College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Nutrition & Food Science

DPD Program Frequently Asked Questions

View our table of contents to see questions that are answered below:

Careers in Dietetics

  • What is a Registered Dietitian (RD)?
  • What types of jobs do Registered Dietitians hold?
  • What is the salary range in the field of dietetics?

Educational Pathway for Dietetics

  • What type of education is required to become a Registered Dietitian?
  • Is a Masters degree required to practice in the field of dietetics?
  • Do those RDs who obtain Masters degrees pursue them immediately after finishing the dietetic internship?
  • Is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) required to pursue the courses for the RD credential?
  • How long will it take me to complete the coursework necessary to pursue the RD credential?
  • I have worked in the field of dietetics. Will my work experience exempt me from the coursework or internship?
  • Will I be eligible for financial aid while I am taking the coursework to pursue the RD credential?

University of Maryland Programs

  • Is the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (A N D)?
  • Is the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland an undergraduate or a graduate program?
  • What courses are required for the dietetics degree (or to pursue the RD credential) at the University of Maryland?
  • Does the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland offer any courses via distance education?
  • Does the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland offer any courses at night, on the weekends, or by independent study?
  • Is it possible to take the coursework for the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland on a part-time basis?
  • Is the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland the only dietetics program in the DC area?
  • How do I apply to the University of Maryland?
  • How do I get accepted into the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland?
  • Does the University of Maryland offer an accredited dietetic internship?
  • If I take my undergraduate courses at the University of Maryland will I automatically be accepted into the University of Maryland College Park Dietetic Internship?
  • Are graduates of the University of Maryland Dietetics Program successful at getting dietetic internships and passing the Registration Examination for Dietitians?

Questions for Current University of Maryland Students and Potential Transfer Students

  • I am currently a student at the University of Maryland but am enrolled in another major. How do I change my major to dietetics?
  • I am currently enrolled at a community college or another four-year college or university. How can I find out which courses I should take to transfer to the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland?

Questions For International Students and Dietitians

  • My undergraduate degree is from another country. How do I pursue the RD credential in the U.S.?
  • I am an RD in another country. How do I get licensed to practice in the United States?

Questions For Students With Previous Undergraduate Degrees

  • If I already have an undergraduate degree, do I have to get another degree in dietetics in order to become an RD?
  • How do I find out if my previous coursework will count towards the RD credential?
  • My undergraduate degree is not in the natural sciences. Will I be able to handle the science courses required for dietetics?
  • Can I take any of the classes towards the degree in dietetics (or towards the RD credential) at a community college?
  • Am I allowed to take any of the upper level (300 and 400 level) courses at another institution while enrolled at the University of Maryland?
  • Is it possible to complete the degree in dietetics (or the coursework for the RD credential) via distance education?

 

Careers in Dietetics

 

What is a Registered Dietitian (RD)?
A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a food and nutrition expert who has met the minimum academic and professional requirements to qualify for the credential of RD. In addition to RD credentialing, many states have regulatory laws for dietitians and nutrition practitioners. State requirements are met through the same education and training required to become an RD. For more information on the field of dietetics, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (A N D).

What types of jobs do Registered Dietitians hold?
Registered Dietitians work in a variety of settings including hospitals and other health care organizations, outpatient clinics, communication and public relations firms, government agencies, and school systems. For more information about careers in dietetics click here on  video 


from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. You may also want to read these FAQs about becoming a Registered Dietitian.

What is the salary range in the field of dietetics?
Salaries vary considerably according to the type of position, years of practice, level of education, and area of the country. Every few years, the American Dietetic Association completes a benefits and compensation survey for the field of dietetics. The most recent survey results can be found in "Compensation & Benefits Survey of the Dietetics Profession 2015". RD or RDN median annualized wages were $63,700 in 2015 and up from $60,000 in 2013. For more information on the job outlook for dietitians, read the Bureau of Labor Statistics  section on careers in nutrition and dietetics.

