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Community Health and Nutrition Graduate Program


The School of Human Ecology offers a Master of Science in Community Health and Nutrition (CHN). Coursework in this program is online. This program is designed to offer additional professional training for various community health professionals, including those who are already credentialed registered dietitian/nutritionists, educators, nurses, and others interested in nutrition related health information.

This program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) and includes an experiential learning component, making it appropriate for those students who wish to become registered dietitian/nutritionists. If students meet the admission criteria specific to the Future Graduate program listed below, are admitted to the program, and complete the coursework, students are then eligible to sit for the registration exam for dietitians/nutritionists that is offered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

  • Accreditation Status

    The Future Education Model at Tennessee Tech University has been granted candidacy for accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, IL 60606-6995, (Phone: 800-877-1600 ext. 5400) or

    ACEND is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education as a Title IV gatekeeper. 

    The accreditation standards required by ACEND integrate didactic coursework with supervised experiential learning in a competency-based curriculum designed to prepare nutrition and dietetics practitioners for future practice and for the credentialing exam offered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration for registered dietitian/nutritionists.

  • Mission, Goals, and Objectives

    Mission: The Community Health and Nutrition Graduate Program seeks to prepare competent nutrition professionals through an integrated and student-focused curriculum to practice as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with advanced skills in community health.

    Goals and Objectives:

    Goal 1: Graduates will receive a high quality, integrated didactic graduate education and supervised experiential training in the field of nutrition and dietetics.


    1. At least 80% of program graduates complete the program/degree requirements within 3 years (150% of program length).
    2. 80% of graduates take the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) credentialing exam within 12 months of program completion.
    3. This 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%.
    4. 80% of graduates who respond to exit surveys will rate the quality of the Community Health and Nutrition Graduate Program as Good to Excellent.

    Goal 2: Graduates will be prepared for careers in nutrition and dietetics and will be equipped to uniquely address the health and nutrition needs of rural communities.


    1. Of graduates seeking employment, 80% are employed in nutrition and dietetics or related fields within 12 months of graduation.
    2. At least 80% of employers who respond to employer surveys will rate the preparation of graduates as Good to Excellent.
    3. At least 80% of graduates who respond to the alumni survey will indicate that they more than adequately or very well prepared for their careers.

Program Outcome Data

Program outcome data is available on request. Please send a written request to Dr. Samantha Hutson, Program Director, at or School of Human Ecology, 715 Quadrangle Drive, Campus Box 5035, Cookeville, TN 38505.

Becoming a Registered Dietitian

Steps to becoming a Registered Dietician:

  1. Complete a Bachelor's degree and receive a verification statement from an ACEND-accredited program (Didactic Program in DieteticsCoordinated ProgramFuture Graduate ProgramForeign or International Dietitian Education Program) Note, effective January 1, 2024, a graduate degree will be required to be eligible to take the Commission on Dietetic Registration. (Dietetic registration exam.)
  2. Complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice dietetic internship program or Individual Supervised Practice Pathway is an option. Supervised practice/experiential learning is combined with the Coordinated ProgramFuture Graduate Program, and International Dietitian Education Program.
  3. Pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration's dietetic registration exam.
  4. Gain licensure in your state of practice, if applicable.
  5. Maintain continuing education.

The TN Tech Community Health and Nutrition Future Graduate Program and is an experiential learning program that allows students to complete the requirements for Step 2 in the process of becoming a Registered Dietitian.

From the Commission on Dietetic Registration:
Forty-seven states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia currently have statutory provisions regulating the dietetics profession or associated titles such as dietitian and nutritionist. In Tennessee, registered dietitian/nutritionists are required to apply for an receive licensure from the State of Tennessee’s Board of Dietitian/Nutritionist Examiners. Requirements for licensure in each state can be found here.

  • Tuition and Other Fees

    Per the College of Graduate Studies at Tennessee Tech (August, 2019):
    $5,085 for in-state  
    $11,619 for out-of-state 

    For more information on current tuition and fees for the graduate program visit the Bursar's website.

    Other anticipated fees:

    • Background Check: $25.00
    • Student Liability Insurance – included as part of registration fees during the semester this course is taken: approximately $15.00
    • Proof of Health Insurance: varies
    • Current Immunizations and proof of TB test: varies
    • Drug Test – may be required at some facilities: varies
      • Students will be placed at a variety of health care facilities within Tennessee and possibly surrounding states, depending on the student’s location. Each health care facility has its own requirements for student volunteers. Some facilities require drug testing prior to beginning the experiential learning, and students should be prepared to submit to this drug testing and pay the testing costs.
    • TTU online course fee: $66.00 per credit hour
    • Account with Typhon: $90.00; one time fee.
    • Textbooks: varies; approximately $200.00 per semester.
    • Travel costs: varies depending on the location of the experiential learning site. Sites will be located within one hour of Cookeville, TN. The Program Director and Experiential Learning Coordinator will work with each student to place them at the location most convenient for them that will provide them with the experience they need to achieve the competencies.
    • Lab coat: approximately $25.00
    • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics membership fee: $58.00. It is highly recommended that each student be a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Many assignments will utilize aspects of the AND website that are only accessible with a current membership.

  • Application and Admission Requirements

    Per TN Tech’s College of Graduate Studies, admission to the College of Graduate Studies is open to anyone holding a Bachelor's or Master's degree from an accredited college or university. A foreign degree must be equivalent to a U.S. Bachelor’s degree and must be accredited by its regional or national accreditation agency or Ministry of Higher Education. Applicants should have completed undergraduate or graduate work of sufficient quality and scope to enable them to successfully pursue graduate study. Tennessee Tech University offers equal educational opportunity to all persons, without regard to race, religion, sex, age, creed, color, national origin, or disability.

