Prospective Student FAQs

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 is an IHN MS program applicant profile?

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.

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.


How long is the MS program?

The MS program is completed in one year, begining with orientation 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 late May until successful completion of the master’s thesis, which is due in mid-September. The MS degree is conferred in mid-October. If students anticipate attending another graduate program (e.g. dental, medical, nursing school, etc.), following admission they can frontload their thesis work in the fall and spring to finish the program mid-summer. This frontloading requires careful planning and communication with thesis mentors. Upon request from the student, we can confirm completion of their MS degree to other graduate programs.

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).

What are the application requirements for the program?

All application prerequisites, deadlines, and requirements can be found on our Application Information page.

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

Yes, medical school (and other) 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 can be uploaded through the online application, 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. Direct them to

Can I submit electronic transcripts?

Yes and they are preferred. Upload your unofficial e-transcript to the academic information section of the 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 In order 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.

I am an international student. How can I translate my grades to the US grading system?

World Education Services and Educational Credential Evaluators can both be used to validate and translate your transcripts for submission to the MS application. Your transcript must be translated to a US grading system before it is reviewed by the Admissions Committee.

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

You must take the TOEFL or IELTS if your native language is not English and you have received an undergraduate degree from an institution in a country where the official language is not English. 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

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 in order to access a sixteen-digit verification code. Enter your AAMC ID, MCAT score, sub-scores and accompanying percentiles, and your 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.

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

Yes, please complete the online application as much as possible. Test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation can be received when available. We will review your application for completeness before sending it to the Admissions Committee. Electronic versions are preferred though hard copies are also acceptable.

Regarding test scores: Applications may be submitted without test scores, however they will be considered incomplete until a score is received. If you wish for your application to be reviewed without a test score, you must upload a statement in the Addendum section of the application requesting that the Admissions Committee review your application without a test score. The Admissions Committee may be able to make a conditional decision that they will finalize upon receipt of your test scores, or decide to wait to receive the test scores before reviewing your application in full. We request you list the test you plan on taking, along with the scheduled testing date, in the Addendum note. Once you have access to your standardized test score report, email a screenshot from ETS or your AAMC ID and verification code directly to IHN Admissions at nutrition@cumc.columbia.eduWe can use this unofficial score report while we wait for the official versions.

How will I know when my application materials have been received?

You can log in to your application at any time to see the status of your application materials. You will receive an electronic confirmation upon submitting your application and when deposit payment is received. NOTE: If you send anything via regular mail, it can take up to three weeks to reach our offices.

What is the admissions time frame?

The IHN has a rolling admissions process. The application is open from each December 1 through July 15 for matriculation into the program that August. After receiving an email confirmation that your application is complete, the admissions committee will deliver its decision within four to six weeks. Beginning in June, the decision turnaround time will be shortened to approximately two weeks. Should you be accepted to the MS program, you must return your matriculation decision to us within four weeks. This time also shortens as we approach the program start date. 

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

Completion of 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 admissions procedures are independent of other degree programs at Columbia University.

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 once a week for two to three hours with a break in the middle. Note that there are currently no online courses offered.

What is the tuition and cost of attendance?

The tuition and mandatory fees cost for the program (full time Fall, Spring and 3 credits for the Summer) for the 2019-2020 year is $51,012. Details about tuition and total program costs can be found here.

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, and has a portion of their website dedicated to off-campus housing.

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 information on loans. 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, except for student veterans, who may participate in the Yellow Ribbon program. Students may seak outside scholarship opportunities and should connect with the Student Financial Aid and Planning Office to discuss details.

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. 

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.

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. Under special circumstances, upon review and consultation with the program director, some students can handle limited employment. We request and strongly recommend that you do not consider seeking employment until after you are settled in your thesis setting so that you can gauge the workload first.

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.