University Scholars Program

University Scholars Program

University Scholars Program

The University Scholars Program (USP) offers highly motivated students the opportunity of integrating their undergraduate and graduate courses of study in a single continuous program culminating in both a BS in Dietetics or Human Nutrition and a MS in Nutrition and Food Systems. USP students will save time and money by receiving dual graduate credit hours for courses taken during their senior year of undergraduate studies. University Scholars are classified as undergraduates until they have completed the number of credit hours required for their undergraduate degree.

Save time and money in this dual BS and MS program!

Fast Facts


Dual Credit Hours


GRE Requirements


Semesters to Graduate


Admission to the USP program is selective and competitive. Students must be currently enrolled at UK, pursuing the Dietetics or Human Nutrition degree. Applicants should have completed at least 90 credit hours of work toward the bachelor's degree, or be eligible for senior standing in the semester they are admitted to the program. Their University of Kentucky undergraduate grade point average must be at least a 3.20 overall and a 3.50 in the applicant's major coursework. Application to the program should be submitted at the end of the student's junior year in the DHN program. The GRE is not required to apply. Contact the Director of Graduate Studies to learn more.

Contact the Director of Graduate Studies


Dual Credit Courses

DHN 514: Dietetics Counseling and Communication

DHN 517: Medical Nutrition Therapy II

DHN 599: Introduction to Culinary Medicine

STA 570: Basic Statistical Analysis

Plan A: In-Person Option


Thesis-Based Program

With our traditional thesis-based option, USP students will work with their thesis chair to complete a written thesis as well as an oral defense. The topic of research will be tailored to personal interests and goals, and students will receive the support of their thesis chair every step of the way. Graduate students in this program are eligible for research and teaching assistantships which may offsets some of the tuition costs.

30 Credit Hours

Plan B: Online Option


Evidence-Based Practice Project

With this plan of study, students will complete an evidence-based practice (EBP) project that has been developed based on their personal needs, interests, and career goals. This project will take into consideration the scientific evidence, the expertise of the health professionals, and the needs of the client, patient, organization, population, or community. This program requires 6 additional credit hours through the completion of DHN 782.

36 Credit Hours

Additional Opportunities

Graduate Research

Our program goal is to provide students with expertise in nutrition and food systems for applying practical and critical thinking skills to address nutrition-related problems in an evolving global society. To start the process, graduate students identify a faculty advisor to serve as their committee chair. Together, the student and their faculty chair discuss research interests and develop a thesis proposal, which is approved by the student’s thesis committee. In the last semester of the student’s program of study they will submit their written thesis to their committee, as well as the Graduate School, and defend their work during an oral defense. Visit the Research Opportunities page to learn more.

Learn More


Teaching and research Assistantships are available for qualified students on a competitive application basis. Assistantships include a stipend and tuition scholarship. To be considered for an assistantship, applicants must apply to the graduate program by March 1 for admission the following fall semester and October 1 for admission the following spring semester. Each semester, current students must reapply for a graduate assistantship as they are awarded every semester based on performance. The Director of Graduate Studies will provide current and admitted students with the assistantship application each semester.

Learn More

Before You Apply

  • Handbook
  • Explore Courses
  • Apply

Required Coursework (18 hours total)

Core Courses (12 Hours Total)

  • Food Systems and Society
  • Chronic Disease Management and Process
  • Advanced Community Program Development
  • Seminar in Nutrition and Food Systems

Guided Electives (6 Hours Total)

  • Thesis Option: for in-person learning

    • Research Methods in Nutrition and Food Systems
    • Regression Analysis and Design of Experiments
  • Non-Thesis Option: for online learning
    • Global Foods, Diet and Culture
    • Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice in Dietetics OR Research Methods in Nutrition and Food Systems

Free Electives (6-12 Hours Total)

  • Based on your interests and professional goals, choose from a wide variety of courses offered in DHN and at the University of Kentucky. Make the program work for YOU.
  • Elective courses can be used to earn a Graduate Certificate in Applied Nutrition & Culinary Medicine.
  • Elective options available in DHN:
    • Introduction to Culinary Medicine
    • Food Related Behaviors
    • Obesity and Food Insecurity Paradigm: From Cell to Society

Thesis or Evidence-Based Practice Project Coursework (6 Hours Total)

Course Descriptions

For information on applying to the University Scholars Program, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies or speak to your undergraduate faculty advisor.

Effective January 1, 2024, the minimum degree requirement to be approved for eligibility for the registration examination for dietitians will change from a bachelor's degree to a graduate degree. This decision was made by the Commission on Dietetic Registration based on the recommendations of the Council on Future Practice Visioning Report (2012). Learn more here.

Connect With Us

Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition

204 Funkhouser Building
Lexington, KY 40506


Aaron Schwartz

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Contact Aaron Schwartz


Dr. Dawn Brewer

Director of Graduate Studies

Contact Dr. Dawn Brewer

Contact Information

Dr. Tammy J. Stephenson, PhD, FAND
Department Chair & Professor

202 Funkhouser Building Lexington, KY 40506-0054

+1 (859) 257-3800