A dietitian-nutritionist program student engages in field work, reviewing a nutrition plan with a client.

Learn more about the Dietitian-Nutritionist MS program, including course information and how to apply.

 Accomplish the next step toward becoming a registered dietitian-nutritionist: Complete the two-year IUP Dietitian-Nutritionist Program (DNP) through the Department of Food and Nutrition's Master of Science in Food and Nutrition. Enrolled students will earn their master's degree as well as earn eligibility to sit for the national examination for registered dietitian-nutritionists upon successful program completion.

The Dietitian-Nutritionist Program is open to students who have a bachelor's degree in dietetics and/or nutrition, or closely related degree. The DNP is accredited to admit 18 students across two tracks: the in-resident track and the distance track.

The DNP provides students with practice skills in clinical areas, community nutrition, and food service, as well as exposes the student to many populations, disease states, and conditions.

For convenience, all curriculum-based master's courses are 100 percent online with both synchronous and asynchronous interactions with faculty and peers.

The practicum-based courses allow students to work directly with field professionals at on- and off-site locations to practice skills as a preprofessional. Practicum-related meetings are held in-person for the in-residence track students. Select practicum-related meetings are required in-person with advanced scheduling for the distance track students. Otherwise, distance-track students will Zoom into those meetings.

Graduate assistantships available for in-residence students: For those interested, the Department of Food and Nutrition takes applications each April prior to the start of the DNP for graduate assistantships. Students who are accepted into an assistantship position are required to be on campus. The assistantships run through the first year of the DNP. Second-year students, due to course and experiential learning, do not qualify.

Requirements to Become a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides complete information about the requirements to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and lists all the accredited programs that exist. The following criteria must be met in the traditional route to earn the RDN credential:

  • A minimum of a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university in the United States; and
  • Coursework in dietetics from a program that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) and a verification statement from an accredited dietetics program, and
  • Completion of an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program; and
  • Passing a national examination that is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
  • Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (PDF) are eligible to be licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Licensure may be a requirement for some positions.

The Future Education Model created by ACEND provides an alternative for applicants without a bachelor's degree in dietetics/nutrition, or verification statement, who want to become a registered dietitian-nutritionist. IUP's MS in Food and Nutrition-DNP accepts students with or without a bachelor's degree in dietetics/nutrition provided specific criteria are met (refer to Program Features).

The IUP MS in Food and Nutrition-DNP is a supervised practice program that is accredited by ACEND through December 31, 2024.

Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration will require a minimum of a master's degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). To be approved for registration examination eligibility with a bachelor's degree, an individual must meet all eligibility requirements and be submitted into CDR's Registration Eligibility Processing System (REPS) before midnight Central Time, December 31, 2023. For more information about this requirement, visit the CDR website. In addition, CDR requires that individual's complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited Dietitian-Nutritionist Program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania are eligible to apply to take the CDR credentialing exam prior to become an RDN. In most states, graduates also must obtain licensure or certification to practice.

Dietitian-Nutritionist Program Features

  • A 24-month dietitian-nutritionist program taking enrolled students through their master's and qualifying them to sit for the national examination for registered dietitian-nutritionists.
  • Located in the semi-rural community of Indiana, Pennsylvania, just 60 miles east of Pittsburgh.
  • Sixty-three credits are required for the completion of the Master of Science in Food and Nutrition, Dietitian-Nutritionist Program.
  • Two tracks available:
    • In-residence: Requires students to live within a drivable distance to IUP's main campus; all field placements are arranged by the DNP.
    • Distance: Students can live anywhere in the US except California (due to non-participation in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA); students must locate their own supervised experiential learning sites as part of the distance track.

Supervised Experiential Learning Opportunities

Our program features a total of 1,000 hours (or roughly 6 months) of supervised experiential learning throughout the 24-month curriculum using a combination of professional worksites and authentic learning activities. Practica coursework provides students with professional worksite experiential learning opportunities in four main areas.

