Virginia Tech is expanding its ability to meet a growing demand for registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) by launching a new graduate-level program within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise.

The new M.S. in nutrition and dietetics program joins the department's undergraduate didactic program in dietetics (DPD) and the internship program in nutrition and dietetics, which were both reaccredited in 2018.

The master's program, which will accept its first cohort of students this fall, is the first in Virginia and one of the first in the country to be approved as a Future Education Model graduate program by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. The new master’s degree curriculum will complement both the DPD and internship programs.

“Creating this third unique pathway for students to become RDNs solidifies Virginia Tech as a leader in dietetics education,” said Matthew Hulver, HNFE’s department head.

The DPD program, directed by Heather Cox, will continue to prepare undergraduate students for competitive placements post-graduation. The internship program, directed by Carol Papillon and Amy LaFalce, will continue in both Blacksburg and in Northern Virginia with a curriculum that emphasizes leadership and professional development.

The new master’s program will offer an innovative competency-based curriculum that integrates graduate coursework with supervised experiential learning.

“We want to prepare RDNs to excel in a rapidly expanding and evolving field,” said Kristen Chang, who will direct the graduate program. “We are seeking competitive students from diverse educational backgrounds.”

The program also includes a five-year B.S./M.S. dietetics educational pathway allowing high-performing students to achieve the RDN credential and a master’s degree within 21 months from the start of their senior year.

Carilion Clinic will serve as the primary provider of supervised practice rotations and facilitate opportunities for interprofessional education, furthering the partnerships between Virginia Tech and Carilion. Graduates of the program will be eligible to become RDNs after completing the credentialing exam through the Commission on Dietetics Registration.

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