Courses and Scheduling

How can I tell if I am on track with my classes and meeting my requirements so I can graduate?

Each student in the major is assigned an academic advisor. Your advisor is important in helping you to plan a schedule of required courses so you will be able to graduate when you anticipate. You should plan to meet with your advisor at least once each semester either before or during scheduling. However, it is ultimately the student's responsibility to ensure that you are on track with your courses. Access your Degree Progress Report frequently through myWCU to check your progress. Also, please use the course curriculum sheet for the nutrition program  as a general guide.

Should I pick up a minor?

Picking up a minor is a great way to gain knowledge in another field of study. If there is another academic area that you wish to learn more about, another subject you believe would be a good compliment to nutrition and dietetics, or another field that would be a good compliment to your future career goals, completing a minor can be a great option. Talk with your advisor to see if it is appropriate and works with your current schedule. If you decide to go forward and complete a minor, obtain an Application for Minor form  at the Registrar's Office or on their website. You must get the appropriate signatures, and take it to the Registrar's Office for processing.

How can I get credit for a course or courses I took at another school?

After you have been admitted to WCU, any official transcripts you submit will be evaluated and a course credit evaluation will be sent to you, generally within 14 days. This is the only transfer credit evaluation you will receive. Transfer credit evaluations are completed on a course-by-course basis. Each course on your official transcripts will be assigned a WCU equivalency. There are three (3) main types of equivalencies:

  • Specific Course Equivalency:
    • This is when a transfer course is equivalent to a specific course at WCU.
    • Examples: PSY 100, BIO 100, WRT 120, etc.
  • Subject-Specific Electives:
    • This is credit that is specific to a subject but NOT a specific course at WCU. The number 199 is paired with a specific subject to reflect this.
    • Examples: PSY 199, BIO 199, PHI 199, etc.
  • General Transfer Equivalency:
    • This equivalency is used when the course is not equivalent to a specific course or subject at WCU. This equivalency is TRN 199.
    • Note that this course equivalency does NOT fulfill any specific degree requirements. It only counts towards the 120 credits needed to graduate.
  • Rejected Equivalency:
    • This equivalency is used for credits that are not accepted by WCU. There are several reasons why a course would be rejected, and each reason is given a code:
      • RM= Remedial credit
      • NG= No Grade
      • NC= Non-College credit (Example: First-year seminars)
      • NE= No Equivalent
      • GL= Grade Low
      • DC= Duplicate Credit
      • OT= Other

If I want to take a course at another school while at WCU how do I go about getting it transferred to WCU?

If you wish to take a course at another college or university as a current student at West Chester University, you must obtain permission by submitting a Transfer Credit Permission form to the Office of Registrar. Your request must be approved before any courses can be taken elsewhere. The Transfer Credit Permission form  can be obtained at the Registrar's Office or on their website.

Is studying abroad a wise option?

Studying abroad is a wonderful opportunity that can provide for a unique, valuable experience. For more information about the opportunities that WCU offers, visit the Global Engagment Office site. Note that credits earned while studying abroad are transfer credits and must be evaluated by West Chester University. Students must have coursework pre-approved to make sure it will apply to their degree plans. Also note that studying abroad can specifically set a dietetic student back for an entire year. Most courses taken overseas will not meet the major's requirements. One semester abroad could upset the sequence of taking courses, since some courses are only offered in fall and others in spring at WCU. Therefore, if studying abroad is of interest to you as a nutrition student, it is advisable to plan to do so in the summer.

How and when should I enroll for courses?

When enrolling for classes, first find your scheduling appointment time on the myWCU web portal. The appointment times listed on your myWCU account for spring is the same as that for winter session. This means you can schedule winter classes at the same time you schedule for the following spring. Similarly, you can sign up for summer courses the same time you schedule for the next fall semester. In doing this, make sure to schedule winter courses before spring courses and summer courses before fall courses. If you are taking a prerequisite for a fall course in the summer (or for a spring course in the winter), myWCU will not let you schedule for the fall course unless you have scheduled the summer prerequisite first. Login using your username and password. Under the Self-Scheduling header, click the Enrollment Appointment link and then select the appropriate semester for which you want to schedule. Once logged into the myWCU site, click on Enroll in a Class under the Self-Scheduling header. Click on the semester in which you wish to enroll for classes and then click on the action you want to perform (i.e., Add Class, Swap, Drop/Update Class, etc.). Access the Student FAQ's about myWCU page for more in-depth instructions about the myWCU portal and the scheduling process.

