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Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics MS Program

Master of Science in Nutrition with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics

Future Education Model (FEM) Graduate Program

The Department of Nutrition is thrilled to announce the launch of a novel and exciting program that seamlessly transitions undergraduate students in Nutrition-Dietetics into an intensive one-year graduate program as we prepare the next generation of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs). Students who complete the program will have earned a BS degree as well as a MS in Nutrition with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics in just five years and be eligible to take the national credentialing examination to become RDNs.


The mission of the Future Education Model Graduate Program is to effectively integrate didactic and experiential learning in a program that culminates in a graduate degree that effectively prepares graduates for evidence-based nutrition and dietetics practice, practice-based research, and professional mentorship and leadership as RDNs in an interprofessional healthcare environment to optimize the nutritional health of individuals, families and communities.


A myriad of features make our program a novel one:

  • Accelerated learning – Students complete a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just five years.
  • Cost saving – Students save time and money through a seamless transition to complete only one year of graduate study
  • Hands-on learning – Students immediately apply classroom learning through the integration of traditional coursework and practicum experiences starting in the junior year
  • Confidence building- Students first practice nutrition assessment, education, and counseling skills with standardized patients and within the local community before stepping into clinical practice
  • Customizable – With careful early planning students may complete undergraduate minor in complementary fields such as culinary arts (in development), public health, business, sustainability, food science, psychology, and Hispanic studies.
  • Interprofessional and diverse learning and practice – Students spend four consecutive semesters of supervised experiential learning in Cherokee Health System clinics, which offers a wide array of health services to an increasingly diverse community.
  • Leadership Development – Students utilize leadership skills in the final semester of study through mentoring undergraduate students in the practice setting.
  • Research experience – Students develop research skills through planning and collecting outcomes data in the practice setting and sharing the impact of nutrition interventions through professional outlets.
  • Expanded training – Students have the potential to expand their graduate education by also completing master’s concentrations in Public Health Nutrition or Cellular and Molecular Nutrition or applying for doctoral study in Community Nutrition or Cellular and Molecular Nutrition.


The MS in Nutrition with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) as a Future Education Model Graduate Program (FEM).

Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)
120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190
Chicago, IL 60606
800-877-1600 ext. 5400
https://www.eatrightpro.org/acend

FEM Faculty

The mission of the Future Education Model Graduate Program is to effectively integrate didactic and experiential learning in a program that culminates in a graduate degree that effectively prepares graduates for evidence-based nutrition and dietetics practice, practice-based research, and professional mentorship and leadership as RDNs in an interprofessional healthcare environment to optimize the nutritional health of individuals, families and communities.

  • Program Goal #1: The integrated didactic and experiential learning curriculum will prepare graduates for effective evidence-based clinical nutrition and dietetics practice as credentialed Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.
    • Objective 1: At least 80% of students will complete program/degree requirements within three years (150% of the program length).
    • Objective 2: At least 85% of graduates will be employed in nutrition and dietetics or related fields within 12 months of graduation.
    • Objective 3: At least 85% of employers who respond to the employer survey will report being very satisfied or better with performance of program graduates in entry-level nutrition and dietetics practice.
    • Objective 4: At least 90% of program graduates will take the Commission on Dietetics Registration (CDR) credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists within 12 months of program completion.
    • Objective 5: At least 80% of graduates over a five-year period will pass the CDR credentialing exam for registered dietitian nutritionists within one year following first attempt.
  • Program Goal #2: The program will prepare graduates to be effective members of an interprofessional healthcare team.
    • Objective 1: By the time of program completion, at least 85% of program graduates will report moderate-level or greater interprofessional beliefs, behavior, and attitudes as measured by the Interprofessional Socialization and Valuing Scale (2016).
  • Program Goal #3: The program will prepare graduates for mentoring and leadership roles in nutrition and dietetics.
    • Objective 1: At least 85% of program graduates will rate how well the program prepared them for mentoring and leadership as satisfactory or better.
    • Objective 2: At least 75% of graduates will occupy mentoring and/or leadership roles in nutrition and dietetics within 3 years of program completion.

Program outcomes data are available upon request by contacting the program director.

What do Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) do?

RDNs are food and nutrition professionals who unite the science of nutrition with application of nutrition principles to improve health through interventions, including education and counseling, at the community and individual levels or by addressing nutritional aspects of medical problems in clinical practice. Many work in acute care hospitals, long-term care, and medical offices as members of the health care team or in community-based settings. Other areas of practice include corporate wellness, journalism, sports nutrition, the food and nutrition industry, and others. Find out more about careers in nutrition and dietetics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at https://www.eatrightpro.org/acend/students-and-advancing-education/information-for-students/registered-dietitian-nutritionist-fact-sheet.

