Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition

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Program Overview

The Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition Program at Fairfield University offers a doctoral degree in clinical nutrition for those looking to pursue a career as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and for those who are currently registered dietitian nutritionists looking to advance their knowledge. The program offers an on campus interprofessional educational environment for both full-time and part-time students with an emphasis on leadership, evidence-based practice and research.

Why Pursue a Doctorate of Clinical Nutrition?

  • Only 4% of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists have a Doctoral Degree
  • Increased credibility and recognition
  • Career advancement
  • Best preparation for new careers in management, research and higher education

The DCN is open to:

  • Students with a Bachelor's degree in any area who have fulfilled the required pre-requisites
  • Students who have graduated from an ACEND accredited Didactic Program in dietetics who have not yet completed an internship
  • Registered Dietitians with or without a Master's degree

Sneak Peek | Fairfield University School of Nursing and Health Studies

Accreditation

Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) logo

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) granted the Future Education Model Track in the DCN program candidacy for accreditation in May 2020 under the newly released Future Education Model Standards for programs in nutrition and dietetics. These accreditation standards integrate didactic coursework with supervised experiential learning in a competency-based curriculum designed to prepare nutrition and dietetics practitioners for future practice.

Future Education Model Track

Fairfield University demonstrates its leadership in education by being among the first Doctoral programs to be granted candidacy for accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) under the new Future Education Model standards. This is an on-campus, three-year full-time or four-year part-time program.

Following the completion of the program, graduates will be eligible to take the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) credentialing examination to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

Pathway to Become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

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Pathway to Become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

The DCN program at Fairfield University is under the Future Education Model standards. The curriculum includes all necessary courses and experiential supervised practice required for graduates to obtain a verification statement that allows them to sit for the Registration Examination for Dietitian Nutritionist. Beginning January 1, 2024, a graduate degree will be required to sit for this exam.

RDNs are not required to be licensed in Connecticut; however, some states do require licensure/certification.

Information Regarding Licensure/Certification by State

Mission, Goals and Objectives

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Mission, Goals and Objectives

The mission of the Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition (DCN) program is to prepare graduates to become Registered Dietitian Nutritionists who are leaders in the profession. Graduates will expand the knowledge of clinical nutrition to improve health outcomes with particular attention to the needs of underserved or vulnerable populations.

Goal #1

Graduates are competent registered dietitian nutritionists, who are prepared for leadership roles in healthcare settings.

  • At least 80% of program graduates complete program requirements within 4.5 years for full time and 6 years for part time (150% of program length).
  • Of graduates who seek employment, 90% are employed in nutrition and dietetics or related fields within 12 months of graduation.
  • 100% of program graduates take the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists within 12 months of program completion.
  • 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%.
  • 80% of returned employer surveys rank graduates working in the field of dietetics as "adequately prepared".
  • 50% of graduates are employed in and/or hold a volunteer position in a leadership position one year after graduation.

Goal #2

Graduates improve the health outcomes of the community especially in underserved populations.

  • 50% of graduates agree they are serving an underserved, or vulnerable population.
  • 50% of graduates are working in a medically underserved area per HRSA designation.
  • 80% of graduates agree that their position contributes positively to the health outcomes of the community for which they serve.
  • At a five year survey, 50% of graduates report they have at least one scholarly publication, or have made two scholarly presentations at either a regional or national level.

Outcome data available upon request.

Supervised Experiential Learning

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Supervised Experiential Learning

Students in the DCN program will participate in a variety of supervised experiential learning experiences that focus on community nutrition, food service management, and clinical nutrition. Travel to some sites may require a travel time of up to 1 to 1.5 hours from the students living location. A car is required to travel to the supervised experiential learning sites.

