The master's degree in dietetics and nutrition is designed for professionals in nutrition and for others with a science background. 

Advantages of this program:

  • Advancement: Registered dietitians with a master's degree are often hired and promoted to management, research and specialized clinical positions. Research experience is more important than ever in today's health care fields. Registered dietitians are required to conduct outcomes research and utilize evidence-based practice to translate research findings to clinical practice.
  • Satisfaction: Participating in research and applying research findings to dietetics and nutrition practice are useful and valued skills. Advanced knowledge of biochemical, pathological and physiological processes of disease builds a better understanding of disease prevention and treatment.
  • Competence: The role of the dietetics professional is continually evolving. Individuals must ethically take responsibility for determining their own competency to provide a specific service. Characteristics of dietetics professionals who seek advanced degrees are those who seek to acquire an expert knowledge base and develop complex decision making skills for expanded practice.

The master's degree alone does not lead to the registered dietitian credential. More information about becoming a registered dietitian is found here: http://www.eatrightpro.org/resources/career/become-an-rdn-or-dtr

An online master's degree for registered dietitians is offered through the Great Plains IDEA (Interactive Distance Education Alliance) program.

The application process for this program is online. Detailed instructions on how to apply are posted on the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition website. Application deadlines are July 1 for fall semester, December 1 for spring semester and May 1 for summer semester.

Admission requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution is required and must be documented by submission of official transcript indicating the degree has been conferred before entering the program. Official transcripts for all classes taken from all institutions attended are also required. The bachelor’s degree may be in any field.
    Students with degrees from outside the U.S. may be subject to transcript evaluation indicating the degree is equivalent to a U.S. degree and meets the minimum cumulative grade-point average requirement.
  • Applicants must possess a cumulative grade-point average of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for his or her bachelor's degree program.
  • Applicants who are not native speakers of English, whether domestic or international, must demonstrate they meet the minimum English proficiency requirement.
  • Before entering the program, students must have completed prerequisite courses in biochemistry (one semester), physiology (one semester), and nutrition (more than one semester preferred).
  • An official copy of the Graduate Record Examination score must be sent from Educational Testing Service (ETS) to KU Medical Center using ETS institutional code 6895.  The following minimum scores are recommended: Verbal Reasoning,150; Quantitative Reasoning,150; Analytical Writing, 4.0.
  • A resume or curriculum vitae is required and must include prior employment and participation in professional and/or voluntary organizations (e.g., hospital, alumni or nonprofit.)
  • A goal statement will be submitted in the online application and will explain the applicant's educational and professional goals.
  • Three references are required. The references must be from a faculty member, adviser, employer, or other person familiar with the applicant's work and character. The recommendations may not be obtained from family members, friends, etc.
  • The Joint Commission on Accreditation requires all incoming students to pay for a background check. This one-time fee must be paid directly to the company performing the background investigation. For more information, please see the School of Health Professions Background Check Instructions.

Applicants will be assessed based on these requirements. Students not meeting the above requirements may be eligible for provisional admission. After an applicant has been admitted, a program may defer an applicant's admission for one year after which time the applicant must submit a new application.

Admission requirements are subject to change. In most cases, use the catalog of the year student entered the program. Other years’ catalogs».

The Master of Science in Dietetics and Nutrition degree program consists of 30-33 credit hours depending on whether the student chooses the non-thesis or thesis option. This program offers course work in the biochemical, clinical, and behavioral aspects of nutrition. Students choose an emphasis area in either data analytics or statistics.

Degree requirements:

  • Degree requirements are normally completed within 2 years of admission to the program although a maximum of 7 years is allowed.

  • Completion of a minimum of 33 credit hours for the non-thesis option and a minimum of 30 credit hours for the thesis option.

  • Cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least a 3.0 for all KU graduate coursework.

  • Enrollment in a minimum of one credit hour the semester the student will graduate.

  • Successful completion of the following courses:

    DN 817Seminar in Dietetics & Nutrition I1
    DN 818Seminar in Dietetics & Nutrition II1
    DN 819Scientific Writing for the Nutritional Sciences1
    DN 834Methods of Research in Nutrition3
    DN 895Advanced Macronutrients and Integrated Metabolism3
    DN 896Advanced Micronutrients and Integrated Metabolism3
    BIOS 704Principles of Statistics in Public Health (or another Biostatistics 700-800 level course)3
    Non-thesis option
    DN 854Special Problems in Dietetics and Nutrition3
    Number elective credit hours15
    Thesis option
    DN 899Thesis3
    Number elective credit hours12
  • For the non-thesis option:
    • Successful completion of a general examination the semester the student will graduate.  The general exam is an oral exam administered by three faculty members that covers the competencies students are expected to gain through the M.S. degree program.
    • Completion of DN 854-Special Problems in Dietetics and Nutrition occurs the semester the student successfully defends the project.  Students submit a written proposal and conduct an oral presentation of the proposal.  If satisfactory, students then prepare a final written report and conduct an oral presentation (defense) of the report which is followed by questions from the research committee. The project is generally completed in 1 to 2 semesters and may include one or more of the following:

