Jan 20, 2021  
2018-2019 University Catalog 
2018-2019 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Clinical Nutrition (MS)

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Clinical Nutrition: Academic Programs

Master of Science

The MS degree program is for those who hold a baccalaureate degree and wish to expand their understanding of human nutrition through critical evaluation, integration and application of nutrition research. The student has the option of selecting a thesis or non-thesis track. Those in the thesis track are required to take 6 credits of thesis research and will complete their own research project. Those in the non-thesis track will take 1-3 credits of independent study and have a research experience.

Clinical Nutrition: Admission Requirements

All who apply to the College of Health Sciences’ MS Clinical Nutrition program must have a baccalaureate degree. Obtaining the MS degree in the College of Health Sciences’ Clinical Nutrition program without an accredited, supervised practice will not make the student eligible to sit for the registration exam to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, or RDN.

Prerequisite courses from an accredited U.S. university that are required for admission to the MS degree include the following:

  • At least one course in biochemistry*
  • At least one course in physiology
  • At least one course in nutrition
  • At least one course in statistics

*Students should note that two semesters of general chemistry and one semester of organic chemistry are typically the prerequisites for biochemistry. The prerequisite for physiology is an introductory biology course.

Application  requirements, required application fees and the application process are specified on the Department of Clinical Nutrition webpage. If you have questions, contact Sarah Peterson, PhD, RD, LDN, Acting Program Director at Sarah_J_Peterson@rush.edu or call (312) 942-7845.

Acceptance procedures for the MS program include a review of application materials by the Rush University College of Health Sciences Admissions Office for completeness of application and a review by the Clinical Nutrition Admissions Committee for program acceptance. Students may be admitted in any of the three terms.

Students accepted into the MS degree program will receive a letter of acceptance from the Rush University College of Health Sciences Admissions Office. A program acceptance confirmation fee of $250 is required at this time. This fee is nonrefundable and will be applied to tuition for the first term. There are two tracks in the MS in Clinical Nutrition program: thesis and non-thesis. The student will decide during the first term which track they will pursue.

Required Testing for all Applicants

Applicants for the MS program in Clinical Nutrition will need to submit results of the following:

  • GRE graduate school entry exam.
  • International applicants:  Graduates who obtained their education outside the United States and its territories must have their academic degree(s) validated as equivalent to the baccalaureate or master’s degree conferred by a regionally accredited college or university in the United States. These applicants also must submit results of the TOEFL examination (see College of Health Sciences TOEFL requirements).

Clinical Nutrition: Graduation Requirements

Once admitted into the MS in Clinical Nutrition program, students embark on a journey that entails the accumulation of 36 term hours for graduation. Students must perform the following in order to graduate and have the degree conferred:

  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater
  • Successfully complete all didactic coursework
  • Successfully complete all requirements of the thesis/non-thesis research experience
  • Pass the Rush University Interprofessional course
  • Complete a minimum of 16 contact hours of approved professional or community service

Students must complete all program requirements within five years from matriculation. Any student who expects to go beyond the timeframe must request an exception to the policy in writing to the Clinical Nutrition Academic Progress and Promotions committee.

Clinical Nutrition: Research Activities

There are two tracks in the MS in Clinical Nutrition program: thesis and non-thesis. Students have the option of selecting the thesis or non-thesis track of the degree, but all students will complete some form of research experience. Faculty members of the Department of Clinical Nutrition are involved in basic and applied clinical nutrition and management research. Faculty and students present at professional meetings and publish in peer reviewed journals. A list of faculty and student research presentations and publications can be found on the Clinical Nutrition website.

Clinical Nutrition: Service Activities

Students are required to complete 16 hours of community or professional service during the program. Students meet this requirement in a variety of ways, including assisting at health fairs, volunteering at a local food pantry, and assisting at local, state and national professional association meetings.

Clinical Nutrition: Academic Policies

The MS program is offered on a part-time or full-time basis. A full-time student can complete the program in four terms. All students must complete the program within five years of matriculation. Rush University requires continuous enrollment through to completion of degree (see Rush University policies for further information).

Students may be allowed to transfer up to 12 semester hours of applicable graduate credit from another accredited university. Graduate courses must be completed with a B or better and approved by the student’s supervisory committee to be awarded transfer credit.

If a student is not finished with the MS degree in five years, a request for an extension must be made to the Clinical Nutrition Academic Progress and Promotions Committee. If an extension is granted, conditions of the extension may include additional coursework to assure relevancy and currency of knowledge and competence at the master’s level.

