Prepare to work as a registered dietitian nutritionist in diverse clinical nutrition delivery settings

Pacific’s Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition is an accelerated 16-month full-time Future Education Model (FEM) Graduate Program (GP) in Nutrition and Dietetics — the first one of its kind in California. Our FEM program integrates didactic coursework with 1110 hours of supervised experiential learning in a competency-based curriculum designed to prepare nutrition and dietetics practitioners for future practice. Upon fulfilling all program graduation requirements, our program awards students the degree of Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition (MSCN). Graduates receive a verification statement that makes them eligible to sit for the Registration Examination for Dietitians administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).


Located at Pacific’s Sacramento Campus within the School of Health Sciences

Combination of in-person and hybrid online courses

Clinical education sites throughout California and out-of-state for supervised experiential learning

student working at laptop
Career Path for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN)

Pacific’s Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition Positions You for the Future

As a Future Education Model Graduate Program, Pacific’s MSCN provides both the educational and the supervised practice experience required to become an RDN in a single program. Graduates with a graduate degree are well-positioned to become competitive, well-prepared entry-level practitioners in the nutrition and dietetics workforce.


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines the educational and professional requirements for becoming an RDN (pdf):

  • Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college or foreign equivalent, and coursework through accredited Didactic (DPD), Coordinated (CP), Future Graduate (FG) or Foreign (FDE) or International Dietitian Education (IDE) program
  • Complete required supervised practice experience through ACEND® accredited Dietetic Internship (DI), Coordinated (CP), Future Education Model Graduate Program in Nutrition and Dietetics (GP) or International Dietitian Education (IDE) Program or an Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) offered through an ACEND® accredited program
  • Pass the national Registration Examination for Dietitians administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)
  • Become licensed/certified if required in your state. Pacific’s MSCN program resides in California, where there is title protection without state regulation (no license is required to use the title). Please visit this webpage of Commission on Dietetic Registration to learn more about State Licensure.

Please visit the ACEND website for further details about Routes to RDN Registration Eligibility.

Effective Jan. 1, 2024, the minimum degree requirement for eligibility to take the registration examination for dietitians administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will change from a bachelor’s degree to a graduate degree. Almost all other health care professions have increased entry-level educational standards beyond bachelor's degrees. Elevating the entry-level RDN education to a graduate level is consistent with the knowledge, skills, and research base required in the field of nutrition and dietetics. For more information on the 2024 graduate degree requirements, please visit the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND®) Standards Committee has been developing standards and competencies for a new model for education in nutrition and dietetics with the purpose of advancing the profession and protecting the public. ACEND® released the Future Education Model Accreditation Standards (FEM) for Associate, Bachelor and Graduate (FG) Degree Programs in Nutrition and Dietetics, which are competency-based education (CBE) programs that integrate classroom learning with hands-on supervised experiential learning activities. ACEND® invited programs interested in being accredited under these standards to apply to be an early adopter demonstration program by ACEND®. Pacific’s MSCN program was granted candidate status as a Future Graduate (FG) program and began its inaugural student cohort in 2020. For more information on this new RDN pathway, please visit the ACEND® Future Education Model website (pdf).

Why choose Clinical Nutrition at Pacific?

  • Students with a bachelor’s degree or higher in any major/area of study, not just nutrition and dietetics
  • Second career students and students who have not completed an ACEND® accredited didactic program in dietetics (DPD). Note: Students who have not completed an ACEND® accredited DPD will need to complete Pacific MSCN pre-requisite courses prior to admission as defined in Admission Requirements.

  • Integrates classroom learning with 1110 hours supervised experiential learning
  • Graduate-level education in clinical nutrition where students apply more advanced skills including comprehensive nutrition-focused physical examinations
  • One application submitted via Slate – there is no DICAS application and no D&D computer matching
  • An accelerated 16-month program duration where graduates are “exam-ready” to take the RDN exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

  • Student-centered competency-based education (CBE) program that fosters work readiness
  • Educational philosophy of “learning-by-doing” where students meaningfully demonstrate competence in real-life contexts, not just traditional assessments like knowledge recall or role-plays
  • Supervised clinical practice experience rotations that span the continuum of care, sharpening students’ clinical nutrition skills across diverse care delivery settings

  • Interprofessional education and collaborative practice with other health professions programs
  • New Clinical Nutrition Teaching Kitchen and Assessment & Counseling Suite
  • Faculty with diverse expertise — in research, higher education, adult and pediatric clinical care, clinical nutrition management, ACEND® accredited program administration, healthcare leadership, public health, and physician assistant registered dietitian nutritionist.

