The Great Plains IDEA (Interactive Distance Education Alliance) is a consortium of eight universities that provides an online 36-credit hour master's degree in dietetics and nutrition. Admission is limited to credentialed registered dietitians or registry-eligible individuals having met all requirements of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for registration. Students enroll for all courses through his or her "home" institution, but the actual courses are delivered online from any of the participating universities and their respective faculty members. 

Great Plains IDEA Consortium Members

  • University of Kansas Medical Center

  • Kansas State University

  • Colorado State University

  • Iowa State University

  • North Dakota State University

  • Oklahoma State University

  • South Dakota State University

  • University of Nebraska- Lincoln

The program is administered by the KU Department of Dietetics and Nutrition for students selecting the KU Medical Center as his or her "home" institution. Completion of degree requirements depends upon several factors including the semester start date, the specific courses offered each semester, and the student's desired course load each semester. Many students in this program are working professionals with job and family responsibilities, and this program allows the flexibility to take the number of courses that work in the student's schedule.

Taking one to two courses a semester (including summers) should allow students to complete the program in approximately two to four years. More courses may be taken each semester provided they are available. To see the current schedule of course offerings, visit the Great Plains IDEA website and select the course matrix and course information links.

For questions about this program, please contact Kendra Spaeth by email at dietetics@kumc.edu
Tel: 913-588-5355 (711 TTY)

Students selecting KU Medical Center as the "home" institution apply directly to the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition for admission. These students will receive the master's degree from KU if upon completion of the degree requirements. The application process for the program is online only. 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 didactic program in dietetics (DPD) or coordinated program in dietetics accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics is required and must be documented by submission of official transcript indicating the degree has been conferred before entering the program. Please note: the University of Kansas does not offer an accredited DPD program that meets this requirement.
    Official transcripts for all courses taken from all institutions attended are also required.
  • Applicants must possess a cumulative grade-point average of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in his or her bachelor's degree program.
  • Before entering this program, prerequisite courses in biochemistry, physiology and nutrition must be completed.
  • Applicants who are not native speakers of English, whether domestic or international, must demonstrate they meet the minimum English proficiency requirement.
  • Applicants must be credentialed as a registered dietitian by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and submit a copy of current CDR registration card as documentation. Without an RD credential, students must be registration-eligible, having completed both an accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics and an accredited dietetic internship or a Coordinated Program in Dietetics (which encompasses both the academic degree and the supervised practice).
    The Great Plains IDEA program acknowledges reciprocity as outlined by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Reciprocity is defined as individuals having completed the education and credentialing requirements in one country may be eligible for another country's credentialing examination if the two countries have entered into an agreement to allow this process. The Commission on Dietetics Registration currently has registration eligibility reciprocity agreements with the following foreign dietetic associations and regulatory boards:
    • Canada - Dietitians of Canada
    • Netherlands - Dutch Association of Dietitians and Ministry of Welfare, Public Health and Culture
    • Philippines - Philippine Professional Regulation Commission
    • Ireland - Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute
  • Applicants must provide a resume or curriculum vitae that includes prior employment and participation in professional and/or voluntary organizations (e.g., hospital, alumni or nonprofit.)
  • A statement of career goals will be required in the online application and alternatively may be included in the resume.
  • Three references are required. A reference should be from a faculty member, advisor, 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 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 Great Plains IDEA (Interactive Distance Education Alliance) Master of Science in Dietetics and Nutrition consists of 36 credit hours.  Students selecting KU Medical Center as their "home" institution will receive their degree from this institution if all degree requirements listed below are successfully completed. Students enroll for all courses through their home institution and the courses are listed as KU courses, but the actual course content is delivered online from any of the participating universities and their respective faculty members. 

Degree requirements:

  • Degree requirements are normally completed within 2-4 years of admission to the program although a maximum of 7 years is allowed.

  • Completion of a minimum of 36 credit hours.

  • 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:

    Core courses (15)
    DIET 801Current Issues or Trends3
    DIET 833Principles of Statistics3
    DIET 834Methods of Research in Nutrition3
    DIET 886Advanced Nutrition: Nutrigenomics, Nutrigenetics and Advanced Lipid Metabolism in Human Nutrition3
    DIET 896Micornutrients in Human Nutrition3
    Research courses (6)
    DIET 819Grant and Scientific Writing for the Professional3
    Choose course for Non-Thesis or Thesis option.
    DIET 854Non-Thesis Research3
    or DIET 899 Thesis
    Elective courses (15)
    See list of elective course options below.15
    Total Hours36
  • 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 DIET 854 Non-Thesis Research 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 3 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;

      • 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.

  • 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 DIET 899 Thesis.  The defense occurs during the semester the student will defend the thesis and 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. The thesis defense must be completed in person.
    • Successful thesis submission and publication (according to Office of Graduate Studies policy).
  • Choose from the following elective course options (minimum 15 credit hours required).

    DIET 802Foods Writing for Professionals3
    DIET 805Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice3
    DIET 822Healthcare Administration3
    DIET 824Financial Management and Cost Controls in Dietetics3
    DIET 829Nutrition and Aging3
    DIET 830Nutrition: a Focus on Life Stages3
    DIET 832Functional Foods for Chronic Disease Prevention3
    DIET 838Advanced Medical Nutrition Therapy3
    DIET 839Clinical Aspects of Nutrition Support3
    DIET 841International Nutrition and World Hunger3
    DIET 842Nutrition and Wellness3
    DIET 843Nutrition Education in the Community3
    DIET 845Nutritional Aspects of Oncology3
    DIET 862Maternal and Child Nutrition3
    DIET 865Nutrition and Human Performance3
    DIET 870Nutrition Counseling and Education Methods3
    DIET 875Pediatric Clinical Nutrition3
    DIET 876Intervention for the Prevention & Management of Obesity3
    DIET 880Dietary and Herbal Supplements3
    DIET 881Phytochemicals3
    DIET 887Nutrition and Immunology3

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 (minimum 36 credit hours)

Year 1
FallHoursSpringHoursSummerHours
DIET 833 (core course)3DIET 834 (core coures)3DIET 819 (research course)3
Elective3Elective3 
 6 6 3
Year 2
FallHoursSpringHoursSummerHours
DIET 886 (core course)3DIET 896 (core course)3DIET 854 (research course non-thesis option)3
Elective3Elective3Project defense scheduled semester approved by committee to proceed. Enroll in DIET 854 semester defend project. 
 6 6 3
Year 3
FallHours  
DIET 801 (core course)3  
Elective3  
General examination scheduled the final semester.   
 6  
Total Hours: 36


Thesis option (minimum 36 credit hours)

Students selecting the thesis option must complete the thesis defense in person.

Year 1
FallHoursSpringHoursSummerHours
DIET 833 (core course)3DIET 834 (core course)3DIET 819 (research course)3
Elective3Elective3 
 6 6 3
Year 2
FallHoursSpringHoursSummerHours
DIET 886 (core course)3DIET 896 (core course)3DIET 899 (research course thesis option)1
Elective3Elective3 
 6 6 1
Year 3
FallHoursSpringHours 
DIET 899 (research course thesis option)1DIET 801 (core course)3 
Elective3DIET 899 (research course thesis option)1 
 Thesis defense scheduled semester approved by committee to graduate. Enroll in DIET 899 semester defend thesis.  
 General examination scheduled the final semester.  
 4 4 
Total Hours: 36