Dietetics Degree | Agricultural Science | SIU

Southern Illinois University



Hand holding grain in a field of wheat - dietitian degree

Didactic Program in Dietetics


Welcome to the profession that has been ranked a hot career choice for 2020 and beyond! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) is expected to grow faster than the average profession. Forbes Magazine also highlighted dietetics as one of the best 25 jobs for millennials based off of employment opportunities and wages. It’s a great time to join a growing profession that provides a variety of career options!

Twenty-five years ago there were only a handful of employment opportunities available to dietitians. Typically, dietitians worked in health care settings, in either clinical or food service management, while a few dietitians worked in education. Today, in addition to traditional career paths, dietitians are moving in directions they have never gone before, and interest in non-traditional jobs is increasing. The "well" population has developed an interest in fitness and healthy food choices. This has opened the doors for employment in various fields: private practice, public health, business, industry, education, research, product development, government/politics, media, marketing, book publishing, sales, health promotion, sports nutrition, spas, fitness centers, and restaurants. Opportunities even exist for consultants and public speakers.

Southern Illinois University’s Human Nutrition and Dietetics (HND) program can help you achieve your dietetic career goals! The program is designed for students to meet the core knowledge requirements for the profession and be eligible to apply for an accredited internship program, which is needed to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). The field of dietetics is important to our society and you will be able to use your talents to its benefit!

The Human Nutrition and Dietetics program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.

ACEND® may be contacted via:

  • Email:
  • Phone: 800/877-1600, ext. 5400
  • Mail: 120 South Riverside Plaza
    Suite 2190, Chicago, IL 60606-6995

The faculty and staff are committed to assisting you in any we can and look forward to being part of your academic journey! Please feel free to contact Lynn Gill for more information.

How to Become a Dietitian

The first step to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and/or Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist (LDN) in the State of Illinois requires successful completion of an accredited DP program. To become a RDN or LDN the following qualifications apply:

  1. Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a university accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND®). Once the registrar’s office confirms the student graduated, a Verification of Completion Form will be issued confirming the knowledge requirements for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists have been met.
  2. 1200 hours of supervised practice (also called dietetic internship – DI) through an ACEND® accredited Dietetic Internship, Coordinated Program in Dietetics or an Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) offered through an ACEND® accredited program.
  3. Successful completion of a national examination administered by Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
  4. To maintain the credential, an RDN must complete continuing professional educational requirements.

(Note: some states require licensure)

Graduates who already have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from a non-accredited program, or a degree from another major entirely, may also want to explore this promising career choice! They would simply contact Kimberly Doellman for review of their transcripts to determine the SIU courses needed to fulfill education requirements for dietetic registration. Once these courses are complete, a Verification of Completion Form will be issued. International students who obtained a dietetics degree outside the US may utilize the following resources for guidance.

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). 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). In Illinois, graduates also must obtain licensure to practice. Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited DPD program at Southern Illinois University are eligible to apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program. For more information about educational pathways to become an RDN please visit this website.

Diet Technician, Registered (DTR)

Another career option in the field of nutrition is the Diet Technician, Registered (DTR). This position provides direct patient care under the supervision of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). DTR’s conduct patient screens, collect data, and assist the RDNs in providing medical nutrition therapy in various settings, including hospitals; clinics; nursing homes and retirement centers; hospices; and home health-care programs. There are also many job opportunities that allow DTRs to work independently providing general nutrition education. Potential places of employment consist of schools; day-care centers; correctional facilities; restaurants; food companies; health-care facilities; corporations and hospitals; Women, Infants, Children (WIC) programs; public health agencies; and Meals on Wheels as well as other community health programs. The duties conducted by DTRs in these areas include, but are not limited to, management of employees; purchasing and food preparation; maintaining budgets within foodservice operations; implementation of programs and presentation of classes for the public, health clubs, weight management clinics, and community wellness centers; helping educate consumers about the connection between food, fitness and health; developing menus for contract food management companies or food vending and distributing operations; conducting nutrient analysis and data collection; and overseeing foodservice sanitation and food safety.

To become a DTR the following qualifications apply:

  1. Successful completion of a Dietetic Technician Program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND®) of the Academy that includes 450 hours of supervised practice experience in various community-based programs, health care and foodservice facilities and completion of at least a two year associate's degree at a U.S. regionally accredited college or university
  1. Completion of a Baccalaureate at a university accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND®) or successful completion of coursework in an ACEND®-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics and completion of at least a bachelor's degree at a U.S. regionally accredited college or university
  2. Successful completion of a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)
  3. To maintain the credential, a DTR must complete continuing professional educational requirements

The Didactic Program in Nutrition and Dietetics (DP) at SIU provides the classroom component of dietetics education to obtain a B.S. degree and/or Verification of Completion Form, thus completing the first step in becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or a Diet Technician, Registered. The SIU DP program is fully accredited 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, Illinois 60606-6995, phone 800/877-1600, ext. 5400. The dietetic curriculum combines courses in chemistry, biological and social sciences, and business with courses in human nutrition and dietetics. Given the sequential nature of the course work, it is essential to plan your program carefully. The suggested sequence for coursework can be found under the tab What Students Learn. At the completion of the ACEND®-accredited coursework and a baccalaureate degree, five originals of a Verification of Completion Form will be provided to you. This document is necessary to complete supervised practice and to take the Registration Examination for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists and Dietetic Technicians, Registered.

The courses in the dietetics curriculum teach knowledge and skills you will actually use in dietetics employment, and cover areas evaluated on the registered exam. The curriculum is based on research data on duties performed by entry-level dietitians and beyond entry-level. Required courses are designed to teach you the knowledge and skills needed for entry-level employment. All accredited DP program curricula meet the same knowledge requirements in view of the fact all graduates will take the same registration examination.

To ensure the DPD program is providing up-to-date, relevant information, the program is served by an advisory committee made up of practicing registered dietitians, food service managers, dietetic internship preceptors, and educators who provide expertise to assure the curriculum prepares graduates to meet ACEND® Standards of Education and the needs of the public.