The Master of Science in Human Nutrition Program provides students with a thorough education in normal and therapeutic nutrition for individuals and groups. The program is designed for students who have earned a bachelor's degree and wish to become a registered dietitian (RD) or wish to delve more deeply into nutritional science and research.
Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will require a minimum of a master’s degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). In Pennsylvania, graduates also must obtain licensure to practice. Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited didactic program in dietetics at Drexel University are eligible to apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program. For more information about educational pathways to become an RDN please visit https://www.eatrightpro.org/acend/students-and-advancing-education/information-for-students
Students can opt to pursue the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) track leading to becoming an RD, or the Nutrition Sciences (NS) track leading to work in research and industry, or as preparation for more advanced study. Both tracks stress the interdisciplinary and scientific nature of nutrition and food and provide students with a base of theoretical knowledge and methodology enabling them to continue professional growth after graduation.
The MS/DPD track is not an option for individuals who already hold the RD credential.
Graduate study in human nutrition is offered on both a full-time and part-time basis. All required courses are taught in the evening.
- MS/DPD: Students in the DPD track are required to complete a comprehensive exam at the end of the first year of study, and have the option to complete a research thesis with the guidance of a research mentor. Successful completion of the written comprehensive exam is required to graduate from the program.
- MS/NS: Students in the Nutrition Sciences track are required to complete a research thesis with the guidance of a research mentor. Successful defense of the thesis is required to graduate from the program.
Drexel University’s Department of Nutrition Sciences, Nutrition and Dietetics Program integrates a foundation in the nutrition sciences with courses in the social sciences to provide the knowledge, skills and professional values needed to prepare students to become entry-level registered dietitian nutritionists. The learning environment is structured to allow students and interns to use current technology, to participate in conducting research, and to engage in experiential learning, including co-operative education for undergraduates.
What you'll learn
The Human Nutrition curriculum covers all aspects of normal and therapeutic nutrition for individuals and groups. This major also encompasses nutrition science, the application of the principles of biochemistry, physiology, and biology to human nutritional needs. Current research in human nutrition includes food preference and nutrition, nutrition assessment, and effectiveness of nutrition education (particularly by the use of multimedia) on health and eating habits. Current research in nutrition science includes physiological and genetic determinants of obesity, lipid metabolism, neutraceuticals, and diet-endocrine interrelationships.
Soon after matriculation, students consult with their advisors and complete a plan of study. There are 14 required courses and 1 elective course in the DPD track. All students are expected to file a plan of study with the graduate advisor before the end of their third term of matriculation.
What makes the Human Nutrition program unique?
- Drexel University was one of the first universities in the country to offer the DPD at the graduate level specifically geared to students with a bachelor’s in another field.
- Extensive network of professional experiential learning opportunities and research involvement.
- You are part of the Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions with access to various practice environments and educational facilities.
- Graduates of the program who do not receive an internship match are eligible to apply for Drexel's Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) to fulfill their supervised practice requirement.
The College of Nursing and Health Professions has a compliance process that may be required for every student. Some of these steps may take significant time to complete. Please plan accordingly.
Visit the Compliance pages for more information.
Note: Applying to the M.S. in Human Nutrition with Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) program requires special planning. Students are admitted in the Fall and Winter terms. The first consideration before submitting an application is whether all prerequisites have been met. Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible so that transcripts can be reviewed and prerequisites determined.
A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in the United States or an equivalent international institution. Must have a GPA of 3.0 or above.
GRE: Minimum scores are Verbal 153, Quantitative 153 and Writing 3.0.
- Official transcripts must be sent directly to Drexel from all the colleges/universities that you have attended. Transcripts must be submitted in a sealed envelope with the college/university seal over the flap. Please note that transcripts are required regardless of number of credits taken or if the credits were transferred to another school. An admission decision may be delayed if you do not send transcripts from all colleges/universities attended.
- Transcripts must show course-by-course grades and degree conferrals. If your school does not notate degree conferrals on the official transcripts, you must provide copies of any graduate or degree certificates.
- If your school issues only one transcript for life, you are required to have a course-by-course evaluation completed by an approved transcript evaluation agency
- Use our Transcript Lookup Tool to assist you in contacting your previous institutions
For the MS/DPD, you must complete the following prerequisite courses before starting the program:
- 1 year English composition and/or literature.
- 1 semester general biology with lab to include cell and genetics.
