The information on this page is only for current students already enrolled in the program. New students are no longer being admitted to this program. If you are interested in an online Dietetics program, you can learn more about Iowa State University’s Master of Professional Practice in Dietetics or other universities who offer the Great Plains IDEA Dietetics program.

Dietetics is one of the most dynamic and versatile of the health-related professions. The 36-credit online Master of Family and Consumer Sciences with Dietetics specialization prepares registered dietitians to practice at an advanced level or to pursue doctoral study.

Why study dietetics?

The MFCS - Dietetics program develops research skills, stimulates independent thought, and provides up-to-date knowledge in foods, nutrition, food service, and business management.

Learn to integrate and apply the principles from biomedical sciences, human behavior, and management to design and lead effective food and nutrition programs in a variety of settings. You will be able to:

  • Apply cutting-edge information in food, nutrition, food service management, and wellness to enhance dietetics practice.
  • Evaluate and apply new research concepts and theories within the profession of dietetics.
  • Understand public policy and current systems of healthcare delivery with particular reference to the role of the dietitian.

About the program

University partnerships

Iowa State is a member of Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GP IDEA), a consortium of universities that have come together to offer fully online degree programs. Dietetics through Iowa State University means you interact with leading faculty nationwide.


Degree program: 36 credits

Core courses: 9 credits

  • DIET 511: Research Methods (3 credits). Take within first three semesters in the program.
  • DIET 554: Statistics (3 credits). Take within first three semesters in the program.
  • DIET 572: Current Issues and Trends (3 credits). Take the semester before graduation.

Prior approval. The student's schedule of courses must be approved by the faculty adviser and the graduate committee.

Dietetics Great Plains IDEA Course Planner

Creative component: 6 credits

Elective courses: All offered as 3 credits, select 21 credits

  • DIET 512: Nutrition Epidemiology
  • DIET 526: Obesity Across the Lifespan
  • DIET 530: Nutrition in Wellness
  • DIET 531x: Nutrition Therapy for Eating Disorders
  • DIET 532: Maternal and Child Nutrition
  • DIET 534: Nutrition Education in the Community
  • DIET 536: Obesity Across the Lifespan
  • DIET 538: Nutrition: A Focus on Life Stages
  • DIET 540: Nutrition and Physical Activity in Aging
  • DIET 541: Food Culture
  • DIET 544: Pediatric Clinical Nutrition
  • DIET 546: Phytochemicals
  • DIET 547: Functional Foods
  • DIET 548x: Nutrition & Physical Activity Assessment
  • DIET 551: Advanced Nutrition: Nutrigenomics, Nutrigenetics & Advanced Lipid Metabolism in Human Nutrition
  • DIET 555: Public Health Nutrition
  • DIET 556: Advanced Nutrition: Micronutrients
  • DIET 558: Advanced Nutrition: Macronutrients
  • DIET 560: Advanced Medical Nutrition Therapy 
  • DIET 565: International Nutrition and World Hunger
  • DIET 566: Nutritional Counseling & Education Methods
  • DIET 568: Entrepreneurship
  • DIET 569: Dietary and Herbal Supplements
  • DIET 570: Nutrition and Human Performance
  • DIET 571: Leadership in Dietetics
  • DIET 574: Nutrition & Immunology
  • DIET 576x: Diabetes Medical Nutrition Therapy
  • DIET 598: Clinical Aspects of Nutrition Support
  • HSP M 380:Food Production Management (Iowa State course, not offered through Great Plains IDEA)
  • HG ED 540:Foundations of Leadership (Iowa State course, not offered through Great Plains IDEA)

Dietetics Great Plains IDEA Course Planner

NOTE: Up to six graduate credits taken as part of a dietetic internship (excluding supervised practice credits) can be reviewed as potential transfer credit into the program. A maximum of nine graduate credits may be transferred into Iowa State graduate programs per Graduate College policy. Students work with their major professor regarding transfer credit.

