MFCS - Dietetics

Dietetics is one of the most dynamic and versatile of the health-related professions. The 36-credit online Master of Family and Consumer Sciences with Dietetics specialization prepares Registered Dietitians to practice at an advanced level or to pursue doctoral study.

MFCS Dietetics Flyer »

About the program

Why study dietetics?

The MFCS - Dietetics program develops research skills, stimulates independent thought, and provides up-to-date knowledge in foods, nutrition, food service, and business management.

Learn to integrate and apply the principles from biomedical sciences, human behavior, and management to design and lead effective food and nutrition programs in a variety of settings. You will be able to:

  • Apply cutting-edge information in food, nutrition, food service management, and wellness to enhance dietetics practice.
  • Evaluate and apply new research concepts and theories within the profession of dietetics.
  • Understand public policy and current systems of healthcare delivery with particular reference to the role of the dietitian.

Admissions requirements

Students must meet the following criteria to be admitted to the online master’s program:

  • Student must hold the credential of Registered Dietitian (RD) or be registration-eligible. This means the student has met both the academic and supervised practice requirements of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is ready to sit for the national credentialing exam to become a Registered Dietitian.  If registration-eligible at the time of acceptance, the student must pass the RD exam within the first semester.  If not currently employed as an RD at the time of acceptance, the student must be gainfully employed as a dietitian within the first two semesters of acceptance.
  • Student must meet the master’s program entrance requirements of the admitting university. Typically this requires a minimum of at least a 3.0 undergraduate grade point average (or 3.0 on the last 60 hours of coursework in the undergraduate degree).
  • Preferred:  2+ years of nutrition/dietetic-related work experience (does not need to be as an RD)

Online program

This online program is offered by the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GP-IDEA), a consortium of universities that have come together to offer fully online degree programs. Each university brings a unique strength to the multi-institution academic programs.


Degree requirements

Prior approval. The student’s schedule of courses must be approved by the faculty adviser and the graduate committee.

Core courses — 9 credits

  • 1 basic statistics course (3 credits)
  • 1 research methods course (3 credits). This must be taken in your first 2 semesters in the program.
  • 1 current issues/trends course (3 credits). This must be taken in your last 2 semesters in the program.

Elective courses — 21 credits

  • DIET 540: Nutrition and Physical Activity in Aging
  • DIET 532: Maternal and Child Nutrition
  • DIET 570: Nutrition and Human Performance
  • DIET 566: Nutritional Counseling & Education Methods
  • DIET 560: Advanced Medical Nutrition Therapy
  • DIET 534: Nutrition Education in the Community
  • DIET 536: Obesity Across the Lifespan
  • DIET 544: Pediatric Clinical Nutrition
  • DIET 546: Phytochemicals
  • DIET 547: Functional Foods
  • DIET 530: Nutrition in Wellness
  • DIET 565: International Nutrition and World Hunger
  • DIET 573: Healthcare Administration
  • DIET 524: Financial Management and Cost Controls in Dietetics
  • DIET 595:Grant Writing for the Professional
  • HSP M 380:Food Production Management
  • HG ED 540:Foundations of Leadership
  • DIET 538: Nutrition: A Focus on Life Stages
  • DIET 556: Advanced Nutrition: Micronutrients
  • DIET 558: Advanced Nutrition: Macronutrients
  • DIET 568: Entrepreneurship

Special project/creative component — 6 credits

NOTE:  Graduate credits earned by completing a dietetic internship are not transferrable.

Creative Component

As part of the degree requirements, you will need to complete 6 credits of Creative Component (DIET 599) including a written product and a final oral examination conducted by phone/Adobe Connect conference call with all the members of your POS committee. The final oral examination will be scheduled in your final semester and must adhere to the deadlines established by the ISU Graduate College. Typically the 6 credits will be taken over multiple semesters to allow for the appropriate time needed to complete the written product (for example 3 credits one semester, 3 credits another semester). The written product from the Creative Component must demonstrate independent thinking on a topic by the student. You will need to have a POS committee meeting to present a proposal of your creative component prior to beginning your work; this should occur at least 2 semesters prior to graduating. A minimum of a ‘B’ grade from all committee members is expected on the final version of the paper and oral presentation/discussion.

Creative Component Options

Below is a list of creative component options. A student is able to choose a creative component project differing from these three options with approval of his/her POS committee.

