Frequently Asked Questions - BS in Food and Nutrition

Click the following links to take you through the different sections of our list of FAQ's.

About the Program

How long does it take to complete a major in Food and Nutrition?

This will vary from student to student and depends on the following:

Course load - Some of our students have a full-time job and some are full-time students. We have some students who take only 1 course per semester and some that take a full-time load which is 12 credit hours a semester.

A good rule of thumb for hours needed to study for coursework:

  • 3 hour credit courses= 9-12 hours of studying/week
  • Science courses= 12 hours of studying/week
  • 300-400 level nutrition courses= 12-15 hours of studying/week

The availability of courses – not all courses are available each semester. Your advisor can assist you with planning your schedule. Most of the courses have prerequisites that must be completed prior to enrolling in the upper level courses. Therefore, completing the prerequisites will also influence how quickly you can complete the program.

The enrollment capacity in each course – To ensure quality and integrity in each course, the courses have a maximum enrollment capacity. The capacity level for each course is different and is based on the course content. To get a virtual seat, register for classes as early as possible. There is no time limit on the amount of time you have to complete our major or didactic program; however students are strongly encouraged to complete all the requirements within five years from the program admission date. The reason for this is that some internship programs have a “Recency” requirement.

What is a "Recency" requirement?

Since nutrition information changes so quickly The University of Alabama and most internships have a recency requirement. This means that The University of Alabama will not accept nutrition courses for transfer that were taken 5 years prior to the admission application date. Recency requirements for most internships are also 5 years and they will not accept nutrition courses taken more than 5 years before the internship program start date. You should check with each dietetic internship you are applying to in order to verify their specific recency requirements.

What is the difference between a food and nutrition major with or without a Verification Statement?

When you apply for admissions to the University of Alabama, you are designated as a "Food and Nutrition" major. If you successfully complete all the degree program requirements as stated in the program catalog, you will be awarded a BS degree in Food and Nutrition only upon graduation. Additionally, if you meet the DPD Verification Statement requirements, then you can graduate with a degree in Food and Nutrition and be eligible to receive a DPD Verification Statement.

What is a Verification Statement?

The Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) Verification Statement verifies completion of educational requirements and is required for application to accredited Dietetic Internship (DI) programs. All students who graduate from The University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science degree in Food and Nutrition and also meet the DPD requirements receive a Verification Statement.

To complete and meet all the DPD requirements and receive a Verification Statement, a student:

    • Must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher.
    • Must make a B- or higher in all DPD Professional courses (NHM designated and BER 345) or equivalent.
    • Must make a C- or higher in all “DPD Science courses” and PY 101 (or equivalent).
    • Must complete the courses required for the DPD
    • Must earn at the minimum a bachelor’s degree
    • Must complete 24 credit hours of DPD courses, including the DPD Capstone courses (NHM 340, NHM 465 and NHM 475) from The University of Alabama
    • May only have a total of 2 retakes in one “DPD Professional Course” (NHM designated and BER 345), or 1 retake in up to two different DPD Professional Courses (excluding original attempt) to earn the required grade. 

    Note: The re-take policy applies to all DPD Professional courses and BER 345 equivalent courses regardless of whether they were taken at UA or transferred from another institution.

    * These are the minimum requirements for a Verification Statement. To be competitive for Dietetic Internships a GPA of 3.7 or above and A’s in all sciences classes and 300-400 level nutrition courses is recommended.

Can I take my science prerequisites at my community college or another university and take classes at UA the same time?

The Food and Nutrition program prefers that students have completed at least 20 semester hours of sciences courses (Introductory Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, and Microbiology) prior to admission to the program because the Science courses are prerequisites for most of the nutrition courses. Please note a grade of C or higher is required for the Sciences courses.

Are there online courses that will require additional on-site practical experiences?

Yes. The courses listed below require that you obtain some additional practical experiences as part of the course. These experiences range in duration and objectives. The course instructor will provide additional information on the objectives and expectations of each course upon enrollment in the class. However, they are briefly described below:

NHM 363 Applied Nutrition - This course requires a variety of “hands-on” learning experiences, which must be supervised by a Registered Dietitian who has a current registration status with Commission on Dietetic Registration (credentialing body of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). Please identify and make arrangements a semester before you take this course for an R.D. in your area to work with you. The dietitian will need to supervise a variety of skills, which you will develop during this course, and will evaluate your performance of the skills. The preceptor will assess skills in obtaining a diet history and recall and taking anthropometric measurements.


  • Preceptor: Must be a Registered Dietitian (RD)
  • Facility type: Any (i.e., hospitals, long-term care, private practice, etc)
  • Length: varies (must demonstrate competency in skills required)

NHM 374 Quantity Food Production - The lab portion of the course is to be completed at a foodservice operation chosen by the student. All students are responsible for locating a foodservice facility in which to complete a sixty-hour laboratory experience. The guidelines and lab objectives for completing the labs will be available and reviewed in detail when you enroll in the class. The lecture portion of the course is organized into nine learning modules. The first half of the class will be The TAP Series Cooking Basics, an online self-study program that students must purchase in order to complete the assignments. The second half of the class will consist of short PowerPoint presentations and worksheets covering topics in the Food for Fifty textbook. There is a project due at the end of the course that will incorporate the learning objectives of the course.


  • Preceptor: Facility manager
  • Facility type: school, hospital, or nursing home preferred. Facility must prepare 100 servings of each menu item at meal time
  • Length: minimum 60 hours

NHM 441 Nutrition Education - The Nutrition Education Workshop Assignment is a large, ongoing assignment for the course. As a nutrition student who wants to become a registered dietitian, you need to be able to create nutrition education handouts and present nutrition education materials in an organized fashion. In addition, you need to be able to adapt education material to fit the needs of a specific audience. Students are responsible for finding an audience in the local community, formulating a lesson plan, developing educational materials, and presenting the workshop to a community group.