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Educational Pathway for Dietetics

 

What type of education is required to become a Registered Dietitian?
In order to become a Registered Dietitian, you must have a Bachelor's degree and must complete the coursework that provides the foundation knowledge and skills required by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. These courses must be completed at an accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) such as the program at University of Maryland. Once the coursework is satisfactorily completed you will be issued a Verification Statement by your Program Director. You must then be accepted into and complete a Dietetic Internship program. Following completion of the internship, you must pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians in order to be credentialed as a Registered Dietitian. For more information, clikc on "What is a Registered Dietitiian Nutritionist."

Is a Masters degree required to practice in the field of dietetics?
A Masters degee is not required to practice as an RD. Approximately 50% of RDs hold Masters degrees and this number is higher in certain areas of the county such as Washington, DC, and New York, NY. RDs hold Masters degrees in a variety of different disciplines including nutritional science, public health, health education, exercise physiology, business, and psychology. Although a Masters degree is not currently required by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, one may be preferred or required for certain positions. RDs with Masters degrees may be more competitive for jobs and may earn higher salaries.

To advance the profession of dietetic, the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics released in 2017 standards and competencies for the Future Education Model Accreditation Standards for Associate, Bachelor and Graduate degree Programs in Nutrition and Dietetics. Early adopter demonstration programs will start using the standards in 2018. The Future Educational Model will integrate experiential learning components with the coursework and the entry level registered dietitian will be required to have a MS degree. Please click on this presentation and watch the webinar for additional information.

Do those RDs who obtain Masters degrees pursue them immediately after finishing the dietetic internship?
You will be able to work as an RD once you complete the Dietetic Internship and pass the Registration Examination for Dietetians. While some RDs choose to pursue their Masters degree immediately after they complete their internships, it is not necessary to do so. Many RDs work for a few years before entering a Masters program and may complete a part-time Masters degree program while continuing to work. There are several combined dietetic internship/Masters degree programs in the U.S. and this may be a good option for those students who know that they would like to pursue their Masters degree. In the DC area, Johns Hopkins Bayview offers a combined program. Information on other programs of this type and a list of all Dietetic Internships can be found on the program list from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) required to pursue the courses for the RD credential?
The GRE is not required because the Dietetics courses at the University of Maryland are undergraduate courses.

How long will it take me to complete the coursework necessary to pursue the RD credential?
If you are enrolling as an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland, you can major in Dietetics and complete the degree in four years.  The degree in Dietetics combines the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' 2017 Accreditation Standards for Didactic Programs in Dietetics (DPD) and the University of Maryland's CORE or General Education requirements.  If you have an undergraduate degree in another discipline, the amount of time it will take to complete the courses will vary based on your previous coursework and the number of credits you take each semester. In general, it takes four semesters to complete the six upper level Dietetics courses. During these four semesters you can also complete other upper level courses needed for the RD credential. This assumes that the you enter the program having completed two semesters of general chemistry, two semesters of organic chemistry, and one semester of basic biology (all of these courses should include laboratories). It is recommended that you complete all of your coursework within the five years prior to applying for a Dietetic Internship. For more information on the courses required for the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland, view the full curriculum.  See another FAQ for more information on becoming an RD if you have a previous four-year degree in another discipline.

I have worked in the field of dietetics. Will my work experience exempt me from the coursework or internship?
It is possible that work experience may be substituted for some Dietetics coursework. Dietetics Program Directors will make these determinations on a case-by-case basis. Some dietetic internships will grant credit for previous work experience and others will not. This information should be included in materials that each internship distributes and can also be found on their websites. Contact information for all dietetic internships in the U.S. can be found on the program list from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Will I be eligible for financial aid while I am taking the coursework to pursue the RD credential?
As a degree-seeking undergraduate you are eligible for federal financial aid. The dietetic internships are non degree-seeking programs, therefore you are not eligible to receive federal financial during your internship. Some internships may enable you to defer student loans.

