Prospective Student FAQs


Applicant Profile and Statistics

Who should apply to the MS in Human Nutrition program at the Institute of Human Nutrition (IHN)?

Students with an interest in dentistry, law, medicine, nursing, nutrition journalism, physical therapy, public health, technology, basic science, and clinical research are encouraged to consider the MS program as a stepping stone towards their future career. The goal of the MS program is to train professionals to integrate nutrition into whatever fields they pursue.

What are the average GPA and standardized test scores for an IHN MS program applicant?

The average GPA is equal to or higher than a 3.2 on a 4 point scale and the desired graduate-level entrance exam (DAT, GRE, MCAT, etc.) score is at the 60th percentile or higher for all sections. 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. To inquire further about pre-requisites, feel free to contact our offices at

How competitive is the MS program?

The program is competitive and attracts students with a strong background in biological sciences. We typically receive between 200 and 250 applications for 75-80 spots.


Program Details

Is this program in-person or on-line?

Our MS program is only offered in person at this time. 

Will students be required to get a Covid-19 vaccine?

Yes, the Covid-19 vaccine is required for students. Our program allows for clinically-based theses and clinical observership; students with vaccine waivers are unable to participate in these parts of our program.

How long is the MS program?

The MS program is completed in one year, beginning with mandatory orientation the last week of August, and ending with the completion of the master's thesis the following September. Degrees are officially conferred one month later in October. View our Academic Calendar for a more complete sense of the program timeline, with holidays and breaks.

If students anticipate attending another graduate program (e.g. dental, medical, nursing school, etc.), they may frontload their thesis work to finish the program mid-summer. This frontloading requires careful planning and communication with thesis mentors and the MS Associate Director, Dr. Madra.

We provide cover letters in instances where proof of program completion is required in advance of the October MS degree.

What is expected of me during the MS program?

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. To maintain a high academic standard, students should be prepared to dedicate a minimum of one hour per credit per week IN CLASS, and about 3 hours per credit per week to work outside of class. Most students take 15 credits per semester; this would translate to about 60 hours per week of combined in-class and out of class time.

In addition, students are expected to spend 10-15 hours/week on their thesis project in the fall and spring terms and devote a minimum of 10 weeks full-time (~350 hours or more) from May – August. All students are expected to attend classes (and to be on time).

When and where are nutrition courses held?

Courses meet Monday through Friday, usually between 9 AM and 6 PM. They are held at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center campus, which is located primarily on West 168th Street between Broadway and Fort Washington Avenue. Classes typically meet either once a week for two to three hours or twice a week for one and a half hours per session. 

Does the Institute of Human Nutrition have online courses?

The only online courses offered by the Institute of Human Nutrition are continuing medical education courses for physicians. (View under the CME menu tab.) Classes for our MS in Human Nutrition degree are all in-person. 



What are the application requirements for the program?

Please visit our  Application Information page for a list of our application requirements.

What is the admissions time frame?

Refer to our Application Information page for an overview of our admissions process, including timeframe. Students are accepted on a rolling basis. Due to our small class size (80 students) we recommend applicants apply before the application deadline. 

Can I submit my online application without materials such as test scores and letters of recommendation?

Yes, and please do! IHN staff members will reviw your applciation for completeness, and will notify you of materials that need to be received before your application is taken to the Admissions Committee. Submission without these materials allows us to prepare your application, making the process fast once your remaining materials arrive. 

How will I know when my application materials have been received and my application is under review?

You may log in to our online application portal any time post-submission to view the status of your application and receipt of accompanying materials.

My school went to P/F grading for Spring 2020. Will this affect my application?

We understand Spring 2020 grading may be P/F for courses where you normally would have received a letter grade. Do not let this worry you. The IHN will reach out to applicants if the Admissions Committee requires additional information. 


Can I submit electronic transcripts?

Yes, and they are preferred.

Upload your unofficial e-transcript to the academic information section of your online application. Your unofficial transcript may be used for preliminary application review. An official transcript from each institution attended must be sent to the IHN Admissions Office at To be considered official, this transcript must come directly from the school (i.e., no student involvement). 

Please note that e-transcripts are strongly preferred to hard copies.

My university does not send electronic transcripts, may I submit a paper one?

Yes, while electronic transcripts are preferred, you may submit a paper one. Our mailing address is:

Institute of Human Nutrition
c/o Education Officer

Columbia University Irving Medical Center
630 W168th Street, PH1512E
New York, NY 10032

I am an international student. Do I need to translate my grades to the US grading system?

Your transcript must be translated to a US grading system before it is reviewed by the Admissions Committee. World Education Services and Educational Credential Evaluators can both be used to validate and translate your transcripts for submission to the MS application. In certain instances, international schools use a US grading system and the translation requirement is waived. If you believe this applies to your school, contact our admissions office at to have your international documentation reviewed. 

Standardized Tests

I am an international student. Do I need to take the TOEFL or IELTS?

