Sturzebecker Health Sciences Center
855 S. New Street
West Chester, PA 19383
Dr. Christine Karpinski
Chair of Nutrition
Dr. Mary Beth Gilboy
Dr. Joanne Christaldi
Director, DPD Concentration (Undergraduate)
Dr. Kimberly Johnson
Director, Sustainable Food Systems
Management Concentration (Undergraduate)
Dr. Alessandra Sarcona
Director, Lifestyle Nutrition Concentration (Undergraduate)
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.