We a fully accredited Master of Public Health (MPH)/Registered Dietitian (RD) program that integrates the scientific study of nutrition and dietetics with a foundation in public health practice and research.

By 2024, a master’s degree will be the minimum requirement to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration exam.

What You’ll Learn

With the MPH/RD program from the Gillings School, aspiring clinical dietitians who are motivated to help people live healthier lives through better nutrition can earn a master’s in public health from a leading school. The program offers customized internship placement services to assist you in fulfilling the course and internship requirements to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam.

How can a public health background strengthen your practice as an RD?

As global health care becomes increasingly complex, our communities need practitioners who understand both the landscape of public health and its implications on individuals’ dietetic care. By earning your RD degree with us, you will position yourself on the front lines, eliminating an array of nutrition challenges through one-on-one counseling.

As a public health-prepared RD, you will provide customized nutritional support enriched by an understanding of the personal, social, economic and environmental factors affecting your clients’ health — to provide effective clinical care and create lasting behavior change.

RD Curriculum

The MPH-RD program is a 49-credit program. You will complete the following:

  • Gillings MPH Core curriculum – 12 credits
  • Nutrition and Dietetics Coursework – 31 credits
  • Practicum with Dietetic Internship – 3 credits
  • Culminating Experience – 3 credits

Required Courses

In addition to the interdisciplinary, 12-credit Gillings MPH Core, your nutrition and dietary coursework will include:

  • NUTR 400: Introduction to Nutritional Biochemistry
  • NUTR 600: Macronutrient Metabolism
  • NUTR 611: Nutrition Across the Life Cycle
  • NUTR 620: Micronutrient Metabolism
  • NUTR 630: Nutrition Communications, Counseling and Culture
  • NUTR 640: Medical Nutrition Therapy
  • NUTR 650/L: Food Science and Food Science Lab
  • NUTR 723: Public Health Nutrition Management
  • NUTR 805: Food and Nutrition Policy
  • NUTR 813: Nutritional Epidemiology
  • NUTR 992: Nutrition MPH/RD Culminating Experience

Practicum with Dietetic Internship: 3 credits

The Gillings School’s registered dietitian program is a coordinated program with a dietetic internship, which qualifies students to sit for the CDR national licensure exam.

Public Health Practicum

While enrolled in the RD program, you can expect to complete 240 hours of a traditional public health practicum experience. The practicum gives you the opportunity to apply theories learned in the classroom in a new or different kind of health care environment. This field experience occurs after you complete most of the RD curriculum and must be interactive, not exclusively observational. You may complete the practicum in your current workplace if it meets the requirements.

Dietetic Internship Experience

You also can expect to complete approximately 1,000 hours of a dietetic internship woven throughout the curriculum, which works toward meeting the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics‘ competency standards. Public health practicum hours count toward this total, and full-time students should expect to spend 40 hours per week for up to 20 weeks completing the internship.

The MPH/RD placement team will assist you in identifying internship sites that best fit your location and area of interest. This hands-on experience is designed to prepare you to be competitive in the job market, succeed on the CDR exam and lead a safe and effective dietetics practice.

The dietetic internship also will provide you with a well-rounded experience integrating clinical and public health skills in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, local health agencies, governmental organizations and nonprofit groups.

Learn about the three unique phases of our dietetic internship:

Public Health Nutrition Experience
Under the mentorship of a public health nutritionist or dietitian preceptor, you will practice community assets mapping, gathering information on the health resources available in your community. With an inventory of your findings on hand, you will be better equipped to connect clients with local resources that can improve their well-being.

Clinical Nutrition Experience
Before you begin the Clinical Nutrition Experience, you will complete the Food Systems Management online module, which will help you prepare to provide food service during your hospital hours.

During the Clinical Nutrition Experience, you will practice clinical dietetics with an RD’s supervision. You will become part of a hospital medical team, assessing and supporting the nutritional needs of patients with acute and chronic illnesses while developing your clinical decision-making skills.

Advanced Nutrition Experience
In this final practice experience, you will begin full-time work as a clinical dietitian at an organization involved in nutritional health and well-being. The Advanced Nutrition Experience is designed to help you develop your career goals and to facilitate the transition from student to professional in a supportive environment.

Culminating Experience: 3 credits

In the required Culminating Experience, you will write a major paper on a public health issue related to nutrition science and/or dietetics.


The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health MPH-RD Program is accredited as a Future Education Model Graduate Program by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, IL 60606-6995; 800-877-1600 X 5400; www.eatrightpro.org/ACEND.

Why Become a Registered Dietitian?

Registered dietitians provide one-on-one counsel, support and motivation to help clients improve their health through nutrition. As a public health-prepared RD, you can:

  • Assess the dietary needs of clients in diverse settings, from private practices to corporations to public health departments.
  • Design meal plans for patients recovering from acute and chronic illness informed by their determinants of health.
  • Provide medical nutrition therapy in hospital settings and long-term care facilities.
  • Advocate for affordable, nutritious food choices in your community.
  • Oversee meal programs in food service settings such as cafeterias and food corporations, buying food and managing kitchen staff.

Requirements and Sample Plan of Study

MPH/RD Requirements (PDF)

MPH/RD Sample Plan of Study (PDF)


Want to learn more?

Contact Jonathan Earnest, student services manager in the Department of Nutrition, at earnestj@email.unc.edu.

MPH/RD Program Leader

Amanda Holliday, MS, RD, LDN
Assistant professor
Department of Nutrition

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