Possible supervised experiential learning placements include:

Clinical
  • St Vincent’s Hospital
  • Nuvance Health System
  • Waterbury Hospital
  • Lord Chamberlain
  • Jewish Senior Services
  • Healthcare Services Group
Food Service Management
  • St Vincent’s Hospital
  • Nuvance Health System
  • Waterbury Hospital
  • Lord Chamberlain
  • Jewish Senior Services
  • Healthcare Services Group
Community
  • Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport
  • WIC

Graduation Requirements

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Graduation Requirements

The following requirements must be met before the student is eligible to receive his/her doctoral degree from Fairfield University:

  • Successful completion of all practicum and academic course requirements
  • Demonstrated competence in all ACEND required competencies and performance indicators
  • Resolution of all financial responsibilities
  • Return of all loaned items including library books, ID badge, etc.
  • Completion of all course requirements in 150 percent of program length. This equates to 4.5 years for the full-time track and 6 years for the part-time track.
  • A verification statement will be provided to students once all graduation requirements have been met. This verification statement will allow the student to sit for the CDR credentialing Examination for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.

Program Costs

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Program Costs

Tuition $1,055 / Credit
Housing $8,000
Textbooks and supplies $800
Drug testing $70
Background check $75
Lab coat $35
Non-slip shoes $25
Total $9,005

The Office of Financial Aid is committed to helping students find the options that best suit each of their needs.

DCN Program Handbook (PDF)

Post-RDN Track

The Post-RDN track is an advanced practice doctoral degree for registered dietitian nutritionists, with an emphasis on leadership, evidence-based practice, and research.

The Post-RDN DCN program is a 50 credit on-campus program that is designed for registered dietitian nutritionists who are looking to advance their clinical knowledge and leadership skills while working in an interprofessional setting.

Mission

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Mission

The mission of the Post-RDN Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition (DCN) program is to provide graduates with the advanced skills in clinical nutrition and leadership to prepare them for advanced careers within the healthcare field.

Graduation Requirements

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Graduation Requirements

The following requirements must be met before the student is eligible to receive his/her doctoral degree from Fairfield University:

  • Successful completion of all academic courses, advanced practice residency and research project.
  • Resolution of all financial responsibilities
  • Return of all loaned items including library books, ID badge, etc.

Program Costs

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Program Costs

Tuition $1,055 / Credit

The Office of Financial Aid is committed to helping students find the options that best suit each of their needs.

Requirements & Curriculum

Fairfield University understands the value of interprofessional learning. The DCN curriculum will include nutrition and dietetics content as well as advanced leadership and research courses taught in conjunction with Doctoral Nursing Practice (DNP) students. Collaborative learning will also include simulation to prepare students for interprofessional practice in practicum courses. The Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition (DCN) is a 75 credit on-campus, three-year full-time or four-year part-time program, whereas the Post-RDN is a 50 credit on-campus program.

Students entering the program from an ACEND accredited DPD program and those with the RDN credential, experience, and courses will be assessed for credit for prior learning.

The DCN program follows the Fairfield University academic calendar.

Required Courses

Finance & Quality Management in Healthcare Organizations
Foundations of Nutrition through the Life Cycle
Food Science
Nutrition Assessment and Diagnosis
Nutritional Biochemistry
Advanced Nutrition Counseling
Nutrition Pharmacology
Nutrition Metabolism
Community Nutrition
Community Nutrition Practicum
Research Methods for Evidenced-Based Practice
Advanced Concepts in Pathophysiology
Food Systems Management
Food Systems Practicum
Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Nutrition for Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Disease
Nutrition Practicum I
Research Translation for Clinical Practice
Information Technology for Healthcare Improvement
Nutrition and Global Health
Population Health
Advanced Clinical Nutrition
Advanced Practice Residency
DCN Project Seminar I
Advanced Healthcare Policy
Leadership & Interprofessional Collaboration
DCN Project Seminar II
Research Methods for Evidenced-Based Practice
Finance & Quality Management in Healthcare Organizations
Advanced Concepts in Pathophysiology
Nutritional Biochemistry
Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Advanced Healthcare Policy
Nutrition Pharmacology
Nutrition Metabolism
Research Translation for Clinical Practice
Population Health
Advanced Clinical Nutrition
Advanced Practice Residency
Leadership & Interprofessional Collaboration
Advanced Nutrition Counseling
DCN Project Seminar I
Nutrition and Global Health
Information Technology for Healthcare Improvement
DCN Project Seminar II

A detailed list of course requirements, offerings, and more can be viewed in the University’s course catalog.

