Master's Program

What are the Master’s Degree Requirements?

The master’s degree has a minimum of 30 credits, comprised of 14 graduate level course credits in Nutrition, 6 credits in a minor or supporting field outside the major, and 10 thesis credits (Plan A) or 10 credits of additional graduate-level coursework and/or independent study (Plan B). See below for the Plan C M.P.S. Program requirements

14 Graduate Level Course Credits in Nutrition

  • NUTR 8621, Presentation Skills (Fall, 1cr)  Should be taken the first fall semester
    An orientation class taught by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) 

Graduate Nutrition core series*

  • NUTR 5625 - Nutritional Biochemistry (Fall, 3 cr)
  • NUTR 5626 - Nutritional Physiology (Spring, 3 cr)
  • NUTR 5622 - Vitamin and Mineral Biochemistry (Spring, 3 cr)
  • NUTR 5624 - Nutrition and Genetics (Fall, 2 credits)

*If a student has taken these core course(s) or their equivalents (the equivalence will be evaluated by the Director of Graduate Studies), they must take other courses to achieve the equivalent number of graduate level course credits. These may be from any nutrition course that is 5xxx or 8xxx, or FScN 4622 Nutritional Toxicology, or 6xxx courses if taught through Public Health.

One 8xxx level course (2 cr.) from the following list:

  • NUTR 8620, Advances in Nutrition (2 cr)
  • NUTR 8620/PHSL 8620 Advances in Nutrition: Obesity Prevention from the Molecule to the Bedside (Fall)

6 Graduate Level Course Credits Outside the Major

  • Must include one graduate level statistics course. 
  • Students enrolling Fall semester 2015 and later must include one graduate level research methods course (at least 2 cr.). Students can select from a list of recommended courses already offered across the university in consultation with their adviser.
  • Other courses may be from any field but must be at the 5xxx or 8xxx level. (Exceptions: 6xxx Public Health courses are allowed.)

10 Thesis or Project Credits

  • Plan A/thesis students must register for a minimum of 10 Master’s Thesis Credits (NUTR 8777). Plan A requires an original research project to be completed with the results subsequently reported as a thesis.  Its purpose is for students to learn how to demonstrate familiarity with the tools of research or scholarship in Nutrition, to work independently and present the results of their investigation effectively.  Thesis formatting instructions are available on the Graduate School website.
  • Plan B is similar to the Plan A but involves less research. It includes additional coursework and completion of a special project. Plan B/project students must take a combination of an additional 10 credits of coursework and/or Independent Study (NUTR 8695). The student’s adviser specifies both the nature and extent of the coursework and project work necessary to satisfy this requirement. The Plan B project should involve a combined total of approximately 135 hours (the equivalent of a minimum of three independent study credits) of work. Additional coursework can include up to 7 additional credits. Use the Directed/Independent Study Form to register for NUTR 8695.
  • If a student begins as a Plan A MS student and has taken Master’s Thesis Credits NUTR 8777, these credits do not factor into the total number of credits needed. The student must submit a Registration Exception Request asking to exchange the Thesis Credits for Independent Study Credits in order to reach the minimum of 30 coursework credits. Previous theses and Plan B papers are available for review in the FScN Library, room 220. See Sue Winkelman in the reception office, room 225A, to check out items.

Additional Master’s Degree Requirements (Plan A and Plan B)

  • All required courses, except NUTR 8621, must be taken A/F
  • Maintenance of a 2.8 GPA
  • In addition to the academic requirements, students are expected to obtain teaching experience.  All MS Nutrition graduate students are expected to assist in teaching a course two times.
  • Seminar Presentation (A presentation of your thesis or project work at the Graduate Seminar. Nutrition students do not register for the Seminar.  It is not graded and usually given during the last semester.)
  • Passage of a Master’s Final Oral Exam (see details below and in Appendix C)
  • Completion of a Master’s Thesis or project. The department and Graduate School each require a copy of the master’s thesis upon completion. The Department requires a copy of the Plan B paper. Advisors will not sign the Final Examination Report form after the final oral defense for Plan B MS students until they receive the final, revised copy of the student’s Plan B paper. The Graduate School does not require a copy of the Plan B paper, but it can be archived in the Digital Conservancy if the student requests.

