RDN to Master of Science in Applied Nutrition Pathway Curriculum

UNE Online offers this 27-credit Master of Science in Applied Nutrition 100% online with timely, relevant classes and optional focus areas for current registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs or RDs) that want to earn their master’s degree. Current RDNs would also be able to achieve up to 405 hours of CPEUs through completion of our RDN to Master of Science in Applied Nutrition pathway.

PLEASE NOTE: To be eligible for this shorter pathway option, students must be current RDNs and provide a copy of their current CDR card.

Beginning in 2024, a minimum of a master’s degree will be an eligibility requirement in order to take the CDR RDN registration exam needed to earn a RDN licensure. With this shorter pathway, you will be able to earn your master’s degree in as little as sixteen months.

This 27-credit Master of Science in Applied Nutrition consists of:

  • 4 core courses
  • 1 co-requisite and 1 capstone course
  • 3 electives

Specialize in one of the following Applied Nutrition focus areas, or customize your degree to fit your career ambitions.

Core Courses

We have developed our Master of Science in Applied Nutrition to allow full customization based on your personal goals with four optional focus areas. Note: Please review the UNE Academic Catalog for the full and most up-to-date course descriptions and program information.

Nutrition requirements and metabolism from preconception through older adulthood are examined. The impacts and effects of culture, environment, economy and mental and physical health on nutrition status across the life cycle are explored. Metabolism of macronutrients, nutrition assessment methodologies, and specific concerns for each life cycle stage are emphasized.

Research methods and research design commonly used in nutrition research are examined. Topics include defining research questions, developing hypotheses, writing research goals and objectives, reviewing and interpreting literature, choosing appropriate research designs and understanding and summarizing relevant data. Professional presentation of research findings is emphasized.

Health behavior theories and practices utilized to facilitate healthful behavior change in a variety of nutrition education, counseling, and clinical settings are examined. Topics include motivational interviewing, practice of professional and engaged verbal and nonverbal communication, active listening, practitioner directed goal setting and group counseling. The design and evaluation of nutrition counseling practices are explored.

Nutrition and health promotion and the role of nutrition in disease prevention are examined. Topics include exploring theory-based approaches to lifestyle and behavior modification to advance the health and nutriture status of individuals and communities, development of culturally and age appropriate health promotion practices, current research on the ways diet, environment and nutrition influence the incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases at individual and population levels, and best-practices in health promotion. Students develop a practical approach to explore or address health promotion and disease prevention for a target population.


Co-Requisite and Capstone Courses

In the co-requisite course, students will critically review and evaluate current nutrition and wellness literature as well as perform the development and presentation of nutrition-related research. The final project will reinforce statistical concepts, equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to submit to and present at a professional conference, and further prepare students for their capstone projects.

In the capstone course, the student completes a culminating project and adds to their ePortfolio. This project requires the student to take concepts mastered in the program and apply them to real-world problems, issues, or developments in the field of nutrition.

Current nutrition and wellness literature will be critically reviewed and evaluated. Development and presentation of nutrition related research will be performed. Quantitative and/or qualitative research methods including research design and methodology, data collection and analysis and interpretation of findings will be employed. Topics include appropriate use of statistical software, Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) processes, research design, implementation and evaluation methods for a variety of nutrition research initiatives, and professional presentation of research findings.

This course requires departmental permission for registration. If you would like to register for this course, please contact MSAN Student Support Specialist Stacy Mears at smears@une.edu.

The latest theories, research, policy, and practices relating to a variety of nutrition concepts, controversies and practice will be applied to a relevant area of the students choice and approved by the instructor. This capstone course will culminate in a paper or project such as: a proposal of and explanation for new research, a research investigation of an educational or clinical question or practice, a proposal to modify current policy or practice, or a proposal to research, develop and/or implement new approaches to the management and treatment of a nutrition or wellness concern.

This course requires departmental permission for registration. If you would like to register for this course, please contact MSAN Student Support Specialist Stacy Mears at smears@une.edu.


Applied Nutrition Focus Areas

Focus area: Non-Diet Approaches to Health Promotion

A recent study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that almost 40% of adults are overweight and approximately 13% of the global population is obese. These figures have tripled since 1975, resulting in a growing public health crisis, and the field continues to evolve with many experts becoming interested in nutrition as a potential way to find effective solutions to this issue.

This focus area develops your understanding of the cultural, environmental, psychological, physical, genetic, and economic variables that contribute to the rise in overweight and obesity, as well as the factors that may help mitigate the impact of obesity on communities and individuals. As a student in this focus area, you’ll compare distinct obesity prevention, treatment and interventions designed to reduce the incidence of overweight and obesity, evaluate existing policy approaches to obesity management, and identify the medical, psychological, and economic expense to reducing obesity and related comorbidities.

Completing coursework in this focus area prepares you for a career in weight management services, community or corporate wellness programs, nutrition research, and education and counseling intended to affect behavior change. Working in settings such as schools, health and recreation centers, local, state, and federal agencies, or health maintenance organizations (HMOs), you will be able to help educate your community and create and execute action plans to help individuals achieve their health goals.

