Department of Nutritional Sciences to offer new 2-year graduate program in Nutrition and Dietetics

Registered Dietitian

To meet the changing landscape for students who wish to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), the University of Michigan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutritional Sciences will offer a new 2-year program of study and field experience starting in fall 2023. The graduate program in Nutrition and Dietetics will develop entry-level, registered dietitian nutritionists with a varied skill set to serve people and communities worldwide through study and training grounded in public health principles.

“At Michigan Public Health, we have been successfully educating and training our students to become Registered Dietitian Nutritionists since 1993,” said Susan Aaronson, program director and Nutritional Sciences lecturer. “We are excited to continue to build on the program’s success in impactful job placements and successful RDN exam pass rates through the integration of experiential learning directly into coursework.”

Becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

In order to become an RDN, students must complete specific didactic requirements and supervised experiential learning (SEL) requirements through a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) and pass the credentialing exam from the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Beginning in January 2024, CDR will require that individuals must also hold a graduate degree to register for the credentialing exam.

Earlier this year, the Department of Nutritional Sciences received accreditation from ACEND to reorganize the current nutrition and dietetics program structure to follow the Future Education Model (FEM) standards starting in fall 2023.

Michigan Public Health’s ACEND accreditation makes it one of only six FEM programs in the US to offer a Master of Public Health degree.

"The public health perspective is critical for our students,” Aaronson noted. “They learn to apply nutrition and public health principles to design programs, review systems, develop policies and create environments that aim to improve the optimal health of populations and targeted groups."

Simplifying the path to RDN

In the current format, students enroll in two programs: a didactic program in dietetics and a stand-alone dietetic internship for supervised practice that students complete after completion of the didactic program. Graduates are then eligible to sit for the credentialing exam. Since 2017, 100% of Michigan Public Health dietetic interns have passed the credentialing exam within one year of their first attempt.

Michigan Public Health’s new 2-year graduate program in Nutrition and Dietetics simplifies the process using ACEND’s FEM standards, creating a single program of study for students to obtain a master’s degree and meet all the requirements to sit for the credentialing exam. 

Students who wish to enroll in the graduate program will have the option to choose from several different graduate degrees, including:

  • Master of Public Health in Dietetics
  • Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition
  • Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences with Dietetics

Benefits for students

One of the benefits of the new program format is the integration of didactic coursework with experiential learning throughout the entire 2-year program—In many programs, experiential learning opportunities and practice are saved until the end. 

Aaronson says integrating theory and practice experiences will allow students to gain knowledge and immediately practice their skills, increasing knowledge retention and efficiency of learning. 

“For example, students will take a course in nutrition counseling and then be provided with opportunities to immediately practice motivational interviewing skills with clients,” she said.

The new program also offers additional benefits to students, including reduced costs due to enrolling in a single program of study and a shorter program duration with the integration of didactic coursework with experiential learning.

“We are excited to move into the future as dietetics educators by transforming our program into one that is equitable to students by meeting them where they are with competency-based learning and real-time application of knowledge to real-world settings,” Aaronson said.

The Department of Nutritional Sciences will recruit the last stand-alone dietetic internship cohort in winter/spring 2024, with the close of the current, stand-alone Dietetic Internship on May 31, 2025.


Destiny CookDestiny Cook

Senior Public Relations Specialist
University of Michigan School of Public Health