Nutrition plays a vital role in health and disease. There is growing evidence of the role of diet in the prevention, development, and treatment of major diseases. To maximize one's health requires that professionals have a strong understanding of nutrition. The Registered Dietitian (RD)/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential is the nationally recognized credential for nutritionists and is required for most employment in the health care industry and preferred for many other employment opportunities in foods and nutrition.

To become an RD you must complete a four-year academic program, a supervised practice experience, and then pass a national registration examination for dietitians (RD exam). Scores on the national RD exam by Purdue graduates are consistently above the national average. Purdue offers two programs in dietetics.

Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD)

This is a four-year academic program resulting in a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University. To be eligible to take the RD exam, you will also require a separate, post-baccalaureate supervised practice experience (dietetic internship). Dietetic internships are available throughout the United States and last about 10 months. An advantage to the DPD is the extra time to take elective courses in other areas of interest such as business, fitness, etc., and the opportunity to apply for dietetic internship experiences at various institutions around the U.S. Graduates of the DPD have a 96% first-time passage rate over the past 5 years.

Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CPD)

This program includes the supervised practice experience component during your senior year at Purdue. An advantage to the CPD is that you are eligible to take the national registration examination for dietitians after completion of your BS degree. Note that there is not direct entry into the CPD program: students wishing to complete the CPD must first enter as DPD majors. All the didactic course work is taken the first 3 years of the curriculum, and students may apply to the CPD after attaining at least junior status if they meet requirements (see CPD Handbook link below).

Upon successful completion of your coursework and supervised practice experiences, you will receive a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree from Purdue University and verification that you have completed the CPD. You are then eligible to take the registration exam to become a Registered Dietitian/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. The CPD has an 84% pass rate for first-time test takers over the past 5 years.

Call-out for Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CPD)

Application information for the Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CPD)

Outcome data are available on request. To request data, please send a written request to Dinah Dalder at

Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) 

The ISPP is an alternative pathway for students to complete the required supervised practice experience to become a registered dietitian. Only individuals who have a DPD verification statement from Purdue University and did not receive a match for a dietetic internship are eligible to apply (refer to Admission Requirements below, and the selection process is described in the ISPP Handbook).

The ISPP is administered through the DPD program at Purdue University in conjunction with Purdue's Extended Campus.  Individuals accepted to the ISPP are not registered students, are not eligible for financial aid, or student services.  Please refer to the ISPP Handbook for details about the program.

Upon successful completion of the ISPP, you will receive a Certificate of Completion and a verification statement. The verification statement allows you to write the national examination for becoming a Registered Dietitian.

Admission Requirements

Application for Admission

ISPP Intern Handbook 

Goals and Objectives for the ISSP

Estimated Costs of the ISPP

These are the required ISPP Rotations:

Retail/Institutional Food Service, Production, and Management Rotation
Description: Practice marketing, procurement, storage, preparation, delivery, service, and management that include retail operations. Interns practice the care and operation of equipment, sanitation audits, HACCP Guidelines, menu planning, customer service, and management activities. Rotation activities include practical hands-on experience as well as investigative research to prepare for in-depth management responsibilities.

Typical Length: Approximately 200 hours
Typical Locations: Facilities with a large retail institutional cafeteria or food service operation whose activities include marketing and procurement through delivery and service functions. Such cafeterias can usually be found in hospitals, universities, or larger restaurants.

Inpatient Food Service, Production, and Management Rotation
Description: Practicing menu planning, taking meal orders, tray preparation and delivery, patient promotions, marketing of menus, and all aspects of producing and delivering nutrition to patients. This rotation focuses on food service within an inpatient setting for people who have medical needs related to their diets. Unlike the Institutional Food Service and Production rotation, this rotation also includes retail settings that are not focused on medical needs.
Typical Length: Approximately 120 hours
Typical Locations: Facilities where people are staying who require specialized meals such as a hospital, long-term care, or residential facilities.

Inpatient Medical Nutrition Therapy One Rotation
Description: Practicing the nutrition care process with populations with common medical conditions impacted by diet including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Typical Length: Approximately 160 hours
Typical Locations: Hospital, LTC, or residential facility

Inpatient Medical Nutrition Therapy Two Rotation
Description: Practicing the nutrition care process with populations with more complicated conditions such as renal diseases, multisystem organ failure, cancer, and hepatic disease.
Typical Length: Approximately 240 hours
Typical Locations: Hospital or LTC (with full time RD and acute care) including trauma, critical care nutrition, and nutrition support (TPN - Total Parenteral Nutrition, Enteral Nutrition - Tube Feeding).

