MPH/RD Degree Programs

A Master of Public Health (MPH) degree is a graduate-level program for students who wish to enter the public health field. There are many types of MPH programs that offer various concentrations or coordinated programs. For students with an interest in public health who want to pursue an education in nutrition and dietetics, an MPH/RD degree is a great option. 

Read on to learn more about MPH/RD programs:

What is an MPH/RD Degree?

MPH/RD degree programs are coordinated programs designed for students who want to become registered dietitians (RDs). Students in an MPH/RD program receive an education that combines research and hands-on training in nutrition and dietetics with foundational knowledge and skills in public health. These programs combine classroom work and the supervised practice requirements for national registered dietitian examination eligibility upon graduation.

MPH/RD programs are commonly offered as residential, or on-campus programs. However, universities are increasingly offering online RD programs to students seeking an MPH with more flexibility. 

MPH/RD Curriculum and Outcomes

Completion of an MPH/RD degree provides graduates with foundational knowledge in the science and practice of public health alongside knowledge of nutrition and food sciences. These programs are designed to allow students to sit for their RD examination upon graduation and become a registered dietitian

As of January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) requires a minimum of a master’s degree to be eligible for the RD credential exam. Students must also complete coursework and supervised practice in a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). MPH/RD programs are coordinated with the CDR and ACEND to provide students with the necessary eligibility requirements upon completion of their degree program. 

While the exact courses and their recommended order may vary across schools, MPH/RD programs will consist of core public health courses and classes specific to nutrition, food science and how nutrition affects community health. Examples include:

  • Nutrition Communication and Counseling
  • Nutritional Biochemistry
  • Data Analysis for Public Health
  • Understanding Public Health Issues
  • Food Service Management

Whether on campus or as an online RD program, MPH/RD degrees may share similar required courses, but each program will have unique requirements. It is important to carefully research each program, including curriculum, to determine which best meets your needs.

What is the difference between an MPH/RD degree and an MPH in Nutrition?

MPH/RD programs share similarities with MPH in Nutrition degrees, but they are different in a few key ways. The most important difference is their intended outcome.

Most MPH in Nutrition programs will provide students with much of the same knowledge and many of the same skills as an MPH/RD degree. However, MPH/RD programs are specialized in that they are meant to provide students with the eligibility requirements to take their examination to become an RD upon graduation. The program curriculum is coordinated with the CDR and ACEND to ensure that graduates are eligible to take their RD certification exam.


If you are interested in applying to graduate school dietetics programs, you might notice there are several types available. Two common degrees are MPH/RD and MS/RD programs. Both allow graduates to take their RD certification exam upon completion. However, the programs differ in their curriculum and career opportunities.

MPH/RD programs are for students who want to earn their MPH degree and work in public health after graduation. This typically includes working with community organizations and public institutions to help address nutritional or dietary education, policies and programs. Conversely, an MS/RD is a master’s of science degree that still prepares students for their RD certification, but with coursework that emphasizes the clinical side of dietetics. These programs are better suited for students who wish to work in nutritional research or similar clinical settings.

Are MPH/RD Programs Dual Degrees?

MPH/RD programs are not dual degrees. While the MPH stands for Master of Public Health, the RD signifies that students who graduate from the program are eligible to sit for their registered dietician certification exam. Students who complete their degree and internship requirement, along with pass their exam, will then have the credentials, MPH, RD—signifying they hold their MPH and have achieved their RD certification.

Is an MPH/RD Accredited by CEPH or ACEND?

Generally, MPH/RD degree programs are accredited by the ACEND. The organization responsible for issuing RD examination and certification, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), requires MPH/RD programs to offer coursework and supervised practice accredited by ACEND.

Some colleges may receive CEPH accreditation for all programs within their school or department of public health, but this is uncommon. For students who want to earn their RD after graduation, ACEND accreditation is essential. 

When researching MPH/RD programs, it’s important to ensure the program has been accredited by ACEND. Programs that are not accredited will not provide graduates with the necessary CDR exam eligibility. 

MPH/RD Admission Requirements and Prerequisites

 In MPH/RD applications, colleges will generally require students to meet several application requirements, including:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores
  • A personal statement or essay
  • A CV or resume
  • Letters of recommendation, particularly from academic sources

Schools may require MPH/RD applicants to either hold a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) verification statement from an previous ACEND accredited program, or completed specific prerequisite coursework, or prove that the application will be completed prior to enrolling in the program, if admitted. Some MPH/RD prerequisite courses may include:

  • Chemistry (Recommended with a lab) or/and Biochemistry
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Human Nutrition
  • Psychology or Counseling Skills
  • Microbiology 

Application requirements and prerequisites will vary by college. It is best to carefully review each program’s requirements and understand the application process. 

MPH/RD Degree Programs List

We compiled a list of ACEND-accredited MPH/RD programs in the United States. While there are variations in how the schools name their programs, learning outcomes are similar and all possibly qualify you to sit for the CDR exam.