Best Grad Schools - U.S. News & World Report, Public Health 2020

Online RD Program
Delivered by the UNC Gillings School

MPH@UNC offers an online, fully accredited Master of Public Health/Registered Dietitian (MPH/RD) program that integrates the scientific study of nutrition and dietetics with a foundation in public health practice and research.

The master’s-level online RD program is delivered by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health — the No. 1-ranked public school of public health and the No. 2-ranked school of public health in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s list of top public health schools (most recently published in 2019).1

With the online RD program from the Gillings School, aspiring clinical dietitians who are motivated to help people live healthier lives through better nutrition can earn a master’s degree in public health from a leading school.

MPH@UNC offers customized field experience placement services to assist students in fulfilling the course and field experience requirements needed to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam.

By 2024, a master’s degree will be the minimum requirement to sit for the CDR exam.2

Request information about pursuing RD licensure with UNC’s top-ranked Gillings School.

How Can a Global Public Health Background Strengthen Your Practice as an RD?

As global health care becomes increasingly complex, our communities need clinical dietitians who understand both the landscape of public health and its implications on individuals’ nutritional care.

By earning your master’s degree with RD preparation from UNC Gillings, you will position yourself to tackle real-world nutrition problems around the globe.

As a public-health-prepared RD, you will be empowered to provide highly effective clinical care and create lasting behavioral change through a rich understanding of the personal, social, economic and environmental factors affecting your clients’ health.

Prevent and Treat Major Diseases

Guide individuals in making nutritional choices that reduce the likelihood of developing a critical illness, and counsel patients in implementing dietary changes that help them heal.

Work With Underserved Populations

Help clients navigate the food resources available in their communities to create balanced, nutritious meals within their budgets.

Collaborate on Public Health Initiatives

Provide nutrition science expertise to interdisciplinary teams tackling urgent public health problems related to food, such as diabetes and heart disease.

The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

The Gillings School is known around the world — but at our core, we are a close-knit community of visionaries and innovators, scientists and problem-solvers who are passionate about tackling the world’s most challenging health problems.

Our Department of Nutrition, a global leader in research and education, is the only nutrition department in the United States situated jointly in a school of public health and a school of medicine.

Each faculty member is dually appointed for the UNC School of Medicine and the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

As a student in the UNC Gillings School’s online Registered Dietitian program, you will collaborate with professors who are spearheading nutrition-related advances in treating and preventing:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Infectious diseases
  • Maternal and child nutrition problems
  • Obesity

UNC Gillings also offers an on-campus Master of Public Health (MPH)/Registered Dietitian (RD) program.

Request information from UNC’s Gillings School, the No. 1-ranked public school of public health.

Online RD Curriculum

Full-Time and Part-Time Options

49
Total Credits

Offered on a full-time and part-time basis, the online RD program is designed to develop professionals with a strong foundation in public health and clinical nutrition.

The MPH/RD program is a 49-credit program. As a student, you will complete the following:

The Gillings Core Curriculum: 12 credits

The Gillings MPH Core integrated curriculum explores foundational concepts of public health through the lens of today’s most pressing global concerns, such as the obesity epidemic, the cycle of food insecurity and the inequitable distribution of food supplies.

As a student in the online master’s program, you will practice collaborating with multidisciplinary teams to develop scientifically based solutions for improving health in both local and global communities.

For a total of 12 credits, the five core courses include:

  • SPHG 713 Understanding Public Health Issues (2 credits)
  • SPHG 712 Methods and Measures (2 credits)
  • SPHG 711 Data Analysis for Public Health (2 credits)
  • SPHG 721 Conceptualizing Public Health Solutions (2 credits)
  • SPHG 722 Developing, Implementing and Evaluating Public Health Solutions (4 credits)

Nutrition and Dietetics Coursework: 31 credits

As a student in the online RD program, you will complete coursework specifically exploring the science, communication and policy of nutrition and dietetics, including:

  • NUTR 611 Nutrition Across the Lifecycle (3 credits)
  • NUTR 630 Nutrition Counseling, Communications and Culture (3 credits)
  • NUTR 715 Introduction to Nutritional Biochemistry (3 credits)
  • NUTR 640 Medical Nutrition Therapy (4 credits)
  • NUTR 701 MPH Practicum Preparation- RD Specific (3 credits)
  • NUTR 723 Public Health Nutrition Management (3 credits)
  • NUTR 805 Nutrition Policy (3 credits)
  • Elective- Dependent upon student interests (3 credits)
  • NUTR 813 Nutritional Epidemiology (3 credits)
  • NUTR 650/650L Food Science and Food Science Lab (3 credits)

Request more information about the RD Program at UNC's Gillings School.

