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Nutritional Science

Nutrition and Dietetics

Welcome to the Nutritional Science Program at California State University, Los Angeles. Proper nutrition is widely recognized as critical in achieving optimal health and necessary to prevent the most common chronic diseases. Students in our program receive a broad education in the sciences and take specialized nutrition courses, including medical nutrition therapy, food service, and community nutrition. They can select from various special interest courses such as integrative/functional nutrition, sports nutrition, and entrepreneurship.  As an evidence-based discipline, we teach students to analyze science and be able to communicate in writing and through presentations to the general public. The strength of our program lies in our diverse student body and faculty, along with our requirement that students participate in projects to expand their classroom experiences through community engagement in service-learning experiences. Located in the center of Los Angeles, our university and program are dedicated to serving the public good through student engagement.

Program Overview

Programs in Nutritional Science at Cal State LA include the Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutritional Science and the Master of Science degree in Nutritional Science. The undergraduate program is an accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), which means that when a student graduates, they will have the foundation of knowledge and skills to be eligible to apply to and succeed in a dietetics internship.  Graduates from our program are prepared for a wide range of careers in the private and public sectors. Some of these careers include:

  • Providing nutrition-related care to patients in a wide variety of clinical settings.
  • Educating individuals and communities through community nutrition programs, like the Women, Infant and Children’s Program and Head Start.
  • Managing food service operations in schools, hospitals, prisons and other locations.
  • Conducting research related to nutritional science.
  • Overseeing and providing nutrition education through worksite wellness programs.
  • Presenting nutrition and health-related information in print, online, and social media platforms.
  • Client nutrition education through a private practice.
  • Educating students as faculty members of a school or university.
  • Working in the non-profit sector on nutrition and health-related initiatives.
  • Creating and assisting with policy development and implementation in government agencies.
  • Nutrition expertise within businesses such as food companies, supplements, and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

 

"Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will require a minimum of a master’s degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). 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 midnight Central Time, December 31, 2023. For more information about this requirement visit CDR's website. In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Graduates who complete the ACEND-accredited [program type] program at [Institution name] are eligible to [apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program/apply to take the CDR credentialing exam to become an RDN].

In most states, graduates also must obtain licensure or certification to practice. For more information about state licensure requirements, read more.

For more information about educational pathways to become an RDN, read more."

Nutritional Science Program Mission

The mission of the Nutritional Sciences Program at Cal State LA is to prepare graduates to excel in nutrition communication, research, policy, advocacy, and service.  Graduates will improve individual and community health as innovative leaders in nutrition. Students enrolled in the didactic program in dietetics will be prepared for supervised practice leading to eligibility for the CDR credentialing exam to become Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.

Undergraduate Program Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  1. Locate, evaluate, and critically appraise nutrition information utilizing information technology.
  2. Provide culturally competent nutrition counseling and education to individuals, groups, and communities using various communication strategies.
  3. Demonstrate critical thinking skills to identify and solve problems in the nutritional sciences.  
  4. Review policy and advocate improving access to healthy foods and nutrition services.
  5. Develop an interest in and commitment to lifelong service.
  6. Demonstrate professionalism, inter-professional communication, and qualities of future leaders in dietetics and nutrition.

Bachelor of Science/Didactic Program (DPD) in Nutritional Science

The Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) enables students to complete the academic requirements needed to qualify for a dietetic internship or supervised practice to take the examination to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). The DPD can be completed as part of the baccalaureate degree program in Nutritional Science through the Option in Dietetics.

The BS DPD at Cal State Los Angeles is currently granted accreditation status by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics Education (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, IL. 60606-6995, (312) 899-0040, ext. 5400.

Students earning the Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Science can enroll in an Option in Food Science or an Option in Dietetics.  Please see the university catalog for program requirements.