Creative Component

As part of the degree requirements, you will need to complete 6 credits of Creative Component (DIET 599) including a written product and a final oral examination conducted by phone/Adobe Connect conference call with all the members of your POS committee. The final oral examination will be scheduled in your final semester and must adhere to the deadlines established by the ISU Graduate College.

Typically the 6 credits will be taken over multiple semesters to allow for the appropriate time needed to complete the written product (for example 3 credits one semester, 3 credits another semester). The written product from the Creative Component must demonstrate independent thinking on a topic by the student. You will need to have a POS committee meeting to present a proposal of your creative component prior to beginning your work; this should occur at least 2 semesters prior to graduating.


Below is a list of creative component options. You are able to choose a creative component project differing from these three options with approval of your POS committee.

Comprehensive Review of Literature (The length is to be sufficient to cover chosen topic area)

  •  Must use referencing format preferred by major adviser
  •  Apply the Evidence-based Library Analysis review process
  •  Final presentation entails highlighting key aspects of review of literature to the POS committee

Education Program or Tool Development and/or Evaluation (e.g., case study module, in-patient education program, education material development, etc)

  • Apply the Evidence-based Library Analysis review process
  • Prepare Institutional Review Board application if needed
  • Write a review of literature applying the Evidence-based Library Analysis review process (the length is to be sufficient to cover chosen topic area).
  • Must use referencing format preferred by major adviser
  • Final presentation outlines the evaluation of the end product

Grant Application Preparation

  • With the advisement of your POS committee, identify a granting agency (e.g., RWJF, Wellmark, NIFA, etc.)
  • Write a review of literature applying the Evidence-based Library Analysis review process (the length is to be sufficient to cover chosen topic area)
  • Submission of grant application is not required
  • Final presentation entails highlighting key aspects of grant application to the POS committee


Choosing a Topic

A good place to start exploring options for your creative component topic is with your major professor; start with problems or topics in your field that you are working with currently or that most interest you. After generating a list of a few topics or questions, go to the library website and do a search on the topics (PubMed through Article Indexes and Databases will best allow you to collect pdf files of relevant papers at no charge). This will allow you to read about the current work being conducted. Discuss your ideas with other graduate students or colleagues interested in your topic areas. As you are working on your master's degree, your major professor will guide you through this process and help you choose a topic. Other things to consider are your career objectives: do you want to continue in your current position, move to a different area or advance? What is the current state of the dietetics job market for fields of specialization that interest you?


The creative component proposal should pose a question that the report will address, and provide a clear and detailed rationale for the need to answer the question (why is this area a problem or concern?) The proposal should include an organizational framework for the final creative component report, and appropriate citation of several scientific journal articles that are succinctly described in key detail (what was studied, by what methods, using what design or approach, with what results and implications) that support the need for further exploration of the topic to be addressed. The proposal should outline the time frame, strategies for finding or producing the information to be contained in the final report, and the proposed uses for the final report.

After your POS committee has approved proposal, you will need to have them agree to any proposed topic changes.

Final report

The creative component final product will be presented to your POS committee in your final semester; officially this is referred to as the “final oral examination”. The final product format will be determined by the choice of creative component, and will be tentatively agreed upon at the proposal presentation teleconference. For example, a grant proposal would need to follow the format dictated by the granting agency. A literature review would follow a format common to review articles published in journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association. Preliminary research reports would follow the format of a research journal article (introduction, methods, results, discussion). In all cases, a title page and an executive summary or abstract of no more than one page should preface the final report. Major changes to the final report format must be discussed with and agreed upon by the POS committee in advance of the final oral examination teleconference.

You will need to adhere to the deadlines established by the ISU Graduate College. Please be mindful that due to the deadlines of the Graduate College, you will not have an entire semester to complete your creative component during your final semester. Additionally, it is customary that you will provide your final written product to your POS committee 2 weeks prior to your scheduled oral presentation.

Final exam

There is no final written exam. There is only a final written product and oral exam.

NOTE: The Food Science and Human Nutrition Department has a policy which stipulates graduate students must earn a grade of B- or better in all courses within the major (i.e., MFCS - Dietetics), regardless of the 3.0 GPA average requirement in the Graduate College Handbook.