General Undergraduate Terms

Each school and college within U.W. Madison has a set of requirements that students must complete to earn a degreeDegrees are offered at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and doctoral level. The Department of Nutritional Sciences offers two Bachelor’s of Science degrees: Dietetics and Bachelor of Science.
Both degree programs (Dietetics, Bachelor of Science) offer one major – Nutritional Sciences.  A specific degree program may offer more than one major.  A specific major may be found in more than one degree program.
DARS Report
DARS is an automated degree audit system, developed at Miami University of Ohio, which produces a document called a DARS report (or DARS audit). DARS is intended to enhance the advising process by providing an immediate analysis of how a student is progressing toward completion of a degree. Your DARS report is a record of your progress toward a degree. It shows which requirements have been completed and which requirements still remain to be completed. With a few exceptions, DARS reports are available to undergraduate students. Because DARS uses the on-line student record, the course data should be up-to-date.  This allows a student to verify how these courses fulfill requirements and make any changes, if necessary, before the semester begins. For students who are interested in pursuing other majors or degree programs, “what-if” DARS reports can be run to see how these courses might count toward other programs.


Dietetics Terms

Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)
ACEND is the agency within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that sets the educational standards for what & how dietetics students are taught.  ACEND also evaluates each dietetics education program to determine if the standards they have set forth are being met.  A program that meets these standards is considered ‘accredited’.  When a Dietetics Program is accredited, it is an indication they will provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for entry into the dietetics profession.
Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD)
The DPD is the in-class instruction that provides students with a B.S. degree and the course work needed to apply to a Dietetic Internship Program (see below).  The mission of the DPD is to provide a high-quality, broad-based education that will equip graduates with the foundation knowledge and skills needed to pursue their professional goals, including the successful practice of dietetics.
Dietetic Internship (DI)
Dietetic Internships are post-baccalaureate, supervised practice programs.   During the internship, knowledge and skills obtained from the DPD coursework are applied in actual work settings.  Some internships offer a stipend and others may charge tuition. Due to the low ratio of internship openings to applicants, acceptance into DI programs is very competitive. In recent years, approximately 50% of the students, nation-wide, who applied were accepted into a DI program.   For more information on improving your chances of acceptance into an internship go to Improving Your Chances for an Internship
Verification Statement
The verification statement ensures that the student has met the academic requirements needed to be eligible to take the Dietetic Registration Examination.  Verification statements are issued at the time of graduation upon submission of an official transcript with the degree posted.


General Undergraduate Program Questions

How do I declare a major in Nutritional Sciences?
Students interested in declaring a major in Nutritional Sciences (Pre-Dietetics or Nutritional Science) must fill out a Pre-Advising Questionnaire and upload the completed form to Learn@UW. Declaring your new major requires different steps depending on which college you are currently enrolled:

Students NOT currently in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS)
  1. Sign into Learn@UW
  2. Click “SELF REGISTRATION” in the top right hand corner.
  3. Enroll in “Dietetics Handbook” course and follow the prompts until you are registered for the course.
  4. Select “Dietetics Handbook” > “Introduction to Dietetics” and read the Handbook and watch the Presentation
  5. Select “Pre-Advising Questionnaire” and download the “outside-CALS” version.
  6. Upload the completed form to the course dropbox.
  7. Bring completed Transfer Form, included in the “outside-CALS” packet, to Erika Anna, Rm 238A Nutritional Sciences (or leave in his mailbox). He will obtain advisor signatures and return the form to you.
  8. Attend a CALS Transfer Session
    • Sessions are held every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at 3:30 pm during the Fall and Spring semesters in Agriculture Hall, Rm 116. Students should arrive 5 minutes early to check-in.  Reserve a seat ahead of time by calling (608) 262-3003 or visiting the CALS website.
    • Students should expect to declare their major at this session. They should also come prepared with the name of their faculty advisor as it will be requested.
  9. Bring your completed Transfer Form, included in the “outside-CALS” packet
  10. CALS will notify the Student Services Coordinator of your transfer and you will be contacted with your faculty advisor information.
Students currently enrolled in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences
  1. Sign into Learn@UW
  2. Click “SELF REGISTRATION” in the top right hand corner.
  3. Enroll in “Dietetics Handbook” course and follow the prompts until you are registered for the course.
  4. Select “Dietetics Handbook” > “Introduction to Dietetics” and read the Handbook and watch the Presentation
  5. Select “Pre-Advising Questionnaire” and download the “within-CALS” version.
  6. Upload the completed form to the course dropbox.
  7. Email Erika Anna, Student Services Coordinator, at anna@wisc.edu and let him know that you have uploaded your form. He will match you with a faculty advisor.

