July 29, 2022 | By: Seth Riker
Lexington, Ky.

The University of Kentucky Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition recently launched a flexible, online Master of Science degree to satisfy an impending requirement for future registered dietitian nutritionists. 

“Starting January 2024, in addition to completing a supervised practice program, future dietitians must hold an advanced degree before they can sit for the registration exam,” said Dawn Brewer, associate professor in UK DHN and director of graduate studies. 

This new requirement, mandated by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Commission on Dietetic Registration, aims to improve dietitians’ earnings, as well as their advancement and esteem in the healthcare industry. And while UK DHN has offered an on-campus master’s degree for more than 15 years, the new online option will accommodate many more working throughout the field. 

“The online master’s in nutrition and food systems differs from our traditional program in that a thesis is not required,” Brewer said. “Instead, students complete an evidenced-based practice project based on their personal passions and professional goals.” 

Liz Combs, senior lecturer in the Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, prepares to welcome students in the new online master's program. Photo by Sarah Caton Walters.

The practice project, where online students develop a unique community program or address a nutrition-related clinical issue, is indicative of the real-world approach students experience in all UK DHN courses. 

“In addition to award-winning instruction, our faculty regularly direct grant-sponsored community projects funded by the CDC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other federal and state agencies,” said Tammy Stephenson, chair of UK DHN. “These multidimensional research activities allow our students to learn from front-line practitioners, gain meaningful expertise and strengthen their marketability across many industries.” 

While all DHN graduates develop a specific set of applied expertise, their career paths vary across healthcare, government, education, non-profit and many other industries. 

The path to the online master’s degree may also vary. Depending on their schedule and desired pace, students may complete the degree in 12 to 24 months. Current UK dietetics students may begin the online program during their undergraduate coursework by applying for the University Scholars Program. 

“This program can fit dietitians in training or registered dietitian nutritionists currently in practice who are looking for advanced training with a graduate degree,” Brewer said. “But it is also a great fit for healthcare and food systems advocates seeking leadership roles in their profession.” 

The online master’s in Nutrition and Food Systems is now accepting applications with no GRE requirement. Visit https://dhn.ca.uky.edu/online-ms-degree to learn more. Direct questions to DHN@uky.edu 

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