Western Region Graduate Program
Master of Public Health Nutrition
Future Education Model Program in Nutrition and Dietetics
The MPH Nutrition program at Northern Arizona University is a residential program that prepares students to take the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) credentialing examination to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) granted the MPH Nutrition program candidacy for accreditation November 15, 2018 under the newly released Future Education Model Standards for programs in nutrition and dietetics.
These accreditation standards integrate didactic coursework with supervised experiential learning in a competency-based curriculum designed to prepare nutrition and dietetics practitioners for future practice.
About Accordion Closed
The MPH Nutrition Program at NAU is a 24-month residential program that includes graduate courses in public health and dietetics along with supervised experiential learning.
This Future Education Model Graduate-level program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Upon completion of the program, graduates are eligible to sit for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Examination.
Contact information for ACEND:
Our instructors and preceptors are dedicated to preparing students to serve the public health and nutrition needs of Northern Arizona communities and beyond. Students progress through a series of graduate-level courses in public health and nutrition that include learner-centered teaching approaches. Courses include innovative uses of simulation and service learning activities so that students don’t just learn about public health and nutrition, they learn how to apply these concepts into real world settings.
Mission and Vision Accordion Closed
The mission of the NAU Master of Public Health Nutrition program is to prepare graduates, through learner-centered educational strategies, research, and public service, to practice as Registered Dietitian Nutritionists who support the advancement of population health and the prevention of disease for diverse, underserved communities.
The program’s vision is to advance population health and achieve global health equity through education, research, and public service.
Program Goals and Objectives Accordion Closed
To prepare competent registered dietitian nutritionists in a timely manner who are capable of planning, implementing, and evaluating health programs and contributing to scholarly endeavors.
- Program Completion: A minimum of 80% of students will complete program/degree requirements within 150% of the program length (or 3.5 years).**
- Employer Satisfaction: At least 80% of employers will indicate that program graduates were prepared or very prepared for their first position as a nutrition and dietetics professional.**
- Graduate Employment: At least 80% of program graduates will be employed in nutrition and dietetics or related fields within 12 months of program completion.**
- Registration Exam: 90% of program graduates will take the Commission on Dietetics Registration (CDR) credentialing examination for dietitian nutritionists within 12 months of program completion.**
- Registration Exam Pass Rate: 80% of graduates over a five-year period will pass the CDR credentialing exam for registered dietitian nutritionists within one year following the first attempt.**
- At least 80% of graduates will report confidence in planning, implementing, and evaluating health interventions.*
- At least 80% of graduates will present their public health projects and/or research in a professional conference setting or peer-reviewed scholarly publication.*
To prepare nutrition and dietetics professionals to address the health and nutrition needs of diverse underserved communities through hands-on learner-centered educational strategies.
- At least 80% of employers will indicate that program graduates were prepared or very prepared to address the nutritional needs of diverse audiences.*
- At least 20% of students will be from traditionally underrepresented groups within the profession.*
- At least 50% of courses will include instruction and activities related to serving diverse, underserved communities.*
- At least 75% of students will report satisfaction with faculty instruction.*
To provide professional growth and service opportunities in public health and nutrition that supports student and faculty development.
- At least 90% of students will report satisfaction with career advising and preparation received from faculty and staff.*
- At least 70% of alumni will report that the applied practice experience prepared them for their careers.*
- At least 80% of faculty will have service responsibilities.*
*Objectives unique to the Northern Arizona University MPH Nutrition Program
** Objectives required by ACEND
Program outcome data is available upon request.
Careers in Dietetics Accordion Closed
The field of nutrition and dietetics is continually growing. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the projected growth from 2016-2026 is 15%. In 2017 the median pay for dietitians was $59,410 per year.
Dietitians are experts in the use of food and nutrition to promote health and manage disease. They work in a variety of settings including hospitals, health clinics, public health departments, and foodservice operations.
Beginning in 2024, a master’s degree will be required in order to gain candidacy to sit for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Examination.
The dietitian training program at NAU is a Future Education Model. A Future Education Model places training for registered dietitian nutritionists at the graduate level. In this new model, students can earn a bachelor’s degree in any field while completing pre-requisite courses that are required for most graduate-level Future Education Model nutrition programs.
