Prepare to work in growing fields like telenutrition and biotechnology.

Be part of an exciting educational initiative. Pacific’s Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition program is the only one of its kind in California and the entire west coast. This program is a Future Graduate Future Education Model Demonstration Program that has been designed specifically to collect data for setting the 2024 National Standards.

Effective January 1, 2024, the minimum degree requirement for eligibility to take the registration examination for dietitians will change from a bachelor’s degree to a graduate degree. It is the only one of its kind in California and the entire west coast. Pacific is offering an accelerated entry-level master's degree in clinical nutrition at the Sacramento Campus and is open to students with a bachelor’s degree or higher, with or without academic and career experience in nutrition and dietetics.

The ACEND® Standards Committee has been developing standards and competencies for a new model for education in nutrition and dietetics with the purpose of advancing the profession and protecting the public. The ACEND® Board released the Future Education Model Accreditation Standards (FEM) for Associate, Bachelor and Graduate (FG) Degree Programs in Nutrition and Dietetics. Pacific was accepted as a new FG FEM program invites programs interested in being accredited under these standards to apply to be an early adopter demonstration program by ACEND® Future Education Model Graduate Programs.

Graduate-level, competency-based dietitian nutritionist program that integrates coursework and at least 1,000 hours of experiential learning for RDN eligibility.Competency-based education and imbedded supervised experiential learning within didactic course work are unique to FEM programs. The CDR based the decision to change the minimum degree requirement for registration examination eligibility on the recommendations of the Council on Future Practice Visioning Report (2012). Almost all other health care professions have increased entry-level educational standards beyond bachelor's degrees. Elevating the entry-level RD education to a graduate level is consistent with the knowledge, skills, and research base required in the field of nutrition and dietetics.

(Note: Students without a degree from an accredited didactic program in dietetics will need to complete pre-requisite courses prior to admission; see below).

Accelerated 16-month continuous program

Combination of in-person and online courses

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Career path

The scope of practice for RDNs continues to grow and this program prepares students to learn the critical thinking and scientific skills needed to be a state-of-the-art dietetic practitioner. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, RDNs are food and nutrition experts who work, lead and manage in variety and expansive employment settings including health care, business, marketing, communication, food, drug, dietary supplement industries, food service, food systems sustainability, private practice and consulting, telenutrition, retail, academia, research and biotechnology, community and government agencies, public health, corporate wellness, and mental health. 


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Please visit the GradCAS website for more information and to apply.

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Why choose Clinical Nutrition at Pacific?

Pacific's MSCN program is competency-based education and embeds supervised clinical practice experiences within didactic course work. The 16-month, full-time program (four consecutive trimesters) includes 1,200 supervised experiential learning hours and a total of 59 credit hours. After successfully completing program requirements and ACEND graduate competencies, students are eligible to take the registration examination for dietitians (RDNs) administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

About the Clinical Nutrition Program

Expert Faculty

Dr. Anne Davis, Program Director, has a long research history in clinical pediatric nutrition as well as 10 years in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical food industries.

Professor Anne Davis

The mission of the Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition FG Program is to provide a graduate level, student-centered, interprofessional Nutrition and Dietetics education, that is integrated with leadership, innovative supervised experiential learning and research experiences that prepares students to become skilled and compassionate registered dietitian/nutritionist professionals who practice comprehensive clinical nutrition care using an evidence-based approach.

Goal 1

Prepare graduates who become employed entry-level registered dietitian/ nutritionists (RDNs).


1.1. At least 80% of program graduates complete program/degree requirements within 2 years (150% of the program length).

1.2. Ninety percent of program graduates take the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists within 12 months of program completion.

1.3. The program’s one-year pass rate (graduates who pass the registration exam within one year of first attempt) on the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists is at least 80%.

1.4. Of graduates who seek employment, 70 percent are employed in nutrition and dietetics or related fields within 12 months of graduation.

1.5. During graduates' first year of employment, program graduates will be ranked by at least 80% of employers who respond to our employer survey as “satisfactory” or better in professional knowledge and skills as compared to the expected competency of entry-level RDNs.

1.6. During graduates’ first year of employment, 80% of program graduates who respond to our graduate survey, will rate the program as “meets expectations” or higher for the question on program preparation as an entry-level registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). 