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University of Maryland Programs

 

Is the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND)?
The Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland is currently granted initial accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), the credentialing body of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). ACEND is located at 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000, Chicago, IL 60606-6995, (312) 899-0040.

Is the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland an undergraduate or graduate program?
The Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland is an undergraduate program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics. The University of Maryland does not offer a graduate degree in dietetics. Most dietetics programs in the nation are undergraduate programs, although there are few schools that offer a Masters degree in dietetics. The Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences offers an MS in Nutritional Sciences however, an MS in Nutritional Sciences alone will not be sufficient background to pursue a dietetic internship.

What courses are required for the dietetics degree (or to pursue the RD credential) at the University of Maryland?
The Dietetics Program includes courses in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, physiology, nutrition, food science, foodservice management, and business. For a listing of specific courses, view the full curriculum.

Does the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland offer any courses via distance education?
The University of Maryland does not offer any of the dietetics courses via distance education. A few of the lower level courses in the program may be taken via distance education through one of the community colleges and tranferred to the University of Maryland.

Does the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland offer any courses at night, on the weekends, or by independent study?
The University of Maryland Dietetics Program does not offer any courses at night, on the weekends, or by independent study. The University of Maryland's Science in the Evening Program does allow post-baccalaureate students to take selected science classes in the evening. It is also possible to complete the majority of the courses for the first two years of the Dietetics Program at a community college where courses are offered at more flexible times. However, the second two years of the program will have to be completed at the University of Maryland. If you are unable to attend the University of Maryland during the daytime hours you may want to consider a distance education program. These programs are listed at the bottom of the overall program list on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. 

Is it possible to take the coursework for the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland on a part-time basis?
It is not necessary for you to be a full-time student in order to complete the courses required to pursue the RD credential. However, all dietetics courses at the University of Maryland are offered during daytime hours so you must be able to attend courses during the day. If you are unable to attend during the daytime hours you may want to consider distance education.

Is the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland the only dietetics program in the DC area?
A few other schools in the Washington, DC, area offer dietetics programs including Howard UniversityUniversity of the District of Columbia, and Morgan State University. In Virginia, there is a dietetics program at Virginia Tech. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics maintains a program list of all undergraduate dietetics programs in the U.S.

How do I apply to the University of Maryland?
If you are a first-time freshman or a transfer student who has not yet completed an undergraduate degree, contact Undergraduate Admissions for application information. If you already have an undergraduate degree, you can apply as either a second-degree undergraduate or as a special (non-degree seeking) student. In most cases, the Program Director will recommend that you apply as a second-degree undergraduate and pursue the degree in dietetics. The special student category is generally appropriate for students with only a few classes to take, for example, a student with an undergraduate degree in Nutritional Sciences who has only a few dietetics courses to complete. For information on admission as a second-degree undergraduate student, visit Undergraduate Admissions. For information on admission as a special (non-degree seeking) student, visit Graduate Admissions.

How do I get accepted into the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland?
It is not necessary to complete an additional application in order to be accepted into the Dietetics Program. On your application to the University of Maryland, declare your major as dietetics (program code 1307D). If you do not declare your major as dietetics on your application, you can change your major at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Undergraduate Programs and Services Office in 0107 Symons Hall.

Does the University of Maryland offer an accredited dietetic internship?
The University of Maryland Dietetic Internship is a general focus dietetic internship with an emphasis on information technology and the communication of nutrition information to the public. The internship program is currently granted initial accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), the credentialing body of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as a Dietetic Internship (DI). ACEND is located at 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000, Chicago, IL 60606-6995, (312) 899-0040.

If I take my undergraduate courses at the University of Maryland, will I automatically be accepted into the University of Maryland College Park Dietetic Internship?
Students who complete the University of Maryland Dietetics Program are not automatically accepted into the University of Maryland College Park Dietetic Internship nor are they given preferential consideration. They are considered in the overall pool of applicants from around the nation.