You must take the TOEFLIELTS or Duolingo test if your native language is not English and (1) the instruction of your undergraduate school was not in English or (2) you reside in a country where English is not the primary language. The TOEFL school code is 2173.

The IHN requires the following minimum scores:

  • 600 on the TOEFL paper-and-pencil test
  • 100 on the TOEFL internet-based test
  • 7.0 on IELTS
  • 135 on Duolingo

What are the Institute's GRE codes?

School code: 2173, Department Code: 0214

How can I submit my MCAT scores?

Visit the AAMC website. Click on Get MCAT Test Scores and log in with your credentials. Click on Create Score Report to access a sixteen-digit verification code. Enter your AAMC ID, MCAT score, sub-scores, accompanying percentiles, and verification code into the test scores section of the online applicationVerification codes can only be used once, so please do not test the code yourself or give the same code to other institutions.

I understand standardized test scores are not required. If I have taken a standardized test, should I submit my scores, even if they are below the stated score recommendation?

If you have taken a standardized test, the Admissions Committee prefers you submit your scores. Use the Addendum section of your application to explain scores you feel are not representative of your academic capabilities. Remember that the Admissions Committee looks at your whole application, and their ultimate goal is to determine if our program is a good fit for you. 

I have not taken a standardized test, should I take one to apply to this program?

The Admissions Committee prefers you not take a standardized test solely to apply to our MS program. If the Committee cannot make a final admissions decision with the information provided in your application, they will contact you to discuss options for moving forward with your application. 

Letters of Recommendation

Are committee letters written for dental, graduate, medical, nursing schools or other graduate schools acceptable?

Yes, committee recommendation packets are acceptable; additional letters are welcome.

Letters can be written for entry to any graduate/professional school; recommenders do not need to re-write letters specifically for the MS in Nutrition Science program. Committee letters and separate recommendation letters should be emailed to IHN admissions at, sent to IHN admissions via Interfolio, or mailed to the office at the following address:

Institute of Human Nutrition
c/o Education Officer

Columbia University Irving Medical Center
630 West 168th Street, PH15E-1512
New York, NY 10032

Can I send in a pre-health committee recommendation packet or letters via Interfolio?

Yes. Have your packet preparer send the recommendation packet to

Career Options

If I complete the MS program, will that guarantee me a slot or interview in the Columbia medical school?

Completing the MS in Human Nutrition program does not 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.

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?

No. The IHN MS program does not fully prepare students for the RD exam or offer support in pursuing a dietetic internship. Students interested in becoming registered dietitians should explore the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. We do have students from our program that continue their studies at Columbia's Teachers College RD program (or RD programs at other universities) to complete the requirements to sit for the RD exam. We are happy to connect you with alumni who pursued this educational and career route. 

What are the common career paths of an MS program graduate?

While approximately two-thirds of our graduates continue to medical school, many realize that their MS in Human Nutrition opens the door to various career options. Standard fields entered by our graduates include healthcare (e.g., dentistry, medicine, nursing, optometry, physical therapy, dietetics), business, communications, consulting, journalism, law, public health, research, and technology. 

Tuition, Financial Aid and Housing

What is the tuition and cost of attendance?

Details about tuition and total program costs can be found on our Tuition and Financial Aid webpage

What are my funding options? Is financial aid available for the MS in Nutrition Science Program?

The Institute of Human Nutrition works with the Columbia University Irving Medical Center's Student Financial Aid and Planning Office to provide MS students with loan information. The course load does not afford time for work-study programs. Student veterans may participate in the Yellow Ribbon program. Students may seek outside scholarship opportunities and should connect with the Student Financial Aid and Planning Office to discuss details. 

The IHN offers a small, needs-based IHN Director's Scholarship. Which is discussed further in the question response below.

Are there any scholarships available?

The IHN offers a small needs-based IHN Director's Scholarship. Currently, needs are assessed based on past federal financial support. No additional information is needed from incoming students beyond what is listed in their application. If you have received past financial support that is not documented within the federal financial aid system and would like to submit a note to the IHN for scholarship consideration, email us at sends e-mail).

Currently, our IHN Director's Scholarship is for domestic students only. Accepted applicants are reviewed for scholarship receipt in mid-May. You must have an application that has undergone or is in review by May 15th to be considered for this scholarship. 

Is financial aid available for international students?

Yes, please visit our Student Financial Aid and Planning Office for details and contact them directly to discuss options available to you. 

Can students work either full or part time while in the nutrition program as a full-time student?

Students are strongly discouraged from planning to work during the program. We request and strongly recommend that you do not seek employment until after you are settled in your thesis setting so that you can gauge the workload first. 

What is the cost for on-campus or off-campus housing?

On-campus housing for all students at Columbia University Medical Center is limited. Prices vary according to the type of accommodation (apartment or dorm style). Housing 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, please visit the CUIMC Office of Housing Services. Off-campus housing in the neighborhood is also available. CUIMC Office of Housing Services can assist with off-campus housing information.

Is Columbia University Irving Medical Center safe?

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 visit the Columbia University Department of Public Safety website.