UC Berkeley’s Rausser College of Natural Resources recently launched a Master of Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics program in the department of nutritional sciences and toxicology.
The 21-month program will be led by Mikelle McCoin, an assistant adjunct professor in the department. Discussion about the program’s creation began 10 years ago when it was announced that a master’s degree would be required for registered dietitian nutritionists to ensure they are providing the best possible care for patients, McCoin said.
“So many of the classes actually will be similar to what we’ve already offered in nutrition in the undergraduate version of the track,” said David Moore, professor of nutritional sciences and toxicology and nutritional sciences and toxicology department chair. “We’ll be able to accept people from outside of Berkeley that want to become (registered dietitians) that can come here for the graduate training.”
McCoin said this new program provides students with a graduate degree as well as the skills they need to be a registered dietitian, making it an “all-in-one” program.
Students will also receive field experience working with over 50 hospitals, schools, clinics and community organizations in the Bay Area, according to McCoin.
“The reason we’re moving to the graduate degree is that they want dietitians to, you know, provide the best care that they can and be critical thinkers and innovative in their practice and be effective in their practice as well,” McCoin said.
McCoin added that the program is self-supporting, meaning it will be funded by student program fees. Past department chairs have also aided in the development of the program, and senate faculty will be contributing and hosting students in labs for research experience.
Aside from providing students with a graduate degree, McCoin said this new program is different from the School of Public Health because of its focus on clinical nutrition and medical nutrition therapy rather than community organizations and policy.
“The undergraduate program in dietetics is being phased out however we still have two other specializations in the Department of Nutritional Sciences that students can pursue: Physiology & Metabolism and Toxicology,” McCoin said in an email.
The first cohort will begin in the new program in fall 2023, and will be taught largely by professional lecturers, McCoin said.
Professors and senate faculty members, including McCoin and Moore, are excited for applications to open on Sept. 15. The creation of the new program has been a “huge effort” that has required a lot of management and leadership from members like McCoin, according to Moore.
“I really look forward to having one of the leading registered dietitian programs in the country. And I think we’re on track for doing that,” Moore said.