FAQs About Program Definitions

What is a Didactic Program in Dietetics?

Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) refers to an academic program designed to meet the foundation knowledge for dietetics practice. It must be located in a US regionally accredited college or university and requires completion of a degree. The Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) may be designed at the baccalaureate or advanced degree level. Courses for the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) must be part of the university requirements for whichever degree will be granted. Completion of a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) enables the individual to apply to a supervised practice program leading to eligibility for the registration examination for dietitians.

How Does a Dietetic Internship Differ from a Coordinated Program?

The Dietetic Internship (DI) is a postbaccalaureate program that provides only the required competencies (supervised practice) and admits students who have already completed the current ACEND-accredited academic coursework (DPD) and at least a baccalaureate degree. The Coordinated Program (CP) includes both the required foundation knowledge (academic courses similar to a DPD) and competencies (supervised practice) in one degree granting program. Dietetic Internship (DI) programs combined with graduate coursework are NOT Coordinated Programs (CPs) as defined by ACEND®.

Can a Coordinated Program be Developed at the Graduate Degree Level?

Yes. A Coordinated Program (CP) must include both the didactic instruction planned to meet the foundation knowledge and the supervised practice planned to meet the competencies. These courses may be designed at the baccalaureate or graduate degree level. However, courses for the Coordinated Program (CP) at the graduate level must be part of the university's graduate degree requirements and completion of the graduate degree is required. Dietetic Internship (DI) programs combined with graduate coursework are NOT Coordinated Programs (CPs) as defined by ACEND®.

How Should the Hours of Supervised Practice be Divided to Meet Performance Requirements?

Supervised Practice Hours Requirement: 1200 hours (Dietitian Level) or 450 hours (Technician Level)

Allocation of hours is the responsibility of the program provided all competencies are met. ACEND® believes that sufficient time must be scheduled in each area to enable students to practice the role of the dietitian or dietetic technician, depending on program level and achieve entry-level competence. However, programs have the opportunity for flexibility and innovation in curriculum planning based on goals and resources. Coordinated Programs (CPs) and Dietetic Internships (DI) Programs must identify one or two concentration areas and offer courses and experiences that further strengthen knowledge and competencies beyond the basics.

Can a Dietetic Technician Program be Planned so the Courses Transfer into a Didactic Programs in Dietetics or a Coordinated Program?

Yes. Dietetic Technician (DT) Programs are encouraged to develop articulation agreements with Didactic Programs in Dietetics (DPDs) or Coordinated Programs (CPs) so that courses in the dietetic technician curriculum will transfer for credit if dietetic technician graduates decide to pursue a bachelor's degree in dietetics. These decisions and agreements are made at the college or university level.

What Are ACEND's Standards for International Programs?

ACEND® has two sets of accreditation standards for international programs: 1) International Dietitian Education (IDE) and 2) Foreign Dietitian Education (FDE) standards. Both the IDE and FDE standards are modeled after the U.S. based coordinated program in dietetics (CP) and require both didactic coursework and 1200 hours of supervised practice.

International Dietitian Education (IDE): ACEND®'s IDE standards are designed to provide graduates with the knowledge and skills to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration's (CDR) credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists upon successful completion of the program and receive the RD credential. IDE standards require students to be educated to work within the United States health system. Students in a program accredited under the IDE standards have to meet the same competency and supervised practice requirements as U.S. students, including the requirement to complete at least 900 of the required 1200 hours of supervised practice in the U.S., its territories or protectorates.

Foreign Dietitian Education (FDE): ACEND®'s FDE standards are tailored to meet the needs of the host country under the assumption that graduates do not intend to practice in the United States. All 1200 hours of supervised practice are completed in the host country. FDE graduates are eligible to apply to an ACEND® accredited dietetic internship to complete supervised practice in the US in order to be eligible to take CDR's credentialing exam for registration examination.