Where can I find a list of courses that fulfill general education requirements?

The Undergraduate Catalog under Baccalaureate General Education Requirements: General Education Components provides a general overview of the 48 semester hour general education requirements, along with a list of the different relevant courses.

Also, page 2 of the Nutrition Course Curriculum Guide  tailors the general education requirements specifically towards the nutrition and dietetics major, also listing some possible courses to take.

How do grade requirements and prerequisites work in the program?

In the nutrition and dietetics major program at West Chester University, a ‘C' or better grade is required in all of the nutrition courses, science courses, and statistics. Students must also meet the minimum grade requirement of a ‘C' or better for any prerequisite courses that is required. Please note that the grade requirement must be met in a prerequisite in order to go on to the next course. Any transfer courses also must meet the same grade requirement of a ‘C' or better in order to transfer to WCU. All grade requirements in the dietetics and science courses must be met in order to graduate. Refer to the Nutrition Course Curriculum Guide  for more detailed information.

What services does the Career Center offer at WCU?

The Twardowski Career Development Center is an academic service at West Chester University that provides help in the career development process for current students and alumni. The Career Center offers individual assistance with exploring careers and developing job-search skills, such as how to write a resume or interviewing for a position. There are resume and cover letter writing guides online to develop drafts, as well as the option to have your resume reviewed by a staff member. For reviews and assistance, you may upload your resume into the Ram Career Network for feedback via e-mail, schedule a one-on-one appointment, or attend drop-in hours for in-person help. To prepare for internship and job interviews, the website provides interview strategies and tips. You can also schedule a mock interview with a staff member to conduct a full-length practice interview. A large section of the Career Center is also dedicated to books, magazines, and computers with Internet access for students to access useful and timely career information about majors and careers, internship directories, resume writing books, and more. The Career Center also is useful in connecting students with employers. Ram Career Network is the online career portal for WCU students and alumni. All WCU students have an account in Ram Career Network, which is the same as your myWCU or D2L login. Within Ram Career Network, you can upload resumes and cover letters, apply to positions, and sign up for interviews. The Career Center also organizes annual career fairs to connect you with employers who want to hire WCU students for career and internship opportunities. Visit the Twardowski Career Development Center website for more information.

Can I have a Monday, Wednesday, Friday (MWF) or Tuesday, Thursday (TTh) schedule throughout my program? Can I complete the program by solely going at night? Are there online courses that can be completed in the program?

It should not be assumed that a student can have a MWF or TTh schedule. Students must be able to take courses any day of the week at any time. Because of the complexity of building a master schedule of courses and the competition for seats, there can be no guarantee of a MWF or TTh schedule. The program also cannot be solely completed at night. There are no online undergraduate courses.

Are there any tutoring services that are available?

The Learning Assistance and Resource Center (LARC) is another academic service at WCU that offers free tutoring. Tutoring is available for 100- and 200- level general education courses and in other courses by a heavy demand response. Tutoring is offered Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration for tutoring takes place in person at the LARC and usually starts within the beginning weeks of the semester, Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays 8 a.m. to noon. The tutoring sessions are 50 minutes long held once a week for a semester. Note that tutoring for writing is offered at the Writing Center instead of through the LARC.

What is the second-degree program for nutrition and dietetics?