Nutrition principles, clinical nutrition assessment, the development, use, and monitoring of therapeutic diets, and nutrition support in the treatment and prevention of disease will be examined. Topics include lifestyle strategies and nutrition and therapeutic based interventions to correct nutrition insufficiencies, promote optimal health, and prevent, manage or correct medical problems.

Nutrition behavior, public health implications of nutrition status, nutrition education initiatives and leadership in the nutrition and wellness fields will be examined. Development of educational materials and programs for a range of settings will be explored and dissemination of professional education materials for a variety of audiences will be emphasized.

Commercial and media influence on concepts of physical and mental health, wellness, nutrition and nutrition education will be examined. Commercialization and consolidation of food systems and the impacts on nutrition are explored. Topics include food labeling, food advertising, the impact of consumers and food businesses on food supply and policy, food lobbyists and policy practices impacting consumer habits, social influences of advertising on the impact of food choices, and media dissemination of nutrition information.

The epidemiology, etiology, and pathophysiology of overweight and obesity are examined. Complications in management of overweight and obesity are explored. Topics include public health, psychosocial and economic factors impacting overweight and obesity, current educational and theoretical models used to combat overweight and obesity, and emerging research on the causes of overweight and obesity.

The management and treatment of overweight and obesity are examined. Treatment approaches including medical, behavioral, and lifestyle management interventions are explored. Current practices will be critically reviewed and appropriate research methodology for proposing clinical or behavioral research will be examined. Clinical management of overweight and obesity across the population will be emphasized. Topics include specific treatment strategies in managing overweight, obesity, and related disease processes, implementing best-practices in clinical and counseling environments and appropriate and effective counseling modalities.

This course requires departmental permission for registration. If you would like to register for this course, please contact MSAN Student Support Specialist Stacy Mears at smears@une.edu.


Focus area: Nutrition and Disease Prevention

This focus area bridges evidence-based research and decision-making in nutrition care settings, training you to confidently analyze, interpret, synthesize, implement and evaluate theoretical frameworks related to nutrition education and nutrition practice. The coursework in this focus area prepares students to understand nutrition-related disease with an emphasis on disease prevention.

Growing public and private interest in nutrition therapy as a means to achieving a healthier life demands nutrition professionals be able to articulate the science and research behind the genesis of disease to effect meaningful change with their clients as well as in the field. These courses empower you to skillfully design and contribute to research and scholarship in the field, apply specialized treatment models in nutrition practice, and powerfully communicate the results to a variety of audiences.

Through the coursework, you will be engaged with widely-applicable best practice techniques that may be of particular interest to students with a background in health, dietetics, nutrition, exercise science, health promotion, or community program development. Completing your studies in Applied Nutrition with a focus on Nutrition and Disease Prevention offers career opportunities in the clinical, community, and health management sectors of the field. Depending on your previous education and credentials, career opportunities may include roles such as medical nutrition therapist, public health nutritionist, community-based nutritionist, food safety & nutrition specialist, and many more.

Nutrition principles, clinical nutrition assessment, the development, use, and monitoring of therapeutic diets, and nutrition support in the treatment and prevention of disease will be examined. Topics include lifestyle strategies and nutrition and therapeutic based interventions to correct nutrition insufficiencies, promote optimal health, and prevent, manage or correct medical problems.

This course examines the role of micronutrients and micronutrient metabolism in human health and nutrition, specifically the digestion, absorption, transport, storage and excretion of vitamins and minerals. Homeostatic mechanisms and micronutrient interactions with dietary, organic and inorganic compounds will be explored. Topics will include micronutrients and medical nutrition therapy, micronutrient toxicity and deficiency, bioavailability of micronutrients and clinical implications of micronutrient status.

The epidemiology and etiology of nutrition-related disease will be examined. Dietary, lifestyle and behavior change approaches in chronic disease prevention and management will be emphasized. Disease prevention and management using dietary modification and specialized therapies will be emphasized. Topics include specialized treatment for the critically wounded or ill, nutrition-related disease prevention, nutrition therapies for genetic and chronic disease states and therapeutic approaches to disease management.

The role of the nutrition professional in promoting general health and wellness through a variety of communication methods will be examined. Theoretical models of nutrition counseling and behavior change and evidence-based nutrition intervention design strategies are emphasized. Topics include calculation of diet modifications for a variety of disease states, development of educational materials, techniques for communicating nutrition information to individuals, use of multimedia communication strategies, and culturally appropriate information dissemination strategies.


Focus area: Sustainable Nutrition

The Department of Economic and Social Affairs operating within the United Nations estimates a global population totaling close to 10 billion people by 2050.* With an increasing global population, it’s crucial we safeguard a future that provides sustainable and equitable access to high-quality and healthful foods, including fresh and oceanic food and water systems. Current models of global food production and distribution contribute to 30% of greenhouse gas emissions and require 70% of the available freshwater, contributing significantly to climate change. This focus area allows students to investigate, propose, implement and evaluate long-term solutions for a sustainable and nutritious food supply with minimal impact to our environment.

Each course offered in this focus area educates you on cutting-edge approaches for sustainable agriculture, the connection between production and consumer networks, and the interrelationship of socio-economic, environmental and political influences on our food systems and as related to nutrition.

