Graduate Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for your interest in the graduate programs in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Colorado State University. Graduate school admission is competitive. Meeting minimal qualifications does not guarantee admittance.

The following questions/answers might help you in the process of applying to our graduate programs.

Note: Applications to the Food Science and Human Nutrition graduate program are accepted for fall semester only. All materials must be received by February 1st for consideration for fall semester.

Q. How do I apply for the graduate program and what is required?

A. Applications and supporting documents should be submitted directly to Colorado State University using the following link: http://gradadmissions.colostate.edu/apply. visit our web site, http://www.fshn.chhs.colostate.edu, for additional information and requirements for our graduate programs. You may also access the general University catalog at http://catalog.colostate.edu/general-catalog/.

  • 1. You must arrange to have one official transcript sent to Colorado State University, Graduate Admissions, from all colleges and universities attended.
  • 2. Three letters of recommendation are required. Provide email addresses of recommenders when applying. The CSU on-line system will solicit letters directly from these contacts.
  • 3. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) aptitude test is required for all applicants. Test scores should be sent directly to the University from the Educational Testing Service. Our University code is 4075. It takes approximately six weeks for us to receive scores after you take the test. You should enter your scores on the department application and these will be officially verified by the graduate school.
  • 4. The Statement of Purpose (see information about this below) should be no longer than two pages, single-spaced, standard 12-point font.
  • 5. Resume.
  • 6. Indicate your area of interest on the online application.

Q. What are the deadlines for applying to the graduate program in FSHN?

A. February 1st is the deadline for a fall semester start.

Q. What are the pre-requisites needed to apply for the FSHN graduate program?

The pre-requisites depend upon the program of study:


Human Nutrition:
  • General Chemistry with lab (CHEM 107, 108)
  • Organic Chemistry with lab (CHEM 245, 246)
  • Biology with lab (LIFE 102 or BZ 110/111)
  • Physiology (BMS 300, and the lab 302)
  • Biochemistry (BC 351)
  • Human Nutrition (FSHN 350) - can be taken after acceptance but this may increase the time required for completion of your degree.

Food Science:
  • General Chemistry with lab (CHEM 107, 108)
  • Organic Chemistry with lab (CHEM 245, 246)
  • Biochemistry (BC 351)
  • Food Chemistry (FTEC 447) – can be taken after acceptance

Functional Foods for Health requires the Food Science prerequisites plus
  • Biology with lab (LIFE 102 or BZ 110/111)
  • Physiology (BMS 300, and the lab 302)
  • Human Nutrition (FSHN 350)- can be taken after acceptance

Interdisciplinary Studies in Food Science/Safety requires the Food Science prerequisites plus
  • Food Safety (FTEC 400)
  • General Microbiology (LIFE 205 or MIP 300)
  • Food Microbiology (MIP334)

Q. What are the GRE recommended scores?

A. A score in the 50th percentile or above in each category and a writing assessment score of 4.5 or higher. Obviously, higher scores are more competitive.

Q. Is February 1st the deadline for both the online application AND the letters of recommendation, transcripts, and GRE scores

A. Yes. All materials MUST be received by this date.

Q. How do I submit my official transcripts?

A. Official transcripts from all previous universities attended should be submitted electronically through the Registrar’s Office and mailed directly to paula.coleman@colostate.edu or mailed via sealed envelopes to the following address:
Graduate Admissions
Office of Admissions, 1062
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Q. Do I have to complete all the pre-requisites BEFORE I apply to your program?

A. You must complete the required prerequisites for your application to be reviewed. If you are currently enrolled in pre-requisite courses at the time of your application, your application may be put on hold until such a time as the grades are submitted. You can, however, take Human Nutrition FSHN 350, the first semester you are enrolled as well as FTEC 447 for Food Science applicants.

Q. Can I take pre-requisites at a community college?

A. Courses from community colleges (CC) are acceptable but it is likely that you will not be able to find biochemistry, food chemistry or the advanced nutrition class (e.g. FSHN 350) at a CC. You should also be aware that some of the prerequisites that you could find as a one semester course at a university might be a two semester sequence at a CC.

Q. How competitive is admission to the program?

A. We have approximately 140 applicants each year, and accept approximately 35 applicants.

Q. Can graduate credits be transferred to CSU from another institution?

A. Acceptance of graduate transfer credits is determined on an individual basis with approval from your advisor, committee members, and the Graduate School. A minimum of 24 credits must be earned at Colorado State University, 21 of which must be earned after admission to the Graduate School. Our master’s degree requires a minimum of 35 credits, therefore, a possibility of 11 credits from another institution could be transferred. Information on transfer of credit from other institutions can be found on page 21 of the Graduate Bulletin on the CSU website Graduate School.

Q. Is there financial aid available for my graduate studies?

A. Our department offers a limited number of research and teaching assistantships which are based on the needs of our faculty, merit, and academic preparation in the appropriate course content. We also award several smaller college fellowships to incoming students each fall semester. Student Financial Services can provide information on other available assistance. Scholarship information is available at http://graduateschool.colostate.edu/financial/.

Q. Do you offer a graduate degree in sports nutrition?

A. NO, we do NOT offer a graduate degree in Sports Nutrition.

Q I am an international student. Are there additional requirements for my application than already stated above?