    Students are admitted to Tennessee Tech University through a cooperative effort of the Graduate College and the departments, colleges, and schools of the University. When the Graduate College receives the student's application material, an official file is established. The department then reviews the application file and makes a recommendation to the Graduate College. The Graduate College notifies applicants as soon as a decision has been reached. 

    Applicants must submit the following for admission consideration: 
    1. The online application for admission and non-refundable application fee;
    2. Official transcripts of undergraduate and graduate credit from all institutions attended;
    3. Two letters of recommendations from persons acquainted with the applicant's scholastic and professional accomplishments;
    4. Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale;
    5. Acceptable GRE General Test scores; and
    6. Student Health Form
    Applicants are selected on a competitive basis and, therefore, admission is not granted to all applicants who meet only the minimum requirements.

    Application deadline: July 1.

    Additional admission requirements specific to the Community Health and Nutrition Future Graduate program include:
    1. Provide a Verification Statement from an ACEND accredited United States undergraduate didactic program in dietetics (DPD);
    2. Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale;
    3. an acceptable score on the GRE General Test exam;
    4. a personal statement of intent that answers the following questions:
    5. Why do you want to enter the dietetics profession?
    6. Discuss experiences that have helped to prepare you for your career.
    7. What are your short-term and long-term goals?
    8. What are your strengths and weaknesses or areas needing improvement?
    9. What other information do you consider important for the selection decision?
    10. a current resume.
    Requirements are subject to change. The Graduate College no longer accepts hard-copy (paper) applications. 

    The current rate for the nonrefundable graduate application fee is $35.00 for domestic applicants and $40.00 for international applicants. Applications received without the application fee will not be processed.

    All credentials become the property of the University and will not be forwarded or returned. If the applicant does not enroll, credentials will be maintained in active files for 1 year, after which they will be destroyed. After that time, candidates must reapply for admission and submit a new set of credentials if they wish to be admitted to the Graduate College. Students who do not enroll for a Fall or Spring semester must apply for readmission.

    For more information, please visit the Graduate Studies page.

  • Academic Calendar and Program of Study

    TN Tech’s academic calendar can be found here:

    Program of Study:

    Fall 1 Courses – 9 credits

    Experiential Learning Credits – 0 credits

    HEC 5010 Principles of Nutrition Research

    (3 credits)

    No experiential learning courses this semester.

    HEC 5025 Cultural Issues Influencing Health (3 credits)


    HEC 5015 Concepts and Issues in Community Health (3 credits)


    Spring 1 Courses – 9 credits

    Experiential Learning Credits – 3 credits

    HEC 6201 Community Nutrition Programs and Services (3 credits)

    HEC 6250 Experiential Learning Practicum: Foodservice and Extended Care (3 credits)

    HEC 6225 Advanced Applications of Counseling Techniques (3 credits)


    Summer 1 Courses – 0 credits

    Experiential Learning Credits – 6 credits


    HEC 6251 Experiential Learning Practicum: Community Nutrition (3 credits)


    HEC 6252 Experiential Learning Practicum: Clinical Nutrition (3 credits)

    Fall 2 Courses – 6 credits

    Experiential Learning Credits – 3 credits

    HEC 6405 Nutrition Across the Life Cycle (3 credits)

    HEC 6253 Experiential Learning Practicum: Elective Experience (3 credits)

    HEC 6410 Nutrition and Aging (3 credits)


    Spring 2 Courses – 9 credits

    Experiential Learning Credits – 0 credits

    HEC 6430 Nutrition Capstone (3 credits)

    No experiential learning courses this semester.

    HEC 6440 Leadership, Advocacy, and Nutrition Policy (3 credits)


    PRST 6540 Healthcare Informatics (3 credits)


    Total Credits: 30

    Total Credits: 12 credits/600 hours


Graduation and Program Completion Requirements

To earn the Master's degree is Community Health and Nutrition and Verification Statement (if pursuing), the student must:

  • Complete all didactic graduate courses and supervised experiential learning rotations and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Complete experiential learning assignments and site visit placements with a score of “5 Competent” or above on faculty and preceptor assessments.
  • Perform in a professional and ethical manner. 

Graduation information is available in the College of Graduate Studies Student Handbook. Additional details relating to graduation can be obtained here

Financial Aid: Currently, this program does not offer graduate assistantships. However, the College of Graduate Studies does have financial aid information available that is applicable to all graduate students, available here


  • Requirements and Distance Education

    The Community Health and Nutrition FEM will use online technologies and learning management systems to deliver didactic course content. However, the experiential learning portions of this degree requires onsite availability throughout the entire program. Therefore, a distance learning option is not offered for the 12 credits of experiential learning. 

    Supervised experiential learning is incorporated throughout the program through the use of classroom-based simulation and collaborative projects with local hospital, long term care, and public health agencies. Throughout the program, students will be placed at supervised experiential learning rotations in clinical nutrition, foodservice management, and public health. Supervised experiential learning sites may be up to one hour away from Cookeville. 

    Use of various technology, including iLearn, Zoom, Youtube, and other software will be utilized. Students will be expected to be competent in the use of the internet for access to resources and databases such as the Nutrition Care Manual and the Evidence Analysis Library. A home computer, whether laptop or desktop, will be essential, along with Microsoft software. Tennessee Tech offers students a free download of Microsoft software.

    Additional information regarding university support for distance education can be found on the library webpage.

  • Requirements for Locating Experiential Learning Sites

    Students will not be required to locate their own experiential learning sites. Sites will be located and vetted by the Program Director and Experiential Learning Coordinator.

College of Agriculture and Human Ecology