Graduate Study

Graduate Program Requirements

Review Process

Applications for graduate study in Nutritional Sciences, whether combined with the RDN training program or not, are reviewed holistically and assessed by a faculty admissions committee. The committee considers each applicant’s academic record, academic skills, relevant professional work and/or volunteer experience, overcoming adversity or disadvantage in achieving educational goals, and motivation and fit with Nutritional Sciences.

Admission to the Nutritional Sciences Program and the Graduate Coordinated Program in Dietetics (RDN training) is competitive. To be considered for admission, the following requirements and prerequisites must be satisfied.

Applicant Requirements for Graduate Degree Programs and RDN Training Program

  • Degree: Bachelor’s degree; may be in any field. If the required prerequisite courses listed below were not included in your degree program, they may be completed at any college or university, including community colleges, prior to admission.
    • Note: From autumn 2020 to 2023, we are only accepting applications to our PhD program from students currently enrolled in our master’s programs. Suspending admissions to outside applicants allows us the opportunity to review and revise our curriculum and improve student opportunities.
  • Prerequisite coursework: You must complete the following courses before entering the program. A minimum of 1 quarter or 1 semester is required except where noted.
    • Nutrition (should be complete at the time of application)
    • 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 GCPD prerequisites:

    • Psychology
    • Microbiology
    • Food Science (with lab)
    • Management of Nutrition Services
    • If admitted to the GCPD, these additional requirements must be completed before enrolling:
      • National Background Check
      • ServSafe Manager Certificate

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, including management of nutrition services.

If prerequisite courses were completed more than 10 years before entering the program, the following courses must be retaken: human nutrition, biochemistry, human physiology, microbiology (GCPD applicants), management in nutrition services (GCPD applicants), and food science with lab (GCPD applicants). For these GCPD prerequisites, appropriate professional use of each course may suffice as meeting the prerequisite.

  • GPA: A cumulative GPA of 3.00 or greater for the final 90 quarter credits or 60 semester hours completed is an expectation for the UW Graduate School. Applicants with a GPA below 3.0 may still be considered if their overall application has exceptional strengths.
  • GRE (general exam): Because of COVID-19 impact to testing, applicants for autumn 2021 admission are not required to submit GRE general exam scores. Applicants who have already taken the GRE are invited to include their scores if they feel it enhances their application. Applicants who do not include a GRE score will not be viewed negatively.
    Quantitative, verbal, and writing skills provide an important foundation for the requirements you will complete in our program. The review committee typically looks for scores above the 40th percentile to demonstrate readiness for the rigor and pace of the program coursework, particularly biostatistics and epidemiology which presume strong quantitative preparation. You are encouraged to list relevant coursework and other evidence of your quantitative preparation where indicated on the Nutritional Sciences Application form.  See FAQ for more about the GRE.

See the prerequisite guidelines below for examples of appropriate courses at UW and tips for identifying comparable courses at other institutions.

Additional Requirements for International Applicants

In addition to the requirements for admission listed above, international applicants are required to submit:

  • TOEFL Scores (or other required English Proficiency Exam Score): International applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English language proficiency by submitting official scores from one of the exams listed below. Test scores are valid for two years and must be valid on the date the application is submitted. The minimum required scores are:
    • 92 on the TOEFL iBT
    • 580 on the TOEFL pBT (paper-based)
  • Evidence of Financial Ability: International students can visit The Graduate School International Admissions website for more information on the financial ability requirement.

Prerequisite Guidelines

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.

Transcript Evaluations: Due to the high number of inquiries we receive, we are not able to do transcript evaluations for prospective applicants. Please refer to the table below for guidelines to assist you in determining which courses you have satisfied or still need to complete.

Sample Courses that Satisfy Prerequisites

PrerequisiteGuidelines for Selecting a CourseCourses that Satisfy Prerequisite
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.
BiochemistryShould 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. Lab not required, unless it is a standard component of the physiology course at your institution. (Example: “Survey of Physiology & Physiology Lab”)

Additional Prerequisites for Applicants to 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 Course:
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.Sample Online Courses:

Applicants in Washington State: You can use the UW Equivalency Guide to find classes at local community colleges that are equivalent to the recommended courses at the University of Washington.