Goal 2

Prepare graduates who participate in interprofessional practice and apply an evidence-based approach to practice.


2.1 During their first year of employment, 100% of program graduates who respond to our graduate survey will report participating in interprofessional practice activities (interdisciplinary healthcare teams, interprofessional committees/initiatives). 

2.2 During their first year of employment, 100% of program graduates who respond to our graduate survey will report how they will routinely use current evidence-based research in professional practice.

Program and student learning outcomes available upon request.

Competency-Based Education

The MSCN is a competency-based education (CBE) program that measures learning by how well a student demonstrates the ACEND® Future Education Model (FEM) Graduate Degree Competencies, which define the minimum level of proficiency needed of nutrition and dietetics practitioners to function successfully in practice. The FEM Graduate Degree Competencies describe the essential synthesis of knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors and other characteristics in the seven units described below:

Future Education Model Graduate Degree Competencies

Competency Unit 1
Foundation Knowledge

Applies foundational sciences to food and nutrition knowledge to meet the needs of individuals, groups, and organizations.

Competency Unit 2
Client/Patient Services

Applies and integrates client/patient-centered principles and competent nutrition and dietetics practice to ensure positive outcomes. 

Competency Unit 3
Food Systems Management

Applies food systems principles and management skills to ensure safe and efficient delivery of food and water.

Competency Unit 4
Community and Population Health Nutrition

Applies community and population nutrition health theories when providing support to community or population nutrition programs.

Competency Unit 5
Leadership, Business, Management and Organization

Demonstrates leadership, business and management principles to guide practice and achieve operational goals.

Competency Unit 6
Critical Thinking, Research, and Evidence-Informed Practice

Integrates evidence-informed practice, research principles and critical thinking into practice.

Competency Unit 7
Core Professional Behaviors

Demonstrates professional behaviors and effective communication in all nutrition and dietetics interactions.

Competencies are covered repeatedly throughout the curriculum and build on previous knowledge and experience to progress from introductory to more advanced learning activities, thus providing students multiple opportunities to achieve the competencies at the expected depth and breadth of the competency. 

Performance Indicators are defined by ACEND® for each competency that provide measurable, observable criteria of what competence actually looks like in practice. Learning activities are then planned based on these performance indicators to assess the student’s progress towards achievement of competence. In CBE, supervised experiential learning is especially important, as students have the chance to practice new skills with hands-on learning, or as it is often described: “learning by doing.”  

Pacific’s MSCN Program plans 1200 hours of supervised experiential learning, comprising 1080 hours in Supervised Clinical Practice Experience (SCPE) rotations and 120 hours in didactic courses.

Sacramento Campus Tour

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Clinical Nutrition Accreditation

Future Education Model Graduate Program

Graduate-level, competency-based dietitian nutritionist program that integrates coursework and 1,200 hours of experiential learning for RDN eligibility.

View Accreditation Directory here
Accreditation Status: Candidate for Accreditation
Date of Initial Accreditation: 5/11/2020
Accreditation Term Ends: 5/11/2024
Degree Granted: MSCN

See what a Candidate for Accreditation status means here.
View ACEND program definitions here.

MSCN Admissions

Read our Admissions information for everything you need to know about prerequisites, how to apply, and more.

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Academic Progress

Satisfactory academic progress must be evident and demonstrated by students in the Program in order to continue in the Program. Any failure to progress academically up to and including the failure of a course may be cause for referral to the Student Progress Committee (SPC). The SPC monitors academic progress for the entire program to include the clinical year of experiences.

Professional Progress

Professionalism is as important as, and holds equal importance to, academic progress. Students are expected to demonstrate the legal, moral, and ethical standards required of a health care professional and display behavior that is consistent with these qualities.
Professionalism and professional ethics are terms that signify certain scholastic, interpersonal and behavioral expectations. Among the characteristics included in this context are the knowledge, competence, demeanor, attitude, appearance, mannerisms, integrity, and morals displayed by the students to faculty, staff, preceptors, peers, patients, colleagues in health care and other educational settings and the public. The Program expects respect and professional demeanor from students.

