Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate

The university considers only those applications that have an overall GPA of > 2.75. However, meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission. The average GPA in the applicant pool is increasingly competitive every year and is considerably higher than the minimum requirements.

Applicants must have completed 5 of the 7 equivalent core science courses listed below, prior to matriculation:

  • Introduction to Biology or Zoology
  • Human Physiology
  • General Chemistry with lab (2 semesters)
  • Organic Chemistry with lab (1 semester)
  • Biochemistry
  • Food Microbiology or General Microbiology with lab
  • Basic Human Nutrition (One of the five MUST include this course)

Applicants must have completed the following courses or their equivalent prior to matriculation:

  • Introductory Biology (1 semester)
  • Human Physiology (1 semester)
  • Microbiology (1 semester)
  • General Chemistry (2 semesters)
  • Organic Chemistry (1 semester)
  • Biochemistry (1 semester)
  • Statistics (1 semester)
  • Basic Nutrition (2 semesters)

Without a previous Master’s degree or relevant research experience, we do not recommend going directly into the PhD program. In general, successful applicants who matriculate in the PhD program either have a Master’s degree and/or research experience.

All applicants are required to take the GRE. A waiver is considered only for those individuals who hold an MD, JD or a doctoral degree in another field.

No, you do not need to select a specific professor. We do our best to match student and faculty interests. However applicants may contact individual faculty members about specific research interests if desired.

No, the general GRE is sufficient.

Our department offers admissions to students in the Fall session and Spring session, each year.

Deadlines:
Fall Session – February 1 (March 1 for those applying to the Online MPH in Nutrition or Concurrent DI/Online MPH in Nutrition)
Spring Session – October 1

This varies from year to year (and by semester). We generally have fewer applicants for the spring semester.

This varies by year and semester. We may accept as many as 5-10 graduate students depending on how many students have graduated and how many faculty are seeking additional students to work with.

To be considered for admission, only scores of tests taken 5 years prior to the anticipated matriculation date are considered valid.

If you are not able to turn in all relevant admission materials by the indicated deadline for each admission cycle, we recommend you to apply for the next cycle.

The answer to this question depends on your future goals:

  • A Master’s degree will take longer than a second Bachelor’s degree, but it may also provide you with more employment opportunities. 
  • If you have 3-5 years of experience in the field of public health, then an MPH program with a focus in nutrition may be considered (either on campus or online)
  • If your goal is to become a Registered Dietitian (RD), you would need to take the 6 DPD classes in addition to either the Bachelor’s or Master’s program course requirements. Completion of these courses makes you eligible to apply for a 9-11 month dietetic internship. Upon completion of the internship, you would be eligible to sit for the Registration Exam.

Regardless of the choices listed above, you will have to take all the pre-requisites associated with each of the program (see related FAQs).
 

Applicants are sent a login and PIN code when they apply which can be used to check the status of their application. Go to https://webapp.spire.umass.edu/admissions/htdocs/applicant/gradapp_logon.html
 

It is recommended that you inform your referees prior to sending them an online recommendation request. Additionally, it is always beneficial to tell your referees to check their SPAM box, as some mailbox filter settings direct these emails into the SPAM box. You can also re-send the request by clicking on the ‘Send Reminder’ link on the application website.

Transfer classes are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

  • Completed Graduate School Application and forms
  • Official Transcripts from all higher secondary institutions attended
  • GRE General Test scores not older than 5 years
  • Two letters of references

The MPH program is targeted towards those individuals with an advanced degree (such as MS, MD, PhD, etc.) in a health-related field, those who are Registered Dietitians, or those individuals who have 3-5 years of relevant post-bachelor’s experience and have taken two courses in nutrition.

  • Completed Graduate School Application and forms
  • Official Transcripts from all higher secondary institutions attended
  • GRE General Test scores not older than 5 years
  • Two letters of references
  • Various prerequisite courses (see related FAQs)
  • Completed Graduate School Application and forms
  • Official Transcripts from all higher secondary institutions attended
  • GRE General Test scores not older than 5 years
  • Two letters of references
  • Various prerequisite courses (see related FAQs)

Additionally doctoral applicants should have earned a Bachelors degree and have demonstrated basic research competency through a required thesis (M.S. thesis, Honors thesis or equivalent research experience).

For information about faculty research interests, please go to our Faculty Directory.

All application materials including official transcripts and paper letters of recommendations (if applicable) should be sent to the graduate school, not the nutrition department.

The university requires a minimum general GRE score of 450 (new scaling system: 150 Verbal and 141 Quantitative). However, our department generally expects ≥ 500 (new scaling system: 153 Verbal and 144 Quantitative).

Student

YES! One of the best jobs is working in Food Service on campus because there are many job openings and your manager will work around your class schedule to give you shifts. You have your choice of the DC´s, the Hatch and the Blue Wall. Food Service experience looks great on Dietetic Applications and on Resumes, because Nutritional Professionals like to know that we understand food and food preparation, and all the hard work that goes into meal planning and design.

