The Institute Of Human Nutrition

print image     Email this page

Prospective Students

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Who should apply to the MS program at the Institute of Human Nutrition (IHN)?
The goal of the MS program is to train future health professionals to be ambassadors of nutrition in whatever field they pursue. Students with an interest in medicine, dentistry, public health, basic science and clinical research or a wide range of other health-related professions are encouraged to consider the MS program as a stepping stone towards their future career.

Q. I am interested in becoming a Registered Dietitian; will this program fully prepare me for the RD exam and offer support in placement in a Dietetic Internship?
A. The IHN MS program does not fully prepare students for the RD exam or offer support in pursuing the Dietetic Internship. Students interested in becoming Registered Dietitians should explore the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website:
Dietetic Internships & Programs: and

Q. How long is the MS program?
A. The MS program is one year. Orientation is the last week of August. The Fall term runs from September through December. The Spring term runs from January through May, and the Summer term, from May until successful completion of the masters thesis On average most students complete their thesis work in August.  However, if students anticipate attending another graduate program the following fall (eg. medical school), with careful planning and hard work they can frontload their thesis work in the fall and spring to finish around mid-summer.  We are happy to confirm this information via mail, email, etc. with graduate programs throughout the course of the year for students in this situation.

Q. What are the prerequisites for the program?

The following courses, or demonstration of equivalent competencies, are required pre-requisites.

A. In order to apply, applicants must have completed the following:

•    Bachelor’s degree
•    2 semesters of general chemistry
•    2 semesters of organic chemistry, OR 1 semester of organic chemistry and 1 semester of biochemistry
•    2 semesters of biology

An elementary course in Biochemistry is recommended, if possible, but it is not a requirement for admission.  If you are pre-med, you should check with your undergraduate institution or undergraduate pre-health advisor to confirm that our prerequisite recommendations are consistent with their pre-med requirements.

In addition, applicants must submit the following application materials:

•    Test scores (GRE, MCAT, or DAT)
•    Transcripts
•    Letters of recommendation (minimum of 2; one from an academic setting, if possible)

General information on students admitted to the MS in Human Nutrition is provided below, but note that we consider a range of criteria when selecting applicants. Otherwise outstanding applicants who may have GPAs or test scores somewhat below the average are encouraged to apply.

Average GPA of MS class is about 3.5 (on a 4 point scale).
Average GRE of MS class is 156-Verbal, 158-Quantitative,
Average MCAT - 30 (at a minimum we recommend a score of 27, with sub-scores of 9)
Average DAT – 18

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), and the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) are all acceptable.  The Admissions Committee does not favor one over the others, so it is the applicant’s choice as to which test to take or submit (if more than one has been completed).

To inquire further about pre-requisites, feel free to contact our offices by clicking here.

Q. Can I send in more than 2 letters of recommendation?
A. Yes.  We do not have a limit on the number of recommendations that may be submitted, but we only require 2 for a completed application. One committee letter from multiple recommenders also meets the minimum letter requirement.

Q. Are committee letters written for medical school acceptable?
A. Medical School committee recommendation packets are acceptable, and additional letters are welcome.  Letters can be written for medical school entry; recommenders do not need to re-write letters specifically for the MS in Nutrition program.  Committee letters and separate recommendation letters can be uploaded through the online application, emailed to Education Coordinator Kendall Singleton at, or mailed to the office here:
Institute of Human Nutrition
MS program admissions
630 West 168th Street, PH15E-1512
New York, NY 10032

Q. Can I send in a Pre-Health Committee Recommendation packet or letters via Interfolio?
A. Yes.  

Q. Can I submit electronic transcripts?
A. Yes, have e-transcripts sent directly to the Education Coordinator Kendall Singleton at

Q. How will I know when my application materials have been received?
A. Applicants receive a notification when their $95 application fee, photos and mailing labels reach our offices.  If applicants have recommenders submitting letters online they can see if the letters have been uploaded by logging into their online application.  Finally, applicants receive an email when their applications are complete and ready for review.  NOTE: Mail can take up to three weeks to reach our offices.

Q. If I complete the Master of Science Program in Nutrition, will that guarantee me a slot / interview in the Columbia Medical School program?
A. Completion of the MS Program in Nutrition cannot guarantee admissions interviews for any other program at Columbia University or other institutions. The Institute of Human Nutrition’s Admissions Office and procedures are independent of other degree programs at Columbia University.  

