Nutrition Degree vs Dietetics Degree

Happy Tuesday, y’all! This week has been quite a week for me, but I’m solving my problems and getting stuff done. Hope your summer days are going splendidly or if not, that you soon find all the answers to your questions and solutions to your problems.

Speaking of questions, today’s post is tackling one! When I tell most people what I’m studying, oftentimes I’ll say “Nutrition,” because 1) “dietetics” is easier to trip over 2) a lot of people don’t know what the heck “dietetics” actually is, and 3) people sometimes think I mean “dianetics,” which is a Scientology term.

I’m technically wrong when I say “Nutrition” though, because Nutrition and Dietetics are actually two related, but separate majors that lead to different opportunities later in life. So today, I wanted to explain the difference between the two degrees in a lead-up to a future post on nutritionists versus dietitians

When I started researching for this post, I looked at different universities, expecting to see a more noticeable difference in majors that would make you eligible for an internship, and those that were nutrition only or, nutrition and some other concentration. But many of the schools I looked at focused on the Nutrition degrees as a group. You have to search around for a bit on different websites to find the specific dietetics concentration.

To truly be a dietetics major–and therefore be eligible to become an RD–a degree’s coursework has to cover topics that satisfy the DPD (Didactic Program in Dietetics) requirements. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which accredits DPD programs, doesn’t offer specifics on course requirements on their website, but as I understand it there is some flexibility in courses. For example, my school has one course on Nutrition through the Life Cycle, but Cal Poly offers “Maternal and Child Nutrition” as well as “Nutrition in Aging.” One school requires Pathophysiology, while another doesn’t. Several schools I looked at have world nutrition or a nutrition and culture class, but just as many don’t. I’d encourage you to do your own research on courses to make sure that the school you choose has one’s that you’re interested in learning about!

Every school I found with a DPD had a nutrition degree of some kind too. Some were very similar to the dietetics concentration, without a second medical nutrition therapy/clinical dietetics course, and/or fewer foodservice courses. There were also schools that offered nutrition and medical sciences or other combinations of degrees.

Which is right for you? Well, it really depends on what you want to do. Some jobs in the field require you to be a registered dietitian, while others would be satisfied with an education in nutrition. I’ll cover that in two weeks when we’ll learn what a dietitian’s career looks like and how that compares to a nutritionist!

Until next time,
Emmalee

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