FAQs About the M.S. in Applied Nutrition

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What is an RDN?

"A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) is a food and nutrition expert who has met the criteria to earn the RDN credential. RDNs translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. RDNs use their nutrition expertise to help individuals make unique, positive lifestyle changes. They work throughout the community in hospitals, schools, public health clinics, nursing homes, fitness centers, food management, food industry, universities, research, and private practice. RDNs are advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world." - See more at https://www.eatrightpro.org/acend

How do I become an RDN?

  • Complete a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) at an institution that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. These DPD programs combine science, foods, nutrition, and food service management.
  • Complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program at a healthcare facility, community agency, or a foodservice corporation or combined with undergraduate or graduate studies. Typically, a practice program will run six to 12 months in length. After the successful completion of this experience, you will be ready to take the registration examination for dietitians.
  • Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). For more information regarding the examination, refer to CDR’s website at www.cdrnet.org.
  • Forty-seven states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia currently have statutory provisions regulating the dietetics profession or associated titles such as dietitian and nutritionist. Some states require certification/ licensure. To work as an RDN in that state this must be acquired and maintained. – See more about state licensure at www.eatright.org
  • Complete 75 hours of continuing professional educational requirements every five years to maintain registration.
  • The Master of Science in Applied Nutrition at James Madison University has been granted candidate status and includes the dietetic coursework and supervised experiential learning competency requirements. Students successfully completing the program will receive a Master of Science degree as well as the requirements for a signed Verification Statement necessary to apply for the national examination to become an RDN.

What is an ACEND Accredited Graduate Program?

An ACEND accredited Graduate Program is offered at the graduate level and provides the required nutrition and dietetics coursework and supervised experiential learning to meet ACEND's competency requirements to be eligible to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). A verification statement is issued to individuals who successfully complete the program to be eligible to take the CDR RDN credentialing examination.

The Master of Science in Applied Nutrition at James Madison University includes the dietetics coursework and supervised experiential learning at a graduate level. Successful students will enter the workforce as entry-level masters-prepared RDNs. –See more at https://www.eatrightpro.org/acend

What are the different jobs for a master’s prepared RDN?

Successful graduates from James Madison University’s Master of Science in Applied Nutrition may find work or continued education in a variety of fields. These include but are not limited to:

  • Hospitals, HMO or other healthcare facilities
  • Food and nutrition-related businesses and industries
  • Universities and medical centers
  • Sports nutrition and corporate wellness programs
  • Bariatric surgery clinics
  • Private practice
  • Community and public health settings
  • Research areas
  • Doctoral programs

How can I improve my chances of being accepted in the Master of Science in Applied Nutrition?

Faculty of the program is looking for students who: 

  • Have a love for foods and nutrition
  • Have a passion for helping others with effective nutrition therapies and various physical activity modalities
  • Have a thirst for knowledge
  • Have strong science GPAs
  • Have a desire to learn about and conduct quality research
  • Work well in an interprofessional team environment
  • Meet all prerequisites of the program
  • Manage time effectively and handle stressful situations 
  • Demonstrate creativity and self-motivation
  • Have volunteered in a healthcare or community environment

How long is the program?

The Master of Science in Applied Nutrition is a full-time graduate program that will require four academic semesters and two summers to complete the 50 credit hours.

When do I submit my application?

The Master of Science in Applied Nutrition has a priority deadline of December 1st. Applications that are submitted before the deadline will receive priority from the admissions team.

After the priority deadline, the program will have a rolling admission until filled or two weeks before the start of the term.

How do I submit my application?

Applying is a two-step process.

What are the program prerequisites?


  • Courses in nutrition, microbiology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, human anatomy, human physiology, psychology, and statistics are prerequisites for admission to the program.
  • 100 hours of documented experience with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
  • Current ServSafe Manager certificate

What is the cost of the program?

For more information on the current cost of graduate school at JMU please visit the Graduate Tuition and Aid page on the Graduate School’s page.

Based on 2022-2023 tuition rates in-state would expect to pay $26,450 and out-of-state $62,550 for a Master of Science in Applied Nutrition degree AND the required dietetic coursework and supervised experiential learning to be an RDN.

Additional costs may be part of the program including:

  • Criminal Background Check: $150/ onetime fee
  • Drug Test: $50/ onetime fee
  • Immunization/ Health Records: Varies - $150-$300/ onetime fee
  • Rent: $500-$850/ month. Check out JMU’s “Off Campus Life
  • Utilities (water, electric, washer/dryer, cable/Internet/Apps, phone, etc.): Varies- $125-$600/month
  • Gas: Varies- $10-$100/week; this depends on supervised experiential learning site location and living distance to them and JMU
  • Automobile Insurance: varies- you will need a reliable source of transportation for supervised experiential learning sites, classes, etc. Harrisonburg Transit is a great transportation service that is free to JMU students.
  • Parking: Varies- $44-$260 see more at JMU Parking Services
  • Nourishment: Varies- $200/month
  • Health Insurance: Varies- $200/month
  • Textbook and class-related items: Varies - $500-$1,200/ program
  • Personal Computer: Varies - $120-$1,500/ onetime fee. A personal computer is not required but is recommended. JMU has excellent computer labs, however most supervised experiential learning sites do not.
  • Conference Attendance: Varies - $125-$1,500/ year
  • Personal Budget (entertainment, clothing, etc.): Varies - $50/ week
  • Estimated Monthly Living Expenses: ~$1,500/ month
  • Please visit JMU’s “Paying for Graduate School" website for assistantship, employment, scholarships, and loan information.

How Competitive is the Program?

The Master of Science in Applied Nutrition at JMU is a competitive and selective program whereby a limited number of students (maximum of 15) are admitted annually for May. Meeting the criteria for application does not guarantee admission into the program.

Strong applicants will have a health-related background, volunteer experience, strong research interest, good GPA, and good science scores.