  • Community Nutrition
  • Food Service
  • Long-term Care (clinical)
  • Acute Care (clinical)

Selection Criteria-ACEND Accredited Program Graduates:

Interested persons who possess a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition/dietetics from an ACEND-accredited program and who have earned a verification statement, prior to the program’s May start, are eligible to apply, after reviewing the required criteria below. Those prospective 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:

Prospective students who do not possess an ACEND-approved verification statement, but completed a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a closely related field, 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 5 years old, preferred (note: IUP does not recognize +/- on grades, therefore C- is not accepted):
    • Science minimum (no substitutions):
      • 4 cr. of organic chemistry (lecture and lab)
      • 3 cr. of biochemistry (lecture only required)
      • 3 cr. of microbiology (lecture and lab)
      • 3 cr. of anatomy (lecture and lab)
      • 3 cr. of physiology (lecture and lab)
    • Nutrition
      • 6 cr. of nutrition coursework
        • 3 cr. must be comparable IUP’s FDNT 145 or 212
    • Math minimum
      • 3 cr. of statistics
    • Management
      • 3 cr. of management
    • Humanities and Social Sciences minimum
      • 3 cr. of psychology
      • 3 cr. of sociology
      • 6 cr. of English (one must specifically be in writing)
      • 3 cr. of culture-related course
  • Recommended, but not required:
    • Communications course
    • Instructional design course/experience
  • Meet the Required by All Prospective Students below.

Per professional site agreements (those sites outside of IUP which 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 practica experiences.

Applying for the program

The successful student must meet the following criteria:

  • Submission of Transcript showing degree completion.

Experience – recent

  • Volunteer work (Nutrition-related or other) in community settings, required.
  • Nutrition-related volunteer work in clinical and food service settings, recommended.
  • Nutrition-related work experience in community, clinical, food service, other, recommended.

Goal Statement, Résumé, and Self-evaluation of Vital Standards

  • Up-to-date résumé that reflects experiences referenced in the goal statement.
  • Goal statement must include:
    • Which track you are applying for (in-residence, distance, or do you want to be considered for both)?
    • How did you gain interest in the field of nutrition?
    • What experiences have prepared you for the coursework and supervised practice required in the Master of Science in Food and Nutrition Dietitian-Nutritionist Program?
    • What makes you a competitive candidate for this program (strengths)?
    • What areas will you continue to work on through the program (areas for improvement)?
    • What are your two-year and five-year goals?
    • What strategies do you plan to use during the program to remain organized, to actively and effectively communicate, to maintain positivity, and for self-care?
    • What do you hope to gain from the program, and what will you contribute to the program and your cohort?
    • Why do you want to become a registered dietitian-nutritionist?
  • Self-evaluation of Vital Standards:
    • Prospective students must review the Vital Standards. Students must meet these standards upon admission to the program, and enrolled students sustain them throughout the program. By applying, students are agreeing that they meet and can demonstrate the Vital Standards needed for the field of nutrition.
      • Emotional Intelligence – Students must always be aware of the world around them to drive communication, decision-making, work ethic, and manage situational stress. The recognition of self, through studying one’s beliefs and experiences, must be developed before recognizing and understanding emotions and reactions in others. While this is a work in progress for most everyone, students must have a foundation of emotional intelligence to allow embracing a variety of populations, beliefs, cultures, and viewpoints.
      • Effective Communication – It is imperative that the successful student understand and demonstrate effective and appropriate communication throughout the DNP. This vital standard is a necessity for overall professionalism and building professional relationships and networks.
      • Professional and Ethical Behavior – The prospective and enrolled student upholds the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Code of Ethics throughout coursework and practica experiences and aligns decision-making with similar standards. Further, the prospective and enrolled students follow the scope of practice and standards of professional performance. These areas, as well as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are reviewed throughout coursework as well.
      • Strong work ethic – Prospective and enrolled students must demonstrate detail-oriented and timely work throughout the program. Some curricula and requirements involve completing individual and independent work. Other curricula and requirements involve teamwork. Teamwork requires leadership, compromise, the ability to meet set expectations, and effective communication. These attributes are also required as a professional.
      • Stress Management – Life does not stop just because a prospective or enrolled student is embarking on education goals. Earning a master’s while completing supervised experiential learning can be stressful at times. The prospective and enrolled student must have healthy coping mechanisms in place to remain positive and open-minded and to persevere in order to develop as a future practitioner.
      • Learning Mindset – in the DNP, prospective and enrolled students are learning and growing. There are many skills students bring to the table. There are many skills that still need to be developed and fine-tuned. Therefore, as a profession of lifelong learners, no one can know everything. Prospective and enrolled students must be learning-oriented through this process. This process includes being open and willing to accept constructive feedback from faculty, field preceptors, peers, and others as opportunities present. Feedback creates a stronger person and professional.
      • Physical demands – from lifting boxes during food service receiving and inventory to palpating a patient as part of the nutrition-focused physical exam, applicants must have the physical strength to complete the required tasks associated with performance indicators and competent ices. Prospective and enrolled students must be able to lift and carry a maximum of 50 pounds.