Educational requirements to become a credentialed RDN

Requirements to become a credentialed RDN includes three steps:

  • Earning a degree: Currently, the minimum degree earned in order to take the RDN credentialing exam is a bachelor’s degree. However, as of January 1, 2024, a minimum of a master’s degree will be required in order to take the RDN credentialing exam.
  • Completing required didactic coursework and supervised practice: Students must complete an ACEND-accredited program or programs that encompass all required coursework as well as practice experience. This can involve completing 1) an ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD, usually a bachelor’s degree program) followed by completion of a completely separate ACEND-accredited supervised practice program (i.e. dietetic internship) OR 2) a single ACEND-accredited program that combines coursework with supervised practice to meet all requirements in one place.
  • Passing the RDN exam: The national credentialing examination is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). More information about this step can be found on the CDR website at cdrnet.org. Many states additionally require credentialed individuals to be certified or licensed by the state prior to practicing in the profession. State licensure information can be found here: https://www.cdrnet.org/state-licensure.
  • Note: In order to maintain the credential, RDNs must complete a minimum of 75 continuing professional education hours every 5 years.

The national accrediting body for education programs in nutrition and dietetics leading to the RDN credential is the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995, (312) 899-0040 ext. 5400, URL https://www.eatrightpro.org/acend.

UT offers two programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), which maximizes the opportunity for students to become credentialed as RDNs.

The MS with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics in combination with the BS in Nutrition-Dietetics meets all educational requirements, including supervised experiential learning, such that graduates are eligible to take the RDN exam upon completion of the MS This program is currently accredited by ACEND as a Future Education Model Graduate Program. The program is competency based and designed to provide >1,000 hours of supervised experiential learning in order to meet licensure and certification hour requirements for any state in which graduates choose to practice. Supervised practice experiences are planned and supervised by program faculty and preceptors in the Greater Knoxville area.

The Dietetics Concentration of the undergraduate Nutrition Major is accredited by ACEND as a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). As such, graduates are eligible to apply for ACEND-accredited supervised practice programs across the country and, following completion, are eligible to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians to become RDNs and active members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Normally, students must be on site in Knoxville for this program – most classes are scheduled live and in person. A limited number of required and elective courses are offered online.

A UT student intending to enter the Master of Science program in Nutrition with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics is required to complete coursework in the Nutrition-Dietetics concentration for the first three years of undergraduate study. Students must apply for the Master of Science program and be accepted into the Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics concentration in order to enroll in specific prerequisite upper-division courses that will establish the knowledge and skill set necessary for the transition to graduate study and for meeting of ACEND-required competencies. Students who do not enroll in the Master of Science program may still complete the Bachelor of Science in Nutrition-Dietetics and the Didactic Program in Dietetics and apply for dietetic internships or other accredited supervised practice programs.

Suggested admission benchmarks for application to the Master of Science program with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics include:

  • Academic achievement
    1. Cumulative GPA: 3.3 (encompasses all college coursework.)
    2. Nutrition coursework completion of: (with grades of B- or better in all NUTR prefix courses.
      • NUTR 100
      • NUTR 302
      • NUTR311
      • NUTR313
      • NUTR314
      • NUTR315
      • NUTR316
    3. Completion of: (with desired 3.0 or higher overall GPA in the sciences).
      • CHEM120
      • CHEM130
      • CHEM260
      • BCMB230
      • MICRO210
      • CLAS273
      • CMST240*
      • ENGL295 or 360*
      • Approved FDSC Course
      • KNS350
      • PSYC110
      • PUBH201
      • STAT201*
      • University general education requirements
      • Other non-departmental coursework

      Requires:

      1. Standardized test performance-GRE with suggested scores of 150 (verbal), 150 (quantitative), and 4.0 (analytical) or higher.
      2. Submission of an online application for admission to the Graduate School by August 1 prior to the senior year of undergraduate study in the B.S. Nutrition-Dietetics Concentration. The completed application must include current transcripts, a personal statement detailing experience as well as long- and short-term goals, and a resume. No recommendation forms are required.
      3. In-person interview with the program director and representatives of the program faculty in August shortly following the application deadline.

Admission decisions will be based upon holistic review considering suggested admission criteria as well as completeness of application, clarity of written and oral expression, and expressed interest in pursuing a career as a RDN. Admission is competitive and students accepted to the Master of Science program in Nutrition with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics are required to follow the Nutrition-Dietetics concentration curriculum during the fourth year of the undergraduate program with the addition of HRT 445 and NUTR 426 Clinical Nutrition II Practicum and complete the Bachelor of Science degree. To maintain good academic standing for entry into the Master of Science program, students must complete all required coursework and maintain GPA and grade minimums specified in the admission criteria.

First two years: general education, sciences, prerequisites

Our curriculum is designed in a unique step-wise fashion. During the first two years, students fulfill general education requirements and prerequisites, including many of the sciences, for upper division courses. This allows flexibility for students transferring in to UT to complete prerequisite courses prior to transfer and enter the undergraduate Nutrition-Dietetics concentration at the junior level. A few upper-division courses can also be taken early, if desired, including food science, Introduction to Public Health, Medical Terminology, Life Span Nutrition, and Foodservice Operations Management. The first two years are also a good time to study abroad or take courses for completion of a minor, if desired, as the curriculum beginning spring of the junior year is sequential and time intensive.