Outpatient Medical Nutrition Therapy Rotation
Description: Practicing the nutrition care process with populations with medical conditions impacted by diet that do not require hospitalization. Group MNT activities may be satisfied with the Community Education Rotation activities.
Typical Length: Approximately 120 hours
Typical Locations: Hospital, out-patient clinic, university health clinic, doctor's office, part of community outreach where group MNT can occur.

Community Nutrition Rotation
Description: Developing skills to provide nutrition services to the community at large through a variety of activities, programs, and services including nutrition counseling, nutrition education, nutrition assessment, and wellness programs. Interns also develop skills in evaluating and applying government program guidelines and policies. During this rotation interns must complete a series of activities and projects.
Typical Length: Approximately 160 hours
Typical Locations: Facilities should provide access to individuals and groups, through a government-funded public health program (WIC, Head Start, Meals-On-Wheels, Maternal Child Health (MCH), Cooperative Extension, Expanded Food and Nutrition Program (EFNEP), or SNAP-ED), hospital, clinic, doctor's office, community center, or an existing program such as weight-management, specialty-cooking, or athletic program. The intern may use more than one preceptor or facilility to fit specific activities or projects.

Child-Adolescent Education Rotation
Description: Promoting health and wellness through marketing, education, classes, and events for school-aged children and adolescents. It is similar to the education and wellness activities in the Community Nutrition Rotation, but addresses nutrition-related issues that children and adolescents face in their school environment, such as peer pressure, academic performance, athletic achievement, drugs, and alcohol.
Typical Length: Approximately 40 hours
Typical Locations: Typical locations include public or private elementary, middle, or high school or after school programs through schools. Other locations that can also be used include community centers or programs with programs for school-aged children such as Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA, YWCA, and religious organizations.

Engagement Rotation
Description: The Engagement rotation is a culminating experience that is consistent with the Land Grant Mission of Purdue University. The goal of the Engagement rotation is to broaden the intern's knowledge of and skills in an interest area and opportunities that may be available for the future. The guidelines for the interns and primary preceptors will emphasize the development of a primary project and related independent activities.  The intern will work directly with preceptors on strategic initiatives that match the intern's qualifications and interests. The intern will be provided with one primary project, as well as have the opportunity to work on other projects and duties to obtain a variety of experiences. The intern will have the opportunity to make significant contributions to the organization and provide independent thinking and analysis on behavioral, social, and environmental issues influencing health and nutritional well-being.
Typical Length: Approximately 200 hours

Typical Locations: Based on interest of intern. Practice area from one of the following tracks: long term care; nutrition, fitness, wellness, energy balance; school foodservice; industry, community/public health; Medical Nutrition Therapy or research.


Outcome data for the ISPP are available on request. To request data, please send a written request to Dr. Kathleen Hill Gallant at


Career Options

Our top-ranked program will help you become a Registered Dietitian, the nationally recognized credential of nutrition experts. Registered Dietitians work in all areas of the food, nutrition, and health care industries. You will find career possibilities as:

  • Clinical dietitian nutritionist
  • Community dietitian
  • Dietetic consultant
  • Foodservice manager
  • Nutrition communications
  • Public health dietitian
  • Sales representative
  • Wellness and fitness program director


  • Chemistry
  • Diet selection and planning
  • Foodservice systems management
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Medical nutrition therapy
  • Nutrition
  • Nutrition assessment

  • See a complete list of Nutrition Science courses

Experiential Learning

  • Get to know the profession with a summer work experience in dietetics
  • Work in a foods and nutrition position in business, industry, or government
  • Apply your communication and instructional skills in a community setting, health facility, or nutrition program
  • Experience foodservice systems management by working in a foodservice facility
  • Learn to use computers to evaluate and plan diets


The DPD and the CPD at Purdue have been reviewed by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and are accredited based on the standards for dietetics education programs in the U.S. 

Inquiries should be directed to the ACEND (Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics), Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000, Chicago, IL 60606-6995, 312/899-0040 ext 5400,                                                                                            Return to top

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