Prepare to work as a registered dietitian nutritionist in diverse clinical nutrition delivery settings

Pacific’s Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition is an accelerated 16-month full-time Future Graduate (FG) Future Education Model (FEM) Demonstration Program — the only one of its kind in California and the entire west coast. Our FEM program integrates didactic coursework with 1200 hours of supervised experiential learning in a competency-based curriculum designed to prepare nutrition and dietetics practitioners for future practice. Upon fulfilling all program graduation requirements, our program awards students the degree of Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition (MSCN), and graduates are eligible to sit for the Registration Examination for Dietitians administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

Located at Pacific’s Sacramento Campus within the School of Health Sciences

Combination of in-person and hybrid online courses

Clinical education sites throughout California and out-of-state for supervised experiential learning

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Career Path for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN)

Pacific’s Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition Positions You for the Future

As a Future Graduate (FG) program, Pacific’s MSCN provides both the educational and the supervised practice experience requirements for becoming an RDN in a single program, and obtaining your graduate degree now positions you as a competitive, well-prepared practitioner for the nutrition and dietetics workforce.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines the educational and professional requirements for becoming an RDN (pdf):

  • Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college or foreign equivalent, and coursework through accredited Didactic (DPD), Coordinated (CP), Future Graduate (FG) or Foreign (FDE) or International Dietitian Education (IDE) program
  • Complete required supervised practice experience through ACEND® accredited Dietetic Internship (DI), Coordinated (CP), Future Graduate (FG) or International Dietitian Education (IDE) Program or an Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) offered through an ACEND® accredited program
  • Pass the national Registration Examination for Dietitians administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)
  • Become licensed/certified if required in your state. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides a U.S. Map showing Licensure Statutes and Information by State. Pacific’s MSCN program resides in California, where there is title protection without state regulation (no license is required to use the title).

Please visit the ACEND website for further details about Routes to RDN Registration Eligibility.

Effective Jan. 1, 2024, the minimum degree requirement for eligibility to take the registration examination for dietitians administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will change from a bachelor’s degree to a graduate degree. Almost all other health care professions have increased entry-level educational standards beyond bachelor's degrees. Elevating the entry-level RDN education to a graduate level is consistent with the knowledge, skills, and research base required in the field of nutrition and dietetics. For more information on the 2024 graduate degree requirements, please visit the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (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. ACEND® released the Future Education Model Accreditation Standards (FEM) for Associate, Bachelor and Graduate (FG) Degree Programs in Nutrition and Dietetics, which are competency-based education (CBE) programs that integrate classroom learning with hands-on supervised experiential learning activities. ACEND® invited programs interested in being accredited under these standards to apply to be an early adopter demonstration program by ACEND®. Pacific’s MSCN program was granted candidate status as a Future Graduate (FG) program and began its inaugural student cohort in 2020. For more information on this new RDN pathway, please visit the ACEND® Future Education Model website (pdf).

 


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

Why choose Clinical Nutrition at Pacific?

  • Students with a bachelor’s degree or higher in any major/area of study, not just nutrition and dietetics
  • Second career students and students who have not completed an ACEND® accredited didactic program in dietetics (DPD). Note: Students who have not completed an ACEND® accredited DPD will need to complete Pacific MSCN pre-requisite courses prior to admission as defined in Admission Requirements.

  • Integrates classroom learning with 1200 hours supervised experiential learning
  • Graduate-level education in clinical nutrition where students apply more advanced skills including comprehensive nutrition-focused physical examinations
  • One application submitted via GradCAS – there is no DICAS application and no D&D computer matching
  • An accelerated 16-month program duration where graduates are “exam-ready” to take the RDN exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

  • Student-centered competency-based education (CBE) program that fosters work readiness
  • Educational philosophy of “learning-by-doing” where students meaningfully demonstrate competence in real-life contexts, not just traditional assessments like knowledge recall or role-plays
  • Supervised clinical practice experience rotations that span the continuum of care, sharpening students’ clinical nutrition skills across diverse care delivery settings

  • Interprofessional education and collaborative practice with other health professions programs
  • New Clinical Nutrition Teaching Kitchen and Assessment & Counseling Suite
  • Faculty with diverse expertise — in research, higher education, adult and pediatric clinical care, clinical nutrition management, ACEND® accredited program administration, healthcare leadership, public health, and physician assistant registered dietitian nutritionist.

About the Clinical Nutrition Program

Expert Faculty

Linda W. Gray, Interim Program Director, has more than 20 years of professional experience in clinical nutrition.

Linda Grey

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).

Objectives

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.

Objectives

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 outcomes data are available upon request from the Clinical Nutrition Program Director.

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.


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. 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.

An essential component of ACEND’s Future Education Model (FEM) and Competency-Based Education (CBE) is supervised experiential learning. Pacific’s MSCN Program plans 1200 hours of supervised experiential learning through:

  • Supervised Clinical Practice Experience (SCPE) rotations in professional work settings throughout the region (up to 1080 hours)
  • Alternate authentic work experiences, including complex case studies, simulations, standardized patient exercises, and role-playing – scheduled within didactic courses and interprofessional education activities to practice, apply and demonstrate competence (120 alternate experiential hours)

Supervised Clinical Practice Experience (SCPE)

During the last three trimesters of the MSCN program, students complete Supervised Clinical Practice Experience I, II, and III (NUTR 287A, 287B, and 287C, respectively). The MSCN program curriculum plans for 30 weeks of supervised clinical practice experience (SCPE) representing the diverse individual and population care delivery settings that registered dietitian nutritionists apply their clinical training and leadership across the continuum of care. The program approaches SCPE holistically and aims to offer learning opportunities with rotations in innovative and expanding areas of practice. SCPE rotations are summarized below, indicating the rotation type and duration (in weeks). SCPE rotations are scheduled within the 10-week blocks afforded by the trimester schedule. While the sequence of rotations will differ for each student, all students complete SCPEs including the same ACEND® Future Education Model (FEM) Graduate Degree Competencies. Pacific affiliates with clinical education sites throughout California and some out-of-state facilities. The MSCN program is responsible for identifying SPCE clinical education sites and preceptors, and creates the rotation schedule for each student depending on site availability and student needs. It is not the responsibility of students to secure clinical placements. However, students are responsible for making arrangements for their housing and/or commuting plans to assigned clinical education sites, at the student’s expense.

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Accreditation Status

The University of the Pacific Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition Future Graduate (FG) Future Education Model Graduate Program has been granted candidate status by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

ACEND's Address
120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190
Chicago, IL 60606-6995, 312.899.0040 ext. 5400
ACEND's Website

MSCN Admissions

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

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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