Junior and senior years:

The junior year is an exciting time when students dive fully into nutrition during the spring semester and begin to apply classroom learning in practice. Coursework this year explores complementary fields including public health and kinesiology, grounds students in nutrient metabolism, builds upon foundations from Introductory Nutrition, builds skills in reading and understanding the latest in nutrition research, and establishes proficiency in nutrition assessment through both lecture and practicum. In their first practicum, students will learn key hands-on skills such as anthropometric assessment, nutrition-focused physical examination, dietary intake interviewing and analysis, electronic health record use and documentation, and more.

During senior year, students will explore the role of diet in disease prevention and treatment, build foundations in community nutrition and foodservice operations, and continue to build key practice skills. Clinically, that means working intently with case scenarios and trained “patients” before stepping into real clinical practice in a Cherokee Health Systems clinic in the spring. Students will also learn to apply nutrition education and counseling techniques, including real-life development and implementation of a nutrition education session for a group. In Nutrition Research Design & Methods II, they will also begin to lay the foundation for their culminating master’s project in the clinic setting. Minimum credit hours for the B.S. degree: 120.

Graduate year:

The MS concentration in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics is a full-time program that is three semesters in length, beginning summer term immediately following completion of the BS concentration in Nutrition-Dietetics. The MS requires 31 credit hours of combined classroom and practice-based coursework in clinical, community, and healthcare food-service settings. Key features include scheduled time at a Cherokee Health Systems clinic every week through all three semesters where students have the opportunity to build a base of repeat clients under faculty supervision. They will also take lead roles in establishing the next cohort of students within the clinic through structured mentorship of undergraduates. This clinic experience is further enhanced through additional experiences in the acute care setting. Students in their final semester will hone nutrition informatics skills through design, development, and presentation of a culminating clinical outcomes project of their own design that showcases the impact of clinical nutrition interventions in practice. After successful completion of course requirements, including documentation that all ACEND competencies have been met, students are eligible to graduate with their M.S., receive a verification statement confirming they have met all requirements, and register to take the credentialing exam.

First two years: Lower division courses

General Chemistry I and II
Foundations of Organic Chemistry
Human Physiology
Microbiology
Introduction to Statistics

General Psychology
Introductory Nutrition
General Education coursework
Electives


Last three years: Upper division and graduate courses

Junior Year-Fall
Physiological Biochemistry
Introduction to Public Health
Physical Activity
Epidemiology
Food Science
Medical Terminology
Total of 16 Credit Hours

Junior Year-Spring
Life Span Nutrition
Nutrition Assessment
Nutrition Assessment Practicum
Nutrition Research Designs & Methods I
Vitamins and Minerals
Energy Metabolish & Metabolic Integration
Total of 14 Credit Hours


Senior Year-Fall
Clinical Nutrition I
Clinical Nutrition I Practicum
Food and Nutrition in the Community
Foodservice Operations Management
Foodservicee Management Practicum
Nutrition Education and Counseling
Professional Issues in Nutrition and Dietetics
Total of 15 Credit Hours

Senior Year-Spring
Clinical Nutrition II
Clinical Nutrition II Practicum
Nutrition and Dietetics Management
Nutrition Research Design/Methods II
Advanced Food Production & Service Management
Total of 13 Credit Hours


Estimated Tuition and Fees*

Undergraduate (years 1-4)*

In State: $53,512

Out of State: $127,192

Graduate (year 5)*

In State: $18,632

Out of State: $44,218**


Total Tuition and Fees (years 1-5 combined)*
In State: $72,144

Out of State: $171,410**

*Tuition and fees listed here are based on the 2020-2021 academic year and are subject to change.

**Students from states participating in the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Academic Common Market may be able to apply for approval to pay in-state tuition if there is not a comparable program in their home state. https://www.sreb.org/academic-common-market

Additional Program Expenses

  • Room and board: Estimated $11,856/year for undergraduates. Variable.
  • Textbooks (5 years), eNCPT subscription (2 years), EHR go subscription (1 year): Estimated $4,500
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics student membership: $174 ($58/year x 3 years)
  • Lab coat, chef coat, scrubs, varies by practice site: Estimated $250+
  • Car expenses (personal transportation will be necessary for travel to supervised experiential learning sites): Variable
  • Health insurance: Variable
  • Liability insurance: $60 ($20/year x 3 years)
  • Physical and Immunizations: Variable
  • Background check and drug screening: Variable

Note: These estimated expenses are based on predictions as of the 2020-2021 academic year and are subject to change.            .

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Due to the time intensive nature of the graduate year of study, students in the Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics concentration are not eligible for teaching and research assistantships. However, students in all years of the program are strongly encouraged to apply for grant, scholarship, and other financial aid opportunities, particularly those through the University of Tennessee, our college, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, state and local affiliates such as the Tennessee Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Knoxville Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and other organizations.