Public Health - Nutrition, Master of Public Health
This program prepares you for professional practice in public health and applied research settings as well as further academic study in public health related fields. Through quality classroom instruction, applied practice experience, and a public health project, students will be adequately prepared for employment within public health agencies.
This program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)
Requirements Accordion Open
To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.
You must additionally complete:
- All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
- All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
- All work toward the master degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.
Read the full policy here.
Overview Accordion Closed
In addition to University Requirements:
- Complete individual plan requirements.
|Minimum Units for Completion||65|
|Additional Admission Requirements|
Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
|Research||Individualized research is required.|
|Additional Fees/Program Fees||Required|
|Progression Plan Link||View Program of Study|
This program may lead to licensure.
The Master of Public Health prepares students for public health professions emphasizing the planning, implementation, and evaluation of health programs and policies. We aim to prepare public health professionals to address the health needs of diverse and underserved communities in northern Arizona and beyond. Students gain knowledge and skills in biostatistics, epidemiology, public health research, program planning and evaluation, health policy and management, and environmental health. We support student development through offering high quality instruction, which includes opportunities for professional growth and community engagement in public health and nutrition.
The Nutrition concentration emphasizes public health nutrition, culinary arts, foodservice management, and clinical nutrition. The Nutrition concentration is designed for students who are interested in careers as Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. With the training, research, and internship experiences offered, graduates are well prepared to address the health needs within their communities.
Student Learning Outcomes
We will be pursuing accreditation from the Council for Education in Public Health (CEPH). We are aligning our core MPH coursework with their required learning outcomes, which are as follows:
- Apply epidemiological methods to the breadth of settings and situations in public health practice
- Select quantitative and qualitative data collection methods appropriate for a given public health context
- Analyze quantitative and qualitative data using biostatistics, informatics, computer-based programming and software, as appropriate
- Interpret results of data analysis for public health research, policy or practice
- Compare the organization, structure and function of health care, public health and regulatory systems across national and international settings
- Discuss the means by which structural bias, social inequities and racism undermine health and create challenges to achieving health equity at organizational, community and societal levels
- Assess population needs, assets and capacities that affect communities’ health
- Apply awareness of cultural values and practices to the design or implementation of public health policies or programs
- Design a population-based policy, program, project or intervention
- Explain basic principles and tools of budget and resource management
- Select methods to evaluate public health programs
- Discuss multiple dimensions of the policy-making process, including the roles of ethics and evidence
- Propose strategies to identify stakeholders and build coalitions and partnerships for influencing public health outcomes
- Advocate for political, social or economic policies and programs that will improve health in diverse populations
- Evaluate policies for their impact on public health and health equity
- Apply principles of leadership, governance and management, which include creating a vision, empowering others, fostering collaboration and guiding decision making
- Apply negotiation and mediation skills to address organizational or community challenges
- Select communication strategies for different audiences and sectors
- Communicate audience-appropriate public health content, both in writing and through oral presentation
- Describe the importance of cultural competence in communicating public health content
- Perform effectively on interprofessional teams
- Apply systems thinking tools to a public health issue
In addition, the Nutrition coursework aligns with the following ACEND Standards:
Unit 1. Foundational Knowledge. Applies foundational sciences to food and nutrition knowledge to meet the needs of individuals, groups, groups, and organizations.
Unit 2: Client/Patient Services. Applies and integrates client/patient-centered principles and organizations. and competent nutrition and dietetics practice to ensure positive outcomes.
Unit 3: Food Systems Management. Applies food systems principles and management skills to ensure safe and efficient delivery of food and water.
Unit 4: Community and Population Health Nutrition. Applies community and population nutrition health theories when providing support to community or population nutrition programs.
Unit 5: Leadership, Business, Management and Organization. Demonstrates leadership, business and management principles to guide practice and achieve operational goals.
Unit 6: Critical Thinking, Research and Evidence-Informed Practice. Integrates evidence-informed practice, research principles and critical thinking into practice.
Unit 7: Core Professional Behaviors. Demonstrates professional behaviors and effective communication in all nutrition and dietetics interactions.
Details Accordion Closed
Graduate Admission Information
The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
Admission requirements include the following:
- Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.
Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.
Ready to apply? Begin your application now.
International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.
Additional Admission Requirements
Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
Prerequisite courses complete with a Grade of "C" or better, or in progress at the time of application to the program:
- NTS 135
- BIO 181
- (CHM 130, or CHM 151, or CHM 152), CHM 230, CHM 360*
- BIO 201, BIO 202, BIO 205
- HA 240
- STA 270
*CHM 360 may be completed during the first semester of the program.
This Master’s degree requires 65 units distributed as follows:
- Health Sciences Common Coursework: 27 units
- Nutrition Common Coursework: 26 units
- Supervised Practice Experience: 12 units
Take the following 65 units:
Students enrolled in this plan may not enroll in or pursue the following due to the number of overlapping units:
Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.
- Program Fee Information
Program fees are established by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR). A program fee of $435 per semester has been approved for this program.
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: 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, IL 60606-6995. 800/877-1600, ext. 5400. 312/899-0040. Fax: 312/899-4817. email@example.com. www.eatrightpro.org/acend
While the state of Arizona does not currently have licensure for registered dietitian nutritionists, we understand that you may end up moving out of state following completion of our program. For more information on licensure in other states for the Health Sciences MPH in Nutrition, view NAU’s Professional Licensure by State table.
