Didactic Program in Dietetics
The TCU Didactic Program in Dietetics Pathway to Become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN):
A student must complete an ACEND-accredited program in education and supervised practice in order to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). After completing an ACEND-accredited Coordinated Program (CP) , Future Education Model Graduate Programs (FG), Foreign or International Dietitian Education Program, or a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) followed by a Dietetic Internship (DI) or Individualized Supervised Practice Program (ISPP) students that have earned verification are eligible to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians. After passing the Registration Examination for Dietitians, RDNs may seek licensure, if applicable. In order to become a Nutrition and Dietetics Technician, Registered (NDTR) students must complete an ACEND-accredited Dietetic Technician Program or successfully complete coursework in an ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics. Examination requirements for the RDN and the NDTR are set by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). By 2024, individuals must have a Master's level degree in order to be eligible to take the CDR credentialing exam for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.
A Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) is designed for those who wish to enter the dietetics profession. It is an academic program in a U.S. regionally accredited college or university that culminates in a minimum of a baccalaureate degree. The TCU DPD is a two-year program that meets the eligibility requirements and accreditation standards for entry-level dietetics education programs specified by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Coursework is based upon achievement of Core Knowledge Requirements for the RDN for Didactic Programs in Dietetics and emphasizes the scientific and evidence base of dietetics practice, professional practice expectations, clinical and customer services, and practice management and the use of resources. The TCU DPD curriculum includes courses in human nutrition, food science, food and culture, community nutrition, food systems management, medical nutrition therapy and nutrition research. These courses are based on a solid science and math background, which include general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, physiology, psychology, sociology, economics, and elementary statistics.
The goals and student learning objectives of the Program support the DPD mission and are listed below. Data collected to determine achievement of Program goals is available upon request to ACEND and to the public.
DPD Program Goal #1 - Prepare graduates to achieve competence in Core Knowledge for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).
- Objective Measure 1.a: Program Completion Rate
At least 80% of students complete program requirements within 3 years (150% of the program length).
- Objective Measure 1.b: Graduate Readiness for Supervised Practice
At least 80% of program graduates will indicate their readiness for supervised practice as "good" to "excellent" on the DPD Exit Evaluation.
- Objective Measure 1.c: Graduate Perception of Preparation
At least 70% of program graduates who respond to the DPD Post-Graduate Survey indicate a “good” or “excellent” perception of his/her preparedness regarding Core Knowledge required for entry-level registered dietitian nutritionists.
- Objective Measure 1.d: Supervised Practice Director Perception of Graduate Preparation
At least 70% of Supervised Practice Directors who respond to the Supervised Practice Director Survey indicate DPD graduates are competent in Core Knowledge for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist within 12 months of graduation.
Program Goal #2 - Provide graduates with adequate knowledge for post-graduate education, including supervised practice programs, to secure employment as Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.
- Objective Measure 2.a: Supervised Practice Application Rate
At least 60% of program graduates apply for admission to a supervised practice program prior to or within 12 months of graduation.
- Objective Measure 2.b: Supervised Practice Acceptance Rate
Of program graduates who apply to a supervised practice program, at least 50% of program graduates are admitted within 12 months of graduation.
- Objective Measure 2.c: Supervised Practice Director Perception of Graduate Performance
At least 70% of Supervised Practice Program Directors who respond to the Supervised Practice Director Survey indicate a “good” to “excellent” perception of DPD graduates’ performance in supervised practice within 12 months of graduation.
- Objective Measure 2.d: Registration Exam Pass Rate
The program’s one-year pass rate (graduates who pass the registration exam within one year of the first attempt) on the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists is at least 80%.
Admission to TCU is required for all programs; however, admission to the University does not guarantee admission to the DPD. Eligibility for admission to the TCU DPD is based on successful completion of at least 60 semester hours with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 for Nutrition (NTDT) classes and an Associated Requirements GPA of at least 2.75, no more than 3 grades below a “B-” in the Associated Requirements, 45 semester hours of required prerequisites and major courses specified in the TCU Undergraduate Catalog, 200 hours of documented food, nutrition, or dietetics practical experience and an application packet. Application packets for the DPD must be received by February 1 (typically of sophomore year), and applicants are notified of provisional acceptance by April 15. Students must earn a grade of “C-” or better in all NTDT and Associated Requirement courses taken prior to admission. Students who are provisionally accepted to the DPD begin coursework in August of the following academic year (typically the junior year). Final acceptance/enrollment in the DPD depends on successful completion of required prerequisite courses and summer requirements.
A student’s continuation in the TCU DPD is contingent upon attainment of a strong academic record and successful completion of the program sequence.
Students must complete 500 hours of documented food, nutrition, or dietetics practical experience prior to the completion of their final semester in the Didactic Program in Dietetics. Upon graduation, the student must attain a minimum Nutrition (NTDT) GPA of 3.0, earn a grade of “C-” or better in all NTDT and Associated Requirement courses, and no more than 3 grades below a “B-” in the Associated Requirements. In addition, all 30000-, 40000-, and 50000-level NTDT courses, with the exception of NTDT 30123 Nutrition Throughout the Lifecycle and NTDT 30331 Medical Terminology, must be taken at TCU. Students who meet the requirements above and successfully complete the 125-credit hour requirement of the DPD will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree and receive DPD Verification and are therefore eligible to apply for a supervised practice program (Dietetic Internship). The Dietetic Internship Match is a computer-based method which provides an orderly and fair way to match the preferences of applicants for Dietetic Internships (DIs) with the preferences of DI program directors. The Academy contracts with a company called D&D Digital to operate the DI Match and help applicants obtain an Internship (supervised practice position). More information about the computer matching process can be found here. Successful completion of a Dietetic Internship (or other accredited supervised practice program) is necessary for students to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians.
Direct undergraduate costs for tuition, room, board, books, and supplies for each academic year are available through the TCU Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid. Students may qualify for financial aid and/or loans. More detailed costs for DPD students are outlined in the DPD Student Handbook and include approximately $1,000 per year for lab fees, photocopying, school and office supplies, textbooks, and professional dues.
Generally, a student who applies to the TCU DPD plans to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). The current TCU DPD one-year pass rate (graduates who pass the registration exam within one year of the first attempt) on the Registration Examination for Dietitians is 100%. The DPD’s current three-year average of the one-year pass rate on the registration examination is 100%. For more information on the steps necessary to become an RDN, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) website. The AND website also has a list of all of the accredited dietetics programs including Didactic Programs in Dietetics, Coordinated Programs in Dietetics, Future Education Model undergraduate and graduate programs, and Dietetic Internships in the United States. In the state of Texas, after passing the Registration Examination to become an RDN, one may become a Licensed Dietitian. For more information about Texas State Licensure visit https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/diet/diet.htm.
Although some DPD programs allow a student to earn DPD Verification without earning a degree from that program, the TCU DPD will not provide DPD verification for students who do not earn a BS from the TCU DPD. In the event that a student is unable to complete the MS portion of the TCU Combined BS/MS program, but has earned a BS in Dietetics from TCU, exceptions may be made. The TCU DPD also does not offer credit for prior learning other than that earned from transfer courses approved by the University.