Are graduates of the University of Maryland Dietetics Program successful at getting dietetic internships and passing the Registration Examination for Dietitians?
For the past five years, the average dietetic internship acceptance rate for graduates of the University of Maryland Dietetics Program is 70%. For 2013, the rate is 78% while the national average is 52%. Acceptance into dietetic internship programs is extremely competitive and a GPA > 3  is required by most internships. Additionally, as enrollments in undergraduate dietetics programs around the nation increase, internship programs have more applicants than internship spots available. For at least the past 5 years, 97% of University of Maryland Dietetics graduates who have completed the dietetic internship have passed the Registration Examination for Dietitians on their first attempt.

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Questions for Current University of Maryland Students and Potential Transfer Students

 

I am currently a student at the University of Maryland but am enrolled in another major. How do I change my major to Dietetics?
You can change your major at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Undergraduate Student Programs and Services Office in 0107 Symons Hall. If you have questions about the major or careers in dietetics that are not answered here, contact the Program Director.

I am currently enrolled at a community college or another four-year college or university. How can I find out which courses I should take to transfer to the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland?
It is possible to complete the majority of the courses for the first two years of the Dietetics Program at a community college or another four-year college or university. Many students have taken coursework at Anne Arundel Community CollegePrince Georges Community CollegeHoward Community College, and Montgomery College as well as at a variety of four-year colleges or universities. No more than 60 credits from a community college may apply to a BS Degree in Dietetics at the University of Maryland. In addition, you must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours on the College Park campus. There are a variety of resources you can use to determine which courses you should take at the community college including the school's transfer counselors, ARTSYS (the online articulation system for Maryland colleges and universities), the nutrition faculty at your college or university, the University of Maryland's Transfer Credit Center, and the Dietetics Program Director at the University of Maryland.  If you plan to transfer to the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland from a community college, it is advised that you contact the Program Director early so that she can assist you in choosing courses that will transfer to the program.

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Questions For International Students and Dietitians

 

My undergraduate degree is from another country. How do I pursue the RD credential in the U.S.?
If your undergraduate education was completed outside of the United States you will need to have your transcripts converted to US equivalents and then evaluated by the Program Director. Please be advised that the Program Director at the University of Maryland can only advise you on the coursework you will need to complete at the University of Maryland. As all dietetics program are slightly different, if you are interested in attending a dietetics program other than the one at the University of Maryland contact the Director of the program you plan to attend. Read these FAQs for International Students from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for more information. If you are not a citizen of the United States, please contact International Education Services for assistance with issues relating to the visa status that will enable you to attend school, complete a dietetic internship, and work in the United States.

I am an RD in another country. How do I get licensed to practice in the United States?
If you are an RD in another country, you will have to have your education evaluated by the Program Director of a Didactic Program in Dietetics and will need to complete some coursework in order to receive a Verification Statement. You must then be accepted into and complete a dietetic internship. If your undergraduate education was completed outside of the United States you will need to have your transcripts converted to U.S. equivalents and then evaluated by the Program Director. Please be advised that the Program Director at the University of Maryland can only advise you on the coursework you will need to complete at the University of Maryland. As all dietetics program are slightly different, if you are interested in attending a dietetics program other than the one at the University of Maryland contact the Director of the program you plan to attend. Read these FAQs for International Students from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for more information. If you are not a citizen of the United States, please contact International Education Services for assistance with issues relating to the visa status that will enable you to attend school, complete a dietetic internship, and work in the United States.
There is reciprocity between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the credentialing boards of a few other countries. Reciprocity means that individuals who have completed the education and credentialing requirements in one country may be eligible for another country's credentialing examination if the two countries have entered into an agreement to allow this. The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) currently has registration eligibility reciprocity agreements with the following foreign dietetic associations and regulatory boards: Dietitians of Canada, Dutch Association of Dieticians and Ministry of Welfare, Public Health and Culture, the Philippine Professional Regulation Commission, the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute and the Dietitians Board of the Health Professions Council in the United Kingdom. Individuals who have met the qualifications established by these associations and regulatory boards should contact CDR directly at 312/899-0040, ext. 5500 to obtain information regarding establishing registration eligibility under the provision of CDR's reciprocity agreement with these associations and regulatory boards. For more information, read the A N D's FAQs for International Students.

