Public Health Nutrition

Better nutrition. Better health. Stronger communities.

The Public Health Nutrition MPH program is designed for students who are committed to health promotion and disease prevention through healthy eating. The curriculum strongly emphasizes food access, nutrition policy, community nutrition interventions/programs, health disparities, nutrition assessment, and healthy eating throughout the life course.

Our unique infrastructure combines Public Health Nutrition, Maternal & Child Health, Community Health, and Epidemiology in one department, giving students access to faculty across disciplines.

Public Health Nutrition Info Sheet (PDF)

Advantages of the Public Health Nutrition MPH

Career and Impact Focused. Thorough, application-oriented training develops the skills necessary to create, implement, and evaluate nutrition programs and interventions.

Innovative Education. Students can focus their training on epidemiologic methods, pursue the coordinated master’s program—one of the only programs of its kind in the U.S., or customize their studies to other specialty areas.

Tailored Focus. Through concentrations, certi cates, and minors such as global health, public health policy, and health equity, students can tailor the program to their interests.

Exposure. Students move through the program with one cohort group and engage with faculty, practitioners, and trainees from various backgrounds in a highly interdisciplinary environment.

Who Should Apply?

Students with career goals in public health and applied nutrition, community intervention, and nutritional epidemiology are ideal candidates for this program. The program is also a valuable prelude to other graduate and professional education, including education in applied health professions (such as medicine, nursing, or dentistry), law school, and agriculture-focused studies.

The Public Health Nutrition MPH offers three curriculum tracks which provides students with a curriculum that offers flexibility and opportunities for customization. Coursework emphasizes nutritional assessment, program planning, health behavior change and intervention strategies and policy development.

Choose from three Public Health Nutrition MPH emphasis areas:

  1. Standard Program, 44-55 credits*
    The standard program is available for students with or without nutrition/dietetic backgrounds. Coursework emphasizes food access, nutrition policy, community nutrition, health disparities and healthy eating throughout the life course.
    Standard Program Detailed Curriculum (PDF)
  2. Coordinated Master’s Program, 61-64 credits*
    The coordinated master’s program provides both a MPH in Public Health Nutrition and the required coursework and internship hours to be eligible to take the RD exam. This is a highly competitive program; a maximum of 11 students are accepted every year.
    Coordinated Master’s Detailed Curriculum (PDF)
    Coordinated Master’s Program FAQ (PDF)
  3. Nutritional Epidemiology Emphasis Program, 44-54 credits*
    The nutritional epidemiology emphasis program is available for students with or without nutrition/dietetic backgrounds who are interested in applying epidemiological and biostatistical methods to studies of nutrition and health.
    Nutritional Epidemiology Detailed Curriculum (PDF)

* Number of credits are based on undergraduate major (refer to Admissions)

Admissions Requirements

See SPH admissions requirements

Program-specific Prerequisites

(Note: these requirements are in addition to the general admissions requirements above)

Standard Program & Nutritional Epidemiology

  • One human biology course (with lab)
  • Two general chemistry courses (with labs)
  • One organic chemistry course
  • One biochemistry course
  • One social science course
  • One introduction to human nutrition

Coordinated Master’s program

  • All of the above courses are required, in addition to the following:
  • One microbiology course (with lab)
  • One human physiology course
  • One introduction to food science course
  • One food systems operations management course

Note: students that have a Verification Statement from an accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics have met all of the prerequisites of this program.

The Public Health Nutrition MPH program prepares students to take on the world’s most pressing public health challenges. Tuition at SPH remains one of the lowest among top 10 U.S. schools of public health. In fact, we have the lowest out-of-state tuition in the top 10, giving non-resident students access to expert faculty, education, and research at the lowest financial investment.

Tuition & Fees

View current tuition & fees


Maternal and Child Nutrition Traineeship

A few maternal and child nutrition traineeships are available for public health nutrition students who are U.S. citizens and wish to specialize in maternal, child, or adolescent health. In addition to the Maternal and Child Nutrition Trainees, PHN also awards 3-5 Research Assistantship positions through the Ruth Stief and Marguerite Queneau awards. Eligible students must be registered dietitians, with at least one year of work experience, and career goals in public health nutrition and maternal and child health, and should complete the appropriate application.

See a full list of scholarships available to public health students

Faculty and student research ranges from local to national to global nutrition studies, and includes obesity, undernutrition, food insecurity, chronic diseases, program and policy evaluation, and disparities.

For example, faculty member Melissa Laska’s NIH-funded STaple food ORdinance Evaluation (STORE) study is evaluating the impact of this Minneapolis Staple Food Ordinance, which was implemented in April 2015, in small- to mid-sized food stores, including convenience stores, corner stores, gas stations, dollar stores, and pharmacies.

See Food & Nutrition Faculty

Learn More about Research in Epidemiology & Community Health

Affiliated Research Center

The Obesity Prevention Center supports Public Health Nutrition MPH students through resesarch, professional development opportunities, and educational tools and resources.

Public Health Nutrition professionals are involved in nutritional assessment; developing, implementing, and evaluating nutrition interventions; developing nutrition-related public health policies; and monitoring the health of individuals, communities and populations.

Approximately 60 percent of our graduates work in public health agencies (e.g., local and state health departments, and national public health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 20 percent in educational institutions or the USDA Cooperative Extension Service, and the remainder in health promotion and education programs in health care organizations and private industry.  Other graduates are public relations and media consultants, internship directors, or in private practice/consulting.

Career Prospects

The PHN program prepares graduates for a wide variety of positions in national, state, and local public health agencies; nonprofit health agencies; international nongovernmental organizations; and community service organizations. Individuals who obtain or hold the Registered Dietitian credential are also prepared to obtain positions in health care settings such as hospitals and clinics.

Professionals with training in public health nutrition, regardless of their place of employment, are involved in assessing individuals, communities and populations; developing, implementing and evaluating nutrition interventions; and monitoring the health of individuals, communities, and populations.

Examples of Positions Held by Recent Graduates of the Public Health Nutrition MPH Program

Essentia Institute of Rural Health
Research and Evaluation Specialist

Mayo Clinic
Wellness Dietitian

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Childhood Obesity Prevention Fellow

BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota
Health Improvement Project Manager

Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services
Clinical Dietitian

Minnesota Department of Education
Nutrition Program Consultant

Public Health Nutrition students are active in the public health community through field experiences and employment at local, state, and national public and private organizations. Our students are also involved with faculty and division matters through graduate assistantships.

Community Partnerships Include:

  • The Phillips Neighborhood Clinic
  • Minnesota Department of Health
  • Minnesota Department of Education
  • HealthPartners
  • Mill City Farmers Market
  • Dakota County Public Health Department
  • St Paul-Ramsey County Public Health Department
  • PartnerSHIP for Health
  • Otter Tail County Department of Public Health
  • Pediatric Home Service
  • Vision of Wellness
  • Health Resources and Services Administration-Maternal and Child Health
  • Urban Roots

Application Deadline

Scholarship Consideration Deadline for Fall Admission: December 1

Final Deadline for Fall Admission: May 1

*Note: Final deadline for Coordinated Master’s Program is December 1

Contact Us

Enrollment and Program Development Manager
Kathryn Schwartz Eckhardt

Program Director
Melissa Laska

students Rebecca Leighton and Samantha Mosbrucker smiling

Rebecca Leighton, MPH ’17
After learning that 17 percent of U of M undergraduates are food insecure, Rebecca Leighton dedicated herself to taking action by establishing a student food pantry. “My research for my degree is interviewing food-insecure students,” she explained. “I’m learning about the psychological impact of food insecurity.” Read more