Kin 110 - Human Performance and Nutrition, or Microbio 160 - Bio of Cancer and AIDS are two GREAT courses to take not only for Nutrition majors, but also for anyone interested in the body and health. These classes explain complex bodily processes in layman´s terms are would be a great complement to your required courses.

You are able to go anywhere you would like and any place that accepts you – it is a competitive process to apply for the internship after the Bachelor’s degree. Just make sure that the program has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). There is a tuition that will vary based on the program. There are scholarships available through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association) and student loans can be deferred during this time. Some programs offer stipends to help support the intern. A list of possible DI’s and costs can be found at the Academy website.

It depends what you want to do after your Undergrad. If you want to go on to something like Med School, maybe a double major would be to your benefit. However, if you want to do a Dietetic Internship, maybe it would make more sense to get 2 minors along with the Nutrition Major, such as a foreign language or sociology, in order to make yourself a more well-rounded applicant and to show you are dedicated to helping people.

The Nutrition major does require 8 semesters and a particular sequence of classes, but if you already have some Gen-Eds out of the way then you may be able to catch up. You are especially at an advantage if you have already taken some classes such as Chemistry or Biology which are a few of the prerequisites for some basic nutrition classes. You can also take summer courses to fit in your prerequisites. Although many students choose to take an extra semester to complete their degree for any number of reasons, a lot of students are able to graduate within the four year time frame.

Math is important but you do not need to know calculus. Basic math will do.

Most DI’s range from 9 to12 months when you are taking them full time. Some DI’s offer part-time options which take closer to 22 months to complete. Some DI’s are combined with a master’s degree program, which will also take longer to complete.

Transfer Affairs and Undergraduate Admissions reviews transcripts to establish number of credits that will be transferred. They evaluate transcripts based on course material and whether or not it meets the University of Massachusetts requirement. Keep the course syllabus from all of your previous courses, so you can show the Transfer Affairs Office or your advisor.

No, it is not a difficult major-it just has a lot of science courses that you need to take such as microbiology, biochemistry, biology and chemistry, before you start taking upper level nutrition courses. It is not a difficult major if you are interested in the classes you are taking, and also if you put in enough effort and study time (as with any other major). Some people may say Nutrition is too complicated to understand, but if you are really interested in the body, you WILL want to understand the mechanisms behind food and this interest to learn will make the major a lot easier for you to complete. Most nutrition courses teach concepts that are very applicable to everyday life. It is easy to see how concepts that are taught relate to the proper functioning of the body.

Yes, UMass Amherst has a great, accredited Nutrition Program that offers all of the coursework needed to continue on to a Dietetic Internship after your Bachelor´s Degree has been completed. UMass also offers a post-BS Dietetic Internship, showing its dedication to Nutrition and the continuing education the university believes necessary for this health field that has recently been growing in popularity. You can also get an M.S. in Nutrition at UMass, or an MPH in Nutrition or a PhD in public health – Nutrition option.

There are many possibilities. Please see our page titled Non-RD options to see what careers are possible for Nutrition Majors not wishing to enter into Dietetic Internships and/or Clinical Nutrition.

Although these two majors are similar in that they both center on food, their emphasis on its implications are very different. Nutrition studies the relationship between foods and its effect on an individual’s health. Nutrition considers topics such as obesity, malnutrition, food insecurity and nutritional deficiencies. In comparison, Food Science considers chemical, biological, and physical properties of food in relation to manufacturing, processing, and storage of food products.

n terms of coursework make sure you have taken all of the recommended classes and have done well in them. Some classes like Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) will be looked at more closely than others. Outside of class work, get involved in your community. Try to volunteer time at the local hospital or work alongside a professor on his or her current project. It’s important to get some sort of experience in the field of nutrition.

Upper level nutrition courses focus on Community Nutrition and on diseases as a consequence of nutritional problems. Everything connects together, and food service classes WILL eventually tie in to what you learn later on. Especially with Nutritional Problems in the US and Medical Nutrition Therapy, you will need to have a solid understanding of the chemistry behind foods and what particular qualities certain foods possess that can potentially have implications for people with certain diseases and medicines.

Average salary for a nutritionist located in MA is $59,000 in 2009. Salary can vary with location, years of experience, additional degrees, and responsibility.

If you think you have an interest in nutrition I would recommend taking Nutrition 101 and/or Nutrition 230. If you are interested in the life sciences in general, and you do not mind taking many science courses, I would recommend taking a biology, kinesiology, nutrition or public health course to see which academic area you are most fond of. Most of the introductory courses for these majors are prerequisites for other classes so it is time well spent. Also, if you have a strong interest in more than one of these areas, you can consider double majoring, or taking a minor.

The fundamentals of nutrition are based in chemistry. Taking courses in biochemistry, microbiology, chemistry and organic chemistry provide the foundation for learning about nutrition in the body. In order to understand how food affects one’s health, you need to understand the basic chemistry of food and physiology of the body. For example, to understand fat digestion and absorption, you need to know the chemical structure of fats, which is taught in organic chemistry and biochemistry. Also, the entire area of metabolism is based on chemistry.