Contact Erika Anna, Student Services Coordinator, with any questions.

  • Phone: (608) 262-1692
  • Email: anna@wisc.edu
  • Office: Nutritional Sciences, Rm 266
If I understand what is required of me to successfully complete my degree do I still need to see my advisor?
Students are strongly encouraged to keep in touch with their advisors. Advisors can provide program and degree requirement updates, provide information about post graduation opportunities. Developing a rapport with your advisor may also be beneficial should you need letters of recommendation for future endeavors.
When meeting with your advisor, bring a copy of your DARS and a good idea of the courses you are interested in taking.
What is the difference between Dietetics and Bachelor of Science Degree?
The B.S. Degree in Dietetics (Major: Nutritional Sciences) provides students with the course work needed for a career in dietetics. Upon graduation, students are qualified to apply for a Dietetic Internship.  Upon completion of the B.S. and the Dietetic Internship program, students are eligible to take the American Dietetic Association (ADA) examination leading to certification as a Registered Dietitian (R.D.)The Bachelor of Science Degree (Major: Nutritional Sciences) is focused on the sciences necessary for a solid background in the biological aspects of nutrition.  The program offers study in Zoology, Bacteriology, Genetics, Chemistry, Physics and Math along with Nutrition classes.  It includes all of the pre-requisite courses required for medical school and provides an excellent foundation for graduate or professional study.  With graduate work, this option prepares students for work in research laboratories, clinics or experiment stations.  Employment opportunities without graduate or professional study are limited.  It does not provide the coursework needed to obtain the Registered Dietitian credential.
Is Financial Aid available?
As a student seeking a degree you are eligible to obtain federal financial aid. For further information about receiving financial aid at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, visit the University’s Financial Aid website. You may also visit Scholarships @ UW-Madison to find scholarships specifically related to your degree.You may also want to visit FinAid or FastWeb for further non-university scholarship and financial assistance opportunities.
How and when do I apply to the Dietetics Program
Students may follow the application procedure below to be considered for admission into the Dietetics Program after they have completed all of the admission requirements.Provide the materials listed below in one packet to YOUR advisor by June 5th for fall admission and January 5th for Spring admission:Completed application form (PDF, 65 KB)
Official copy of UW-Madison transcript
Evaluation of transfer credits and official copies of transcripts from all transfer institutions (if applicable)After submission of a complete application, the student’s status will be changed from Pre-Dietetics (PDI) to Dietetics (ADI).
Am I required to declare Pre-Dietetics before applying to the Dietetics Program?
Students interested in applying to the Dietetics Program are not required to declare Pre-Dietetics. However, it is strongly recommended for students to do so while completing the application requirements. Declaring Pre-Dietetics is beneficial to the student in order to obtain the appropriate academic advising and priority registration in prerequisite courses in preparation for the application process.
What is the 'Didactic Program' and what is its purpose?
The Dietetics Program at U.W. Madison is a ‘Didactic Program’ (DPD). A Didactic Program is one in which in-class instruction provides students with a B.S. Degree and the course work needed to apply to a Dietetic Internship Program (DI). The mission of the DPD is to provide a high-quality, broad-based education that will equip graduates with the foundation knowledge and skills needed to pursue their professional goals, including the successful practice of dietetics. The DPD at UW-Madison provides the required dietetics coursework to meet the Foundation Knowledge and Skill requirements set by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) for the academic component in the education of future dietitians. UW-Madison’s DPD is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of ADA.
How long will it take for me to complete the DPD?
The amount of time it takes students wit a degree to complete the DPD varies widely. It can only be determined after you have submitted an application for admission to the UW-Madison and received your “Evaluation of Transfer Credits”. Past experience has shown, however, that it takes a minimum of three years to complete the DPD if you do not have a strong science background; it could take longer. If you have a strong science background (two semesters of inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, zoology, bacteriology, physiology, etc.) you may be able to complete it in 2-3 years. This is just an estimate and is completely dependent upon how your courses transfer.Your academic advisor can help you determine this once you are admitted to UW-Madison and have an Evaluation of Transfer Credits from UW-Madison Office of Admissions. Your advisor can also determine when you will be ready to apply for admission to the DPD (ADI Classification).
When I complete the DPD what kind of degree will I have?
Undergraduate students in the DPD will have a major in Nutritional Sciences.  Those who successfully complete the program will obtain a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Dietetics and are then eligible to apply for Dietetic Internships.
Once I have completed my degree, what are my chances of getting a Dietetic Internship and passing the Registration Exam?
If you have successfully completed a B.S. Degree in Dietetics, you must be accepted into a Dietetic Internship.  When considering students for acceptance, internship programs look at many factors.  Some of these include:

