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 internship placement services to assist students in fulfilling the course and internship 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. Through earning your master’s degree with RD preparation from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, 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, and 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

28 or 36 Months to Complete

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:

  • Understanding Public Health Issues (2 credits)
  • Methods and Measures (2 credits)
  • Data Analysis for Public Health (2 credits)
  • Conceptualizing Public Health Solutions (2 credits)
  • 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 400 Introduction to Nutritional Biochemistry (3 credits)
  • NUTR 640 Medical Nutrition Therapy (4 credits)
  • NUTR 600 Macronutrient Metabolism (3 credits)
  • NUTR 723 Public Health Nutrition Management (3 credits)
  • NUTR 805 Nutrition Policy (3 credits)
  • NUTR 620 Micronutrient Metabolism (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.

Practicum With Dietetic Internship: 3 credits

The UNC Gillings School’s online Registered Dietitian program is a public health program with a dietetic internship, designed to prepare students to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) national licensure exam.

Public Health Practicum

While enrolled in the online RD program, you also can expect to complete 200 hours of a traditional public health practicum experience. The practicum will give you the opportunity to apply theories learned in the classroom in a new or different kind of health care environment. This field experience occurs after you complete most of the RD curriculum. and it must be interactive, not exclusively observational. You may complete the practicum in your current workplace if it meets the requirements.

Public Health Practicum

While enrolled in the online RD program, you also can expect to complete 200 hours of a traditional public health practicum experience. The practicum will give you the opportunity to apply theories learned in the classroom in a new or different kind of health care environment. This field experience occurs after you complete most of the RD curriculum. and it must be interactive, not exclusively observational. You may complete the practicum in your current workplace if it meets the requirements.

Dietetic Internship Experience

You can also expect to complete approximately 1,000 hours of a dietetic internship woven throughout the curriculum — this is a requirement to meet the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics’ (ACEND) competency standards. Your 200 public health practicum hours will count toward this total. Full-time students should expect to spend 40 hours per week for up to 20 weeks completing the internship.

Dietetic Internship Experience

You can also expect to complete approximately 1,000 hours of a dietetic internship woven throughout the curriculum — this is a requirement to meet the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics’ (ACEND) competency standards. Your 200 public health practicum hours will count toward this total. Full-time students should expect to spend 40 hours per week for up to 20 weeks completing the internship.

The MPH@UNC placement team will assist you in identifying internship sites in your geographical location that best fit your area of interest. This hands-on experience is designed to prepare you to be competitive in the job market, succeed on the CDR exam and lead a safe and effective dietetics practice.

The dietetic internship will provide you with a well-rounded experience of integrating clinical and public health skills in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, local health agencies, governmental organizations and nonprofit groups.

There are three unique phases in our dietetic internship:

1. Public Health Nutrition Experience

Under the mentorship of a public health nutritionist or dietitian preceptor, you will practice community assets mapping, or gathering information on the health resources available in your community. With an inventory of your findings on hand, you will be better equipped to connect clients with local resources that can improve their well-being.

2. Clinical Nutrition Experience

During the Clinical Nutrition Experience, you will practice clinical dietetics with an RD’s supervision. You will become part of a hospital medical team, assessing and supporting the nutritional needs of patients with acute and chronic illnesses while developing your clinical decision-making skills.

3. Advanced Nutrition Experience

The final experience is designed to help you develop your career goals and to facilitate the transition from student to professional in a supportive environment.


Culminating Experience: 3 credits

In the degree’s required Culminating Experience, you will write a major paper on 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.

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)