The Didactic Program in Dietetics is a four-year baccalaureate degree. Completion of the program enables students to apply to a supervised practice program (e.g. dietetic internship), which is required before one can sit for the examination to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).
The program is also open to students with a baccalaureate degree in a major other than nutrition. These students may take up to six credits as a non-degree student before matriculating as a second degree candidate in Nutrition.
Students who already possess a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition may also enroll in classes to update their education. They must meet with a department faculty member, submit official transcripts and maintain a department file as a non-matriculated student.
USJ’s DPD is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND®) for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. ACEND® is the accrediting agency for education programs preparing students for careers as registered dietitian nutritionists or dietetic technicians, registered (https://www.eatrightpro.org/acend).
ACEND® can be contacted by:
- Email: ACEND@eatright.org
- Phone: 800/877-1600, ext. 5400
- Mail: 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, IL 60606-6995
Requirements and Process to Become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
- Completion of a bachelor’s degree granted by a US regionally accredited college/university (or a foreign equivalent). Please note, effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) changed the degree requirement for dietitian registration eligibility from a baccalaureate degree to a graduate degree. A graduate degree includes a master’s degree (e.g. M.S., M.A., M.P.H.), practice doctorate or doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D., Ed.D, D.Sc.).
- Completion of an Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND®) accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD).
- Completion of an ACEND® accredited supervised practice program (e.g. dietetic internship) or Individual Supervised Practice Program
- Upon successful completion of an accredited supervised practice program (e.g. dietetic internship), a verification form is issued and one can now apply to the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) to sit for the CDR credentialing exam. Passage of this exam means the credential RDN has been earned.
- To maintain the RDN, 75 continuing education units must be earned every 5 years (professional development portfolio) and a record of this is submitted to CDR.
- Some states require certification or licensure for practice. This varies by state.
For more information about pathways to become an RDN and career opportunities in this field, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website: https://www.eatrightpro.org.
Admission and continuation requirements
Students must first meet USJ’s admission requirements to matriculate into the University. Once admitted, students can declare a nutrition major and begin the foundational course requirements in natural sciences and nutrition.
To receive a verification statement as required by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to apply to a supervised practice program (e.g. dietetic internship), students must earn a minimum of a “C” in all required Nutrition major courses and in the following natural science courses or their equivalents:
- General Biology
- Inorganic and Organic Chemistry
- Anatomy and Physiology I and II
A course may be repeated only once to raise the grade.
If the minimum grade requirement is not met, students are still eligible to graduate with a B.S. in Nutrition. However, they will not be issued the verification statement required by the Academy.
The mission of the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) is to provide excellence in education in nutrition and dietetics within a liberal arts context that meets the requirements of the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) by preparing students for supervised practice leading to eligibility for the CDR credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RD-N).
Goals and objectives
Goal #1: To prepare graduates to successfully enter a supervised practice program (e.g. dietetic internship).
- At least 80% of program students will complete program/degree requirements within 6 years (150% of the program length).
- 60% of program graduates apply for admission to a supervised practice program prior to or within 12 months of graduation.
- 50% of program graduates are admitted to a supervised practice program within 12 months of graduation.
- Among the program graduates who apply to supervised practice programs, at least 70% will be admitted within 12 months of graduation.
Goal #2: To prepare graduates with a strong foundation in nutrition/dietetics to perform proficiently in a supervised practice program (e.g. dietetic internship) in preparation to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).
- At least 90% of graduates who enter a supervised practice will complete the program.
- At least 90% of supervised practice program directors will rate satisfaction with graduates at an average of 3 (or better) on a 5-point scale on each of the following characteristics: Dietetics knowledge, work methods, adaptability, decision making, interpersonal skills, communication, work habits and leadership.
- The program’s one-year pass rate (graduates who pass the registration exam within one year of first attempt) on the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists is at least 80%.
Information on outcomes will be provided upon request.