Career Guide to JMU Majors: Dietetics
The Dietetics major is located in the Department of Health Sciences within the College of Health and Behavioral Studies.
Admission and Progression Standards:
Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.
Description of Major
The Dietetics major focuses on understanding how the foods people eat affect various aspects of a person's health. The Program in Dietetics is offered through the Health Sciences Department. This program prepares the student for a wide variety of dietetic careers including clinical dietetics, administrative dietetics, community dietetics, education and research. Following the completion of the Dietetics Program, students should plan to meet the experience requirements for registered dietitian status by completing a dietetic internship (DI). The Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) at JMU is accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Tell me more about this field of study
Dietetics is the science of understanding how food and nutrition affect health. Dietitians combine and apply concepts from the sciences of food, nutrition, physiology, biochemistry, food management, and behavior to advise the public on maintenance of proper health. Everyday new information is uncovered concerning food and how it affects the body. Much is yet to be discovered in dietetics -- the relationship of food to cancer, heart disease and body fitness, and the development of new food products. People who are fascinated with how the human body works, who can relate this information to the body's need for food, who like to work with food and who like to help people, will find dietetics a very satisfying career. If you like to be involved with new happenings and perhaps even help new things happen, then the Dietetics Program may be for you.
To become qualified for an exciting career in dietetics, you need to complete a four-year university program which combines science, foods, nutrition and management. The program must be accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as is the dietetic program at JMU. This is called a Didactic Program in Dietetics. Prior to graduation, seniors are required to take a comprehensive test which measures entry-level competencies in clinical dietetics, community dietetics, and food service systems management as defined by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Following graduation from the university, you must complete a dietetic internship. After this experience, you will be ready to take the registration exam which upon successful completion will qualify you to use RD (registered dietitian) or or RDN (registered dietitian nutritionist) after your name.
Common majors or minors that complement this major
There are no common combinations but some examples might be Biology, Chemistry, Chronic Illness, Modern Foreign Language, Family Studies, Gerontology, Health Communication, Kinesiology, Psychology, Health Sciences - Public Health Education concentration, Statistics, Substance Abuse Intervention, Women’s Studies, or Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication.
Self-direction is essential; industriousness, interest in cooking, relating and working well with others, and of course, one must have a great interest in the field of nutrition.
Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.
Who employs graduates?
Adult Day Care Centers, Colleges and Universities, Doctor’s Offices, Hospitals or Medical Centers, Military Services, Nursing Care Facilities, Pharmaceutical Firms, Public and Private Schools, Public Health Agencies, Rehabilitation Centers, Research Hospitals, Social Services Agencies, State and Federal Government Agencies, Test Kitchens, Wellness Centers, Food Companies, and Food Magazines.
All Dietetics majors are required to do a field placement to fulfill their academic requirements. Between your junior and senior year at JMU, you will be given the opportunity to work with dietitians in a hospital of your choice. Many students elect to gain this experience during the summer at an institution near their home, combining it with a summer job. You may join the JMU Dietetic Association to meet other students in your major and to share experiences. Monthly programs will enable you to meet practicing dietitians and to take field trips to places of interest. Students should consult with the faculty coordinator of the Dietetics Program for more information.
A broad range of resources on career fields, internships, and job search information is also available in the Career & Academic Planning Resource Center.
Make an appointment with a CAP career counselor to learn more about this major and your career options.
A few titles from our Resource Center related to this field include:
© Career & Academic Planning, James Madison University, 2013