Professional Studies in Dietetics


Professional Studies in DieteticsMaster of Science (M.S.)

The Master's Degree in Nutrition and Health Sciences-Professional Studies in Dietetics (PSD) Specialization is a professional master's degree program, with a competency-based curriculum, offered through the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences. The program provides a total of 45 semester credit hours of didactic and supervised experiential learning during a 16-month period (three semesters and one summer) and prepares graduates for entry-level positions in the dietetic profession by providing didactic and supervised experiential learning in management, community nutrition, and medical nutrition therapy. The program culminates in a graduate degree and a verification statement leading to the ability to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration credentialing exam for registered dietitian nutritionists.

Professional Studies in Dietetics Specialization Program Policies and Procedures

In addition to becoming employed as a registered dietitian nutritionist, graduates are eligible for active membership in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and will be eligible to obtain the Licensed Medical Nutrition Therapist credential in the state of Nebraska and licensure or certification in all states regulating the practice of dietetics.

The program does not have a distance education component. Arrangements for preceptors and supervised experiential learning sites are established and maintained by the program.

Accreditation Status

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Health Sciences-Professional Studies in Dietetics Specialization has been granted accreditation status by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, IL 60606-6995, (312) 899-0040, Ext. 5400, as a demonstration program under the Future Education Model Accreditation standards. ACEND is the only accrediting agency for dietetics education recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE).

Mission Statement

The mission of the master’s degree in Nutrition and Health Sciences-Professional Studies in Dietetics Specialization is to produce a competent graduate with an integrated theoretical and experiential learning education who can utilize critical thinking and analytical skills to practice successfully as a registered dietitian nutritionist. The program will culminate in a master’s degree and will assist in meeting the need for dietitian nutritionists in both rural and urban areas in Nebraska and outside its borders.

Program Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: The program will prepare graduates to be competent and ready for practice as a registered dietitian nutritionist.

  • At least 80% of program graduates complete program/degree requirements within 2 years (150% of program length). 
  • One hundred 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 the first attempt) on the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists is at least 80%.
  • Over a three-year period, a minimum of 90% of employers of program graduates who respond to the survey will rate graduates well-prepared for entry level practice.
  • Over a five-year period, the first-time pass rate for the registration exam will be at least 80%.

Goal 2: The program will prepare graduates to meet the need for registered dietitian nutritionists in both rural and urban areas of Nebraska and will contribute to the number of registered dietitian nutritionists with graduate degrees in the state.

  • Of graduates who seek employment, 100 percent are employed in nutrition and dietetics or related fields within 12 months of graduation.
  • Over a three-year period, 80% or more of the program graduates will be employed in rural or urban areas of Nebraska.

Program outcomes data are available upon request. Please contact program director:

  Heather Rasmussen, Associate Professor
  Director, Professional Studies in Dietetics Graduate Program
  Leverton Hall (LEV) 104H
  402-413-6286
  heather.rasmussen@unl.edu
  Full Heather Rasmussen bio
 

Requirements and Process for Becoming a Registered Dietitian via Completion of a Nutrition and Dietetics Graduate Program (Future Education Model)

  1. Attain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college and meet the prerequisites and admission requirements for the future education model graduate degree program for which you are applying.
  2. Attain a graduate degree and verification statement from an ACEND-accredited future education model graduate degree program.
  3. Obtain a passing score on the Commission on Dietetic Registration examination for the registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) credential.
  4. Follow state laws that regulate the practice of dietetics (for laws that regulate dietitians/nutritionists, visit https://www.cdrnet.org/vault/2459/web/files/Licensurelawsregulations.pdf).

Program Calendar and Schedule

Program Calendar

The majority of program experiences will occur during the University of Nebraska-Lincoln academic calendar for each semester and the summer (three-week pre-session, first five-week session and second five-week session). Students may be required to complete didactic coursework or supervised experiential learning outside of the academic calendar to allow for optimal timing of program components. The current program began on August 23, 2021, and will end with graduation on December 16, 2022.  Academic calendar details can be found online by visiting https://registrar.unl.edu/academic-calendar/.

Program Courses and Supervised Experiential Learning

The Professional Studies in Dietetics Specialization is a 16-month program (three academic semesters and one summer) culminating in a master's degree in Nutrition and Health Sciences. Students will complete 45 semester credit hours and complete a minimum of 1260 supervised experiential learning hours.

Year 1 Fall Semester

NUTR 859  Nutrition: A Focus on Life Stages
NUTR 875  Applied Dietetic Practice and Concepts (Food Service Modules and Food Service Practicum)
NUTR 893  Oral Science Communication Strategies
NUTR 952  Applied Medical Nutrition Therapy I
NUTR 956  Community Nutrition

                               Total:  12 credit hours and 170 hours of supervised experiential learning

Year 1 Spring Semester

NUTR 805  Research Methods
NUTR 955  Applied Medical Nutrition Therapy II
NUTR 975  Supervised Experiential Practicum (Food Service Management and Community Nutrition)
NUTR 976  Organization and Management in Community Nutrition and Health Promotion

                               Total:  12 credit hours and 375 hours of supervised experiential learning

Year 1 Summer

BIOS 806  Biostatistics (via University of Nebraska Medical Center)
NUTR 875  Applied Dietetic Practice and Concepts
NUTR 975  Supervised Experiential Practicum 

                               Total:  9 credit hours and 270 hours of supervised experiential learning

Year 2 Fall Semester

NUTR 860  Health Behavior Theories and Approaches
NUTR 975  Supervised Experiential Practicum 

                               Total:  12 credit hours and 445 hours of supervised experiential learning

Application to this program

The following criteria need to be met to apply to this program:

  1. Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university or college in the United States
  2. Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  3. Grade of C- or higher in the following required prerequisite courses:
    • General Chemistry with lab
    • Organic Chemistry with lab
    • General Biology with lab
    • Microbiology or Food Safety and Sanitation
    • Human Physiology or 2 semesters of a combined Anatomy-Physiology course
    • Biochemistry
    • General or Introduction to Psychology
    • Introduction to Nutrition
    • Food Science with lab or Food Preparation with lab
    • Advanced Nutrition/Nutrient Metabolism (300 or 400 level)
    • Two courses of Medical Nutrition Therapy

Not all prerequisite courses need to be completed at the time of application. However, completion of all prerequisites with a grade of C- or higher will be required before program initiation. To request a review of existing or planned courses to determine equivalency, email Program Director Heather Rasmussen at heather.rasmussen@unl.edu with the courses(s) in question and relevant syllabi attached.