Upon successful completion of a graduate level Future Education Model program (such as the MPH Nutrition program at NAU) students are eligible to sit for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Examination.
Traditional dietetics education pathways to becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist are still available and these include:
- Completing an ACEND-accredited undergraduate Didactic Program in Dietetics, followed by a graduate-level ACEND-accredited dietetic internship program;
- Completing an ACEND-accredited coordinated program with didactic coursework and the dietetic internship combined into one program at the undergraduate level;
- Completing an ACEND-accredited coordinated program with the didactic coursework and dietetic internship combined into one program at the graduate level.*
*This is similar to a Future Education Model, but follows slightly different accreditation standards.
This graphic provides an overview of the current pathways in dietetics education.
Admission Requirements Accordion Closed
Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree from a four-year college or university, or its international equivalent with a 3.0 GPA or better in any subject. Students who earned a degree in nutrition/dietetics and have received a verification statement are eligible to apply, as are students who earned a degree in any other subject, as long as they have completed the required pre-requisite courses prior to admission.
Required Pre-requisite Courses
Prior to applying please complete the following pre-requisite courses:
- 1 semester of an introductory or basic statistics course
- 1 semester of general chemistry
- 1 semester of organic chemistry (Note: Labs for the two chemistry courses are not required unless necessary to advance from general to organic chemistry at the institution where you are taking the pre-requisite courses.)
- 1 semester of anatomy and physiology
- 1 semester of microbiology
- 1 semester of an introductory nutrition course (minimum 3 units)
- 1 semester course in food safety and sanitation or proof of a current ServSafe® certification.*
Students who have not completed all pre-requisite courses prior to submitting their application will still be considered for the program as long as no more than 2 pre-requisite courses are outstanding prior to the application deadline, and the student can demonstrate proof of enrollment in the remaining pre-requisite courses in their application (a screenshot demonstrating course enrollment is sufficient).
Students with outstanding pre-requisite courses must demonstrate that they completed those courses with a C or better prior to the start of the program. Students will be dropped from the program if pre-requisite courses are not complete, or if a C or better was not earned prior to the start of the program.
Pre-requisite courses completed more than 10 years prior to the application deadline may need to be retaken.
*The ServSafe® course and certification can be taken and submitted with your application in place of completing a college-level food safety and sanitation course. Visit https://www.servsafe.com/access/SS/Catalog/ProductDetail/SSECT6 to find online ServSafe® trainings.
Course Plan Accordion Closed
The MPH Nutrition program is completed in a cohort model, meaning that coursework must be completed exactly as outlined in the following course plan.
Application Accordion Closed
To apply visit the NAU Graduate College website. The application opens November 1st. The priority application deadline is January 15th. Applications that are submitted between January 16th and April 15th may be considered to fill any remaining openings, though it is unlikely that openings will remain. Required application components include:
- Application fee. The Graduate College requires a $65 application processing fee (non-refundable), which is paid online when you submit your application.
- Resume or Vita
- Personal Statement.Please write a one to two page letter of personal introduction and professional intent. Include the following information in your personal statement:
- The concentration to which you are applying
- Your academic focus or interest areas in health and wellness
- Your professional goals and how the MPH Nutrition program at NAU aligns with these goals
- Identification as someone from a diverse or historically underrepresented group* (if applicable)
- Experience working with others from a diverse or historically underrepresented group* (if applicable)
- Transcripts. Submit transcripts from all colleges and universities attended that contributed to the baccalaureate degree as well as transcripts documenting completion of the pre-requisite courses (see Admission Requirements above). If you are enrolled in a pre-requisite course the same semester you apply, please include evidence of enrollment in final pre-requisite courses. If you opted to complete the ServSafe® exam in place of a college-level food safety and sanitation course, please upload your ServSafe® certification.
- Graduate Record Examination.The Graduate Record Examination is NOT required and is NOT used to evaluate applicants.