- 2 semesters general chemistry, including an introduction to organic chemistry,with lab, OR 1 semester general/inorganic chemistry with lab AND 1 semester organic chemistry with lab.
- 1 semester biochemistry.
- 1 semester human physiology or 2 semesters anatomy and physiology.
- 1 semester basic and quantity food preparation.
- 1 semester general psychology.
- 1 semester statistics.
- 1 semester introductory nutrition.
What if I have taken some or all of these classes already?
If you have completed this coursework at another college or university that is regionally accredited, the director of the MS/DPD will evaluate your transcripts. For courses completed at another university to meet the requirements, the courses must meet the following:
- Is substantially equivalent to courses offered in the Nutrition Program at Drexel (a course description and/or course syllabus is used to determine this).
- Completed with a grade of B (3.0) or better.
- Be less than five years old for science or nutrition courses or 10 years old for other courses (based on the time of the course evaluation), with several exceptions.
- General chemistry courses may be 10 years old, but biology, human physiology, and biochemistry may only be five years old.
- In some cases, a practicing healthcare or research professional will be allowed to have certain science courses older than five years.
- The following courses have no time limits: English, general psychology, statistics, basic food preparation, and quantity foods.
You must submit official transcripts prior to enrollment.
Students who completed courses outside the United States are required to have a detailed course-by-course evaluation of their transcripts by a company found at: http://www.eatright.org/students/getstarted/international/agencies.aspx.
What if I have not taken these prerequisites yet?
Students may fulfill the prerequisite courses at another institution or local community college convenient to them. All prerequisites must be completed prior to enrolling the MS/DPD. The only exceptions are the food preparation and quantity foods courses; they must be completed by spring of the second year of the program. They are available either at Drexel University or at Community College of Philadelphia.
“Where to get Prerequisites”. >> (PDF)
You may also take these courses as a non-matriculated undergraduate at Drexel although your local community college will be less expensive.
Two letters of recommendation
- You may use our electronic letter of recommendation service
- If a recommender prefers to submit an original, hard copy letter, please remind them that it must include an ink signature and be submitted in a sealed envelope.
Personal Statement/ Essay:
Approximately 500 words explaining your reasons for pursuing a degree from Drexel and your short- and long-term career plans and how your background, experience, interest, and/or values—when combined with a Drexel degree—will enable you to pursue these goals successfully.
Admissions interview is not required.
International applicants, as well as immigrants to the United States and U.S. permanent residents whose native language is not English and who have not received a bachelor's degree or higher in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom, must show proficiency in English speaking as well as listening, writing and reading. American citizens born on U.S. military bases abroad may be waived from the TOEFL requirement after providing documentation of this status. Otherwise, applicants must meet one of the following requirements:
If you take the TOEFLiBT exam, you must have:
- a minimum combined score for listening, writing, and reading sections of 79 plus a speaking section score of 26 or higher.
- a minimum score of 550 or higher and a Test of Spoken English score (TSE) of 55 or higher.
Tuition and Fee Rates:
Please visit the Tuition and Fee Rates page on Drexel Central
Application Link (if
MS in Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) Track
- U.S. Students:
- Fall (Sept. 1)
- Winter (Nov. 23)
- International Students: Fall only (June 13)
MS in Nutrition Science Track
- U.S. Students: Fall (Sept. 1)
- International Students: Fall only (June 13)
For fall, we prefer applications be in by the end of April.
For more information on Admissions, please visit: http://drexel.edu/grad/programs/cnhp/human-nutrition/
The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ accrediting agency for education programs preparing students for careers as registered dietitians (RD). ACEND exists to serve the public by establishing and enforcing Eligibility Requirements and Accreditation Standards that ensure the quality and continued improvement of nutrition/dietetics education programs. Programs meeting those standards are accredited by ACNED. ACEND is recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. This affirms that ACEND meets national standards and is a reliable authority on the quality of nutrition/dietetics education programs.
The Drexel University Didactic Program in Nutrition and Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway is currently accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
For further information, please contact:
Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics
of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190
Chicago, IL 60606-6995, 312.899.0040 ext. 5400
Drexel's MS in Human Nutrition graduates have exceptionally high placement in dietetic internships or Drexel’s Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway. Over the past five years (2011-2016), 92% (89/97) of graduates of the program have received a match with a dietetic internship or ISPP (national average 51%).
Drexel's MS in Human Nutrition alumni have an exceptionally high pass rate on the entry-level exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. Over the past five years (2011-2015), 100% (57/57) of MS in Human Nutrition alumni passed the exam on their first attempt.