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.
To maximize the learning experience, students are required to attend classes in-person. However, the following courses in the summer and during supervised experiential learning rotations are provided as asynchronous online courses: HS 511, HS 572, HS 698, NTS 657. Students compete these four courses within a password-controlled Learning Management System (LMS) that requires multi-factor authentication.
Information on how to access NAU's LMS, including technology requirements and use policies can be found here: nau.edu/lms. In the event that online exams are used in any course, exams will be housed within the university's LMS. Students are expected to comply with the University's academic integrity policy.
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.
To train a highly qualified public health workforce through teaching, community service and scholarship to improve public health through practices, policy changes, leadership and management work, and creative interventions in Arizona with a focus on rural, tribal, and border communities.
To improve health, well-being and quality of life in Arizona with a focus on rural, tribal, and border communities.
Program Goals and Objectives Accordion Closed
1) Teaching Goal: Provide students with hands-on learning experiences, mentoring, and opportunities for leadership development to promote health equity, the needs of marginalized communities, tribal communities and/or rural communities.
2) Community Service Goal: Work with community partners to identify and address public health needs and provide students with opportunities to gain hands-on experience in community-based projects; Support partnerships that engage students, staff and faculty in community service and provide expertise to support community organizations in meeting the needs of regional populations.
3) Research Goal: Engage faculty, staff and students in scholarship partnerships with public health agencies and community partners to address regional public health needs; Conduct research and provide students with opportunities to work on research related to health equity.
4) Student-focused Goal: Train students to become culturally immersed, aware, knowledgeable, and skillful public health practitioners.
*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 course plan. Find the course plan here.
Application Accordion Closed
- Applicants must submit application materials in the following two places prior to the January 15th deadline:
- Application Fee. Applicants must pay the following application fees for both application systems:
- NAU Graduate College application: $65
- DICAS application: $50 to apply to one program + $25 for each additional program you apply to on DICAS
- Resume or Vita. Include your resume or vita in both your DICAS and NAU Graduate College applications:
- Personal Statement. Please write a one to two page letter of personal introduction and professional intent. Include the following information in your personal statement and submit your personal statement in both your DICAS and NAU Graduate College applications:
- 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)
- Supplemental Question. In addition to the personal statement above, please answer the following supplemental question in ONLY your DICAS application:
- 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). Please submit transcripts in your NAU Graduate College application and to DICAS.
- Supplemental Application Materials (only if applicable). If applicable, please include the following documentation in your DICAS application and with your NAU Graduate College application:
- 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 Exam (GRE). 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 College application portal and DICAS 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 applicants: Applications submitted after January 15 will not be evaluated for admission, please apply to the next available admission term.
- 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:
- 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.
- Diversity refers to 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) refers to 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/.
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.
If you live in Western states you may qualify for the WRGP program which allows you to pay in-state tuition. Visit the WRGP website for qualifying state residence: https://nau.edu/health-sciences/wrgp-program.
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
- Rehabilitation Hospital of Northern Arizona
- Verde Valley Medical Center
- Tuba City Regional Health Care
- Whiteriver Indian Hospital
- Kingman Regional 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
- The Guidance Center
- Kingman Regional Medical Center
Public Health Nutrition
- NAU Health Promotion
- Coconino County Public Health, Women Infant and Children
- Flagstaff Family Food Center
- Pinnacle Prevention
- Northern Arizona Healthcare Employee Wellness
- Northern Arizona Public Employees Benefit Trust (NAPEBT) Wellness Program
- Tuba City Regional Healthcare
- Native Americans for Community Action
- Evolve Nutrition
- North Country Health Care
Integrated Learning Experience Accordion Closed
Each student completes a graduate project, the Integrated Learning Experience, that aligns with their chosen public health concentration. As part of the first year MPH coursework, students learn how to write a project proposal and learn methods to support their ability to plan a project. Students identify a public health agency and the Integrated Learning Experience is planned out to benefit or support an agency. Graduate projects can include a choice of one of the following: development of interventions, toolkits, trainings, a research project, literature reviews, systematic reviews, policy briefs, or grant proposals. MPH students should coordinate with a public health agency and develop a project that benefits the agency. Students will also have a faculty member mentor from the Department of Health Sciences. Students can develop their own Integrated Learning Experience project and propose the project to an agency and faculty member with similar interests. The final project is submitted in the Spring semester Graduate Seminar class in the form of a submitted written product and an MPH Conference presentation.
Applied Practice Experience Accordion Closed
During the semester that the student completes the 3-unit applied practice experience, students complete pre-planned tasks and deliverable products to demonstrate attainment of their selected CEPH competencies.
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 April 1, will you still have openings?
A: Not likely. We typically fill our spots with those who applied prior to the April 1 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).
Q: Do I need to have taken biochemistry before starting your program?
A: Biochemistry is not one of our official pre-requisite courses. However, if you are accepted into our program and you have not taken biochemistry prior to the start of our program, you will need to take it your first semester of our program. Adding biochemistry on to the first semester of the program is very challenging. Therefore, we HIGHLY recommend that you take a biochemistry course prior to starting our program. This course can be taken through Maricopa Community College or online through the “verified track” at Harvard University.