Letters of Recommendation

A minimum of three letters of recommendation are required from academic, professional, and/or volunteerism contacts (recommended: professors/instructors from your bachelor’s program, manager/boss, volunteering supervisor). Recommenders must use and submit the related DNP Letter of Recommendation form. Applicants can download the form and send to recommenders.

  • No character-only references (from family, friends, or acquaintances) are accepted.


Identify your proficiency in the following, or related, programs on your résumé:

  • Microsoft Office Products—required.
  • Infographic programs (e.g., Piktochart) and video editing software (e.g., Adobe Spark)—recommended, but not required.

Interview and Nutrition-related Skills Assessment

Qualified applicants (from the criteria above) must complete a behavior-focused interview (Zoom or in person).

Applying to the Distance Track: 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. Please email Dr. Jodie Seybold (jseybold@iup.edu) for the table template to capture all required information.
  • You must include the site name and address, the preceptor name(s) with email address and phone number, and an HR representative's name and email address at this site. 
    • For Long-term Care (96 hours over three weeks): 
      • One long-term care site, with a registered dietitian-nutritionist (RDN) present.
    • For Acute Care (224 hours over seven weeks):
      • One acute care site, with at least one RDN present. Size of site must be at least 30 beds.
    • For Food Service (192 hours over six weeks):
      • One food service management site at a long-term care facility, hospital, Aging Services facility also producing meals for home-bound participants, school, or organization producing meals for a summer food service program.
    • For Community Nutrition (all required) (320 hours total over 11 weeks):
      • One WIC site (either overseen by a RDN or nutritionist): 96 hours over 3 weeks
      • One Power Up Nutrition Education site (either overseen by a RDN or nutritionist), or one school district, who also instruct students with developmental and intellectual disabilities (oversight by administrator or health-related teacher): 96 hours over 3 weeks
      • One Outpatient Nutrition Counseling site (usually part of a hospital setting requires RDN be present): 96 hours over three weeks
      • One special topics site (can be a repeat of WIC, Power Up, or Outpatient Nutrition Counseling) that focuses on an underserved population(s): 32 hours over two weeks
    • For Advance Practice (140 hours over seven weeks): 
      • One site, overseen by an RDN, in an area of the Student's interest. Advance practice can use a site already found from the above categories, or be a new area (e.g. women's health, integrative/functional nutrition, sports nutrition).

Dietitian-Nutritionist Program appointments are awarded without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national or ethnic origin, disability, or military service. Marital status, age, and geographic area of the applicant are not considered.

Graduation Requirements

The purpose of the Dietitian-Nutritionist Program 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 the 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

Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, the accrediting agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics logo The Indiana University of Pennsylvania MS in Food and Nutrition, Dietitian-Nutritionist program has been granted accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics until December 31, 2022. The next accreditation review is scheduled for fall 2021.

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.

Contact Us

For additional information regarding the Dietitian-Nutritionist Program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, please contact:

Jodie Seybold, MS, RDN, LDN
Dietitian-Nutritionist Program Director
911 South Drive
Ackerman 102
Indiana, PA 15705