Nutrition and Dietetics: The UDC Edge
As the only accredited nutrition program in Washington, D.C., with a curriculum rich in nutrition, science and experiential learning opportunities, UDC offers you a unique path to begin your career in the field of nutrition and dietetics. As part of our landgrant mission of service to the community, the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences of the University of the District of Columbia has long been at the forefront of educating the next generation of nutrition specialists to combat nutrition-related diseases (e.g. obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney disease) and reduce health disparities among an urban and often underserved population.
Bachelor of Science Degree (BS) in Nutrition and Dietetics
Nutrition is a key element for good health. Urban nutrition problems range from obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, renal disease and cancer. Whether your motivation for studying nutrition and dietetics comes from personal experience or simply a desire to improve the health of your city, the University of the District of Columbia has a program for you.
Our bachelor’s degree program in nutrition—housed in the Department of Health, Nursing and Nutrition in the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES)—prepares you to take on the challenge of improving nutrition awareness and quality locally, nationally and globally.
DPD Goals and Objectives
The DPD program has developed the following two major goals. Faculty, the Nutrition Advisory Board, students, alumni, and administrators of UDC contributed to the development and assessment of program goals.
DPD Goal #1: The DPD will prepare graduates to be competent entry-level dietitians that apply knowledge and skills gained during the DPD.
- 80% of the program graduates who take the CDR registration examination will pass on the first try.
- 80%percent of the program graduates who take the CDR registration examination will pass in one year.
- At least 80% of graduates will be enrolled in a dietetic internship and/or graduate program or will be employed within two years of graduation from the DPD.
- At least 80% of graduates will rate overall knowledge gained during the DPD as at least satisfactory (2) on scale of 1-3.
- At least 80% of surveyed employers and DI directors will rate all assessed entry-level knowledge and skills of DPD graduates as “satisfactory” on average on scale of 1-5.
DPD Goal #2: To produce graduates with critical thinking skills necessary for supervised evidence-based practice, for leadership development and for graduate study.
- 80% of the DPD students will complete or participate in one service-learning activity prior to completing the program, and will rate their experience on average 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale).
- Over a 5-year period, 65% of DPD graduates will apply to supervised practice programs within 12 months of program completion.
- Over a 5-year period, 60% of DPD students who apply to supervised practice programs the year they complete DPD requirements will be accepted.
- Over a 5-year period, 40% of students not going onto supervised practice programs the year they complete the program will gain acceptance into graduate school.
- Over a 5-year period, 40% of students not going onto supervised practice programs or graduate school the year they complete the program will secure employment in nutrition.
- Over a 5-year period, at least 10% of graduates will identify professional leadership roles they are engaged in.
- Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics
- Department of Health, Nursing and Nutrition
- Learn more about applying for admissions to the nutrition program
- Find out about scholarship opportunities for nutrition students
Curriculum and Requirements
The bachelor’s degree program in nutrition and dietetics fulfills the requirements of the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) and is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, through December 31, 2022:
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
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The Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics is composed of a minimum of 125 credit hours that includes 30 credit hours of General Education, 58 credits of core courses and 37 credits of supportive courses. The DPD program at UDC is built upon strong science and liberal arts components, which encourage critical and creative thinking and expression. The organization of courses emphasizes study in chemistry and biology, nutrition, food science and technology, medical nutrition therapy, human organizational behavior, management, and other general education courses. The student desiring to enter the program should have a strong background in the physical and biological sciences as the scientific disciplines are emphasized.
The curriculum is developed within the conceptual framework of the accreditation standards and knowledge competencies for the dietetic profession set and published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. There are three steps to becoming a Registered Dietitian.
- The first step in becoming a Registered Dietitian is to successfully complete the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) at UDC. Once students complete the DPD, they will receive a Verification Statement signed by the Program Director.
- The second step is to successfully complete an approved dietetic internship program. The Verification Statement issued at completion of the DPD is required for application to the Dietetic Internship.
- The third and the final step to becoming a Registered Dietitian is to pass the National Registration Examination for Dietitians.
UDC students had a 100 percent one year passing rate on the national examination from 2012-2015, far above the national average.
Student Organizations and Activities in the UDC Nutrition Program
The nutrition and dietetics program has active chapters of the Student Dietetic Association and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANNRS), which participate in outreach activities such as community health fairs including the annual NBC 4 Health and Fitness Expo, and provide mentorship opportunities for students. Students also sponsor conferences through the local District of Columbia Metropolitan Area Dietetic Association and regional and national offices of MANNRS.
Volunteering and hands on experiential learning opportunities are available at community agencies, health care facilities including the Bridgepoint Hospital – Hadley Campus, DC Central Kitchen and D.C. public schools. While the national acceptance rate for acceptance into the dietetics internship program is 53 percent, UDC nutrition students have more than 75 percent chance of acceptance.
Faculty Spotlight: Nutrition Program
Dr. Prema Ganganna, PhD., RD., LD. is chair of the Department of Health, Nursing and Nutrition, with more than thirty years’ experience in nutrition from the clinical, management, research and academic perspectives at UDC. In 2006, Ganganna visited China as a delegate dietitian and nutritionist. She was also a member of the technical advisory panel on dietary modifications charged with recommending strategies for dietary modifications published by the Department of Health and Human Services, Commission of Public Health, Bureau of Cancer Control. Dr. Ganganna was also a mayoral appointee to the DC Board of Dietetics and Nutrition.
Career Pathways and Prospects
Dietitians and nutritionists are skilled experts in the use of food and nutrition to promote health and manage disease. They advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Completion of the bachelor’s degree in nutrition allows graduates to apply for an accredited dietetic internship program, or to have a seamless transition to our master’s degree program in nutrition at UDC; and completion of the DPD program allows students to become eligible for licensure as a nutritionist.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 66,700 employed as dietitians and nutritionists in 2014, and is projected to grow 16 percent through 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Work environments in the field include:
- Hospitals to provide Medical Nutrition Therapy for patients
- Residential care facilities
- Outpatient care facilities
- Offices of physician or other health practitioners
- Public health clinics, fitness centers, corporate wellness programs or home health agencies
Additional employment opportunities include:
- Federal, state or local government agencies (including the USDA, FDA, DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed)).
- Nonprofit organizations (such as the American Heart Association, the National Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association)
- Management dietitians to oversee meal-planning in healthcare facilities and company cafeterias
- Consultants to hospitals, nursing care facilities or their own private practices
- UDC Career Services
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