Dietetics is a profession which focuses on the food and nutrition intake of individuals and its relationship to health. Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) are trained in the sciences and can translate scientific findings and help people live healthy lives. Dietetic students receive a broad education in nutrition, food, management, physical, biological, and social sciences. Dietitians work in a variety of settings including hospitals, extended care facilities, community agencies, food industry, corporate agencies, schools, and private practice.
NUSC majors in the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) track can declare DPD concentration and follow a curriculum that meets the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) academic requirements. Declaration of the DPD concentration within the Nutritional Sciences major requires a minimum of 60 earned credits, a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, successful completion of the following courses with a C grade or better: CHEM 1124Q and 1125Q or CHEM 1127Q and 1128Q; CHEM 2241, or 2443 and 2444; and BIOL 1107, and a B grade or better in NUSC 1165 and NUSC 2200.
Mission for the Didactic Program in Nutritional Sciences
The Didactic Program in Dietetics provides graduates with a broad general education framework as well as specialized course work in the field of dietetics. The student will graduate with a science background giving them the tools to logically think through situations using the principles upon which the scientific method is based. Students following the didactic plan of study will be prepared to apply for supervised practice leading to eligibility for the CDR credentialing exam to become an RDN. This scientific preparation will enable students to succeed in a variety of professional situations. Our goals and objectives can be found here.
NUSC majors enrolled in the DPD follow a curriculum that meets the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) academic requirements. After graduation, the student must complete an independent dietetic internship, also called supervised practice, and complete a graduate degree to fulfill the requirements to sit for the National Registration Exam. The DPD at the University of Connecticut currently is granted accreditation by the ACEND. Click here for the contact information of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and career opportunities.
Requirements for the Declaration of the Didactic Program in Dietetics within the NUSC major
- A minimum of 60 earned credits, a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
- Successful completion of the following courses with a C grade or better: CHEM 1124Q and 1125Q or CHEM 1127Q and 1128Q; CHEM 2241, or 2443 and 2444; and BIOL 1107, and a B grade or better in NUSC 1165 and NUSC 2200.
Earning a verification statement for an internship application
- Earning at least a 3.0 GPA in the DPD coursework, with no DPD course grade below a C
- Dietetic Internships are very competitive, and our Didactic Program does not guarantee admission to an internship.
- Placement rate nationally has been about 51-66% for the past few years, although our placement rate has averaged 94% over the past 3 years.
- To increase the chance of obtaining a dietetic internship, our faculty recommend students prepare starting early in their college career and acquire work and volunteer experiences in the dietetics field. Our department offers independent studies and practicums to help students gain the necessary experience. We also encourage students to be active in extracurricular activities to gain leadership experience.
DPD vs. CP
The University of Connecticut offers two dietetics programs in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources; the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) in the Department of Nutritional Sciences which comprises course work required for earning a verification statement to start a supervised practice program (dietetic internship) subsequent to graduation; and the Coordinated Dietetics Program (CP) in the department of Allied Health Sciences, which combines the course work with the supervised practice in one program. For more information about the CP visit dietetics.alliedhealth.uconn.edu. For information about the differences between the program, please see frequently asked questions.
Process of Becoming a Registered Dietitian
- A student must earn a four-year degree and complete a didactic program in dietetics that is accredited by the ACEND.
- Upon completion, graduates will be issued a verification statement confirming that you completed all didactic program requirements.
- Graduates are then eligible to apply to a supervised practice program, also called a dietetic internship that is accredited by ACEND. An internship typically lasts 10–12 months and consists of at least 1200 supervised practice hours in the field.
- Upon completion of an internship and graduate degree (1/1/2024 requirement), one can sit for the national registration examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). For more information regarding the examination, refer to CDR’s website at www.cdrnet.org.
- To maintain the RD credential, one must complete continuing professional educational requirements. Registration is currently maintained by earning 75 credits every five years.
Effective January 1, 2024, the CDR will require at least a master’s degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by ACEND. In Connecticut, graduates also must obtain state certification to practice in a clinical setting. Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics at the University of Connecticut are eligible to apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program. For more information about educational pathways to become an RDN please visit www.eatrightpro.org.
What is the difference between a nutritionist, a registered dietitian, a certified nutritionist and a dietetic technician registered?
- A nutritionist refers to someone who has earned at least a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and may work, for example, as a nutrition educator, in food management, in research, for WIC, or the department of education.
- A registered dietitian holds the RD/RDN credential, which is earned by completing didactic course work, 1200 supervised practice hours, a graduate degree and passing the RD exam. To maintain the RD credential you must complete 75 continuing education credits every 5 years.
- The State of CT offers the option of becoming a certified nutritionist, which can be accomplished in two ways: (1) If you are certified as a registered dietitian by the CDR, or (2) you passed a written examination prescribed by the commissioner of public health for the State of CT and received a master’s degree or doctoral degree with a major in nutrition or dietetics. The cost of certification through the State of CT is $190.00.
- A Dietetic Technician Registered (DTR), often works in partnership with registered dietitians in hospitals, food service, community settings, etc. DTRs have met one of the following criteria to earn the credential:
- Completion of a two-year Associate degree granted by a U.S. regionally accredited college/university, completion of a dietetic technician program requirements in an ACEND-accredited program, passing of a national written examination administered by the CDR, and completion of continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
- Completion of a Baccalaureate degree granted by a U.S. regionally accredited college/university, or foreign equivalent, completion of an ACEND-accredited DPD program, completion of an ACEND-accredited dietetic technician supervised practice, passing of a national written examination administered by CDR and completion of continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
- Completion of a Baccalaureate degree granted by a U.S. regionally accredited college/university, or foreign equivalent, completion of an ACEND-accredited DPD or CP program, passing of a national written examination administered by CDR and completion of continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
Students not placed in an internship may choose the third option and register to take the DTR exam. Information about the exam can be found at www.cdrnet.org. Please contact the DPD director Dr. Rhonda Brownbill firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in taking the DTR exam.
Watch the video “Students in Nutritional Sciences course cook up delicious meals”.