Bachelor of Science in Dietetics

Welcome to the Department of Nutrition & Family Sciences at the University of Central Arkansas. The Bachelor of Science in Dietetics is an interdisciplinary program that combines the science of human biology and biochemistry with human development, management, nutrition, counseling, and research. Students in this major share classes with undergraduate students majoring in pre-medicine, nursing, chemistry, biology, exercise science, and psychology. Students who enter into this major have the long-term goal of becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). The RDN professional is the food and nutrition expert qualified to address today’s complex issues surrounding food and nutrition. Students can also take the Nutrition & Dietetics Technician, Registered NDTR) exam upon completion of this degree. NDTRs are an integral part of healthcare and food service management teams. To apply to UCA visit our Admissions website, take a virtual tour, and set up an appointment with an academic advisor.

 

Program Requirements

 

DPD Student Handbook

The DPD Student Handbook provides information on the program’s goals, objectives, and policies. All DPD students are required to comply with the DPD Student Handbook as well as the UCA Student Handbook

 

Mission

The mission of the Didactic Program in Dietetics and Nutrition (DPD) at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) is to prepare graduates who have the academic preparation necessary for success in an internship / supervised practice in dietetics and nutrition.  This mission is accomplished by providing students with the concepts of the interdependence of human nutrition and food in the health and behavior of individuals, and with a general foundation of food service systems management.  This preparation will allow for students to be eligible for a dietetic internship leading to eligibility for the CDR credentialing exam to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

 

Goals

Program goals were developed by the DPD Faculty with input from all DPD faculty members, the NFS Department Chair, the Dean of the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, and the DPD Advisory Board.

 

The program will:

  • Prepare graduates to be competent for entry into supervised practice or other post-graduate programs through high-quality educational offerings.
  • Prepare graduates who are equipped to improve the nutrition status of individuals, families, and communities.

Students and the public may request a copy of these program outcome data by contacting the DPD Director, Dr. Rachel Schichtl at rschichtl@uca.edu or 501-450-5953.

 

ACEND Accreditation

The Didactic Program in Dietetics at the University of Central Arkansas 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, Illinois 60606-6995 (Phone: 800/877-1600). ACEND website: https://www.eatrightpro.org/acend.

 

Job Opportunities 

The RDN credential is the most widely recognized credential for a nutrition expert. Most employers are looking for the RDN certification in their list of qualifications in nutrition-related jobs. The demand for registered dietitians and nutritionists is expected to grow by 11% between 2020 and 2030, faster than the average for all occupations according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Both RDNs and NDTRs enjoy diverse career opportunities, including clinical, community, wellness, schools, food service, and public health. The scope of their practice is what differs.  

 

Process to Become an RDN

The RDN credential is not earned upon graduation with the BS in Dietetics degree. Graduates of the DPD program or BS in Dietetics degree must be accepted into and successfully complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program in dietetics and then pass the national registration examination to earn the RDN credential. 

Supervised practice programs, sometimes referred to as dietetic internships, like the one at UCA, are available across the United States, in Puerto Rico, and internationally. These programs vary in length but are a minimum of 1000 hours and typically take one to two years to complete. Tuition, fee, and other costs vary among the programs as do program outcomes such as pass rates on the RDN exam. To learn about individual programs, reach out to individual programs through the Accredited Programs Directory on the ACEND website. Acceptance into supervised practice programs is competitive. Information about the national acceptance rates can be found on the ACEND website

In summary, the pathway to the RDN credential is:

  1. Earn a Bachelor of Science degree from an ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics.  At that time, students are provided with a verification statement that allows them to apply for entry into a dietetic internship.
  2. Successfully complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program.
  3. Pass the Registration Exam for Dietitians.
  4. Apply for state licensure if you live in a state with licensure.

Arkansas Licensure for Registered Dietitians

Details on requirements for Licensed Dietitians in Arkansas can be found at the Arkansas Dietetics Licensing Board. According to the Arkansas Dietetics Practice Act, “no person shall engage in the practice of dietetics in the State of Arkansas unless said person has in his/her possession a current license or a provisional license duly issued by the Board under provisions of the Dietetics Practice Act.”

Currently, 48 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia have statutory provisions regulating the dietetics profession or associated titles such as “dietitian” and “nutritionist”. To learn more about other states’ regulations, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides a Licensure Map for links to boards, statutes, and rules, in addition to information about the type of nature of dietetics regulation in each state. 

 

Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)

Effective January 1, 2024, the minimum degree requirement for eligibility to take the registration examination for dietitians will change from a bachelor’s degree to a graduate degree. All other didactic and supervised practice eligibility requirements will remain the same. Beginning January 1, 2024, a graduate degree will be the minimum degree requirement for those seeking to become eligible for the registration examination for dietitians. 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 CT, December 31, 2023. Please visit the CDR website for more details.

 

Graduate Program at UCA 

As you consider your post-graduation options, keep the UCA Graduate School in mind. We offer a Master of Science in Nutrition as well as the Dietetics & Nutrition Therapy track which is our ACEND-accredited supervised practice program.