Didactic Program in Dietetics

Nutrition is an integrative science that draws from physiology, biology, chemistry, behavior sciences and other disciplines to understand food, behavior and health. In addition to preparing students to become registered dietitians/nutritionists (RDN), nutrition science is a great pre-professional major for careers in medicine and the allied health sciences. Two tracks within the Bachelor of Science degree are offered: the didactic program in dietetics (DPD) and the nutrition with science (NS) track. Both tracks are primarily on-campus, face-to-face programs that provide many opportunities for students throughout their course of study.

Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD)

DPD Mission Statement

The mission of the DPD is to prepare graduates to become competent leaders in successful careers in a multicultural society making a positive impact on health as registered dietitian nutritionists. The DPD will use innovative learning strategies in the delivery of the required knowledge to prepare graduates for supervised practice leading to eligibility for the Commission on Dietetic Registration’s (CDR) credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).

DPD Program Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: The program will prepare graduates for acceptance to a supervised practice program and/or graduate school.

  • 70 percent of alumni completing the follow-up survey will report a minimum of 3 on a 5 point scale that rate the academic preparation in terms of knowledge and skills necessary for entry to supervised practice and/or graduate school.
  • At least 80% of program students complete program/degree requirements within 3 years (150% of the program length)
  • 70 percent of program graduates apply for admission to a supervised practice program prior to or within 12 months of graduation.
  • 80 percent of program graduates are admitted to a supervised practice program within 12 months of graduation.
  • 80 percent of supervised practice program directors will rate DPD graduates with a minimum of 3 on a 5 point scale that rate the academic preparation in terms of knowledge and skills necessary for entry to supervised practice.

Goal 2: The program will prepare graduates for careers as entry-level registered dietitian nutritionists in a variety of practice settings.

  • 70 percent of alumni completing the follow-up survey will report a minimum of 3 on a 5 point scale that rate the academic preparation in terms of knowledge and skills necessary for entry-level registered dietitian nutritionist position.
  • The program’s one-year pass rate (graduates who pass the registration exam within one year of first attempt) on the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists is at least 80 percent.

The DP track requires 120 semester hours and is the correct choice for students who intend to become an RDN. Admission and retention for the DPD track requires a minimum cumulative 3.0 grade point average. Didactic Program admission is very competitive and requires completion of all prerequisite courses and a Didactic Program cohort admission application (PDF) submitted in February of the sophomore year. The number of students admitted to the DPD track will be limited to 26 each academic year.

Graduation and program completion requirements for the DPD program are found in our DPD Required Courses and in our Didactic Program Student Handbook (PDF).

Pathway to Become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at ECU

Completion of the educational requirements and receiving a verification statement from the ECU Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) satisfies the first step to obtain professional licensure and/or certification requirements in North Carolina as well as all the states, districts, and territories of the United States. All our graduates from the DPD program are entitled to apply for a Dietetic Internship, the second step to obtain professional licensure and/or certification requirements. Once the Dietetic Internship is complete, students may sit for the National Registration Examination for Dietitians administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration to obtain the national Registered Dietitian (RD) credential. All U.S. states and territories with licensure and certification laws accept the RD credential for state licensure and certification purposes. The best source of information for state licensure laws is the state and U.S. territory licensure listing obtained by visiting the website of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).┬áPlease note, students/interns will need to have a master’s degree in order to take the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist after January 1, 2024.

For information about DPD Program costs and fees (chef/lab coat, books, computer matching), please see the Didactic Program Handbook (PDF) and the Tuition and Fees page.

To find out about the availability of financial aid and loan deferments (federal or private), scholarships, stipends and other monetary support, if applicable, please visit the website of the Office of Student Financial Aid.

This program follows the University’s academic calendar. For more information, please visit the Academic Calendar page.


The Didactic Program in Dietetics is currently granted full accreditation status 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, IL 60606, 800-877-1600 x 5400, visit the ACEND website.

The unit has determined its program curriculum meets the state educational requirements for licensure or certification.

Program outcomes available upon request.