Comprehensive Review of Literature (The length is to be sufficient to cover chosen topic area)

  •  Must use Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) referencing style
  •  Apply the Evidence-based Library Analysis review process
  •  Final presentation entails highlighting key aspects of review of literature to the POS committee

Education Program or Tool Development and/or Evaluation (e.g., case study module, in-patient education program, education material development, etc)

  • Apply the Evidence-based Library Analysis review process
  • Prepare Institutional Review Board application if needed
  • Write a review of literature applying the Evidence-based Library Analysis review process (the length is to be sufficient to cover chosen topic area).
  • Must use JAMA referencing style o Evaluate program or tool
  • Final presentation outlines the evaluation of the end product

Grant Application Preparation

  • The student, with the advisement of his/her POS committee will identify a granting agency (e.g., RWJF, Wellmark, NIFA, etc.)
  • Write a review of literature applying the Evidence-based Library Analysis review process o Write a review of literature applying the Evidence-based Library Analysis review process (the length is to be sufficient to cover chosen topic area).
  • Submission of grant application is not required
  • Final presentation entails highlighting key aspects of grant application to the POS committee

Choosing a Topic

A good place to start exploring options for your creative component topic is with your major professor; start with problems or topics in your field that you are working with currently or that most interest you. After generating a list of a few topics or questions, go to the library website and do a search on the topics (PubMed through Article Indexes and Databases will best allow you to collect pdf files of relevant papers at no charge). This will allow you to read about the current work being conducted. Discuss your ideas with other graduate students or colleagues interested in your topic areas. As you are working on your master’s degree, your major professor will guide you through this process and help you choose a topic. Other things to consider are your career objectives: do you want to continue in your current position, move to a different area or advance? What is the current state of the dietetics job market for fields of specialization that interest you?

The creative component proposal

The creative component proposal should pose a question that the report will address, and provide a clear and detailed rationale for the need to answer the question (why is this area a problem or concern?) The proposal should include an organizational framework for the final creative component report, and appropriate citation of several scientific journal articles that are succinctly described in key detail (what was studied, by what methods, using what design or approach, with what results and implications) that support the need for further exploration of the topic to be addressed. The proposal should outline the time frame, strategies for finding or producing the information to be contained in the final report, and the proposed uses for the final report.

The creative component final report

The creative component final product will be presented to your POS committee in your final semester; officially this is referred to as the “final oral examination”. The final product format will be determined by the choice of creative component, and will be tentatively agreed upon at the proposal presentation teleconference. For example, a grant proposal would need to follow the format dictated by the granting agency. A literature review would follow a format common to review articles published in journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association. Preliminary research reports would follow the format of a research journal article (introduction, methods, results, discussion). In all cases, a title page and an executive summary or abstract of no more than one page should preface the final report. Major changes to the final report format must be discussed with and agreed upon by the POS committee in advance of the final oral examination teleconference.

You will need to adhere to the deadlines established by the ISU Graduate College which can be found here. Follow this link to find information about all pertinent deadlines including scheduling information for your final oral examination. Please be mindful that due to the deadlines of the Graduate College, you will not have an entire semester to complete your creative component during your final semester. Additionally, it is customary that you will provide your final written product to your POS committee, 2 weeks prior to your scheduled oral presentation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a final written exam?

No, there is the final written product and a final oral examination.

Can I change my creative component topic once I have started?

After your POS committee has approved your proposal, you will need your POS committee to agree to any proposed changes.

Non-degree status

Students may take up to 9 graduate credit hours as a non-degree-seeking student before being formally admitted to the program. No more than 9 credits earned in non-degree status can be used on the program of study for a degree.

NOTE:  Graduate credits earned by completing a dietetic internship are not transferrable.

As indicated in the Graduate College Handbook, a student is required to maintain a cumulative GPA > 3.0; failure to do so will result in the loss of tuition support by the program or major professor. There is currently a one semester grace period for students during their first term as a graduate student before enforcement of this policy.  It should also be noted that the various home departments in the program might have more stringent requirements.  For example, the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department has a policy which stipulates graduate students must earn a grade of B- or better in all courses within the major (i.e., MFCS-Dietetics), regardless of GPA.

  • Contact Information

    MFCS graduate program information

    (Questions about admission, registration, etc.)

    E262 Lagomarcino
    901 Stange Road
    Ames, IA 50011-1041

    Academic issues

    (Questions related to academic progress, such as advice on courses, timing of courses, career path, etc.)

    Sarah L. Francis, PhD, MHS, RD
    224D MacKay
    2302 Osborn Drive
    Ames, IA 50011-1078

  • Tools