A. We welcome international applications to our graduate program. We require official GRE and TOEFL or IELTS test scores. TOEFL scores of at least 550 (paper-based), 213 (computer-based), or 80 (internet-based) are required. An IELTS score of 6.5 is required. Test results are to be sent directly to the University from the testing center (code # 4075). For GRE scores minimum scores in the 50th percentile and above in each category and a writing assessment score of 4.5 or better are required.

Please visit our web site, http://www.fshn.chhs.colostate.edu/students/graduate/index.aspx, for additional information and requirements for our graduate programs. You may also access the general University catalog at http://catalog.colostate.edu/general-catalog/. Completed international documents, required statement on financial resources, and supporting documentations should be sent to Colorado State University, Graduate Admissions.

Q. How can I know whether or not my pre-requisite courses satisfy FSHN equivalency requirements?

A. Courses you have taken or plan to take should ideally be at a similar level (e.g. 300, 400) and same credit value and should also have a lab if required. However, courses from a community college (which will not be 300 or 400 level) are acceptable. These courses will not actually transfer into Colorado State University, but will be checked by faculty for completion.

Q. If I wait until I'm accepted into the program and then move to Colorado at that time, will I be paying out-of-state tuition for the first year? If that is the case, is it possible to defer enrollment after acceptance so that I can establish residency in Colorado prior to matriculation?

A. Obtaining Colorado residency takes one year (365 days) prior to the beginning of classes in the semester for which you are expecting in-state tuition; this process can be complicated. Please refer to Student Financial Services which can be found on the CSU website http://graduateschool.colostate.edu/financial/. Should you be accepted into the program, there is the possibility of deferring your admission term by one year using the GS 1C Form found on the Graduate School website graduateschool.colostate.edu. However, you must obtain advisor and Department approval before postponing your start date. Once approved, an Update Request Form will be emailed to you for you to complete and submit electronically to Graduate Admissions.

Q. How do I apply for a teaching or research assistantship?

Our limited number of assistantships are highly competitive. Awards are made only after a student has been accepted into the program and are based on the needs of our faculty, merit, and academic preparation in the appropriate course content. Assistantships pay a monthly stipend and a portion or full in-state tuition depending on the hours/week awarded. Research assistantships offer a tuition premium paying the difference of out-of-state tuition for the first year. To be considered for these assistantships, please indicate your interest in the CSU on-line application.

Q. What are the different programs of study in the department?

A. A number of options exist, although ALL options lead to a Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy in Food Science and Nutrition. These include Nutritional Science (laboratory-based research that might involve human samples, animals or cell lines), Community Nutrition, Food Science (functional foods for health, food safety, fermentation science) as well as an on-line master’s option (GP-IDEA) for those who already are Registered Dietitians (RD).

The doctoral degree typically leads to a teaching and/or research position in a university setting, a research or related position in industry, or to further post-doctoral research training. The Food Science option for both the master and doctoral degrees can lead to industry positions. The master’s in Community Nutrition is often chosen by those who intend to become Registered Dietitians as this track requires the fewest additional credits.

The GP-IDEA on-line master’s program is ONLY FOR THOSE who already are Registered Dietitians. This option is available through a number of universities including Colorado State University. If you are not a RD, the only option for a master’s degree at CSU is the on-campus program.

Q. What is the process for becoming a Registered Dietitian?

A. This is a three step process. You must meet ACEND (Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics) didactic course requirements (which differ slightly in different universities); subsequent to the courses, you need to complete a ~ 1200 hour internship (supervised practice); and take and pass a national exam. NONE of the MS programs, by themselves meet the course requirements for a RD, but ANY option can be used to meet the course requirements. The number of additional credits would vary by the option and would include courses for credit or by challenge exam.

Three required FSHN food service management and food science courses may be challenged. There is also a 1 credit food preparation lab and a food service practicum that you must take. The dietetic requirements also include a course in microbiology with lab and a business management course, which may be taken at CSU or transferred from another university or community college.

The most efficient (minimum number of credits) way to meet the ACEND course requirements is with the Community Nutrition option. We help students acquire some of the “dietetics” related experience necessary to make them competitive for an internship. Most will take the counseling course and one or more practicums in the Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center. You may also want to obtain additional experience in community or hospital settings.

Q. How does the Coordinated Master’s Program in Dietetics compare to a dietetics internship?

A. Although 5-6 current master students will meet their internship/supervised practice requirements through our Coordinated Program, most will complete an external post-graduation internship. Students CANNOT apply to the CMPD until they have completed at least one semester of graduate work. Applications for the CMPD program are in December and the “internship” starts in August. Unless you have an undergraduate degree in nutrition (which most of our graduates students do NOT), you are generally more competitive for the CMPD program during your second year of grad school. (Coordinated Dietetics Program)

Q. What should I include in my statement of purpose?

A. The statement of purpose is uploaded as part of your on-line application. It is important for several reasons. It helps the graduate coordinator decide which group of faculty will review your application - those most appropriate to your interests. It also allows you to introduce yourself and emphasize your strengths and interests. The letter should include the following, in no particular order:

  • a little about yourself, your background and how you got interested in nutrition;
  • your specific interest area(s) (Nutritional Sciences, Community Nutrition, Food Science);
  • any particular focus within your interest area, e.g., childhood obesity or food security, etc. (This does not limit you but gives us an idea of where you are leaning);
  • briefly, why you want the MS or PhD – what do you intend to do with your degree;
  • if appropriate, why you want to become a Registered Dietitian.