Academic Progression

Students in the MS program are required to earn grades of C or better in all courses. Failure to earn required grades may result in dismissal from the MS program and will result in a performance review by the Clinical Nutrition Academic Progress and Promotions Committee. The faculty reserves the right to request the withdrawal of any student whose conduct or performance demonstrates lack of fitness for continuance in the graduate program.

Automatic probation for any student results when a student’s cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 or when a student receives a grade of D or F in any course. The Clinical Nutrition Academic Progress and Promotions Committee notifies any student placed on probation, states the reason(s) for probation and indicates the conditions that must be satisfied for removal of probation.

A student who earns a grade of D or F in a course must repeat the course and earn at least a C. A student who earns a grade of D or F in more than one required course will be dismissed. Full-time students on probation must earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater by the end of the next two consecutive terms. Part-time students on probation must earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater after completing the next three courses (approximately 6 term hours). Improvement in the GPA must be shown each term of probation.

Clinical Nutrition: Technical Standards

Rush University is committed to diversity and to attracting and educating students who will make the population of health care professionals representative of the national population.

Our core values - ICARE (innovation, collaboration, accountability, respect and excellence) - translate into our work with all students, including those with disabilities. Rush actively collaborates with students to develop innovative ways to ensure accessibility and creates a respectful, accountable culture through our confidential and specialized disability support. Rush is committed to excellence in accessibility; we encourage students with disabilities to disclose and seek accommodations.

The following technical functions are required of all students enrolled in the Clinical Nutrition program:

Acquire Information

  • Acquire information from demonstrations and experiences in courses, such as lecture, group and physical demonstrations
  • Acquire information from written documents and computer systems (e.g., literature searches and data retrieval)
  • Identify information presented in accessible images from paper, slides, videos with audio description and transparencies
  •  Recognize and assess patient changes in mood, activity, cognition, verbal and non-verbal communication

Use and Interpret

  • Use and interpret information from assessment techniques/maneuvers
  • Use and interpret information related to physiologic phenomena generated from diagnostic tools


  • Possess psychomotor skills necessary to provide or assist in holistic clinical nutrition care and perform or assist with procedures and treatments
  • Practice in a safe manner and appropriately provide clinical nutrition care and assessment in emergencies and life support procedures, and perform universal precautions against contamination


  • Communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and families
  • Communicate effectively with faculty, preceptors and all members of the health care team during practicum and other learning experiences
  • Accurately elicit information, including a medical history and other information to adequately and effectively evaluate a population’s, client’s or patient’s condition

Intellectual Ability

  • Measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize data related to the diagnosis and treatment of patients and populations
  • Exercise proper judgment and complete responsibilities in a timely and accurate manner according to the clinical nutrition role
  • Synthesize information, problem-solve and think critically to judge the most appropriate theory, assessment or treatment strategy


  • Maintain mature, sensitive, effective relationships with clients/patients, families, students, faculty, staff, preceptors and other professionals under all circumstances
  • Exercise skills of diplomacy to advocate for patients in need
  • Possess emotional stability to function under stress and adapt to rapidly changing environments inherent to the classroom and practice settings


  • Demonstrate concern for others
  • Integrity, accountability, interest and motivation are necessary personal qualities
  • Demonstrate intent and desire to follow the Rush University and Clinical Nutrition code of ethics

The technical standards delineated above must be met with or without accommodation. Students who, after review of the technical standards, determine they require reasonable accommodation to fully engage in the program, should contact the Office of Student Disability Services to confidentially discuss their accommodations needs.

Given the clinical nature of our programs, time may be needed to implement the accommodations. Accommodations are never retroactive; therefore, timely requests are essential and encouraged. Contact the Office of Student Disability Services to learn more about accommodations at Rush University:

Marie Ferro-Lusk, MBA, MSW, LSW
Manager, Office of Student Disability Services
Rush University
600 S. Paulina St., Suite 440
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 942-5237

Clinical Nutrition (MS) Non-Thesis Track: Curriculum

Clinical Nutrition (MS) Thesis Track: Curriculum

Several programs in the College of Health Sciences either require or have an option for a thesis project. Completing a thesis is a significant academic accomplishment and acknowledges an independent scientific investigation has been conducted by the student that will add to the knowledge to the field.

All students are required to have their theses registered with the ProQuest information and learning company. This process includes publication of the thesis abstract, microfilming of the thesis and copyrighting (approximately $150). The director of the Library of Rush University Medical Center coordinates the process.

Program Total: 36 Credit Hours

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