Nutritional Science

Nutrition and Dietetics

Welcome to the Nutritional Science Department at California State University, Los Angeles. Proper nutrition is widely recognized as critical in achieving optimal health and necessary to prevent the most common chronic diseases. Students in our program receive a broad education in the sciences, take specialized nutrition courses including medical nutrition therapy, food service, and community nutrition. They can select from a variety of special interest courses such as integrative/functional nutrition, sports nutrition, and entrepreneurship.  As an evidence-based discipline, we teach students to analyze the science and be able to communicate in writing and through presentations to the general public. The strength of our program lies in our diverse student body and faculty, along with our requirement that students participate in projects to expand their classroom experiences through community engagement in service learning experiences. Located in the center of Los Angeles, our university and program are dedicated to serving the public good through student engagement. 

Programs in Nutritional Science at Cal State LA include the Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutritional Science and the Master of Science degree in Nutritional Science. The undergraduate program is an accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), which means that when a student graduates, they will have the foundation of knowledge and skills to enable them to be eligible to apply to and succeed in a dietetics internship.  Graduates from our program are prepared for a wide range of careers in the private and public sector. Some of these careers include:

Providing nutrition-related care to patients in a wide variety of clinical settings.
Educating individuals and communities through community nutrition programs, like the Women, Infant and Children’s Program, and Head Start.
Managing foodservice operations in schools, hospitals, prisons and other locations.
Conducting research related to nutritional science.
Overseeing and providing nutrition education through worksite wellness programs.
Presenting nutrition and health related information in print, online, and social media platforms.
Client nutrition education through a private practice.
Educating students as a faculty member of a school or university.
Working in the non-profit sector on nutrition and health related initiatives.
Creating and assisting with policy development and implementation in government agencies.
Nutrition expertise within businesses such as food companies, supplement and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

"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 order to be approved for registration examination eligibility with a bachelor’s degree, an individual must meet all eligibility requirements and be submitted into CDR's Registration Eligibility Processing System (REPS) before 12:00 midnight Central Time, December 31, 2023. For more information about this requirement visit CDR's website: 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). Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited [program type] program at [Institution name] are eligible to [apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program/apply to take the CDR credentialing exam to become an RDN].

In most states, graduates also must obtain licensure or certification to practice. For more information about state licensure requirements click here.

For more information about educational pathways to become a RDN click here."

Mission of Nutritional Science Program

Cal State LA Nutritional Science Mission

Program Mission:

The mission of the Nutritional Sciences Program at Cal State LA is to prepare graduates to excel in nutrition communication, research, policy, advocacy, and service.  Graduates will improve individual and community health as innovative leaders in the field of nutrition.

Undergraduate Program Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  1. Locate, evaluate, and critically appraise nutrition information utilizing information technology.
  2. Provide culturally competent nutrition counseling and education to individuals, groups, and communities using a variety of communication strategies.
  3. Demonstrate critical thinking skills to identify and solve problems in the nutritional sciences.  
  4. Review policy and advocate for improving access to healthy foods and nutrition services.
  5. Develop an interest in and commitment to lifelong service.

Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science 

Students of the Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Science are currently enrolled in the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). 

University Catalog for the Nutritional Science BS

Roadmap to graduation for the BS program

Master of Science in Nutritional Science

The Master of Science degree in Nutritional Science is an individualized program designed to develop specialized professional competence in selected areas of dietetics, nutrition, and food science. The program is designed for students preparing for positions as public health nutritionists, supervisors in dietetics and food production and service, or doctoral study in nutrition and dietetics.

To apply to this graduate program, student must apply and fulfill University requirements for admission to graduate study and must also submit a separate graduate program application to the School of Kinesiology and Nutritional Science.

The Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) Bachelor of Science

The Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) enables students to complete the academic requirements needed to qualify for a dietetic internship or supervised practice needed to qualify to take the examination to become a Registered Dietitian (R.D.). The DPD is completed as part of the baccalaureate degree program in Nutritional Science.

The BS DPD at Cal State Los Angeles is currently granted accreditation status by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics Education (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, IL. 60606-6995, (312) 899-0040, ext. 5400.

Program assessment data available upon request.

Mission and Goals of DPD

Cal State LA DPD Mission

The mission of the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) of California State University, Los Angeles is to provide students with comprehensive academic knowledge and critical thinking skills in the field of nutrition and dietetics. The DPD program also promotes the university and department emphasis on engaging in public and professional service to promote cultural competency and for the greater good. The DPD prepares graduates to go into supervised practice in order to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become entry-level registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs), for entry-level careers related to food and nutrition, or graduate level education.

Program Goal 1:  The program will prepare graduates with a strong educational foundation in nutrition/dietetics to perform proficiently in a dietetic supervised practice program in preparation to be a competent entry-level dietitian nutritionist, to work in entry/level positions in nutrition and dietetics, or to be accepted into graduate school.

Program Objectives for Goal 1: 

1.       At least 80% of program students complete program/degree requirements within three years (150% of program length).
2.       At least 25% of program graduates apply for admission to a supervised practice program prior to or within 12 months of graduation.
3.       Of those who apply, at least 50% of program graduates are admitted to a supervised practice program within 12 months of graduation.
4.       The program’s one-year pass rate (graduates who pass the registration exam within one year of first attempt) on the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists is at least 80%.
5.       Of graduates who seek employment and respond to the alumni survey, 50% are employed in nutrition and dietetics or related fields within 12 months of graduation.
6.       Of graduates who apply to graduate school and respond to the alumni survey, 75% are accepted.
7.       At least 80% of Supervised Practice Program Directors who respond to a survey will rank DPD graduates as being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with preparation for supervised practice.

Program Goal 2:  Graduates from the DPD will be prepared to work in culturally diverse communities.

Program Objectives for Goal 2:

1.       At least 80% of Supervised Practice Program Directors who respond to a survey will rank DPD graduates as being “prepared” or “very prepared” to work in culturally diverse communities.
2.       At least 80% of DPD graduates who respond to a survey will rate themselves as “prepared” or “very prepared” to work in culturally diverse communities.

Program outcomes data are available on request.

DPD Handbook

For more detailed information about the DPD at Cal State LA, including the cost of the program, please review the DPD Student handbook.

DPD course list for DICAS

DPD course list for DICAS

Please use the following course list to enter your classes into DICAS.  If you need additional lists (from before we converted to semesters) please email Dr. Hillstrom at [email protected]

DPD Curriculum

The University Catalog includes the BS DPD Nutritional Science program courses and accompanying descriptions.

In your final semester, and if you are ready to apply for dietetic internships, you can fill out the pre-verification form.

DPD Program Costs

An estimated cost of attendance at Cal State LA may be found through the Financial Aid office. Tuition and other costs may fluctuate per the academic year and depends on the credits taken per semester.

Additional fees will apply to students who wish to continue the educational pathway of becoming a Registered Dietitian. These fees consist of the cost for applying to and attending dietetic internship programs.

Steps to Becoming a Registered Dietitian

Three-Step Process Overview

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics Education (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics accredits dietetics education programs. Similar to other health care professions, the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential is not earned upon graduation with a BS degree. Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited DPD at Cal State LA are eligible to apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program (dietetic internship). 

After successfully completing an accredited supervised practice program, you will be eligible to sit for the national Registration Examination for Dietitians administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Those who pass the exam will earn the designation of Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). In California, RDNs do not need to obtain a state licensure, but most other states also require this.

There are three steps to becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist:

  1. Complete the DPD BS at Cal State LA.  You will be given a verification statement once you successfully complete program requirements and your degree is posted.
  2. Enter, be accepted, and complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program.

The supervised practice programs, typically called Dietetic Internships, are 1200 hours and require an application.  Competition is fierce for DIs, and there is an estimate acceptance rate of 50% nationwide.  Students can apply in the spring of their final year at Cal State, LA but there is also a fall match.  A student pays for their internship and all associated costs. Information about the various Dietetic internships

There various types of internship programs include:

  • traditional face-to-face programs where students may need to relocate
  • distance programs, where students can stay in Los Angeles but will need to find their own locations, which can be very difficult, especially for clinical locations
  • applying through PHFE-WIC, which is only open to current employees of this WIC organization
  • graduate programs, which include a DI.  These are called Coordinated Programs (CPs)
  • Individualize Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) for graduates of a DPD who did not match to a DI

MS Requirement Effective in 2024

All students enrolled in the DPD program must be prepared to complete a master’s degree in ANY major if they intend to become a Registered Dietitian as they will be unable to take the credentialing exam until the MS degree is completed.

  1. Pass the RDN Exam

The Registration Exam is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) for those who have successfully completed the first two steps.  There is excellent information available from the CDR website.

More information about how to become an RDN.

Student Dietetic Association

The Student Dietetic Association (SDA) is an active, student-led organization that conducts an impressive variety of activities each year.  Some of these include: seminars and guest lectures by industry experts, access to volunteer and paid job opportunities, an opportunity to be published in the online student magazine (the Eatatorial), taking part in the annual National Nutrition Month celebration, and a Meet and Greet where students interact with dietetic and nutrition professionals.  The group is open to any student, and students are asked to join for a small fee to cover snacks and other costs. Student Dietetic Association website

How to Register for the NDTR Exam

You may apply throughout the year to take the DTR exam.  Please email Dr. Hillstrom if you are interested in applying.  You must use a non-Cal State LA email address to register for the exam so please email from a person email account.

Once you have successfully completed all DPD requirements (including “C” or better in coursework) and your degree has been conferred, you are eligible to take the Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR or NDTR) exam. See The official Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) website for DTR pathway.  Click here to see: The complete student instructions for the entire process, along with information about the DTR exam and related study resources. If after reviewing this information you feel that becoming a DTR makes sense for you, then there are three main steps before you can sit for the exam: 

Step 1: Submit Paperwork to DPD director
1) Please provide one original copy of your verification statement.  Verifications are issued to students once coursework is verified as completed with a C or better and the degree is posted.  If you do not have an original copy of your verification statement, please email the DPD director at [email protected] and she will issue you a replacement.

2) Please provide an OFFICIAL Cal State LA transcript, which reflects your degree with conferral date. This is required to be submitted to CDR, even if you have recently had a verification statement issued. The easiest way to do this is to order an official transcript and have it emailed to yourself.  Then forward it to Dr. Hillstrom. 

Important: Make sure your degree has cleared and your transcript has a clear "Degree Conferred" date on it - you can check with the Registrar about when this will be so you don't unnecessarily order a transcript we cannot use. 

Step 2:  Application processing and demographic information 

After some initial information for your application has been entered, you will be sent an email and you must follow the link provided to complete an online form to verify demographic information. The form links to the application in the database, which cannot be processed unless the form has been completed. Please check junk/spam folders for this email from CDR or REPS. 

Step 3: 

The DPD Director will process and upload all required documents to CDR. Once your application submission to CDR has been approved, you will receive an email confirming registration eligibility from CDR within approximately 3-5 business days. CDR then forwards your information to Pearson VUE for further processing. Candidates typically receive their Authorization to Test email from Pearson VUE within 48 hours of receiving eligibility confirmation from CDR. Then you are ready to go and take the test! 

For questions not answered by this information or by visiting the CDR website, please contact the DPD director at [email protected] 


Make sure to allow at least a month to study for the exam.  It's tough!  You will likely not pass without a thorough review.  Below are a few resources.

Study Guide for the Registration Examination for Dietetic Technicians, 7th Ed. 

DTR Study Buddy 





Post Baccalaureate in Nutritional Science

Program Description

The Post Baccalaureate Program in Nutritional Science at Cal State LA provides students, who have a bachelors degree in a discipline outside of nutrition/dietetics, with the knowledge and skills required by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics Education (ACEND) to become an entry level registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN). Upon successful completion of this program students will be provided a verification statement which will allow for application to a supervised practice program (dietetic internship).  The curriculum also provides the foundation for students to continue their education at the graduate level in nutrition or related fields.

This program is a track that falls under our accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) by the by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics Education (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, IL. 60606-6995, (312) 899-0040, ext. 5400.

For more information on the program and how to apply, see the College of Professional and Global Education.