If a student already has a Bachelor's degree in another field and would like to enter the field of nutrition and dietetics, they are able to enroll in the dietetics program at WCU as a second-degree student. Second-degree students do not have to meet WCU's general education requirements. The only courses that must be completed are those that meet the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) requirements. College transcripts will need to be evaluated by the didactic program director. From there, courses needed to meet ACEND requirements will be determined. After the completion of all the required courses, second-degree students will be eligible to complete a dietetic internship or coordinated program. Those individuals interested in continuing their education in dietetics at WCU should enroll as a second-degree student. Call the Registrar's Office, (610) 436-3550, for admission and enrollment information. E-mail Dr. Gina Pazzaglia for a transcript evaluation. Also, refer to the Nutrition Course Curriculum Guide for Second-Degree Students  for more information.

Nutrition Related Careers

What is an RD?

Registered Dietitians (RDs) are food and nutrition experts who have completed a minimum of a bachelor's degree at a US regionally accredited university or college and course work accredited or approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Theses professionals also have completed an ACEND-accredited supervised practice internship program at a health-care facility, community agency, or a foodservice corporation or combined with undergraduate or graduate studies. To become an RD, you must pass a national examination administered by the Commission of Dietetic Registration (CDR). RDs must also complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration. Some RDs hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice. These are awarded through the CDR, the credentialing agency for the Academy, and/or other medical and nutrition organizations, and are recognized within the profession, but are not required. Some of the certifications include pediatric or renal nutrition, sports dietetics, nutrition support, and diabetes education. In addition to RD credentialing, many states have regulatory laws for dietitians and nutrition practitioners. Frequently, these state requirements are met through the same education and training required to become an RD. Registered dietitians work in a wide variety of employment settings, including health care, business and industry, community/public health, education, research, government agencies and private practice. Many work environments, particularly those in medical and health-care settings, require that an individual be credentialed as an RD.

What is a DTR?

A Diet Technician Registered (DTR), is a food and nutrition practitioner who has completed at least a two-year associate degree at a US regionally accredited university or college, required course work and at least 450 hours of supervised practice accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) or at least a Bachelor's degree at a United States regionally accredited university or college and required coursework for a Didactic Program (DPD) or Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CP). In addition, you must pass a national DTR examination administered by the Commission of Dietetic Registration (CDR) and complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration. The majority of DTRs work with Registered Dietitians (RD) in a variety of employment settings including health care (assisting RDs in providing medical nutrition therapy), in hospitals, HMOs, clinics or other health-care facilities. In addition, a large number of DTRs work in community and public health settings such as school or day care centers, correctional facilities, weight management clinics, and WIC programs as nutrition counselors. A DTR is a credential you qualify for once you successfully graduate with a B.S. in nutrition and dietetics. While a career as a DTR alone may be limited, it is a useful credential that can prove to be a competitive advantage when applying for other jobs in the field of dietetics, as well as the dietetic internship. It also can help to boost your credentials for the future. Contact the DPD Director Dr. Gina Pazzaglia if you are interested in finding out more about this option.

What do the job growth, career outlook, and average salary ranges for a career in dietetics look like?

Specifically looking at Registered Dietitians (RDs), the Academy's 2009 Dietetics Compensation and Benefits survey stated that half of all RDs in the US who have been working in the field for five years or less earn $51,100 to $62,200 per year. As with any profession, salaries and fees vary by region of the country, employment settings, scope of responsibility and supply of RDs. Salaries increase with years of experience. RDs in management and business can earn incomes of $85,000 to $88,000. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of dietitians is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2014 because of the increased emphasis on disease prevention, a growing and aging population, and public interest in nutrition. Employment in hospitals is expected to show little change because of anticipated slow growth and reduced lengths of hospital stay. Faster growth, however, is anticipated in nursing homes, residential care facilities and physician clinics. However, nutrition is a broad and dynamic field with various potential careers, showing to be a promising area of work in the health sciences field that will continue to grow.

Dietetic Internship

What is the dietetic internship?

For those students who wish to further their career as a Registered Dietitian (RD) upon graduation, an accredited dietetic internship from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) must be completed. Once this internship is completed, individuals will qualify to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians and can start their professional careers in the field of nutrition and dietetics as a RD. The dietetic internship is an opportunity to gain a wide range of experiences in clinical nutrition, foodservice, and community nutrition while integrating academic skills and gaining new ones during supervised practice. The dietetic internship will also expose you to many experiences that will assist you in setting future career and practice goals. Completion of the dietetic internship will allow you to confidently obtain and perform an entry-level dietetic position. This program must be paid for, similar to college tuition and students must complete 1200 hours during this internship.