Can a Student from a Foreign Dietitian Education (FDE) Program Apply to a Dietetic Internship Program?

Yes. FDE graduates are eligible to apply to an ACEND® accredited dietetic internship to complete supervised practice in the US in order to be eligible to take CDR's credentialing exam for registration examination.

What is a Future Education Model Graduate Program in Nutrition and Dietetics?

A Future Education Model Graduate (FG) program refers to an academic program designed to meet the required competencies (through academic coursework and supervised experiential learning activities) for dietetics practice in one degree-granting program. The program must be offered by a US regionally accredited college or university, either as a stand-alone program or in partnership with a hospital or other non-academic institution. In addition, the Future Graduate (FG) program courses must be part of the university's degree requirements and designed to culminate in a graduate degree (master's or doctorate). Completion of a Future Graduate (FG) program enables the individual to sit for the credentialing examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration to become a registered dietitian nutritionist.

What is a Future Education Model Bachelor’s Program in Nutrition and Dietetics?

A Future Education Model Bachelor's (FB) program refers to an academic program designed to meet the required competencies (through academic coursework and supervised experiential learning activities) for dietetic technician practice in one degree granting program. The program must be offered by a US regionally accredited college or university, either as a stand-alone program or in partnership with a hospital or other non-academic institution. In addition, the FB's program courses must be part of the university’s degree requirements and designed to culminate in a bachelor's degree. Completion of an FB program enables the individual to sit for the credentialing examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration to become a nutrition and dietetic technician, registered.

What is a Future Education Model Associate Program?

A Future Education Model Associate (FA) program refers to an academic program designed to meet the competencies for the practice of the Nutrition Health Associate (See NHA definition below). An FA program integrates didactic and experiential learning to meet the required competencies. The program must be offered by a US regionally accredited college or university, either as a stand-alone program or in partnership with a hospital or other non-academic institution. It is designed to culminate in a degree at the Associate level. Although there is no national registration examination developed at present, one may be developed in the future in order to provide a credential for individuals who have successfully completed this program.

Nutrition Health Associate: Nutrition Health Associates (NHAs) are paraprofessionals trained in food and nutrition, expanding on the preparation that the community health worker receives with a strong foundation in science, nutrition and food knowledge. As an essential part of the healthcare and food and nutrition teams, the NHA works with individuals in their homes and community settings under the supervision of registered dietitian nutritionist or other health practitioners.

Can a Future Education Model (FEM) Program be Planned so the Courses Transfer into other FEM Programs?

Yes. All FEM program types can create policies about accepting courses from other programs, including FEM programs. Programs may also develop articulation agreements with other FEM programs to encourage students to move through various programs based on their professional goals. Future Associate programs are encouraged to develop articulation agreements with Future Bachelor's or Future Graduate programs so that courses in the curriculum will transfer for credit if Future Associate graduates decide to pursue a bachelor's or a graduate degree in nutrition and dietetics. Similarly, Future Bachelor's programs are encouraged to develop articulation agreements with Future Graduate programs. These decisions and agreements are made at the college or university level.

Can a Future Education Model (FEM) Program Accept Courses from other Programs Outside of Accredited Nutrition and Dietetics Programs?

Yes. All FEM program types can create policies about accepting courses from programs outside of accredited nutrition and dietetics programs. Programs may also develop articulation agreements with these types of programs to assist students in transferring credits as their professional goals grow and change. For example, FEM programs are encouraged to develop articulation agreements with related science and health programs such as chemistry, biology, culinary, health science, and community health worker so that courses in the curriculum will transfer for credit to the FEM program. These decisions and agreements are made at the college or university level.

How Can I Obtain More Information about Accreditation of Programs?

The ACEND® staff at Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Headquarters in Chicago, Illinois responds to inquiries and provides assistance to organizations before, during and after the evaluation process. To reach ACEND® staff, call 800/877-1600 ext. 5400 or e-mail acend@eatright.org.