- Letters of Recommendation.Applicants need three professional references who will submit recommendation forms on the NAU graduate application portal on their behalf. At least one reference should be a faculty member. At least one reference should be a supervisor or manager. The third reference can be either a supervisor/manager or a faculty member. (Applicants are encouraged to request letters of recommendation from faculty and supervisors at least 3-4 weeks prior to the application deadline.)
- International Students. If English is not your native language, you must provide proof of English proficiency from one of the following testing agencies:
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
Scores are sent directly to NAU from ETS
NAU’s Institutional Code is 4006.
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
Scores are sent directly to NAU from IELTS. The address to send IELTS scores is:
Center for International Education- NAU
Attention: Meaghan Gruber
523 S Knoles Drive
PO Box 5598
Flagstaff, AZ 86011
The minimum English proficiency scores for most programs are: 80 (TOEFL iBT) or 6.5 (IELTS). Scores must be sent directly to the Center for International Education from the Testing Institution.
The TOEFL/IELTS may be waived:
- If you are a native speaker of English. Native speakers are considered applicants who are from and have completed a high school or university education at an institution in an English-speaking country. List of English speaking countries can be found at https://nau.edu/cie/education-abroad/programs/english-speaking-countries/
- If you have earned a bachelor’s degree (or higher) from a U.S. university or college.
*Definitions of “diverse or historically underrepresented groups” can be found here, as noted in the NAU Diversity Strategic Plan.
The complexity of personal experiences, values, and worldviews that arise from differences and intersections of culture and circumstance. Such differences and intersections include race, sex, ethnicity, age, religion, language, ability/disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, socioeconomic, veteran or other status, or geographic region.
Historically underrepresented groups (HUG)
Those diverse groups, identities, and communities that historically are underrepresented, underserved, or marginalized at institutions of higher education.
Tuition and Fees Accordion Closed
Up-to-date tuition, fees, and estimated living expenses for all NAU graduate programs can be found here: https://nau.edu/admissions/tuition-and-cost/tuition-expenses/.
Estimated tuition and fees for the 24-month MPH program are as follows:
|Resident graduate tuition and fees for 4 semesters||See tuition expenses|
|+ 6 credits of summer online graduate tuition and fees||See tuition expenses|
|+ 7 credits of summer residential graduate tuition and fees||See tuition expenses|
|+ Program Fee at $435/semester*||$1,740|
|Non-resident graduate tuition and fees for 4 semesters||See tuition expenses|
|+ 6 credits of summer online graduate tuition and fees||See tuition expenses|
|+ 7 credits of summer residential graduate tuition and fees||See tuition expenses|
|+ Program Fee at $435/semester*||$1,740|
*The program fee covers program management and course-related costs such as RD exam study materials, lab materials, and program accreditation fees.
Note: Non-Arizona residents living in the western region of the United States may qualify for in-state tuition as part of the WRGP program. Visit https://nau.edu/health-sciences/wrgp-program/ to find out more.
Additional estimated expenses for the 24-month program:
|Books – up to $500/semester + 2 summers||$2,500|
|Medical exams – TB test and other necessary vaccines||~$200|
|Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers||$50|
Note: Extra costs may be incurred due to additional immunizations, drug testing, or background check requirements that are enforced by the supervised practice site placement to which you are placed.
The NAU Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid can help students apply for Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Visit https://nau.edu/office-of-scholarships-and-financial-aid/ for more information.
Scholarships, fellowships and awards may also be available. Visit the Graduate College website and hover over Resources in the navigation bar for more information.
Graduate assistantships are sometimes available within the department, depending on available research funding. The MPH Director will send a survey to applicants to gage interest in department assistantships following the program application deadline. Students who complete the survey will be contacted if awarded a Health Sciences Department Graduate Assistantship.
College level assistantships are also available. Visit https://nau.edu/graduate-college/graduate-assistantships-tuition-waivers/ for more information about current assistantship openings.
Supervised Experiential Learning Accordion Closed
Supervised experiential learning is incorporated throughout the program through the use of classroom-based simulation and collaborative projects with local nutrition and public health agencies. In the final six months of the program, students will be placed at supervised experiential learning rotations in clinical nutrition, foodservice management, and public health. Supervised experiential learning sites may be up to one hour’s drive outside of Flagstaff.