What is the application process for the dietetic internship?

The first step in the application process is to register for a Dietetic Internship Centralized Application Services (DICAS) account and complete the on-line application by February or September deadline dates. Dietetic internships select applicants through computer matching, a computerized matching process that facilitates matching the applicant with an internship. Under your DICAS account, you will enter your dietetic internship application choices. You will then rank the internships by preference. Some directors encourage or require an in-person or telephone interview of candidates they wish to pursue further. Interviews are completed after the DICAS application is submitted usually around March or October. After completing interviews prior to April or November, you will login to your account and do a final ranking of all the internships in which you applied to in order of preference. On match day, D&D Digital Systems, the online dietetics internship matching service for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), provides notification of placement or lack of placement to each applicant at 6:00 p.m. Applicants who receive a match are required to notify the program to which they have been matched as to whether they accept or reject the match the day after notification by 5:00 pm (Appointment Day). If an applicant is not matched, D & D Digital Systems sends a listing of unmatched applicants who have agreed to release their names to each program following the matching. Programs may contact unmatched applicants or return to their applicant pool to fill positions after the Appointment Day deadline has passed. Refer to page 11 of the Application Process section of the WCU Dietetic Internship Application Guide  for more detailed information.

How do I begin going about preparing and choosing an internship?

Preparation for the dietetic internship generally begins at the start of your undergraduate career. Grades, work, volunteer experience, and leadership roles are essential to being a strong internship candidate. The first step to help choose which program is right for you is to do some research and find which programs you want to apply to. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) website, the Applicant Guide to Supervised Practice, the Pennsylvania Dietetic Association, program websites, open houses, and the All Access Internships website are all resources readily available to you to help you choose. Examining the type of program, combined Master degree options, and program emphases are also important to take into consideration. Other factors such as geographic location, length of the program, and financial costs, among other variables, are also significant when choosing an internship. Refer to the Preparation to Apply section starting on page 4 of the WCU Dietetic Internship Application Guide  for more detailed information.

What are some things I can do to help increase my chances of getting a dietetic internship?

Factor such as having a GPA greater than 3.2, more than one year of paid or volunteer work experience (especially in the field of nutrition), and strong recommendations from employers and faculty are all specifically associated with how your application is evaluated. Involvement or leadership in a dietetics-related student professional organization such as the Student Dietetic Association (SDA) at WCU can also improve your chances.

How many internship programs should I apply to?

The choice of how many internship programs to apply to is an individual decision. Generally, to increase your chances of getting a match, it is recommended to apply anywhere from 4 to 10 programs. It is smart to include an internship on your list that is less competitive. However, there is an application charge ranging from $25 to $50 for each internship on the DICAS system, as well as an application fee for every internship program. It may be a good idea to have some sort of a budgeting system when applying to internships.

What types of volunteer experiences are dietetic internships looking for?

Working within the clinical, community, or foodservice realms of nutrition are all pertinent experiences that will be applicable to the internship and help enhance your resume. Generally, clinical or hospital experience is ranked highest among internship directors. Research experience is also another beneficial asset. Volunteer experience at nutrition related programs such as food banks or Women Infant and Child (WIC) clinics, relevant paid work such as a nutrition assistant or diet technician, or other extracurricular activities in general will prove to also be valuable when directors are assessing your application. Even shadowing a Registered Dietitian (RD) would be a useful experience that can be included in your resume. Also, it is important that you can show that you were able to work/volunteer at various locations over a period of time, rather than doing one day volunteer or shadowing experiences at many different places. If you are at a job or volunteer experience for a period of a few months, for example, shows that you are responsible and are able to hold a position.

Does former job experience help my internship application if it is outside of the field of nutrition?

Yes. You may gain essential skills that will be useful in dietetic practice from jobs or volunteer experiences that are outside of the field of nutrition. Any volunteer and paid work that you do during your undergraduate years can count and provide applicable knowledge and skills that internship programs are looking for. It is also good to be open-minded towards your volunteer and paid experiences. Working within a variety of areas that are of interest to you will show that you are a well-rounded applicant. Be sure to include any and all relevant professional experiences in your application. Also, in your personal statement, highlight skills you have gained from your experiences such as leadership, planning, and management skills.

What can I do to set myself apart from other applicants?

There are many things that you can do as a student to make your application stand out from the others. Volunteer and provide community service, especially in areas related to health and nutrition. Get practical, paid work experiences, especially in areas related to your desired area(s) of practice. Become actively involved in professional organizations, such as college dietetics associations, as well as district, state and national level dietetics associations. Involvement at the leadership level within these organizations is especially beneficial. Clinical experience is also valued highly. Try to gain some hospital or long-term care experience as well.

How competitive are the internship programs and which ones are the most competitive?

Dietetic internship programs are extremely competitive. There are more applicants than positions available, and only about 50% of the applicants are placed nationwide. At WCU, the acceptance rates have been better because of the vigorous preparation of students for the dietetic internship. The most competitive programs are those that pay a stipend, are not affiliated with a graduate program, or are affiliated with a hospital. The least competitive ones are those that are more expensive, are distance internships, or are coordinated masters programs (the masters and dietetic internship are completed simultaneously). Grade point average is also extremely important to internship programs. Apply to the more competitive internships if your GPA is a 3.7 or higher. If your GPA is lower than 3.3, consider the less competitive programs, particularly the coordinated masters programs. Also, if your GPA is below 3.5, you can compensate with nutrition-related work or volunteer experiences.

Is there any way to get financial help for internships or coordinated programs?

Yes. If the internship is affiliated with a graduate program or university, normal financial aid is available. If not, you may want to look into obtaining a loan from a local or community bank as another option. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) Foundation also offers some scholarships. Student members of the AND enrolled in their junior year in an Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)-accredited or approved program may apply for a Foundation scholarship. Contact the Academy's Accreditation and Education Programs Team by email or by phone at (800)-877-1600, ext. 5400 for more information.

What are the different types of internship programs?

There are various types of internship programs available outside of the general program. Combined internships (certificate or coordinated) are programs where either graduate credit or a Master's degree may result. If simultaneously working towards a Master's degree is of interest to you, this can be possible through this type of program. Distance education dietetic internship programs are also available, where the student is able to assist in the planning of a rotation setting on their own. Distance internships require a lot of work on the part of the student to set up, find affiliations, complete contracts, etc. Distance education programs are the responsibility of the student and requires you to start early in the application process. Most of these programs require that the applicant has already set up at least one rotation before applying. Some require that most rotations to be planned.

What types of career paths are different internships best for?

All dietetic internships provide experience in clinical nutrition, community nutrition, and foodservice systems management. If you are unsure of the area you would like to specialize in, a program with a general emphasis may be best. These programs give you exposure to many different areas in the field. If you have a specific professional interest, consider looking for a program that will offer you more exposure in that area. Program emphasis is currently offered in the following areas: Medical Nutrition Therapy, Diabetes Emphasis, Foodservice Systems Management, Community Nutrition and Public Health, Nutrition Education and Wellness, Health Promotion and Education, Business and Communication, Nutritional Diagnostics, Nutrition Education and Counseling, Critical Care Nutrition, Leadership, Eating Disorders, Community Education, Communication and Information Technology Management, Pediatrics, Research, Sports Nutrition, School Foodservice and Child Nutrition Programs, and many more.

Does the institution where you have earned course credit affect how your application is judged?

No. Microbiology at Penn State University is considered to be the same Microbiology course at Delaware County Community College.

What factors should be considered when applying to internships?