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Questions For Students With Previous Undergraduate Degrees

 

If I already have an undergraduate degree, do I have to get another degree in dietetics in order to become an RD?
It is not necessary to obtain an undergraduate degree in dietetics. However, it is necessary to complete coursework that constitutes a Didactic Program in Dietetics and meet ACEND 2017 Standards, such as the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland. Depending upon what your previous degree is in and how much additional coursework is necessary, you may choose to obtain a second undergraduate degree while completing these courses.

How do I find out if my previous coursework will count towards the RD credential?

If you already have an undergraduate degree and are interested in pursuing a career in dietetics, the Program Director can evaluate your previous coursework and advise you on pursuing the RD credential.

If you already have an undergraduate degree and are interested in pursuing a career in Dietetics, please read these FAQs for Career Changers from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

There is a charge for this service of $65.00 for the first US transcript and $75 for the first foreign transcript. There is an additional charge of $5 each for each additional transcript (US or foreign). Please contact the Dietetics Program Director for more information on having your transcripts evaluated.

Please be advised that the Program Director at the University of Maryland can only advise you on the coursework you will need to complete at the University of Maryland. As all dietetics program are slightly different, if you are interested in attending a dietetics program other than the one at the University of Maryland contact the Director of the program you plan to attend.

My undergraduate degree is not in the natural sciences. Will I be able to handle the science courses required for dietetics?
Although success ultimately lies with each student, returning students from many disciplines have successfully completed the Dietetics Program at the University of Maryland and gone on to become RDs. Some students have taken introductory courses at community colleges where class size is smaller and the initial re-entry is not as difficult. This is also a good way to "test the waters" if you are not sure if dietetics is the right field for you. Other students have taken all of the classes at the University of Maryland and have also been successful. Because of the difficulty level and fast-paced nature of the science courses, it is imperative that you keep up with your coursework and seek out help immediately if there is something that you do not understand. Your professors, teaching assistants, faculty advisors, and fellow students are all available to help you.

Can I take any of the classes towards the degree in dietetics (or towards the RD credential) at a community college?
It is possible to complete the majority of the courses for the first two years of the Dietetics Program at a community college or another four-year college or university. Many students have taken coursework at Anne Arundel Community CollegePrince Georges Community CollegeHoward Community College, and Montgomery College as well as at a variety of four-year colleges or universities. No more than 60 credits from a community college may apply to a BS Degree in Dietetics at the University of Maryland. In addition, you must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours on the College Park campus. There are a variety of resources you can use to determine which courses you should take at the community college including the your school's transfer counselors, ARTSYS (the online articulation system for Maryland colleges and universities), the nutrition faculty at your college or university, the University of Maryland's Transfer Credit Center, and the Dietetics Program Director at the University of Maryland.

Am I allowed to take any of the upper level (300 and 400 level) courses at another institution while enrolled at the University of Maryland?
It is possible to take upper level courses at another institution if you can find an institution that offers them. A minimum of six upper level Dietetics courses must be taken at the University of Maryland in order for the Program Director to issue you a Verification Statement and most students take more than these six courses at the University of Maryland. In order to earn an undergraduate degree you must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours on the College Park campus.

Is it possible to complete an undergraduate dietetics degree (or the coursework for the RD credential) via distance education?
There are dietetics programs in the country that offer entire programs via distance education. You can find these programs on the program list from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Then contact the Program Directors for the programs that you are interested in for more information.

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