  • Facility type: Any (i.e., child’s school, daycare center, or a group that meets regularly at your church, worksite, or in your community).
  • Length: 15 minute presentation (must videotape workshop presentation)

NHM 491 Self-directed Independent Professional Study - This course is an individual professional study in management, clinical, community dietetics, or in an area related to the field of food and nutrition. Requires a minimum of 160 clock hours spent under the supervision of a Registered Dietitian in a facility chosen by the student. Students must identify a minimum of 5 objectives to complete during the professional study. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course Students who may be going abroad are strongly encouraged to plan their NHM 491 Independent Study experience while residing in the United States as it can be difficult to find a certified RD outside of the U.S.


  • Preceptor: Must be a Registered Dietitian (RD)
  • Facility type: Any (Based on interest of student, i.e., hospital, long-term care, private practice, wellness, foodservice, diabetes, public health, etc.)
  • Length: minimum of 160 hours

What is the structure of your distance classes?

All of our nutrition and general education classes are offered online. Most of our classes are structured just like our on-campus courses in that you have an assignment, discussion, quiz, or exam due every 1-2 week(s). Our distance classes do not have a certain time that they meet, so you can go online at any time during the week to complete an assignment, watch a professor’s lecture, etc. For each course, like campus classes, all assignments and exams have set due dates and late work is not accepted or tolerated. Look at your Course Schedule and Syllabus for additional information and to determine completion and due dates.

How are exams administered?

All exams and quizzes are administered online and most exams require that you arrange for a proctor. While all the course material is delivered to you online, many of your courses will require that you have a proctor who will be responsible for facilitating quizzes and exams. Some proctors may require a fee for their services while others may provide proctoring services free of charge. To learn more about finding a proctor and who may serve as a proctor review the proctoring information and procedures at Proctoring Instructions and Procedures.

Can I complete the program or courses if I’m living outside the U.S.?

Yes. In order to be able to successfully complete the program you must have access to a reliable computer and internet service and be able to submit work in a timely manner. You will be expected to adhere to the same requirements and due dates for assignments as listed on the course syllabus.

There are 2 courses that require that you work with a Registered Dietitian who has a current registration status with Commission on Dietetic Registration (credentialing body of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). Therefore, in order to complete the program you must also be able to find a RD preceptor in your area to work with. Students are encouraged to plan their NHM 491 Independent Study experience while residing in the United States as it can be difficult to find a U.S. certified RD outside of the U.S.

Will I have an advisor?

As a distance student in nutrition, the department will assign you an academic advisor. Your advisor will guide you in creating your academic plan, registering for classes, navigating The University of Alabama system, and make the most of your time with us.

Becoming a Registered Dietitian

What is the process of becoming a Registered Dietitian?

A registered dietitian (RD) is a food and nutrition expert who has met academic and professional requirements to earn the credential "RD." To obtain this credential, individuals must complete the following 3 steps:

  1. Earn a B.S. degree, and meet the requirements to receive a Verification Statement
    • If you already have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university then you only need to successfully meet the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) components to receive a verification statement.
  2. Apply for, be accepted and successfully complete a Dietetic Internship (DI)
    • * Highly Competitive (1200 clocked hours) 50% of students get matched the national average GPA for those applying to an Internship is a 3.7.
  3. Pass the National Registration examination
    • The exam can be taken only once Steps 1 and 2 have been completed. Most Registered Dietitian eligible candidates spend 3-6 months preparing to take the exam. Most employers require you to pass the National Registration exam within 6 months to 1 year of employment. Beginning in 2024, students must have earned a master’s degree in order to sit for the RD exam. More information on this requirement can be found here.

Read more about becoming a dietitian at and then click on the "Student" tab.

The Food and Nutrition major at UA can satisfy step 1: BS degree and DPD requirements.

What is a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD)?

The DPD route prepares degree holders to enter dietetic internships where they can apply the theories they learn as undergraduates in health care settings under the supervision of health professionals. Subsequently, they are eligible to take the national examination and become Registered Dietitians. Additionally, students may major in Food and Nutrition and complete the requirements to obtain a second Bachelor’s degree.

When do I submit my DPD Declaration Form?

To submit this form a student must:

  • Have completed a minimum of 60 semester hours including NHM 101, 195, 201, 253, CH 104 and 105; BSC 215, and 216.
  • Earn a minimum of C - in the following courses: BSC 215, 216 and 242; CH 104 and 105; PY 101
  • Earn a minimum of B- in all "NHM designated" courses including BER 345 or equivalent
  • Have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Submit a completed "DPD Application Form" by emailing a copy to your Academic Advisor.

Once this form is submitted, you must continue to meet all the DPD requirements to earn a Verification Statement.

How to apply?

The process for applying and being admitted to The University of Alabama varies somewhat depending on whether you are an entering freshman or a transfer student, whether you are a domestic or international student, and whether you are a first-time Freshman, transfer, Bama By Distance How to Apply website for step-by-step instructions. Please note there is a $50 non-refundable application fee.

Are dietetic internships very competitive?

At this time, Dietetic Internships are very competitive and only approximately 50% of students who apply are matched with an internship. GPA is very important when applying to internships (a competitive GPA is 3.7 overall or above), as well as work experience, volunteerism, and leadership. View the current accredited dietetic internships on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website at and click on the "Student" tab.


Courses require a high-speed Internet connection, a compatible browser and the most recent version of these free tools: Adobe Reader, Flash Player, Java, Microsoft Silverlight, QuickTime, Windows Media Player (or Flip4Mac). You must have access to speakers, a microphone, and scanner.