Egan Admission

For the Future Education Model DCN Track, applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree in any area from an accredited four-year college or university and have fulfilled the required pre-requisites, or have graduated from an ACEND accredited didactic program in dietetics who have not yet completed an internship.

For the Post RDN Track, applicants must be a Registered Dietitian through the Commission on Dietetic Registration. A master’s degree is not required.

Graduate assistantships are not currently available.

More About Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition

Career & Professional Opportunities

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Career & Professional Opportunities

Employment opportunities for registered dietitian nutritionists are on the rise in the state of Connecticut and nationally. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of dietitian nutritionists is projected to grow 11% from 2018-2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Registered dietitian nutritionists may be employed in a wide variety of settings, including:

  • Private Practice
  • Hospitals
  • Government
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • Nursing and Residential Care Facilities
  • Food Service
  • Healthcare Organizations
  • Corporate Nutrition Programs
  • Food and Nutrition Industry
  • Research
  • Schools
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Community and Public Health Facilities
  • Universities
  • Medical Centers

Learn more about how the University's Career Center can support your post-graduate goals, and how Fairfield's tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.

Visit the Career Center

Egan Newsletter

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Egan Newsletter

Learn more about what our faculty, students, and alumni are doing, as well as stay up-to-date on our rankings and accolades, programs, and more.

Read Our Newsletter

Egan Update

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Egan Update

We invite you to view the Egan Update, a year in review of Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies news.

Read the Egan Update (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions

Future Education Model DCN FAQs

No, the majority of the classes are taken on campus once a week and are offered typically Monday-Thursday from 5-7:30 p.m. The supervised experiential learning rotations may be offered during the day at the discretion of the preceptors.

Yes. Once the program is completed and all competencies have been passed, you will be eligible to sit for RD exam through the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Verification statements and test eligibility will be issued after the degree is conferred by Fairfield University.

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) started Future Education Model Programs as a first step towards changing the educational pathways within the field of nutrition and dietetics. We volunteered to be one of the first programs and try out this new educational pathway. That is why it is called a Future Education Model. The wave of the future in nutrition and dietetics education is to include all training at the graduate level for eligibility to sit for the RD exam. Therefore, our program includes the didactic coursework in dietetics, the supervised experiential learning (similar to the dietetic internship) and the graduate degree requirements.

No, applicants are only required to have a bachelor’s degree; it does not have to be in nutrition or dietetics. There is, however, a list of pre-requisite courses which must be successfully completed before starting the DCN program.

If the course was a college-level course taken at an accredited university and the title of the course is similar to the titles of our pre-requisite course requirements, then it is likely the course will “count” as a pre-requisite. You must have received a grade of “C” or better in each course. If you have any concerns or questions about a specific course, contact the program director Janet Hiser at jhiser@fairfield.edu and include the course number, institution, and course description in your email.

We accept 15 students into our DCN program each year.

Yes, we will interview our top candidates in a short video conference.

Yes, provided that you received a grade of “C” or better in each, there are two courses that will be waived: The Foundations in Nutrition through the Lifecycle course and the Food Science course with lab.

Post-RDN DCN FAQs

No, the majority of the classes are taken on campus once a week and are offered typically Monday-Thursday from 5-7:30 p.m. The Advanced Practice Residency may be offered during the day at the discretion of the mentors.

Yes, we will interview our top candidates in a short video conference.

Yes, considerations will be made on an individual basis. Courses must have been completed at an accredited institution and applicants must have received a grade of “B” or better in order to receive transfer credit.

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