Possible supervised experiential learning placements include:
- Flagstaff Medical Center
- Flagstaff Medical Center
- NAU Campus Dining (Sodexho)
- Peaks Senior Living
- Rehab Hospital of Northern Arizona
- Verde Valley Hospital
- Flagstaff Unified School District
- Flagstaff Family Food Center
Public Health Nutrition
- NAU Health Promotion
- Coconino County Public Health, Women Infant and Children
- Flagstaff Family Food Center
- Flagstaff YMCA
- Pinnacle Prevention
- Northern Arizona Healthcare Employee Wellness
- Northern Arizona Public Employees Benefit Trust (NAPEBT) Wellness Program
- Fit Kids of Arizona
- Tuba City Regional Healthcare
- Native Americans for Community Action
- Mountain Heart™
Graduate Project Accordion Closed
Each student completes a graduate project that aligns with their chosen public health concentration. Students are encouraged to start thinking about a topic during their first semester of the program.
In the Research Methods and Program Evaluation in Public Health course during the second semester, students work with a faculty member of their choosing, to complete a graduate project proposal. To learn more about our faculty research interests, click here.
Full time students are encouraged to begin working on that project at the end of the first spring semester and into the summer so that they are ready to present their project during the second fall semester in the Graduate Seminar course (HS 698). For part time students, the Graduate Project must be completed between enrolling in the Research Methods and Graduate Seminar courses.
Graduate projects can be research projects (quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods), or involve the development of interventions, toolkits, or trainings. Literature reviews, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, policy briefs, and grant proposals are also possibilities.
MPH students can coordinate with an agency and develop a project that benefits the agency, or work solely with a faculty member from the Department of Health Sciences to support previously established research projects. Students can also develop their own graduate projects and propose them to a faculty member with similar research interests. All graduate projects must be supervised by a faculty member.
The final project is submitted in the Graduate Seminar class in the form of a submitted manuscript (format is decided upon by the supervising faculty member), a class presentation, and a poster that is presented in the spring semester at the university’s research symposium.
FAQs Accordion Closed
Q: Is this program offered online?
A: No. The majority of courses are taken on the Flagstaff Mountain campus and courses are typically Monday-Thursday in the afternoon and/or evening. Supervised experiential learning rotations – completed in the final Spring and Summer semesters – are also located in Flagstaff and surrounding communities. The only online courses are the courses taken during the first summer.
Q: Will I be eligible to sit for the RD exam when I am finished with this program?
A: Yes. Once the program is completed and all competencies have been passed, you will be eligible to sit for RD exam through the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Verification statements and test eligibility will be issued after the degree is conferred by NAU.
Q: What does it mean that you are a Future Education Model Program?
A: The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) started Future Education Model Programs as a first step towards changing the educational pathways within the field of nutrition and dietetics. We volunteered to “go first” and try out this new educational pathway. That is why it is called a Future Education Model. The wave of the future in nutrition and dietetics education is to include all training at the graduate level for eligibility to sit for the RD exam. Therefore, our program includes the didactic coursework in dietetics, the supervised experiential learning (similar to the dietetic internship) and the graduate degree requirements all squeezed into a 2-year graduate degree.
Q: Do I need to have an undergraduate degree in nutrition or dietetics to be accepted into this program?
A: No. Applicants are only required to have a bachelor’s degree; it does not have to be in nutrition, dietetics, or any related field. The only requirement is that you complete the list of pre-requisite courses (basic/intro nutrition, basic/intro statistics, general chemistry, organic chemistry, anatomy/physiology, microbiology, and food safety/sanitation).
Q: How do I determine if a course I took will “count” as a pre-requisite course?
A: If the course was a college-level course taken at an accredited university and the title of the course is similar to the titles of our pre-requisite course requirements, then chances are good that the course will “count” as a pre-requisite. If you have any concerns or questions about a specific course, contact the program director at Dawn.Clifford@nau.edu and include the course number, institution, and course description in your email.
Q: I’m having a hard time finding the food safety and sanitation pre-requisite course at my local community college. Any suggestions?