Getting experience is all about self-initiative. Start by identifying the areas you are interested in, for example clinical versus community nutrition. Once you have a general idea of what you may like to do or what population you are interested in working with, research opportunities involving this population. The “getting involved” page of this website offers great tips and strategies for this step in the process. Once you have found a position that you enjoy, stick with it. Remember, companies and schools often look for commitment.

Yes, some schools offer programs which will start your rotations during your undergrad years, so that when you graduate you have completed your coursework and the required supervised hours, so your are eligible to take the RD exam. These programs are called Coordinated Undergraduate Programs (CUPs). UMass does not offer a CUP program. Most schools have programs like UMass, where you complete your B.S., first and then apply for a separate internship program.

The programs can be run out of a university, foodservice company, or a hospital to name a few. The clinical, community and foodservice rotations may take you to different areas depending on where you are completing your internship.

International

In addition to the general admission requirements that are applicable to ALL requirements, international students that are non-native English speakers are required to present scores of a valid English proficiency examination.

No, only scores of English proficiency tests that were taken in the last 2 years prior to the anticipated matriculation deadline are considered.

TOEFL is not required if an applicant satisfies one or more of the following conditions:

a. Citizenship of Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Guyana, Ireland, New Zealand, United States, an Anglophone country of Africa, or an English speaking country of the Caribbean.
b. A college or university degree earned in the United States or in one of the countries listed above.
c. A degree earned from the American University in Beirut, American University in Bulgaria, American College in Greece or from Bogazigi University.
d. Current enrollment as a full-time student who will have completed two academic years of college/university work in the United States prior to the date of anticipated entrance at the University of Massachusetts.

TOEFL (Internet based) -iBT

Equivalent minimum score:  ≥ 80

TOEFL (Computer based) -cBT

Equivalent minimum score:  ≥ 213

TOEFL (Paper based) -pBT  

Equivalent minimum score:  ≥ 550

IELTS (Academic Training)

Equivalent minimum score: ≥ 6.5

Please note that these are minimum requirements for the graduate school. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admissions.

For detailed information on score conversion please refer to the ETS link below:
http://www.ets.org/Media/Tests/TOEFL/pdf/TOEFL_iBT_Score_Comparison_Tables.pdf

  • TOEFL (Internet based)
  • TOEFL (Computer based)
  • TOEFL (Paper based)
  • IELTS (Academic Training)

General

We only offer an online MPH program. We do not offer an online PhD or online MS program at this time.

MS: This program requires students to be present on campus for a majority of the course work, while some courses may also be taken online. The length of the program typically ranges between 2 to 3 years depending on the prior preparation of the graduate student in the field of nutrition. The M.S. program requires a thesis, upon completion of the core-requirements and other electives. Details on the requirements of the program can be found on our Master of Science page.

MPH (on campus): This program requires students to be present on campus for a majority of the course work, while some courses may also be taken online. The length of the program typically ranges between 2 to 3 years depending on the prior preparation of the graduate student in the field of nutrition. MPH students are required to take part in a practicum. In addition, students are required to either complete an MPH project or take 6 additional credits plus a final oral exit exam. Details on the requirements of the program can be found on our MPH page.

MPH (online): The online MPH program is similar to the on-campus program with regard to the curriculum. The only difference is that it allows distant students and working professions the flexibility of taking online courses at their own pace. This fully online course also provides the option of pursuing the program as a full time or part time student. Full time online students typically complete the program in 2 years while students pursuing the degree on a part time basis may complete the program during 3 academic years including 3 summer sessions.  Details on the requirements of the online program can be found on our Online MPH page.

PhD: This program requires students to take UMass courses for two consecutive semesters, some of these courses may be taken online. Upon completion of course requirements students must pass the written and oral comprehensive exams, after which students are officially considered PhD candidates. Upon successful completion of the comprehensive exams, students work on their research topic and dissertation, during which on campus residency is no longer required. The length of the entire program typically ranges between 4 to 5 years, although it may take longer depending on the pace of their dissertation research. Details on the requirements of the program can be found on our PhD page.

The department offers three distinct programs:

  • Master of Science (MS)
  • Master of Public Health (MPH) – On campus & Online
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The MPH program is targeted towards those individuals with an advanced degree (such as MS, MD, PhD, etc.) in a health-related field, those who are Registered Dietitians, or those individuals who have 3-5 years of relevant post-bachelor’s experience and have taken two courses in nutrition. Students can either pursue a full time on campus MPH program or an online MPH program on a full time or part time basis. The online MPH program is targeted more towards working professionals who want to pursue higher education without giving up their current professional position.

The MS program is targeted towards individuals who have completed at least a Bachelor’s degree and are interested in pursuing graduate education in the field of nutrition. The MS program provides students with the knowledge base and skills to research nutrition problems and to plan community, clinical, and individual applications of nutrition prevention and treatment at various levels. The MS in Nutrition provides advanced nutrition competencies and skills for application at the clinical, research, and group settings.