  • Overall undergraduate GPA and GPA in science and professional courses (3.3 or above, although a slightly lower GPA may be accepted along with strong work or volunteer experience)
  • Dietetics related work and volunteer experience
  • Leadership experience
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Letter of application
  • Interview

Between fall 2003 and spring 2008, 87% of the UW graduates who applied for dietetic internships were placed.  This exceeded the national average acceptance of about 65%.  Of the U.W. graduates taking the registration examination, more than 90% passed the examination on the first try. For further information, see Improving Your Chances for an Internship.

Are there any specific costs associated with enrollment in the Didactic Program?
There are no specific fees associated with the DPD.  The University Admissions Page lists average tuition and fee expenses for full-time resident and non-resident undergraduates.
What is the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?
A Registered Dietitian (RD) is knowledgeable in the science of nutrition.  An RD learns how to interpret research studies and apply that knowledge to counseling individuals on how to improve their lifestyle and health.  He or she is able to review a person’s medical history, current symptoms, medications, supplements, exercise routine, weight, and eating habits and give advice that is safe and effective for them to reach their goals.  Registered Dietitians must earn the minimum of a Bachelors Degree in Dietetics, complete an accredited Dietetic Internship, take and pass the RD exam, and complete 75 continuing education credits every 5 years.A “Nutritionist” may or may not have the credentials of a Registered Dietitian.  An RD is the recognized authority on nutrition in the US.  Some nutritionists claim they have credentials, but if they are not an RD, their credentials may not be backed by science, education, and experience.
I am currently enrolled at a college/university other than U.W. Madison. I want to transfer to U.W. Madison and apply to the Dietetics Program. How do I know which of my courses will transfer and count toward my degree?
Before speaking to an advisor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, you will need to obtain an Evaluation of Transfer Credits from UW-Madison Admissions Office.  The Department of Nutritional Sciences and their advisors do not have the authority to evaluate your transcript and determine course equivalency.  This can only be completed by the admissions office upon receipt of your application to UW-Madison.  Once you are admitted to UW-Madison as a ‘Pre-Dietetics’ student, you will be assigned an academic advisor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences who can help you plan your schedule of classes and determine when you are eligible to apply for admission to the B.S. Degree in Dietetics program (ADI classification).  See the Admission Requirements for more details on acceptance into the Didactic Program. Any Transfer course from another university that will be used to meet the above required courses must be included in the GPA calculation. If the same course is taken more than once, only the grade from the last time the course was taken will be used in the GPA calculation.Before acceptance to the University, you may use the Transfer Information System (TIS) to help you determine what credits will transfer from other UW System Schools and Technical Colleges.Students transferring from an out-of-state school may use the Transfer Equivalency Database (TED) to help determine transfer equivalency of credits.
I already have a Bachelor's degree. Can I still apply for the Dietetics Program?
Students who have already completed a 4 year college degree (Bachelor’s degree) from UW-Madison or other accredited institutions may, if eligible, pursue the Dietetics program.  These students should apply as a “2nd Degree Candidate”.  For further information on applying for UW-Madison admission as a 2nd Degree student, see the University’s Transfer Admissions page.

