Overview of Colleges Offering Dietetics Majors
Undergraduate programs in the field of dietetics are typically offered as Bachelor of Science degrees and can be completed in four years. In these programs, students take a variety of fundamental and advanced coursework that covers dietetics as well as related fields like nutrition and public health. After completing a bachelor's degree in this field, students who have met any other state requirements may apply for the Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential. We will explore these degree programs in greater detail below, as well as the types of careers they lead to and some specific universities that offer such programs.
Admission Requirements for Dietetics Programs
In order gain admission into a bachelor's degree program in dietetics, students first need to submit an application file to each university they are interested in attending. Generally, this requires submitting results from the ACT or SAT, letters of recommendation, high school transcripts, a personal statement, and a completed application form. Once admitted to a university, students may then have to complete some initial coursework before being formally accepted into a dietetics major, a decision that is based on their undergraduate performance as freshmen and sophomores. This process may differ from program to program, so students are advised to research the requirements of each school they are interested in to make sure they complete the process correctly.
Common Courses in Dietetics Degree Programs
Dietetics bachelor's degree programs typically include major coursework supplemented by courses in fields like chemistry, statistics, and biology. Some common courses are outlined below.
Introduction to Dietetics and Human Nutrition
In this course, students learn about the role of a dietitian, both from a historical and modern perspective. The course also covers topical issues in the field of dietetics and nutrition, including health care trends, relevant governmental policies and legislation, and ethics. Students might also learn how to develop a professional portfolio.
Medical Nutrition Therapy
A course in medical nutrition therapy covers different types of nutrition practices that can be used to treat human diseases and disorders. Students learn about the treatment of different illnesses from a nutritional standpoint as well as preventative measures that can be taken to help unaffected individuals remain healthy. Topics that may be covered in this course include evaluating chronic disease, clinical best practices, nutrition assessment, and research in this field.
A course in community nutrition explores the different factors that can affect the overall health of a community. Students look into various governmental and public policies as they pertain to healthcare, the types of nutrition services offered in a community, and theories of community nutrition. Additionally, students learn about cultural and social factors that play a role in community nutrition.
A food science course provides students with an overview of the composition of different kinds of food from a biological, physical, and chemical perspective. Students learn how different foods are processed for consumption and how this affects nutrition. Additionally, this course could cover current breakthroughs and technologies in food science, like bioengineered food.
Human Physiology and Anatomy
Due to dietetics programs' focus on human health and nutrition, it is also common that they require students to take a course that covers human physiology. Students learn about the various systems that make up the human body, like the digestive and immune systems, and how these systems interact with one another. The course also covers the skeletal system and human anatomy.
How to Choose a Dietetics Degree Program
When faced with a number of different options, students may have a hard time choosing which dietetics undergraduate degree program is right for them. There are a number of factors that students may want to take into consideration to make this choice clearer. First, students could check each program's curriculum and structure to see if there are courses that interest them. While core requirements are likely similar across programs, some schools offer more choice in terms of electives. Students could also research how selective each program is, as this may help them determine whether they are likely be admitted or not, as well as what types of hands-on learning experiences are available to dietetics students.
Schools with Dietetics Degree Programs
There are a number of universities and colleges around the country that offer bachelor's degree programs in dietetics, three of which are briefly highlighted below.
- Ball State University - Ball State University, located in Muncie, IN, offers students a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and Nutrition program that requires the completion of 120 credit hours. Students can also participate in immersive learning projects and community-outreach initiatives that allow them to put their classroom skills to good use.
- SUNY Oneonta - Students at SUNY Oneonta can enroll in the school's Bachelor of Science program in dietetics, which requires the completion of 57 credit hours in the major field of study and an additional 36 credit hours in related fields. In addition to coursework, students can gain hands-on experience by providing elementary schools with nutritional information or working with student athletes to maximize their performance.
- University of Wisconsin - Madison - Another option is the Bachelor of Science in Dietetics program at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Students can join the Dietetics and Nutrition Club that provides students with information about how to land internships in the field as well as various professional and extracurricular activities.
Career Options with a Degree in Dietetics
Students who decide to pursue a degree in dietetics may be interested in a career as a dietitian. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, dietitians and nutritionists earned a median annual salary of $59,410 as of May 2017. This career field was also projected to grow by 15% between the years of 2016 and 2026. A few other career possibilities are listed below: