After spending a couple of years in the working world after college, I decided to make a change. I wanted to focus on my passions for food, nutrition and health and become a registered dietitian nutritionist.
But making the decision to pursue the nutrition- and science-based education required to be an RDN was just the first step. Next, I had to figure out which type of dietetics program was best for me. ACEND — the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (the accrediting agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) — publishes an online list of dietetics programs. These programs are divided into two categories: coordinated and didactic.
Coordinated Programs in Dietetics vs. Didactic Programs in Dietetics
In a coordinated program, your coursework and internship are combined. I believe many of these programs are two to 2½ years long and they are pretty competitive to get into.
In a didactic program, you must apply for a dietetic internship after completing the coursework. The coursework and the internship are separate and applications are independent of each other.
Another Option: Distance Dietetics Programs
In a perfect world, I would have chosen to attend a coordinated program. In the real world, I knew that I had a few things to consider. For instance, my husband was about to apply to residency programs all over the country, but I didn't want to wait until he had completed school to go back. This pointed me toward a subset of didactic programs called distance dietetics programs, or DDP. In a DDP, you complete your coursework remotely. It's is a great option for me because I can complete the program from anywhere and the flexible school hours allow me to work part-time.
As of right now, there are only three DDPs in the country. To pick the one that was best for me, I considered curriculum and prerequisites (I was a music major, so I had a lot of prereqs to take!). I contacted faculty and weighed the tuition costs. I even made a spreadsheet with notes about each school's DPD.
After carefully weighing all my options, I chose the program at the University of Northern Colorado. It felt like the perfect fit. If you're considering continuing your education in dietetics, I recommend investigating the DDP option.