University Catalog for the Nutritional Science BS

Roadmap to graduation for the BS program

Mission and Goals of DPD

Cal State LA DPD Mission
The mission of the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) of California State University, Los Angeles, is to provide students with comprehensive academic knowledge and critical thinking skills in the field of nutrition and dietetics. The DPD program also promotes the university and department's emphasis on engaging in public and professional service to promote cultural competency and for the greater good. The DPD prepares graduates to go into supervised practice to be eligible to take the CDR credentialing exam to become entry-level registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) for entry-level careers related to food and nutrition or graduate-level education. 


Program Goal 1:  The program will prepare graduates with a strong educational foundation in nutrition/dietetics to perform proficiently in a dietetic supervised practice program in preparation to be a competent entry-level dietitian nutritionist, to work in entry/level positions in nutrition and dietetics, or to be accepted into graduate school. 


Program Objectives for Goal 1: 

  1. “At least 80% of students complete program requirements within three years (150% of planned program length)” (RE  2.1.c.1.a)
  2. “At least 25 percent of program graduates apply for admission to a supervised practice program before or within 12 months”. (RE 2.1.c.1.b.1)
  3. “Of program graduates who apply to a supervised practice program, at least 50 percent are admitted within 12 months of graduation”. (RE 2.1.c.1.b.2)
  4. “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%”. (RE 2.1.c.1.c) 
  5. Of graduates seeking employment and responding to the alumni survey, 50% are employed in nutrition and dietetics or related fields within 12 months of graduation.
  6. At least 80% of Supervised Practice Program Directors who respond to a survey on DPD graduate preparedness for supervised practice will respond as being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with preparation.  


Program Goal 2:  Graduates from the DPD will be prepared to work in culturally diverse communities. 

Program Objectives for Goal 2:
1.  At least 80% of Supervised Practice Program Directors who respond to a survey will rank DPD graduates as being “prepared” or “very prepared” to work in culturally diverse communities.
2.  At least 80% of DPD graduates who respond to a survey will rate themselves as “prepared” or “very prepared” to work in culturally diverse communities. 


Program outcome data are available on request. 

DPD Handbook and Course Lists

For more detailed information about the DPD at Cal State LA, including the program's cost, please review the DPD Student handbook.

DPD course list for DICAS

DPD course list for DICAS (2016-2019)

DPD course list for DICAS (2020-present)

DPD course list for DICAS for post bacc

Please use the following course list to enter your classes into DICAS.  If you need additional lists (from before we converted to semesters), please email Dr. Gottesman at kgottes@calstatela.edu .

DPD Program Costs

An estimated cost of attendance at Cal State LA may be found through the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. Tuition and other costs may fluctuate per academic year and depend on the credits taken per semester.

Additional fees will apply to students who wish to continue the educational pathway of becoming a Registered Dietitian. These fees consist of the cost of applying to and attending dietetic internship programs.

Steps to Becoming a Registered Dietitian

Three-Step Process Overview

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics Education (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics accredits dietetics education programs. Similar to other health care professions, the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential is not earned upon graduation with a BS degree. Graduates who complete the ACEND-accredited DPD at Cal State LA can apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program (dietetic internship). 

After completing an accredited supervised practice program, you will be eligible to sit for the national Registration Examination for Dietitians administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Those who pass the exam will earn the designation of Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). In California, RDNs do not need to obtain state licensure, but most other states also require this.

There are three steps to becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist:

  1. Complete the DPD BS or post bacc at Cal State LA.  You will be given a verification statement once you complete the program requirements and your degree is posted.
  2. Enter, be accepted, and complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program.