About the Clinical Nutrition Program

Expert Faculty

Long Wang, MSCN Program Director, brings to Pacific his expert knowledge and leadership in the Future Graduate (FG) Future Education Model and his extensive experience in teaching, research, service and mentoring/advising.

Image shows the face of UOP faculty member Dr. Long Wang.

The mission of the Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition Future Education Model Graduate Program is to prepare competent, entry-level registered dietitian nutritionists who advance the profession through interprofessional, evidence-based practice, and leadership. 

Goal 1. Graduates will become employed as entry-level registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs). 


1.1 At least 80% of students complete program requirements within two years (150% of the program length). 

1.2 At least 90% of program graduates take the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists within 12 months of program completion. 

1.3 The program’s one-year pass rate (graduates who pass the registration exam within one year of the first attempt) on the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists will be at least 80%. 

1.4 Of graduates who seek employment, at least 80% are employed in nutrition and dietetics or related fields within 12 months of graduation. 

1.5 During their first year of employment, program graduates will be ranked by at least 80% of employers who respond to our employer survey as “satisfactory” or better in professional knowledge and skills as compared to the expected competency of entry-level RDNs. 

1.6 During their first year of employment, 90% of program graduates who respond to our graduate survey will report that they felt well-prepared by the Program as an entry-level registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). 


Goal 2. Graduates will participate in interprofessional practice and leadership activities and apply an evidence-based approach to practice. 


2.1 During their first year of employment, 80% of program graduates who respond to our graduate survey will report participating in interprofessional practice (interdisciplinary healthcare teams, interprofessional committees/initiatives). 

2.2 During their first year of employment, 80% of program graduates who respond to our graduate survey will report participating in leadership activities at their workplace and/or professional organizations. 

2.3 During their first year of employment, 100% of program graduates who respond to our graduate survey will report that they routinely use current evidence-based research in professional practice. 


Program outcome data are available upon request. For more information on the program, such as admission criteria, schedule, resources, costs, technology requirements, policies, and procedures, etc., please refer to the Program Handbook under More Information.

Competency-Based Education

The MSCN is a competency-based education (CBE) program that measures learning by how well a student demonstrates the ACEND® Future Education Model (FEM) Graduate Degree Competencies, which define the minimum level of proficiency needed of nutrition and dietetics practitioners to function successfully in practice. The FEM Graduate Degree Competencies describe the essential synthesis of knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors and other characteristics in the seven units described below:

Future Education Model Graduate Degree Competencies

Competency Unit 1
Foundation Knowledge

Applies foundational sciences to food and nutrition knowledge to meet the needs of individuals, groups, and organizations.

Competency Unit 2
Client/Patient Services

Applies and integrates client/patient-centered principles and competent nutrition and dietetics practice to ensure positive outcomes. 

Competency Unit 3
Food Systems Management

Applies food systems principles and management skills to ensure safe and efficient delivery of food and water.

Competency Unit 4
Community and Population Health Nutrition

Applies community and population nutrition health theories when providing support to community or population nutrition programs.

Competency Unit 5
Leadership, Business, Management and Organization

Demonstrates leadership, business and management principles to guide practice and achieve operational goals.

Competency Unit 6
Critical Thinking, Research, and Evidence-Informed Practice

Integrates evidence-informed practice, research principles and critical thinking into practice.

Competency Unit 7
Core Professional Behaviors

Demonstrates professional behaviors and effective communication in all nutrition and dietetics interactions.

Performance Indicators are defined by ACEND® for each competency that provide measurable, observable criteria of what competence actually looks like in practice. Learning activities are then planned based on these performance indicators to assess the student’s progress towards achievement of competence. Competencies are covered repeatedly throughout the curriculum and build on previous knowledge and experience to progress from introductory to more advanced learning activities, thus providing students multiple opportunities to achieve the competencies at the expected depth and breadth of the competency.