      • written intensive review of the literature on a given topic, based on "Evidence-Based Analysis" procedures of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics;

      • participation with a faculty member in the development of a research proposal or grant;

      • a written proposal with presentation and final written report is followed with an oral exam and project defense before the research committee;

      • participation with a faculty member in conducting a pilot project;

      • participation with a faculty member in the design, implementation, or evaluation of a program in a specialized area of dietetics practice;

      • and/or collection and/or analysis of data in conjunction with a faculty member engaged in research.

    • Successful completion of a minimum of 15 credit hours of elective coursework.  For students in the KU dietetic internship program, 12 hours of electives completed during the internship count as the elective hours. Those choosing the non-thesis option required an additional 3 elective hours. For master's students who are not former KU interns, up to 6 graduate credit hours of electives may be taken outside the department if the courses are relevant to the career goals of the student.is takes for the form of a project defense for this program.
  • For the thesis option:

    • Successful completion of a general examination the semester the student will graduate.  The general exam is an oral exam administered by three faculty members that covers the competencies students are expected to gain through the M.S. degree program.
    • Successful completion of a thesis defense and of DN 899-Thesis. The defense occurs during the semester the student will graduate. Thesis research is usually conducted over 3 semesters and involves all aspects of research including preparing a proposal, collection and analysis of data, and a thesis. The thesis is presented in written form and orally in a presentation to the thesis committee followed by questions (or defense) and an oral examination before the thesis committee. 
    • Successful thesis submission and publication (according to Office of Graduate Studies policy.)
    • Successful completion of a minimum of 12 credit hours of elective coursework. For students in the KU dietetic internship program, 14 hours of electives completed during the internship count as the elective hours. For master's students who are not former KU interns, up to 6 graduate credit hours of electives may be taken outside the department if the courses are relevant to the career goals of the student.

Degree requirements and course descriptions are subject to change. Any courses taken as an equivalent must be approved by the Graduate Director and the Office of Graduate Studies. In most cases, use the catalog of the year student entered the program. Other years’ catalogs».

Typical Plan of Study

Non-thesis option (33 minimum credit hours with 15 hours elective credits.)

Year 1
FallHoursSpringHoursSummerHours
DN 817 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)1DN 818 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)1DN 819 (required course)1
DN 822 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)2DN 823 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)2Elective3
DN 825 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)3DN 826 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)3 
DN 841 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)1DN 842 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)1 
For students in the KU Dietetic Internship program, 14 hours of electives completed during the internship count toward the minimum 12 elective hours required. For non-internship students, an elective course of their choice may be substituted for the internship electives indicated on this plan of study. Up to 6 graduate credit hours of electives may be taken outside the department if the courses are relevant to the career goals of the student.   
 7 7 4
Year 2
FallHoursSpringHours 
BIOS 704 (required course)3DN 854 (required course non-thesis option)3 
DN 834 (required course)3DN 896 (required course)3 
DN 895 (required course)3Project defense scheduled semester approved by committee to proceed. Enroll in DN 854 semester defend project.  
 General examination scheduled the final semester.  
 9 6 
Total Hours: 33


Thesis option (30 minimum credit hours with 12 hours elective credits.)

Year 1
FallHoursSpringHoursSummerHours
DN 817 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)1DN 818 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)1DN 819 (required course)1
DN 822 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)2DN 823 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)2DN 899 (required course thesis option)1
DN 825 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)3DN 826 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)3 
DN 841 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)1DN 842 (one of Dietetic Internship courses as elective)1 
For students in the KU Dietetic Internship program, 14 hours of electives completed during the internship count toward the minimum 12 elective hours required. For non-internship students, an elective course of their choice may be substituted for the internship electives indicated on this plan of study. Up to 6 graduate credit hours of electives may be taken outside the department if the courses are relevant to the career goals of the student.   
 7 7 2
Year 2
FallHoursSpringHours 
BIOS 704 (required course)3DN 896 (required course)3 
DN 834 (required course)3DN 899 (required course thesis option)1 
DN 895 (required course)3Thesis defense scheduled semester approved by committee to graduate. Enroll in DN 899 semester defend thesis.  
DN 899 (required course thesis option)1Oral examination scheduled the final semester.  
 10 4 
Total Hours: 30