There are many factors to take into consideration when applying to specific internships. Keep in mind that an internship is best thought of as an additional year of college. The general length of the internship program (with a minimum of 1200 hours), the amount of time it takes to complete (usually taking between 9 to 12 months), as well as part and full time options, are all significant aspects to keep in mind. Understanding the financials, costs, and expenses that go into the internship program are also important variables. Some internships offer stipends, but these programs tend to be more competitive. Some internship programs are affiliated with educational institutions, potentially offering financial aid. Programs that are private or corporate sponsored generally do not offer financial aid options. Some programs may offer graduate assistantship positions, which may help to offset some of the costs. Other aspects, such as transportation, food, cost of living, the need to hold an outside job, location, and necessary materials or supplies is also important when choosing an internship program. In regards to the internship program itself, keeping in mind the number of applicants that are accepted, the number of locations, the settings of the program (i.e., faculty size, rural or urban, patient population, disease state, rotations, electives), and how flexible the program is are all essential when choosing where to apply.

What is the combined or coordinated dietetics program and is it better than just an internship?

If you are interested in advancing your education while completing the internship at the same time, a combined internship program with graduate school may be a good option for you. These internships are generally longer in length than a normal dietetic internship, usually taking about 24 months to complete. However, you will be eligible to sit for the RD exam and leave the program with a Master's degree. If this is something you are interested in, look closely at the graduate degree that is offered and make sure it is compatible with your specific interests within the field. A graduate program tends to lead to a particular area of practice, so be sure the graduate degree program is where your interests lay. If you are not sure what area of dietetics is of interest to you, it may be best to complete a general dietetic internship program and find out what appeals to you most through hands-on practice. If graduate school is something you still wish to pursue at that point, apply for a graduate program afterwards.

When completing a combined internship program, it is usually in the form of either a certificate or a coordinated program. A certificate program will allow you to take graduate classes, or will result in graduate credits while completing your internship. The option to complete the degree is then available after you complete the supervised practice experience, but it is not a requirement. These programs usually participate in the Dietetic Internship Centralized Application Services (DICAS) Computer Matching Process and usually require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), as well as a separate application to the Graduate School program. A coordinated program will require the completion of both the Masters program and the internship. Some schools offer a coordinated Bachelor of Science (BS) program to which students can apply and transfer their WCU classes. In these programs, students would essentially complete a 5th year of undergraduate studies. The application process is separate from the DICAS and Computer Matching process, requiring a completely separate application and GRE score. The deadline for these programs is usually in early December. Coordinated masters programs are generally easier to gain admittance into than the standard internship. Also note that it may be a good idea to take the GRE no matter what options you are choosing. It is beneficial to have it done in case you want to pursue a graduate education in the future.

If I decide to do an internship should I go right to graduate school afterwards or is it best to wait and gain experience in the field first?

Completing a graduate degree versus working in the field after an internship is entirely up to you depending on your preferences, your current situation, and how you want to advance your career. Once you successfully complete the internship and pass the registration exam, you will qualify to become a Registered Dietitian (RD) and will have many job opportunities in the field. However, if there is a specific area within the field that interests you and you wish to further your education at that point, graduate school is another practical option. Gaining work experience in the field as a RD can help enhance your application for graduate school in a related field. There are also coordinated dietetic internship programs that can simultaneously result in graduate credit or a Master's degree, while still completing the internship practice and being able to sit for the exam. Note that the field is moving toward requiring a Masters degree.

Should I keep any of my textbooks to help me prepare for the RD exam?

Yes. Keep your basic nutrition books, as well as textbooks in your 400 level dietetics courses.

What if I don't get a dietetic internship? Are there other non-RD options?

There are still a number of career options available for someone with just a B.S. in nutrition. Non-RD job options include health education, foodservice, nutrition education, community nutrition (WIC), health administration, pharmaceuticals, health insurance, and a dietetic technician, among many other job opportunities. Jobs like these are also strong resume builders that can help better your chances of getting an internship if you choose to reapply. It also may be a good option for you to apply for graduate programs concurrently with applying for internships. This way, you will have a graduate school option as a back up. The Master of Public Health (MPH) nutrition program at WCU is a great option that can be an alternative to a dietetic internship.