Students who have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree would need to complete the Didactic Program in Dietetics – DPD.  See the Dietetics Curriculum Sheet for a list of courses required to complete the DPD at UW-Madison.  Once you have completed these courses (i.e. DPD), you may apply for Dietetic Internships.

Although it is not necessary to actually complete a “2nd degree”, students must apply as a 2nd degree candidate (rather than as a “special student”) to receive registration priority and be eligible for future admission into the Didactic Program in Dietetics (ADI classification).

All students begin the program as “Pre-Dietetics” students (PDI classification).
Note:  Admission to “Pre-Dietetics” (PDI Classification) does not guarantee admission to the B.S. Dietetics degree program (ADI Classification), which has additional admission requirements.  See the Admission Requirements for more details.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  In order to be admitted as a 2nd Degree Candidate in the Department of Nutritional Sciences with the PDI Classification, you must have:
1. A minimum cumulative college GPA of > 3.000, and
2. Completed the equivalent of UW-Madison’s Chemistry 103 with a grade of B or
better.  (Chemistry 103 can be completed as a “special student” at UW-


Graduates of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Dietetics program

Requests for Degree Certification
Our department cannot verify DEGREES.  This is something that needs the official seal of UW-Madison.  For all degree certification requests, please contact Student Certifications listed below:

Student Certifications
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Office of the Registrar – certifications
333 East Campus Mall #10101
Madison, WI   53715-1384

Please contact Student Services Coordinator Erika Anna (anna@wisc.edu) with questions.

Requests for Verification Statements
 The Verification Statement attests to your successful completion of the DPD and can be considered as important as a diploma for the DPD.  Every student will need a Verification Statement before they start their Dietetic Internship Program.  In other words, YOU CANNOT START WITHOUT ONE!  NOTE:  The Verification Statements will be sent directly to you, NOT the DI program, so please don’t wait until the last minute because they may not let you begin the program if you don’t have it.

If you have graduated, you may obtain a Verification Statement by submitting the following to L. Karls:

  1. “Official” UW-Madison transcript with the degree posted.
  2. “Official” transcripts from all other colleges/universities attended (unless you have already submitted them previously).
  3. Request Form –Verification Statement
  4. Academic Requirement Checklist

If you are requesting a Verification Statement, DO NOT submit this request until after your degree is posted to your transcript! Please allow 1-2 weeks for completion of the Verification Statement.

When completing the DPD Contact Information in DICAS to submit your request, please type in the following:

DPD Director Information
First Name:                 HuiChuan
Last Name:                 Lai
Email address:  lai@nutrisci.wisc.edu

If you have not submitted the proper documentation to L. Karls prior to requesting the form via DICAS, your request will be denied.

Once the appropriate form has been completed, you will be able to review it and then add your electronic signature so it can be included in your application.  If you are matched, you will need to send a “hard copy” to the internship program.


Continuing Studies

Is a Graduate Degree needed to work for a career in Dietetics/Nutrition?
At the present time, an advanced degree is not required by the ADA for one to work as a registered dietitian.  Some employers may require an advanced degree.  An advanced degree may also make you more competitive in the job market.  Individuals who have graduated with a degree in dietetics, but have not done an internship may have more job opportunities with an advanced degree.  The Nutritional Sciences Department at U.W. Madison offers both Master’s and doctoral degrees.  Students entering the graduate program have the choice to focus their studies in one of three emphasis groups: Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition, Human Nutrition, or Animal Nutrition.  Students admitted to the graduate program rotate through a number of research laboratories during their first semester in order to gain exposure to various research projects. A committee then helps incoming graduate students in selecting an advisor.
Can I afford to attend Graduate School?
Many graduate programs offer graduate assistantships which are usually ~50% appointments. Competition for these assistantships however, is high. For information on the assistantship offered by the University of Wisconsin Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences (IGPNS), visit the IGPNS Financial Aid page.
Can I enroll in the DPD while doing my graduate work at U.W. Madison?
It is possible for some graduate students to enroll in the DPD.  This decision and the specific requirements should be discussed with your Nutritional Sciences academic advisor.