Graduate Study

Prerequisite Information

Prerequisite Coursework Requirements

The following courses must be completed prior to beginning either the MPH or MS in Food System, Nutrition, and Health (FSNH):

  • General Nutrition
  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry (2 quarters or 1 semester)
  • Physiology

Applicants to the Graduate Coordinated Program in Dietetics (GCPD) must also complete the following coursework:

  • Psychology
  • Microbiology
  • Food Science (with lab)
  • Management of Nutrition Services

View the Prerequisite Guidelines and Example Coursework.

Prerequisite Guidelines

Completing prerequisite coursework is critical to success in the program as it helps students establish a solid foundation and academic basis in order to complete the FSNH curriculum. The FSNH admissions committee will follow these general guidelines/parameters:

  • Prerequisites may be in-progress or projected at the time of application but must be completed prior to matriculation in autumn quarter.
    • Exception: A general nutrition course must be completed by the end of the term of application. (For example, students applying by the December 1, 2024, deadline, are expected to complete their nutrition course by the end of the autumn 2024 term.)
    • Note: It is not unusual for GCPD applicants to take the food science (with lab) and management of nutrition services courses after being admitted to the program but prior to matriculation autumn quarter.
  • Applicants with incomplete prerequisite coursework at the time of application will be reviewed on an individual basis and other merits of their application will be carefully considered. In this case, the Prerequisite Information section of the application should clearly detail how the remaining classes will be completed.
  • Applicants are discouraged from applying if they are missing a significant number of prerequisite courses.
  • Applicants who have completed a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) and received a Verification Statement from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) have satisfied the GCPD prerequisite requirements.
  • Prerequisite coursework should be current within the last 10 years. If the following classes were completed outside of that range, they will need to be retaken: general nutrition, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology (GCPD), management of nutrition services (GCPD) and food science with lab (GCPD).
  • Prerequisite courses must be completed at a regionally accredited institution for academic credit, and must be completed for a numeric grade, with the following exceptions:
    • AP/IB scores may be accepted if an institution has awarded college-level credit appearing on an applicant’s official transcript.
    • Non-numeric passing grades earned during an emergency or Extenuating Circumstances term may be accepted.
    • Narrative course evaluations may be accepted if it is the school’s standard mode of assessment.
  • Students who have taken coursework at an institution within the state of Washington with a UW transfer agreement (community colleges) may use the UW Equivalency Guide to find classes equivalent to the recommended UW Example Coursework.

Questions about a prerequisite? Email with the course abbreviation and title in question and a link to the school’s online course catalog.

Note: Several of the prerequisite courses, particularly general chemistry and organic chemistry, are offered in a series. It may be necessary, therefore, to take multiple classes in order to complete all of FSNH’s required courses. We recommend you identify the biochemistry course you wish to take and then work backward to establish your prerequisite course plan. To be considered, a biochemistry course must – at minimum – require general chemistry as a prerequisite. 

Example Coursework

Refer to this list when identifying courses to satisfy our programs’ prerequisites. Examples of courses available at the University of Washington and other schools are provided as reference. Comparable courses may be taken from other accredited colleges or universities, including community colleges.

Prerequisites for the MPH and MS Programs

PrerequisiteCourse ContentExample Courses
Nutrition - 1 quarter or semesterA general nutrition course that covers the science of human nutrition, including nutrients, nutritional needs across the lifespan, health behaviors, and prevention of chronic disease.
General Chemistry - 1 quarter or semesterShould cover atomic nature of matter, stoichiometry, acids and bases, chemical equilibrium, and gas laws. Lab not required.
Organic Chemistry - 1 quarter or semesterShould include introduction to structure, nomenclature, properties, and reactions of the main functional families of organic compounds. Stereochemistry and spectroscopy. Lab not required.
Biochemistry - 2 quarters or 1 semesterShould provide a survey of basic principles of biochemistry and molecular biology, emphasizing broad understanding of chemical events in living systems in terms of metabolism and structure-function relationships of biologically important molecules. Lab not required.

*Note: To be considered, a biochemistry course must - at minimum - include general chemistry as a prerequisite. A combination Organic Chemistry/Biochemistry course will not satisfy this requirement.
Physiology - 1 quarter or semesterShould cover human physiology, metabolism and energetics, structure and function of biomolecules, and cell and organ structure and function. Lab not required.

*Note: A number of institutions divide this content into two or more parts (such as “Anatomy and Physiology 1 & 2”). If this is the case at your college or university, the expectation is that you complete both parts at the same school.

Additional Prerequisites for the GCPD

PrerequisiteCourse ContentExample Courses
Psychology - 1 quarter or semesterIntroductory psychology course covering major areas of psychological science including human social behavior, personality, psychological disorders and treatment, learning, human development, biological influences, and research methods.
Microbiology - 1 quarter or semesterAcquaints students with microorganisms and their activities including microbial cell structure and function, metabolism, and the role of microorganisms in disease. Lab not required.
Food Science - 1 quarter or semesterCovers the scientific principles behind food composition, processing, preparation, safety, quality and culinary techniques with emphasis on sensory evaluation. Lab required.
Management of Nutrition Services - 1 quarter or semesterIncludes management and business theories and principles required to deliver programs and services. Course includes content related to quality management of food and nutrition services, budgeting and human resources.

Questions about a prerequisite? Email with the course abbreviation and title in question and a link to the school’s online course catalog.