Additional program outcomes are available upon request by contacting the interim program director, Dr. Stella Volpe.
Program Goal #1: To provide quality didactic instruction and learning experiences to prepare graduates to be accepted into dietetic internships and graduate schools, or to work in the field of dietetics.
- Objective #1: Ninety percent of graduating BS students and 90% of graduating MS students will apply to an accredited dietetic internship within 12 months of graduation.
- Objective #2: Eighty percent of students who apply to dietetic internships or ISPP are accepted.
- Objective #3: Seventy-five percent of students who apply to graduate schools are accepted.
- Objective #4: Eighty percent of graduates of the Drexel University ISPP who seek employment will be employed in a dietetics-related position within six months of program completion.
- Objective #5: Graduates of the DPD will rate ten aspects of their didactic and learning experiences an average of “4” or better, on a scale of 1=poor to 5 =excellent.
- Objective #6: At least 90% of students will complete the program within 100% of the expected time frame for the program (BS DPD full-time = 4 years; BS DPD part-time = 5 to 7 years; MS DPD full-time = 2 years; MS DPD part-time = 4 years; ISPP full-time = 3 quarters or 1 year; ISPP part-time = 6 quarters or 2 years).
Program Goal #2: To prepare graduates to become competent entry-level dietitians.
- Objective #1: The program’s first time pass rate on the entry exam for all tracks (BS DPD, MS DPD and ISPP) will be 80% or higher.
- Objective #2: Internship directors of graduates of the DPD will rate ten aspects of the students preparation for internship an average of “4” or better, on a scale of 1=poor to 5 =excellent.
- Objective #3: Employers of alumni of the ISPP will rate ten aspects of the employees preparation for entry-level practice an average of “4” or better, on a scale of 1=poor to 5=excellent.
Program Goal #3: To increase diversity in the profession by facilitating the success of students from underrepresented groups.
- Objective #1: At least 20% of students in all tracks (BS DPD, MS DPD and ISPP cumulatively) will be from underrepresented groups.
MS/DPD: A Step Towaregistered dietitian Becoming a Registered Dietitian
If you have a desire to promote optimal wellness and quality of life for people of all ages through better nutrition, and if you have an interest in and capacity for science, the Didactic Program in Dietetics option may be of interest to you. The program requires 45 graduate credits and may be completed in two years with full-time study and is the first step to becoming a registered dietitian.
What Is a DPD?
The Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD ) provides the coursework required to become a registered dietitian. Students who want to become a registered dietitian must successfully complete coursework approved by the Accreditation Council on Education in Nutrition and Dietetics of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For students pursuing a Master of Science degree, the prerequisite courses (listed on the Admissions tab) fulfill a part of the required DPD coursework. Upon completion of the DPD program, students receive a verification statement, which shows successful completion of the DPD and allows entry into a dietetic internship. Master of Science students are required to earn a grade of B or better in all DPD courses to receive a DPD verification statement.
What Is a Dietetic Internship?
After you complete your MS/DPD program, you must apply for a dietetic internship (also called supervised practice). While the DPD provides mostly classroom training, the dietetic internship provides hands-on training. Dietetic internships provide at least 1,200 hours of supervised practice (unpaid) and are usually completed in eight to 12 months, depending on the availability of a part-time schedule. Entry to a dietetic internship is competitive. You will likely need at least a 3.2 undergraduate GPA and relevant work experience in healthcare to be a viable candidate. After completion of the internship, you are eligible to take the registration examination for dietitians.
What Does It Mean to Be a Registered Dietitian?
Registered Dietitians are food and nutrition experts employed in a wide variety of settings who find exciting jobs working as:
- Clinical dietitians—who provide medical nutritional therapy for patients in hospitals, physician offices, and other locations.
- Sports dietitians— who work with competitive and recreational athletes, and for sports teams.
- Wellness dietetians - who work in corporate wellness programs
- Community dietitians—who counsel individuals and groups on nutritional practices designed to prevent disease and promote good health.
- Management dietitians—who oversee large-scale meal planning and preparation in healthcare facilities, business and industry, and colleges and universities.
- Consultant dietitians—who often work under contract with healthcare facilities.
- Private practice dietitians—who counsel individuals and groups on good nutrition to improve health.
- Education dietitians—who teach nurses, dietetics students, and others about nutrition in higher education.