Q. When and where are nutrition courses held?
A. Courses meet Monday through Friday, usually between 9 am – 6 pm. They are held at the Medical School campus of Columbia University (168th Street) between Broadway and St. Nicholas Avenue.  Classes typically meet once a week for 2-3 hours with a break in the middle.

Q. What is the cost of study?
A. The tuition cost for the program (full time Fall, Spring and 3 credits for the Summer) for the 2014-2015 year is $42,636.00. Details about tuition can be found here.

Q. What is the cost for on-campus / off campus housing?
A. On-campus housing for all students at Columbia University Medical Center is limited. Prices range according to the type of accommodation (apartment or dorm style). Applications are available to incoming students upon notification of acceptance, and should be submitted as soon as possible.  For additional information about on-campus housing, contact the Housing Office.   Off-campus housing in the neighborhood range from $750 for shared apartments to $1,230 for single one-bedroom apartment (prices vary).

Q. What are my funding options? Is financial aid available for the Master of Science Program?
A. The Institute of Human Nutrition works with the Columbia University Office of Student Financial Planning to provide MS students with information on loans. At this time, the course load does not afford time for work-study programs. There are no scholarships available at the Institute of Human Nutrition at this time.

Q. Is financial aid available for international students?
A. Yes, for Canadian students, the CanHELP Graduate Loan is available. Please refer to the Canadian Higher Education Loan Program at (888) 286-IEFC or at the following web site:  or (888) 296-4332 (US & Canada) or (781) 843-5334 (International).

A. International students may contact the International Students Loan Program (ISLP) for Graduate students at the following web site: or (888) 296-4332 (US & Canada) or (781) 843-5334 (International).
NOTE: All international students MUST apply for ISLP loans with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner

Q. Can I submit my online application without materials such as test scores and letters of recommendation?
A. Yes, please submit your application and mail in the application fee. Test scores, transcripts and letters of recommendation can be received when available.

Q. What do students generally do after completion of the MS program? What can I do with an MS degree in Nutrition from your program?
A. MS Alumni pursue a variety of Career Paths.

Q. How competitive is the MS Program in Nutrition, how many students do you admit into the program, how many apply?
A. The program is competitive and attracts students with a strong background in biological sciences. We typically receive between 200 and 250 applications for 75 spots.

Q. Is the Columbia University Medical Center / New York City safe?
A. As with any major metropolitan area, students are advised to be aware of their surroundings and exercise caution when walking or using public transportation late at night. The Columbia University Department of Public Safety works around the clock to maintain a secure and open environment for the entire Columbia University community, and to balance the safety of all with the rights of the individual. For more information please visit the CU Department of Public Safety’s website.

Q. What are the Institute’s GRE codes?
A. School code: 2173, Department Code: 0214

Q. How can I submit my MCAT scores?
A. The Institute of Human Nutrition is not included on the dropdown list of schools to where you can send your test scores. Therefore, we suggest:
1. Download a copy of your MCAT scores through the THx system on the AMCAS website. This will have a sixteen digit verification code listed.  Enter your MCAT score, AAMC ID and verification code in the “Test Score” section of the online application.  An official score report will then be generated by our Admissions Office with this information.  

Q. What is expected of me during the Columbia University MS Program in Human Nutrition?
A. In order to maintain a high academic standard, students should be prepared to dedicate a minimum of one hour per credit IN CLASS, and about 3 hours per credit outside of class. Most students take 15 credits per semester; this would translate to about 60 hours per week of in, and out of, class time. In addition, you will be expected to spend about 10-15 hours/week in the Fall and Spring on your thesis project. You are also expected to devote a minimum of 10 weeks full-time from May – August to the thesis project. All students are expected to attend classes (and to be on time). The IHN MS Program is a rigorous one-year program. Students are expected to work hard, and in return will be exposed to many different ideas in a complex field to which health professionals and policy-makers around the world have committed considerable energies, attention, and resources.

Q. Can students work either full or part-time while in the nutrition program as a full time student?
A. Students are strongly encouraged to work no more than 10 hours per week as full-time students. Even this amount would depend on your ability to organize, study, and integrate significant amounts of information. We suggest you do not seek employment until a few weeks after you begin the program so that you can gauge the workload first.


bottom bar