Nutritional Sciences Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.)

Description and Background:

The Nutritional Sciences M.P.S. is a terminal, coursework-only master's degree that prepares students for a career as a Registered Dietitian. This is a one-year master’s degree focused on nutritional sciences with coursework that will provide advanced knowledge of nutritional sciences, awareness of practical applications of research, and the ability to interpret and communicate nutritional science concepts to broad audiences including content experts, educators, media, and the public, as well as educationally and culturally diverse audiences.

Dietetics (DPD) students will need a Master’s degree (and an internship) to be eligible to take the Registered Dietitian (RD) exam starting January 2024, according to new regulations established by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

The goal of this program is to provide an efficient path for nutrition students who have met the requirements of the DPD program to pursue a master’s degree level certification without the necessity of a formal thesis. A graduate faculty adviser is assigned.

Admission Criteria and Application Process

  • University of Minnesota DPD completion - a signed, ACEND-approved DPD Verification Statement due before beginning the program
  • Minimum preferred undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Completion of the Nutrition Graduate Program application (link on website) which includes:
    • 3 Letters of Recommendation
      • Prefer that at least one be from a FSCN course instructor and at least one from a professional reference 
      • References can use the Plan C recommendation form if they’d prefer
    • Personal Statement 
      • Submit a personal statement, not exceeding 1,250 words, that satisfies the following criteria and includes that you are interested in the M.P.S. Plan C program:
        • Discussion of your interest in Nutrition as a professional discipline
        • Description of past or present training or experience, and how that training has prepared you for graduate-level Nutrition study
        • Discussion of your overall career goals and how graduate study relates to those goals
  • Application Deadline is May 1st

Additional Details and Coursework Plan:

  • Admission is for Fall semester only.
  • The degree is expected to be completed in one year.
  • The Plan C M.P.S. Students will complete 24 NUTR or FSCN courses in nutritional sciences and 6 credits outside the major. 
  • Fall and Spring semesters will each include 14 credits and Summer will include 2 credits for a total of 30 credits
  • Upon completion of the Nutritional Sciences M.P.S., students can apply in a pre-select process for admission to the University of Minnesota Dietetic Internship Program administered by FScN. 

Core courses required (total of 24 credits - all NUTR or FSCN)


  • NUTR 5624 Nutrition and Genetics (2.0 cr) [A-F]
  • NUTR 5625 Nutritional Biochemistry (3.0 cr) [A-F] 
  • NUTR 8621 Presentation Skills (1.0 cr) [S-N]
  • FSCN 5601 Management of Eating Disorders (3.0 cr) [A-F]
  • NUTR 8620 Advances in Nutrition: Obesity from the Molecule to the Bedside (2.0 cr) [A-F]
  • 3 credit graduate course outside the major


  • NUTR 5626 Nutritional Physiology (3.0 cr) [A-F]
  • NUTR 5622 Vitamin and Mineral Biochemistry (3.0 cr) [A-F]
  • NUTR 8620 Advances in Nutrition (2.0 cr) [A-F]
  • NUTR 5627 Nutritional & Food Toxicology (3.0 cr) [A-F]
  • 3 credit graduate course outside the major


  • NUTR 8620 Advances in Nutrition: Current Issues in the Dietetics Profession (2.0 cr) [A-F]

Elective courses outside the major (total of 6 credits)

These 6 credits will be based on two courses, which could include a graduate-level statistics course and a research methods course from the following list. 

  • PUBH 6450 Biostatistics I (4.0 cr) [A-F]
  • PUBH 6414 Biostatistical Literacy (3.0 cr) [A-F]
  • STAT 5021 Statistical Analysis (4.0 cr) [A-F] 
  • PUBH 6806 Principles of Public Health Research (2.0 cr) [A-F]

There are several additional courses outside the major that could meet a student’s interest and scheduling constraints.  Select courses in consultation with the advisor, director of graduate studies, graduate program coordinator and DPD Director.  Please see the list of recommended elective courses.