Didactic Program in Dietetics

The journey to becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is by completing a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). Registered Dietitian Nutritionists work in a variety of settings including community and public health settings, corporate wellness programs, food and nutrition-related businesses, hospitals or other healthcare facilities, private practice, research, and universities.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the employment of dietitians to increase by 11 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for dietitians and nutritionists was $60,370 in May 2018. This is due to an increasing emphasis on disease prevention through improving dietary habits.

DPD Educational Philosophy

The Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) prepares students for entry into supervised practice. Students are encouraged to develop professional habits. Thus, the nutrition program has standard evaluation components for group work and preceptor evaluations of practice in appropriate courses. Students with faculty are to actively participate in the teaching-learning process. As a student progresses through the DPD s/he is increasingly responsible for mastery of course content and thus develops skills for life-long learning.

Program Description

Students must apply and be accepted into the UIW DPD. Undergraduate students complete the didactic requirements while completing the Nutrition and Dietetics track of the B.S. Degree in Nutrition. Post-graduate students may complete DPD requirements as a non-degree seeking student or as a graduate student who completes the DPD requirements while concurrently completing a M.S. Degree in Nutrition.

The Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) at the University of the Incarnate Word is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, IL 60606-6995, and (800) 877-1600, ext. 5400, acend@eatright.org.

Further information is available from ACEND.

DPD Mission

The Didactic Program in Dietetics, Nutrition and Dietetics track, prepares students for successful entry into supervised practice in dietetic internships leading to eligibility for the CDR credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist.

Program Goal 1: To prepare professional, knowledgeable individuals for entry level practice in nutrition and dietetics.

Program Objectives for Goal 1:

Objective 1. At least 80% of program students complete program/degree requirements within 3 years (150% of the program length).

Objective 2. 50% of program graduates apply for admission to a supervised practice program prior to or within 12 months of graduation.

Objective 3. 25% of program graduates are admitted to a supervised practice program within 12 months of graduation.

Objective 4. 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%.

Objective 5. Over a period of three years, 70% of DPD graduates will receive a rating of “satisfactory” or better in Professional Responsibility and Practice as evaluated by responding supervised practice directors.

Objective 6. Over a period of three years, 70% of DPD graduates will receive a rating of “satisfactory” or better in Professional Responsibilities as evaluated by responding employers.

Objective 7. Over a period of three years, 70% of DPD graduates will receive a rating of “satisfactory” or better in their knowledge and skills as evaluated by responding supervised practice directors.

Objective 8. Over a period of three years, 70% of DPD graduates will receive a rating of “satisfactory” or better in their knowledge and skills as evaluated by responding employers.

Objective 9. Over a period of three years, 50% of responding DPD graduates will report having working in nutrition and dietetics or continued their education in nutrition and dietetics.

Program Goal 2: To educate individuals to meet the food and nutritional needs of underserved people.

Program Objectives for Goal 2

Objective 1. Over a period of five years, 50% of students receiving DPD verification statements will be minority.

Objective 2. Over a period of five years, 50% of DPD graduates accepted into supervised practice programs will be minority.

Objective 3. Over a period of five years, 75% of DPD students will receive a rating of “satisfactory” in knowledge of nutrition needs of underserved people as evaluated by responding employers.

DPD outcomes are available upon request from the DPD Director.

1. Complete a bachelor’s degree at a regionally accredited institution.

To become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), the first step is to complete a bachelor’s degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college and receive a verification statement from an Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) accredited program (Didactic Program in Dietetics, Coordinated Program, Future Graduate Degree Program, Foreign or International Dietitian Education Program). If you already have a prior bachelor’s degree, you need to complete a DPD and receive a verification statement. The UIW DPD meets this requirement.

2. Complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program

Following successful completion of the DPD, you must apply and be accepted into an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program (Dietetic Internship or Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway, Coordinated Program, or Future Graduate Degree Program). Students successfully completing the UIW DPD will receive a signed verification statement which is required before beginning a supervised practice program.

3. Pass a national examination

After successful completion of a supervised practice program, you will be ready to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Passing this examination qualifies you to use the RD/RDN credential.

Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will require a minimum of a master’s degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). In order to be approved for registration examination eligibility with a bachelor’s degree, an individual must meet all eligibility requirements and be submitted into CDR's Registration Eligibility Processing System (REPS) before 12:00 midnight Central Time, December 31, 2023. For more information about this requirement visit CDR's website. In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics program at the University of the Incarnate Word are eligible to apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program.

For more information about educational pathways to become an RDN, please visit ACEND Information for Students.

4. Obtain a state license

In most states, graduates also must obtain licensure or certification to practice. For more information about state licensure requirements see the State Licensure - Commission on Dietetic Registration.

Students can find the typical annual expenses for the current academic year through the Office of Financial Assistance - Tuition and Costs. Information about billing, payment due dates, and withdrawal and refund of tuition and fees is available through the Business Office.

The University of the Incarnate Word provides financial assistance information, including scholarships, through the University Office of Financial Assistance. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation and the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation offer a number of scholarships for DPD students.

Textbook costs vary depending on if a student rents, purchases an electronic copy, or purchases a bound book. It is recommended that DPD students keep textbooks in major nutrition classes as reference books to use in a supervised practice program and to prepare for the dietitian credentialing exam. The average cost of textbooks for a nutrition course is approximately $150 per course.

Other costs associated with the DPD might include laboratory fees (varies by lab), a subscription to EHR Go ($65 per semester), and student membership in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ($58 per year).

The following criteria must be met to achieve the requirements for the DPD and earn the Verification Statement: 

  • Undergraduate DPD students must meet the requirements for a baccalaureate degree.
  • Must take a minimum of 12 credits of DPD coursework at UIW.
  • Earn a “C” or better or “Satisfactory” (Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 only) in each DPD course.
  • Minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA in DPD courses.