Graduate Study

Prerequisite Information

Prerequisite Coursework Requirements

The following courses must be completed prior to beginning either the MPH or MS program:

  • Nutrition
  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry (2 quarters or 1 semester)
  • Physiology

Applicants to the Graduate Coordinated Program in Dietetics (GCPD) must also complete the following coursework:

  • Psychology
  • Microbiology
  • Food Science (with lab)
  • Management of Nutrition Services

View the Prerequisite Guidelines and Example Coursework.

Prerequisite Guidelines

Completing prerequisite coursework is critical to success in the program as it helps students establish a solid foundation and academic basis in order to complete the NSP curriculum. The NSP Admissions Committee will follow these general guidelines/parameters:

  • Prerequisites may be in-progress or projected at the time of application but should be completed prior to matriculation in Autumn quarter.
    • Exception: A general nutrition course must be completed by the end of the term of application. (For example, students applying by the December 1, 2021 deadline, are expected to complete their nutrition course by the end of Autumn 2021.)
    • Note: It is not unusual for GCPD applicants to take the food science (with lab) and management of nutrition service courses after being admitted to the program but prior to matriculation in Autumn quarter.
  • Applicants with incomplete prerequisite coursework at the time of application, will be reviewed on an individual basis and other merits of their application will be carefully considered.  In this case, the Prerequisite Information section of the application should clearly detail how the remaining classes will be completed.
  • Applicants are discouraged from applying if they are missing a significant number of prerequisite courses.
  • Applicants who have completed a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) and received a Verification Statement from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) have satisfied the GCPD prerequisite courses.
  • Prerequisite coursework should be current within the last 10 years. If the following classes were completed outside of that range, they will need to be retaken: nutrition, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology (GCPD), management of nutrition services (GCPD) and food science with lab (GCPD).
  • Prerequisite courses must be completed at a regionally accredited institution for academic credit, and must be completed for a numeric grade, with the following exceptions:
    • AP/IB scores can be accepted if an institution has awarded college-level credit that appears on the official transcript.
    • Non-numeric passing grades earned during an emergency or Extenuating Circumstances quarter may also be accepted.
    • Narrative course evaluations can also be accepted if that is the standard mode of assessment at the school.
  • Students who have taken coursework at an institution within the state of Washington with a transfer agreement (community colleges) can use the UW Equivalency Guide to find classes that are equivalent to the recommended courses at the University of Washington.

Questions about a prerequisite? Email with the course abbreviation and link to the school’s online catalog.

Note: Several of the prerequisite courses, particularly general chemistry and organic chemistry, are offered in a series. Therefore, it may be necessary to take multiple classes, in order to be able to move on to complete all of the prerequisites. In this case, it is best to identify the biochemistry course you wish to take and then work backwards to establish your prerequisite course plan.

Example Coursework

Refer to this list as a guideline for identifying courses to satisfy the prerequisites for our programs. Examples of courses available at the University of Washington and other schools are provided as a reference. Comparable courses may be taken from other colleges or universities including community colleges.

Prerequisites for the MPH and MS Programs

PrerequisiteCourse ContentExample Courses
Nutrition -1 quarter or semesterA general nutrition course that covers the science of human nutrition, including nutrients, nutritional needs across the lifespan, health behaviors, and prevention of chronic disease.
General Chemistry - 1 quarter or semesterShould cover atomic nature of matter, stoichiometry, acids and bases, chemical equilibrium, and gas laws. Lab not required.
Organic Chemistry - 1 quarter or semesterShould include introduction to structure, nomenclature, properties, and reactions of the main functional families of organic compounds. Stereochemistry and spectroscopy. Lab not required.
Biochemistry - 2 quarters or 1 semesterShould provide a survey of basic principles of biochemistry and molecular biology, emphasizing broad understanding of chemical events in living systems in terms of metabolism and structure-function relationships of biologically important molecules. Lab not required
Physiology - 1 quarter or semesterShould cover human physiology, metabolism and energetics, structure and function of biomolecules, and cell and organ structure and function.

*Note: A number of institutions divide this content into two or more parts (such as “Anatomy and Physiology 1 & 2”). If this is the case at your college or university, the expectation is that you complete both parts at the same institution. Lab not required.

Additional Prerequisites the Graduate Coordinated Program in Dietetics (GCPD)

PrerequisiteGuidelines for Selecting a CourseCourses that Satisfy Prerequisite
Psychology - 1 quarter or semesterIntroductory psychology course covering major areas of psychological science including human social behavior, personality, psychological disorders and treatment, learning, human development, biological influences, and research methods.Sample UW Course:
Microbiology - 1 quarter or semesterAcquaints students with microorganisms and their activities including microbial cell structure and function, metabolism, and the role of microorganisms in disease. Lab not required.Sample UW Course
Food Science - 1 quarter or semesterCovers the scientific principles behind food composition, processing, preparation, safety, quality and culinary techniques with emphasis on sensory evaluation. Lab required.Recommended Online Courses:
Management of Nutrition Services - 1 quarter or semesterIncludes management and business theories and principles required to deliver programs and services. Course includes content related to quality management of food and nutrition services, budgeting and human resources.Sample Online Courses:

Questions about a prerequisite? Email with the course abbreviation and link to the school’s online catalog.