A: You may take a ServSafe course online and sit and pass the ServSafe exam in lieu of taking a college level food safety and sanitation course. Please upload the ServSafe certification in your application.
Q: How many students do you accept into your program each year?
A: We accept 12 students into our MPH Nutrition program each year.
Q: Do you accept students into your program in the fall to start in the spring?
A: No. We only accept applications to start in the fall.
Q: If I miss the priority deadline of January 15th, will you still have openings?
A: Not likely. We typically fill our spots with those who applied prior to the January 15th deadline. You are welcome to submit an application up until April 15th, but it is very unlikely that your application will be reviewed.
Q: How many hours of public health experience is required to apply?
A: None. While gaining experience in public health prior to applying will certainly help you determine your fit within the profession, public health experience is not a requirement to apply. We do consider your readiness to serve underserved communities when reviewing your application, so we encourage you to describe experiences or attributes that make you equipped for this work in your personal statement.
Q: How do you evaluate applicants? What do you look for in applicants?
A: Applicants are evaluated based on their GPA; writing ability (as demonstrated in the personal statement); general fit for the program based on career goals and interests; previous experience managing multiple commitments; interest, experience and readiness to serve underserved communities; and letters of recommendation.
Q: Do you consider applicants with GPAs lower than 3.0?
A: Yes, we will still be able to review your application. We have a holistic approach to reviewing applicants, meaning that we consider life and work experiences, writing abilities, and overall fit for the program, and not just overall GPA. We also look at GPA of the last 60 units and general grade trajectory. Students with inconsistent grades in their last few semesters of their undergraduate program will likely not receive interviews.
Q: Do you interview applicants? If so, how many do you interview?
A: Yes, we hold 15-minute video conference interviews with our top 20 applicants.
Q: If my undergraduate degree is in nutrition and dietetics, will I be able to skip out on taking some of the courses you have in the course plan which are similar to courses I’ve already taken?
A: No. The NAU program uses different accreditation standards than your undergraduate program and therefore you must take all courses on the course plan as listed regardless of previous coursework. The only exception is if you completed NTS 415 and NTS 445 here at NAU as an undergraduate student. You will not need to retake those two courses, which are part of the graduate program.
Q: Are there assistantship opportunities or other opportunities for funding?
A: There are a few graduate assistantships offered at NAU and prospective students are encouraged to check the Graduate College website assistantship list frequently during the semester they are applying. Check current “at large” assistantship openings at the bottom of the Graduate Assistantships page. There are very few graduate assistantships currently offered within the Health Sciences Department. However, students can apply for TA and RA positions that provide hourly pay (no tuition waiver).
Faculty Research Interests Accordion Closed
To learn more about our amazing Health Sciences faculty and their research interests, click here.
Meet Current Students Accordion Closed
Sarah Neville is from Queen Creek, Arizona. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition & Dietetics at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. When she’s not cuddling with her fur babies, she enjoys hiking, trail riding and camping with her hubby. After graduation, Sarah hopes to work as Registered Dietitian with veterans or moms and children. She is currently working on a graduate project that involves developing and implementing a nutrition education podcast for NAU indoor cycle class participants. Her favorite part about the NAU MPH Nutrition program is the amazing professors and different areas of research she’s been able to work on. She also enjoys the beautiful outdoors and local cuisine Flagstaff has to offer. Contact Sarah to ask her more questions about her experience in the program at email@example.com
Rachel Mitchell is from Fremont, California. She earned a bachelor degree in Nutrition at Sacramento State University. When she’s not studying, she enjoys running/training for marathons and traveling across the pond! After graduation, Rachel hopes to work part-time as a Clinical Dietitian and pursue her other time gaining experience in Sports Nutrition. She is currently working on a graduate project that involves the impact of nutrition education via podcast on college students enrolled in an indoor cycle class. Her favorite part about the NAU MPH Nutrition Program is the small intimate class size and all of the beautiful training trails/roads in Flagstaff to run on. She also enjoys the relationships and mentorship from the professors that are part of the MPH Nutrition Program. Contact Rachel to ask her more questions about her experience in the program at firstname.lastname@example.org