Which RDN Graduate Program Path is Right for Me?
What is the difference between the MPH and MS degree for becoming a RDN?
Both programs provide the didactic credit and supervised experiential learning hours you’ll need to obtain a verification statement, Master’s degree and sit for the registration exam.
A MPH degree will provide you both breadth and depth in the core public health areas to allow the development of the real-world skills needed to solve today’s greatest public health challenges (e.g. chronic disease, hunger, mental health, racism, and poverty). Core MPH courses will cover epidemiological measures, quantitative analysis, determinants of health, program planning, health care systems, and policy evaluation and advocacy.
The MS degree will have a greater focus on research methods, quantitative analysis, and effectively communicating research findings to appropriate audiences. In addition, it will allow you to network with other nutrition scientists, work to develop a mentoring team and learn to develop a research project. If you would like to take a deeper dive into research in the field of Nutritional Sciences and pursue a research career, this is the right path for you.
What is the difference between the MS Clinical Nutrition and MS Nutritional Sciences degree?
Both programs provide the didactic credit and supervised experiential learning hours you’ll need to obtain a verification statement, MS degree and sit for the registration exam.
The main difference is that the MS Clinical Nutrition program culminates with an evidence-based project and paper focusing on a clinical nutrition topic of interest and faculty need. The MS in Nutritional Sciences culminates in a MS thesis, which must be defended in front of a MS committee of expert faculty. Thesis topic options can be more broad (e.g. sustainability, nutritional genetics, weight bias) and are determined by NS faculty research areas and student interest.
Are the Supervised Experiential Learning (SEL) rotations different between the MPH and MS degrees?
No. All students will complete SEL hours in the areas of community nutrition, skilled nursing/long-term care, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children program), outpatient clinical, inpatient acute care clinical, food service, management, and elective areas of choice. All students will have the opportunity to model their elective hours towards their own professional interests by choosing an elective series.
What careers in nutrition and dietetics have MPH alums pursued?
Our MPH alums have explored a variety of career paths. While the degree is well suited for the careers listed below, we have alums working in all areas of nutrition and dietetics (e.g. community, food service management, skilled nursing, acute care/ICU).
- Policy development
- Program planning and evaluation
- Community or public health nutrition and dietetics
- Disease prevention
- Corporate wellness
- Food systems and sustainability
What careers in nutrition and dietetics have MS alums pursued?
Our MS alums have also explored a variety of career paths. While the degree is well suited for the careers listed below, we have alums working in all areas of nutrition and dietetics, as well.
- Clinical research or project management
- Nutrition leadership
- Academic leadership
- Acute care/disease treatment and management
I want to pursue a PhD in the future, which path is best for me?
The MS in Nutritional Sciences degree would be the best path and better fit. However, we have successfully had MPH graduates go into competitive PhD programs. PhD programs have a heavy emphasis on original research; therefore, obtaining solid research experience in whatever program you choose would be wise.
Can I simultaneously complete the PhD and RDN track?
If you are interested in this option, please discuss it with the Program Director and your PhD mentor.
If I want to eat chocolate and ice cream 24/7, can I still be a RDN?
Yes! While not recommended or supported by current nutrition research to eat ONLY chocolate and ice cream, you do not need to follow a specific dietary pattern to become a RDN. Nutrition is a diverse and well-rounded field that appeals to individuals for a variety of reasons. Getting an education in nutrition and dietetics is about broadening your horizons, pushing the boundaries, and learning to support individuals in THEIR own health journey, whatever that looks like.