
Semester Course Course Title Hours in Professional Work Setting Hours in Alternate Experiences
Sum 1 FDNT 564 Food and Nutrition Research Methods   5 hours
FDNT 771 Nutrition in the Life Cycle   10 hours
FDNT 651 Professional Dietetic Practice   5 hours
FDNT 653 Leadership for Nutrition Professionals   5 hours
Fall 1 FDNT 522 Public Health Nutrition and Epidemiology   10 hours
FDNT 515 Sustainable Nutrition   10 hours
FDNT 631 Eating Behaviors and Food Habits   10 hours
FDNT 636 Nutrition Intervention and Education   10 hours
Spring 1 FDNT 625 Community Nutrition and Policy   10 hours
FDNT 637 Nutrition Intervention and Counseling   10 hours
FDNT 770 Clinical Nutrition Assessment   10 hours
FDNT 696: Community Community Nutrition Practicum 320 Total Hours breakdown:
WIC 96 hours
Power Up 96 hours
Nutrition Counseling 96 hours
 Special Projects 32 hours
Sum 2 FDNT 696: Foodservice Foodservice Practicum Food service: 192 hours (site examples include summer feeding programs. acute care, long-term care)  
FDNT 612 FDNT 612 Administration of Foodservice Systems 10 hours  
Fall 2 FDNT 645 Proteins, Carb, and Fats   5 hours
FDNT 772 Clinical Nutrition Therapy I       10 hours
FDNT 571 Integrative Nutrition in Complementary and Alternative Healthcare   5 hours
FDNT 696: Clinical 1 Clinical Practicum 1:
Long-term care
Clinical: 96 hours (site examples include long-term care, transitional care) Advanced Practice: 140 hours (potential focus areas include nutrition education, nutrition counseling, integrative nutrition, sports nutrition, research)      
Spring 2 FDNT 649 Vitamins, Minerals, Water   5 hours
FDNT 696: Clinical 2 Clinical Practicum 2 Acute Care: 224 hours (site examples include acute care hospitals)  
FDNT 773 Clinical Nutrition Therapy II   10 hours
TOTAL per hours type 972 hours 140 hours

Break schedules follow IUP's academic calendar.

Information for Preceptors

Are you a current professional working in the food and nutrition field? Interested in giving back to the profession through mentoring dietetic students?

How to Become a Preceptor

Refer to the Dietetics Preceptor Training through the Online Training Campus offered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

How to Count Precepting Hours as Continuing Professional Education

From the Commission on Dietetic Registration

In 2017, the CDR began recognizing hours spent working with dietetic students as continuing professional education units (CPEU). The table below is a breakdown of hours equivalent to CPEUs.

Breakdown of Hours Equivalent to CPEUs
Hours Spent Precepting (per year) CPEUs
1-25 contact hours 1
26-50 contact hours 2
51+ contact hours 3

For more information, as well as forms related to counting precepting hours, see CDR's preceptor web page.

IUP's DNP provides each preceptor a yearly letter for their service to validate their time spent with students.

Preceptor Training

Working with students is rewarding and exciting. To best prepare, or refresh, the Commission on Dietetic Registration developed a free 8-CPEU online preceptor training program. The IUP DNP encourages all preceptors to complete this course in preparation for working with students. For more information about the course and how to complete it, visit CDR's Online Training Campus and click Dietetics Preceptor Training Program.

Nutrition and Dietetics Educators and Preceptor Group, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Interested in connecting with other preceptors, as well as dietetic program educators? Join the Nutrition and Dietetics Educators and Preceptors Group through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Become a voice guiding the future of nutrition education and supervised practice.

IUP Department of Food and Nutrition Advisory Board

Share your expertise and perspective by serving on the Advisory Board of the Department of Food and Nutrition. Meetings are held annually, focusing on current education practices and changes in our profession. Help guide nutrition curriculum and experiences by sharing your professional insight on trending practices. For more information, connect with us at food-nutrition@iup.edu.

Admission Requirements and How To Apply

The IUP MS in Food and Nutrition, Dietitian-Nutritionist Program is open to prospective students meeting the Selection Criteria.

  • Application Submission Period: To be considered for the next cohort, all students must submit their application to the IUP School of Graduate Studies and Research for the MS in Food and Nutrition, Dietitian-Nutritionist Program between January 2 through March 1 of each year. 
  • During the application submission period, applicant interviews take place on a rolling basis and end by March 15 of each year. 

All applicants are notified of admission decisions between March 16 and April 15 of each year. 

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.

For prospective and new students interested in an assessment of prior experience to potentially waive field hours, please review the Dietitian-Nutritionist Program handbook for that process.

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.

The DNP director meets with all distance track students in the first program week to review site requirements and tips for locating preceptors. Each distance student is provided the Experiential Learning Agreements Plan Table with the admission decision email so students can begin to reach out to potential sites and preceptors. The DNP director assists students to find sites in their area, but only after the student has exhausted all opportunities. The DNP director will not call sites on the student's behalf unless necessary but instead will aid the student in strategizing to locate and solidify sites. For more information on this process, please contact the DNP director, Jodie Seybold, at jseybold@iup.edu.

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 outcomes data is available upon request by contacting Jodie Seybold at jseybold@iup.edu

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 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.