Nutrition and Food Science

Graduate Program

About the Program

Graduate Program Options

There are two options to the MS degree in Nutritional Science:

  1. an option in General Nutritional Science and
  2. an option in Nutrition Education.

The option in General Nutritional Science is ideal for students who wish to pursue a doctorate degree in nutrition and is aimed at increasing competence in the science of nutrition.

The option in Nutrition Education is designed to facilitate nutrition professionals in communicating information and promote optimal health and nutritional status. Students who are interested in applying to the dietetic internship at CSU, Chico, must complete this option.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Info

If you completed a BS/BA degree in another discipline but are interested in becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), you must:

  • complete our undergraduate courses in the option in General Dietetics or the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) 
  • complete the requirements for the MS degree in Nutritional Science

Completing Both DPD and MS Courses

Completing both DPD and MS courses typically takes three to three and one-half years. If you plan to complete both the DPD and MS courses, please indicate this plan when you apply by filling out the MS Graduation Clearance Form. (PDF)

How to Apply

Learn how to Apply to Graduate Program and about selection criteria.


Handbook, Forms, Internships & Jobs

Handbook & Forms

Internships & Jobs


Mission, Goals, and Outcomes

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  • Goals of MS Program
    • Ensure that upon graduation, students use evidence-based practice in their chosen profession. Evidence-based practice is defined by the American Dietetic Association as “the use of systematically reviewed scientific evidence in making food and nutrition practice decisions by integrating best available evidence with professional expertise and client values to improve outcomes.”
    • Provide pre-professional practice opportunities that benefit students while serving the North State community.
    • Graduate students who are well prepared and secure nutrition-related employment in healthcare, state, or federally funded programs, industry, or education.
    • Use program resources effectively and efficiently while maintaining quality.
  • Key Indicators of Program's Quality
    • 90% or more of students who start the program complete it.
    • 80% or more of students who apply to dietetic internship (DI) programs, to become Registered Dietitians (RDs), are accepted.
    • 90% or more of students completing a DI program pass the national registration examination for RDs.
    • 80% or more of students applying for doctoral programs are accepted.
    • 75% or more of students secure nutrition-related employment in healthcare, state or federally funded programs, industry, or education. o Graduates of the program will indicate they are satisfied with the MS program in 80% of the items listed on the alumni survey.
    • 80% or more of graduates of the program will indicate that the MS program prepared them for their first career-related position on the alumni survey and 80% indicate the pre-professional practice opportunity they had was beneficial.
    • Measures of program resources will be monitored such as student to faculty ratio, offering a minimum of 2 graduate courses per semester, release time for the coordinator and faculty who chair culminating activities, availability of space and equipment, and financial support for students.
  • How Are We Doing?
    • 95% of students who started the program completed it.
    • 89% of students who applied to dietetic internships were accepted.
    • 100% of students completing the CSU, Chico Dietetic Internship passed the national registration examination for RDs (87% passed on the first exam attempt, 13% on the second attempt).
    • 100% of students applying for doctoral programs were accepted (It should be noted only 2 students applied to programs).
    • 95% of students secured nutrition-related employment in healthcare, state or federally funded programs, industry, or education.
    • 96-100% of graduates of the program were satisfied (rating 3 to 5 out of a 5-point scale) with the MS program (12 items on a survey).
    • 98% of graduates indicated that the MS program prepared them for a career and 96% indicated that their graduate internship that provided pre-professional experience was valuable.
    • In 2017-18, the student to faculty ratio was 2.3 to 1. Graduate classes have an enrollment of about 10-15.
    • Two NFSC graduate courses are offered per semester.
    • The Department hires one to three graduate teaching associates per semester.

    These data are based on the program's last five-year review (2011-2018).

  • Student Learning Outcomes

    Graduates of the CSU, Chico graduate program should:

    • Master breadth of knowledge in key content areas of nutritional science including macronutrients, micronutrients and research methods.
    • Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate and analyze the scientific literature in a variety of areas of nutritional science.
    • Demonstrate the ability to design and conduct an independent research project (a thesis or professional paper).
    • Demonstrate proficient oral and written communication skills.

Notification of Program Changes

The Department of Nutrition and Food Science is in the process of making significant changes to the Master’s Program. We anticipate approval of a combined program (Dietetic Internship and MS degree) that will be completed over two academic years and one summer and start in the academic year 2024-2025. Students eligible to apply to the combined program must have completed an ACEND accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics.

The Department of Nutrition and Food Science will continue to offer a separate MS program in Nutritional Science with an option in Nutrition Education or General Nutritional Science. The MS program is for students wishing to complete an MS degree prior to applying to non-degree granting Dietetic Internship programs or to prepare students for careers in college teaching, healthcare, industry, community agencies, or graduate study beyond the master’s degree.

The final year for our current post-baccalaureate Dietetic Internship will be 2023-2024. Current CSU, Chico graduate or undergraduate students wishing to apply to the post-baccalaureate DI must meet admission requirements by early November of 2022.