An essential component of ACEND’s Future Education Model (FEM) and Competency-Based Education (CBE) is supervised experiential learning. The MSCN Program plans 1110 hours of supervised experiential learning through:

  • Supervised Clinical Practice Experience (SCPE) rotations in professional work settings throughout the region (up to 960 hours)
  • Alternate experiences, including complex case studies, simulations, objective structured clinical examinations (OSCE) with standardized patients, and role-playing – scheduled within didactic courses to practice, apply and demonstrate competence (150 alternate experiential hours)

Supervised Clinical Practice Experience (SCPE) Courses

During the last two trimesters of the MSCN program, students complete Supervised Clinical Practice Experience I and II (NUTR 287A, 287B, respectively). The MSCN program curriculum plans for 30 weeks of supervised clinical practice experience (SCPE) representing the diverse individual and population care delivery settings that registered dietitian nutritionists apply their clinical training and leadership across the continuum of care. The program approaches SCPE holistically and aims to offer learning opportunities with rotations in innovative and expanding areas of practice. Students complete five rotations:

  • 10 weeks Acute Care/Post Acute Care Clinical Experience
  • 5 weeks Ambulatory Care Clinical Experience
  • 5 weeks Food Service/Systems Management
  • 5 weeks Women’s Health, Pediatrics
  • 5 weeks Wellness, Innovative Nutrition Practice

While the sequence of rotations and clinical education sites will differ for each student, all students complete SCPEs including the same ACEND® Future Education Model (FEM) Graduate Degree Program (GP) Competencies.


Clinical Education Sites

Pacific affiliates with clinical education sites throughout California and some out-of-state facilities. Affiliated sites comprise both local and remote supervised experiential learning sites (greater than or equal to 100 miles from Pacific Sacramento Campus). Students can expect to relocate within California (and potentially out-of-state) for one or more SCPE rotations and are responsible for all financial costs associated with travel and/or relocation. For clinical education sites residing within the Program's local area (less than 100 miles from Pacific Sacramento Campus), students can still expect to have a commute of over an hour to their assigned site and are responsible for planning accordingly.

The MSCN program is responsible for identifying SCPE clinical education sites and preceptors, and for assigning student placements depending on the availability of qualified sites and preceptors. At matriculation, students may complete an SCPE Intake Form as an opportunity to share preferences and interests with the Program related to regions, practice settings, and specialties/conditions. Completion of these rankings does not guarantee placement in any specific region, practice setting, or clinical education site. The Program is responsible for all final placement decisions. It is not the responsibility of students to secure clinical placements or to solicit sites or preceptors.

clinical nutrition students
Abbott Fund Scholars

The University of the Pacific has an exciting partnership with the Abbott Fund to support Clinical Nutrition students while combating the diabetes crisis in Stockton.

Abbott Fund Scholars will receive a scholarship and training to subspecialize in Diabetes Care and Management (DCM).

Donor Spotlight
Alumna establishes Clinical Nutrition scholarship

Philanthropists Jessica Coleman ’99 and Gregory Coleman are making a clinical nutrition degree accessible to more students by establishing the program’s first endowed scholarship. 

Jessica Coleman at the Children's Garden she founded in Modesto.
ACEND logo
Accreditation Status

The University of the Pacific Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition Future Education Model Graduate Program has been granted full accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Our current accreditation term ends June 30, 2031. The next Review by the ACEND Board will be in 2031.

ACEND's Address
120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190
Chicago, IL 60606-6995, 312.899.0040 ext. 5400
ACEND's Website

MSCN Admissions

Read our Admissions information for everything you need to know about prerequisites, how to apply, financial aid, and more.

students smiling at desk

Sacramento Campus Tour

Non-Discrimination Disclosure

The Program is an equal opportunity institution of higher learning and is firmly committed to nondiscrimination in its delivery of educational services and employment practices. In compliance with all applicable federal and state laws, such decisions will be made irrespective of the individual's race, color, religion, religious creed, ancestry, national origin, age (except for minors), sex, marital status, citizenship status, military service status, sexual orientation, medical condition (cancer-related or genetic condition), disability and/or any other status protected by law. For further information, please see the University’s policy

Attend an event
Are you interested in learning more?
Take the next step

We take a hands on approach with our students. This means we want to get to know you throughout your discovery and application process. Help us connect with you by taking the next step. 

Contact Us

Contact Image

3200 Fifth Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817

Follow Us

Follow Us Image