The supervised practice programs, typically called Dietetic Internships, are at least 1000 hours and require an application.  Competition is fierce for DIs, and there is an estimated acceptance rate of 65% nationwide.  Students can apply in the spring of their final year at Cal State, LA but there is also a fall match.  A student pays for their internship and all associated costs. Information about the various Dietetic internships

There various types of internship programs include:

  • traditional face-to-face programs where students may need to relocate
  • distance programs, where students can stay in Los Angeles but will need to find their locations, which can be very difficult, especially for clinical locations
  • applying through PHFE-WIC, which is only open to current employees of this WIC organization
  • graduate programs, which include a DI.  These are called Coordinated Programs (CPs) or Future Graduate Programs (FGs)
  • Individualize Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) for graduates of a DPD who did not match a DI

MS Requirement Effective in 2024

"Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will require a minimum of a master’s degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). 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 midnight Central Time, December 31, 2023. For more information about this requirement visit CDR's website: https://www.cdrnet.org/graduatedegree. In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Graduates who complete the ACEND-accredited [program type] program at [Institution name] are eligible to [apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program/apply to take the CDR credentialing exam to become an RDN].

  1. Pass the RDN Exam

The Commission administers the Registration Exam on Dietetic Registration (CDR) for those who have completed the first two steps.  There is excellent information available on the CDR website.

More information about how to become an RDN.

Student Dietetic Association

The Student Dietetic Association (SDA) is an active, student-led organization that conducts various activities each year.  Some of these include: seminars and guest lectures by industry experts, access to volunteer and paid job opportunities, an opportunity to be published in the online student magazine (the Eatatorial), taking part in the annual National Nutrition Month celebration, and a Meet and Greet where students interact with dietetic and nutrition professionals.  The group is open to any student, and students are asked to join for a small fee to cover snacks and other costs. Student Dietetic Association website.

How to Register for the NDTR Exam

You may apply throughout the year to take the DTR exam.  Please email Dr. Gottesman if you are interested in applying. You must use a non-Cal State LA email address to register for the exam so please email from a personal email account.

Once you have completed all DPD requirements (including “C” or better in coursework) and your degree has been conferred, you are eligible to take the Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR or NDTR) exam. See The official Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) website for the DTR pathway.  Click here to see: The complete student instructions for the entire process, along with information about the DTR exam and related study resources. If after reviewing this information, you feel that becoming a DTR makes sense for you, then there are three main steps before you can sit for the exam: 

Step 1: Submit Paperwork to the DPD director
1) Please provide one original copy of your verification statement.  Verifications are issued to students once coursework is verified as completed with a C or better and the degree is posted.  If you do not have an original copy of your verification statement, please email the DPD director at kgottes@calstatela.edu, and she will issue you a replacement.

2) Please provide an OFFICIAL Cal State LA transcript, which reflects your degree with conferral date- this is required to be submitted to CDR, even if you have recently had a verification statement issued. The easiest way to do this is to order an official transcript and have it emailed to yourself.  Then forward it to Dr. Gottesman. 

Important: Make sure your degree has cleared, and your transcript has a clear "Degree Conferred" date on it - you can check with the Registrar about when this will be so you don't unnecessarily order a transcript we cannot use. 

Step 2:  Application processing and demographic information 

After some initial information for your application has been entered, you will be sent an email and you must follow the link provided to complete an online form to verify demographic information. The form links to the application in the database, which cannot be processed unless the form has been completed. Please check junk/spam folders for this email from CDR or REPS. 

Step 3: 

The DPD Director will process and upload all required documents to CDR. Once your application submission to CDR has been approved, you will receive an email confirming registration eligibility from CDR within approximately 3-5 business days. CDR then forwards your information to Pearson VUE for further processing. Candidates typically receive their Authorization to Test email from Pearson VUE within 48 hours of receiving eligibility confirmation from CDR. Then you are ready to go and take the test! 

For questions not answered by this information or by visiting the CDR website, please contact the DPD director at kgottesman@calstatela.edu

Resources 

Make sure to allow at least a month to study for the exam. It's tough! You will likely not pass without a thorough review. Below are a few resources.

Study Guide for the Registration Examination for Dietetic Technicians, 7th Ed. https://www.eatrightstore.org/product-type/study-guides/study-guide-for-the-registration-examination-for-dietetic-technicians-7th-edition 

DTR Study Buddy http://www.dtrstudybuddy.com/