Individually and collectively, these courses will teach you ways to meet current nutrition needs without sacrificing our ability to ensure a sustainable food future, and will prepare you to contribute to the field in career areas like advocacy, health promotion, nutrition policy, and sustainable food systems both locally and globally.

Strategic use of multimedia communications tools in the nutrition and wellness industry will be examined. Theories of mass communication, including contemporary perspectives and their application to current nutrition and wellness practice are emphasized. Topics include professional and ethical approaches to communication, multimedia writing, use of media for Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC), integration of marketing, and branding and public relations in multimedia and marketing campaigns.

This course brings together graduate students in public health, education, social work, nutrition, and health informatics to work collaboratively to learn the fundamentals of policy-making as applied to the broad issue of student mental health in an educational setting. Students work in interprofessional groups to identify the social problem, describe the policy context, map potential policy solutions, and make final recommendations in an individual written policy analysis that incorporates learning from their interprofessional peers. Students will explore the structure and function of government systems as they relate to values-driven policy decisions.

Diets, dietary practices, food choice and food patterns will be examined through the lens of sustainability at local, national and global levels. Consumer choices and their impact on food webs and global food systems will be explored, through analyzing the various inputs, outputs, and outcomes of food choices. Nutrient availability and nutritional status associated with a variety of dietary types will be considered through the context of dietary effects on personal and environmental health. Topics include policy, socioeconomic, cultural and ethical impacts of a variety of diets/dietary choices.

Global food systems, systems of agriculture, food webs, the influence of agricultural systems on climate change, and environmental impacts of food growth, processing, and distribution will be examined. National and International law and agricultural, trade and financial policies, and effects on food systems and food system sustainability will be investigated. Planning and management of large and small scale food production operations, food systems workforce, ethical treatment of production workers and livestock and genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) will be explored. Topics also include international dietary practices and food choices, and cultural and socio-economic impacts on local food systems.

Food access, food sovereignty, and the economics of food will be investigated. Local and international social justice and food advocacy initiatives will be investigated. Social feeding programs, community needs assessments and funding for food advocacy programs will be examined. Topics include access to food, the impacts of income inequality, discrimination, regional conflict and sanctions on parity in food choice and food availability, and food desserts.


Focus area: Individualized

This focus area provides you the opportunity to build a curriculum that matches career ambitions and professional goals unique to you. By selecting this curriculum structure, you’re able to choose five courses across any focus areas as electives to custom-build your master’s degree. These courses are taught by the same innovative, industry-leading faculty and offer you an opportunity to connect and build a network with students across other focus areas.

By choosing to customize your degree, you receive an education tailored to serve your future professional and personal goals by applying nutrition concepts and best practices for health promotion and disease prevention in a variety of settings. You will be able to interpret complex nutrition principles for the public, access top-rated research techniques based in evidence, and improve communication skills to serve in the assorted work environments you’ll be introduced to in the field.


Miscellaneous Elective Courses

Advanced research methods and conducting online research will be examined. Appropriate use of qualitative and quantitative research design, methodology, data collection, and analyses will be emphasized. Topics include determining appropriate research design, population size, recruiting research participants, the use of valid and reliable measurement instruments to address research question(s), use of statistical software in analyzing and interpreting data, and presentation of research findings.

Media organizations, their audiences, and the ethics of advertising will be examined. Best practices, transparency and risk mediation in advertising will be explored. Topics include communicating with potential clients in both industry and non-profit sectors, seeking grant funding for nutrition initiatives, accuracy in advertising, privacy and trust, and their application within the context of nutrition and wellness settings.

Social media metrics used to inform marketing campaigns and budgeting decisions will be explored. Analyzing social media metrics and developing strategies for viable advertising and social media information dissemination campaigns concerning nutrition and wellness will be emphasized. Topics include how to evaluate and manage the return on investment (ROI) of social media efforts and campaign strategy modification based on the outcomes of metric analyses and data visualization and presentation strategies.

Small business development in the nutrition and wellness industry will be examined. Strategic decision making and leadership will be emphasized. Topics include the development of business plans, assessing the risk of business concepts, and identifying strategies for success in competitive, traditional and emerging markets. This course will culminate in a business plan, feasibility study, market analysis report or other project or work-product approved by the Instructor.


Regardless of your Applied Nutrition focus area, as a graduate of the program you will be able to:

  • Develop and demonstrate the application of nutrition concepts and define best practices for health promotion and disease prevention.
  • Describe and apply core research ethics, principles, and analytical techniques of measuring the nutrition status and environment of individuals and communities.
  • Demonstrate adept communication and collaboration with representatives from various government, non-profit, community, and business entities.
  • Correctly interpret and modify explanations of complex nutrition concepts for various audiences through multiple communication channels.
  • Research, develop and disseminate evidence-based and theory-driven educational materials and work-products at an audience-appropriate level for topics related to nutrition and health promotion.



If you have any questions about the Applied Nutrition programs, focus areas, coursework, or program requirements, please speak to one of our enrollment counselors at the email or phone number below.