  1. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), taken within the last two years, is required of all applicants for whom English is not their native language. Official scores from ETS for the TOEFL must be received for your application to be reviewed. A score of at least 550 (pBT) or 79 (iBT) is required. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln institution code is 6877.
  2. Three recommendation letters (two must be from a collegiate academic reference and one must be from a supervisor at a current or former place of employment).
  3. Resumé
  4. Meet recency of education requirements if applicable.

Recency of Education Requirements

Additional courses in nutrition and the sciences are required to update a degree which was completed five or more years prior to the current application deadline. Before registering and completing the coursework, contact the program director to confirm that the courses used to meet recency of education requirements are acceptable.

Five to 10 years since degree was completed (Grades must be B- or higher)

  • Three semester hours of medical nutrition therapy or clinical nutrition
  • Three semester hours of human physiology

More than 10 years since degree was completed (Grades must be B- or higher)

  • Three semester hours of medical nutrition therapy of clinical nutrition
  • Three semester hours of physiology
  • Three semester hours of advanced nutrition

Application Requirements

The following documents are needed for a complete application:

    • Why do you want to enter the dietetics profession? 
    • What experiences have you had that have helped to prepare you for your career? 
    • What are your short-term and long-term goals?  
    • What are your strengths and areas needing improvement? 
    • Any other information you consider important for the selection decision.
  • Detailed Resumé
  • Unofficial (scanned) transcripts from each institution where courses were taken.
  • List of prerequisite courses with credit number and grade received for each.
  • Three recommendation letters. Two letters must be from a collegiate academic reference, and one must be from a supervisor at a current or former place of employment. 

The next application cycle will occur in fall of 2022. The application system will open in October and close in December for the 2023-2024 Professional Studies in Dietetics class. 

Estimated Costs to Student

The following is a list of some of the expenses incurred during the experience component of the program. As there are many variables that determine final program cost, expenses are at best only approximations of various expenses during the year.

Tuition 

Total tuition, without fees, for the 45-credit program is $16,209 for residents and $25,738 for non-residents. Tuition costs for residents reflect the 2021-2022 tuition rates per graduate credit hour. Tuition costs for non-residents reflect the 2021-2022 tuition rates for non-residents with a partial tuition remission through the Husker Horizon Scholars Program. In addition, students will need to pay university and facilities fees each semester.

Room and Board

Students provide their own living arrangements.

Transportation

Students must have a car and auto insurance. All transportation to meetings and rotation assignments will be at the student's own expense. Some experiences will be completed in Omaha, and students will be responsible for associated gas costs.

Tuition/Application Fee to Graduate College

At the time of application to the Graduate College, there is a $50 application fee for all applicants not currently enrolled at UNL. The application fee is $25 for applicants enrolled at UNL.

Lab coats or Approved Scrubs

Students provide their own lab coats or approved scrubs (if required). Students are expected to adhere to the appropriate dress code for each facility and to dress in a professional manner.

Food Handler's Permit

Students will be required to have a current food handler's permit at a cost of $20 for food service management-supervised experiential learning. 

Health Insurance

Health insurance is required. Students are eligible for the University's Student Health Insurance Plan.

Criminal and Abuse Background Check

While not required for application, final admission to the program is dependent upon completing a criminal and abuse background check. The College of Education and Human Sciences contracts with an outside vendor to conduct criminal and abuse background checks for incoming UNL students. Students are responsible for the cost of this process; current cost is $33. The results of the checks will be maintained in the student’s file.  If the criminal and abuse background checks reveal questionable information, a student may be denied direct patient/client access in facilities. This could result in unsuccessful completion of the program.

Professional Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is required and will be provided by the internship program.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Student Membership and Conference

Students are required to become student members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The $58 membership fee includes membership in the Nebraska Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The Nebraska Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Conference is held each spring and the cost for attendance is $130. 

Registration Examination

Upon successful completion of the program. Cost: $200.

Financial Aid and Loan Deferment

Financial Aid

Students are full-time students each semester and during the summer.  Consequently, students are eligible to apply for financial aid and qualify for loan deferments every semester and during the summer. Students who need to borrow funds for college expenses should inquire at the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, 102 Canfield Administration Building, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588-0411, (402) 472-2030.

Financial Support

Fellowships are awarded to all students at the beginning of the program. The fellowship amount varies each year depending on fund availability. 

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The Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is committed to creating an environment that is welcoming to all; where each person feels accepted, valued, and safe. To learn more, visit https://cehs.unl.edu/nhs/nhs-deib/.

START THE APPLICATION PROCESS AT GRADUATE STUDIES

Degree Requirements

To earn the Master of Nutrition and Health Sciences-Professional Studies in Dietetics Specialization Degree and verification statement, the student must:

  • Complete all graduate courses and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Complete all supervised experiential learning hours and demonstrate attainment of all accreditation competencies as documented by specific assessment method for each competency
  • Perform in a professional and ethical manner