Field Experiences

Field experiences — which prepare students for careers in clinical nutrition or public health and community leadership — comprise 1,000 hours of course curriculum activities and four primary field experiences:

  • Public Health Nutrition Management
  • Clinical Nutrition
  • Food Service/Systems Management
  • Advanced Nutrition

These hands-on experiences enable you to apply the knowledge and skills you have acquired through your coursework and demonstrate attainment of program learning outcomes. Your fieldwork is designed to prepare you to be competitive in the job market, sit for the CDR exam and lead a safe and effective dietetics practice.

Placements are decided based on input from both students and faculty. The MPH@UNC placement team will assist you in identifying field experience sites in your geographical location that best fit your area of interest.

Your fieldwork will allow you to integrate clinical and public health skills in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, local health agencies, governmental organizations and nonprofit groups.

Public Health Nutrition Experience
(240 Hours)

Public Health Nutrition Experience (240 Hours)

The Public Health Nutrition Experience, completed during the second summer of enrollment, provides students with an understanding of how a public health department or organization supports its community.

You will be assigned to a state or local health agency and work under the direction of a public health nutritionist/dietitian preceptor.

Clinical Nutrition Experience
(400 Hours)

Clinical Nutrition Experience (400 Hours)

The Clinical Nutrition Experience, completed during the first summer of enrollment, offers learning experiences that provide basic competencies in clinical nutrition and dietetics practice.

You will develop an understanding of the role of a clinical dietitian and the opportunities and constraints of the health care setting in providing nutritional care to patients, as well as an awareness of the need for continuity of patient care between health care facilities and public health agencies.

Food Service/Systems Management Experience and Online Module
(110 Hours)

Food Service/Systems Management Experience and Online Module (110 Hours)

The Food Service Management Experience occurs during the first summer of enrollment at a local food service facility (e.g. university or hospital) or a food service facility affiliated with the student’s clinical nutrition site.

You will complete online food service management modules (20 hours) and take a ServSafe Manager’s Training course and certification exam (10 hours) to prepare for your food service rotations (80 hours).

Advanced Nutrition Experience
(240 Hours)

Advanced Nutrition Experience (240 Hours)

The Advanced Nutrition Experience, completed during the second summer of enrollment, is the final field experience for MPH/RD students.

Students are placed in domestic and international organizations (governmental, nonprofit and private sector) that play a role in supporting nutritional health and well-being. This experience will provide you with the opportunity to:

  • Integrate theory with practice.
  • Facilitate your transition from student to professional status.
  • Clarify your short-term career objectives in a supportive and nurturing environment.

This experience is tailored to your individual interests and professional goals.


Culminating Experience: 3 credits

In the degree’s required Culminating Experience, you will participate in an interprofessional team project and address a public health issue related to nutrition science and/or dietetics.


Accreditation

The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health MPH/RD program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), following the Future Practice Model.

Download the full MPH/RD program details. (PDF, 378 kB)

Why Become a Registered Dietitian?

RDs provide customized nutritional counseling to support and motivate clients to improve their health.

As a public-health-prepared RD, you can:

  • Assess the dietary needs of clients in diverse settings, from private practices to corporations to public health departments.
  • Design meal plans for patients recovering from acute and chronic illness, informed by their determinants of health.
  • Provide medical nutrition therapy in hospital settings and long-term care corporations.
  • Advocate for affordable, nutritious food choices in your community.
  • Oversee meal programs in food service settings such as cafeterias and food corporations, including buying food and managing kitchen staff.

Prerequisite Information: Registered Dietitian

Applicants may be considered for admission before completing one or more pre-requisites. However, all pre-requisites must be completed before entering the program.

The applicant’s personal statement should include a description of the specific plan for satisfying the pre-requisites prior to the program start date.

MPH/RD Prerequisites

  • Chemistry (from basic to organic)
  • Biochemistry
  • Human Anatomy
  • Human Physiology
  • Microbiology with lab
  • Human Nutrition
  • General Psychology
  • Introduction to Anthropology or Sociology I

Begin Your Career as a Registered Dietitian

As an RD trained in public health, you can help people in your community and around the world lead healthier lives.

Request information to learn more about our online Registered Dietitian program.

1Best Public Health Schools, U.S. News and World Report (2019)

2CDR Net(2018)