Student Progress Committee (SPC)

The SPC is charged with monitoring all Clinical Nutrition students both academically and professionally, promoting students who have successfully completed a semester, as well as reviewing the cases of students who meet the disciplinary criteria. The committee is comprised of faculty members from University programs and Colleges that provide instruction to the Clinical Nutrition students. Certain circumstances may also require the inclusion of University faculty members from programs not associated with the Clinical Nutrition program or its students, as well as the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office. The SPC may review student records and discuss student records with appropriate faculty members and/or preceptors in determining an appropriate course of action for students experiencing academic and/or professional conduct difficulties in the Program. 

Since the Program only offers courses once per academic year, if the SPC recommends that a student repeat an entire term, the student must take a leave of absence from the Program until those courses are offered again. A place will be held for the student to return to the Program at the beginning of the term that must be repeated.

Academic Standing

All students must make satisfactory progress toward curriculum completion within the Clinical Nutrition program. Students must meet the minimum standards and requirements set by the Program and University of the Pacific to remain in good academic standing including a 3.0 minimum GPA and meeting all assigned competencies. The Program has additional criteria that define academic progress. Failure to meet any defined criteria may result in disciplinary action and the changing of a student’s academic standing. 
A student will be recommended for the Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition (MSCN) Degree provided he/she has fulfilled the following:

1. Completion of all prescribed academic requirements with:

  • A cumulative weighted grade point average of 3.0 or higher in the MSCN Program with no incomplete or unsatisfactory grades, AND
  •  Achievement of all ACEND FEM Graduate Program Competencies, as demonstrated by attaining a “4” rating (on a scale of 1-5) on a minimum of:
    • one performance indicator for each competency with ≤ eight performance indicators, and
    • one performance indicator per performance indicator category for those competencies with > eight performance indicators.
    Once competencies are achieved, the student must also demonstrate sustained performance for the duration of the program.

2. Demonstration of no deficiencies in ethical, professional, or personal conduct, which would make it inappropriate to award the degrees and receipt of a final overall satisfactory rating on the Professional Evaluation.

3. Compliance with all legal and financial requirements of University of the Pacific.

4. Completion of the academic requirements within the required 150% of time frame following matriculation. MSCN graduate students are expected to complete the program in no less than 16 consecutive months and no more than 24 consecutive months. The MSCN Program is a full-time program at this time. Should special circumstances arise such as a prolonged illness, pregnancy and others, each student will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Any coursework that becomes greater than 5 years in time will need to be repeated. The ability to complete SCPE rotations outside of the student’s cohort will depend upon availability of preceptors and sites.

5. Completion and submission of the “Application for Graduation” to the Office of the Registrar

Verification Statements

Upon fulfilling all program graduation requirements, a student will be provided six (6) Verification

Statements. Original Verification Statements may be required for transfer of AND Membership status from Student to Active member, licensure/certification and employment. Students should retain a personal file copy for future use. Additional Verification Statements will be available from the Program Director upon request.

Students who successfully complete the Clinical Nutrition graduate program by achieving the program goals, abiding by the program policies, and reaching the expected level of competence for dietetics practice will receive a Registration Eligibility Application Name/Address Verification Form and instructions. The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) copy is to be completed and returned to the Program Director. The Program Director will forward the Computerized Registration Eligibility Application to CDR. It is the responsibility of each Student to complete the application from Pearson Vue, provide the required fee, and schedule an examination appointment.

Students who have not completed all Program requirements will not be given Verification
Statements, nor will their names be submitted to CDR to sit for the RDN Exam. Both of these steps are required before taking the RDN national examination.

Credentialing requirements

After successfully completing current eligibility requirements and being validated by CDR, individuals are eligible to take the registration examination for dietitians. 

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Non-Discrimination Disclosure

The Program is an equal opportunity institution of higher learning and is firmly committed to nondiscrimination in its delivery of educational services and employment practices. In compliance with all applicable federal and state laws, such decisions will be made irrespective of the individual's race, color, religion, religious creed, ancestry, national origin, age (except for minors), sex, marital status, citizenship status, military service status, sexual orientation, medical condition (cancer-related or genetic condition), disability and/or any other status protected by law. For further information, please see the University’s policy

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Clinical Nutrition

3200 Fifth Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817