Graduate Study


The Nutritional Sciences Program offers a a Master of Public Health (MPH), a Master of Science (MS), and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)*.  Additionally, graduate students can combine their degree with an RDN training program, the Graduate Coordinated Program in Dietetics (GCPD), that provides the coursework and supervised practice required to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).

Training in the application of nutritional sciences to dietetic practice is provided through didactic, clinical, and community experiences.

*From autumn 2020 through 2023, we are only accepting PhD applications from students who are currently enrolled in our master’s programs. The suspension of admission to outside applicants gives us the opportunity to review and revise our curriculum and improve student opportunities.

Students pursue jobs in public health and nutrition research; clinical dietetics (neonatal, pediatrics, adult); local, state, and U.S. government funded nutrition programs; home health care; food and supplement industry; consulting practice (business, private); corporate wellness; and sports performance. Median annual earnings of dietitians and nutritionists was $59,410 in 2017. Visit the Occupational Outlook Handbook for more information about a career in nutrition and dietetics.

Graduates of the program work as research coordinators in the Center for Public Health Nutrition, the Hunger Intervention Program (Program Manager), Washington Physicians Health Program (Research and Communications Coordinator), Highline Medical Center (On-Call Dietician), and Harborview Medical Center (clinical dietitian, Patient Food Services Manager), to name a few examples.

We offer a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health and a Nutrition minor.

The Food Systems major is not a clinical nutrition or dietetics degree and will not, alone, prepare students for that career path.

The Nutritional Sciences Option in the Public Health-Global Health Major leads to a Bachelor of Science degree by providing an organized pathway of courses for students that will help in their preparation for graduate studies in nutrition or dietetics, whether at the UW or with another Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) accredited graduate program.

No.  Our graduate program is a full-time, day program held on the Seattle UW campus. There are universities that offer distance learning programs and they are listed on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

Tuition and fees are established by the University of Washington. You may review the residency website for more information on residency classification.

Though financial assistance through the Nutritional Sciences Program is limited, students who have already been accepted to the program may be eligible for assistantships, scholarships, or other financial assistance. International students, however, must show proof of financial ability before enrolling.

Current master’s and doctoral students are eligible to apply for several teaching assistantships and scholarships offered by the Nutritional Sciences Program. There are a limited number of competitively awarded research assistantships that are typically awarded to the top PhD applicants to provide support during the first year of studies while they work to identify a faculty advisor and pursue options for continued funding. Our students are also eligible to apply for and have been successful in obtaining support from training grants and fellowships offered within the School of Public Health and the University of Washington, including several training grants in Maternal and Child Health. Additionally, our students have been successful in obtaining scholarships from outside organizations such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Washington State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Funding opportunities are publicized to all enrolled students as they become available each year. See Costs & Funding for more information.

A full-time load is 10 credits. MPH students usually take around 15 credits, which means 15 hours of class-time during the week. If you estimate at least 2 hours of outside work per hour of in-class work, you will have a full schedule.

A lot of our students do work part-time but holding down a full-time job and completing a master’s degree program is difficult, if even possible.

Submitting GRE scores is no longer a required part of the application process.

If official GRE scores are reported to the University of Washington for the applicant, they will appear in the MyGrad application and show as received on the Application Status Page (applicant dashboard). However, review and consideration of GRE scores is no longer part of the review or decision process for the Nutritional Sciences Program.

No. Our students have very diverse backgrounds, with degrees in archaeology, nursing, nutrition, psychology, biology, public health, and many others. See Requirements for more information on prerequisites.

The official assessment and academic preparation of international students must be completed by the Graduate School. The evaluation of an overseas degree is based on the following:

  • The characteristics of a national system of education in the home country
  • The type of institution attended
  • The field of study and level of studies completed
  • Official accreditation/recognition status of school

Since there are no U.S. federal guidelines on admission, each institution determines its own policy on prior degrees.

At the University of Washington, you must have at least a baccalaureate degree equivalent to a regionally accredited U.S. institution to apply for admission to this Graduate School (3-year degrees do not qualify).

We require all prerequisites to be finished before the program starts. You may still apply with a few prerequisites outstanding, if you can finish them before the start of autumn quarter in late September/early October. If you are accepted and cannot do this, you will be asked to defer enrollment until the next year, during which time you can complete the prerequisites.

Each year the program receives approximately 150 applications. On average, we offer acceptance to approximately 30%. Our incoming class is typically 18 – 20 students, comprised of 14 positions available in the GCPD (MS/GCPD, MPH/GCPD, or PhD/GCPD), those who choose to pursue a master’s degree without becoming a Registered Dietitian, and PhD students.

A cumulative GPA of 3.00 or greater for the final 90 quarter credits or 60 semester hours is an expectation for graduate study at the UW. This is a requirement of the UW Graduate School; exceptions to this requirement are possible but rare.

We do not offer volunteer opportunities within the program itself, but we recommend prospective students look to food banks, community gardens, hospitals, and long-term care facilities to gain nutrition experience. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as the Washington State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics can sometimes provide ideas on volunteering. Food Lifeline offers volunteer opportunities as well as Marra Farms and the Hunger Intervention Program. An internet search may provide more results.

Applications are submitted via the Graduate School’s online application. Review our How to Apply page.

Applying for both programs is strongly discouraged, as fit for an academic program is an admission consideration.

The nutritional sciences core courses of both the MS and MPH are the same; the difference is program concentration. Choose one way or the other; if you are looking for community work, public health, etc., apply for the MPH. If you want to focus on the clinical aspects of nutrition, then the MS is what you’re looking for.

No. If you have submitted your materials, we should have no problem viewing them. If we are missing anything or have problems with what you’ve uploaded, we will contact you directly.

A student working toward a master’s degree may petition the Dean of the Graduate School for permission to transfer to the University of Washington the equivalent of 6 quarter credits of graduate level course work taken at another recognized academic institution. These credits may not have been used to satisfy requirements for another degree. The petition must include a written recommendation from the Graduate Program Coordinator and an official transcript indicating completion of the course work. Transfer credits are not entered on the UW transcript.

Reach out to advising for assistance with questions about the graduate program, the application process, and information about transcripts or prerequisites.