Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition

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Program Overview

The Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition program at Fairfield University is an advanced practice doctoral degree with emphasis on leadership, advanced evidence based practice and research.

Fairfield University demonstrates its leadership in education by being among the first Doctoral program to be granted candidacy for accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) under the new Future Education Model standards. The program prepares graduates to become registered dietitian nutritionists who are leaders in the profession. Graduates expand the knowledge of clinical nutrition to improve health outcomes with particular attention to the needs of underserved or vulnerable populations. Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) provide services in a variety of settings including health care, business and industry, community/public health, education, research, government agencies, and private practice.

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

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

*At the successful completion of the program, all graduates will be awarded a Doctoral Degree in Clinical Nutrition, and, for those who are not currently a RDN, will also receive a verification statement awarding them eligibility to sit for the Registration Exam for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.


Contact Us

Contact Information for ACEND:
120 South Riverside Plaza Suite 2190
Chicago, IL 60606-6995
800-877-1600, ext. 5400

Pathway to Becoming 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 (if not already a RDN) allowing 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.

Traditional dietetics education pathways to becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist still exist. As a Registered Dietitian with the Commission on Dietetic Registration, program graduates are eligible to apply for the Connecticut Dietitian/Nutritionist (CD/N) Certification.

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.

Supervised Experiential Learning Sites

  • 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
  • Sodexo Dining Services
  • Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport
  • WIC

Program Requirements

Fairfield University understands the value of interprofessional learning. The DCN curriculum includes a maximum of 75 credits of coursework for those entering the program with no prior nutrition degree. The curriculum will include nutrition and dietetics content, supervised experiential learning experiences  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.

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.

Fall   Spring   Summer  
NURS 7620 Advanced Concepts in Pathophysiology 3 NUTR 7015 Nutritional Assessment and Diagnosis 3 NUTR 7030 Nutrition Pharmacology 3
NUTR 7005 Foundations of Nutrition through the Lifecycle 3 NUTR 7020 Community Nutrition 3 NUTR 7035 Advanced Nutrition Counseling 3
NUTR 7010 Food Science 4 NUTR 7951 Community Nutrition Practicum 1 NUTR 7040 Nutrition Metabolism 3
    NUTR 7025 Nutritional Biochemistry 3    
Total Credits 10   10   9
Fall   Spring   Summer  
NURS 7608 Research Methods for Evidence Based Practice 3 NURS 7601 Epidemiology and Biostatistics 3 NURS 7614 Information Technology for Healthcare Improvement 3
NURS 7611 Population Health 3 NUTR 7050 Nutrition for Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Disease 3 NURS 7612 Research Translation for Clinical Practice 3
NUTR 7045 Food Systems Management 3 NUTR 7953 Nutrition Practicum I 3 NUTR 7055 Nutrition and Global Health 3
NUTR 7952 Food Systems Practicum 2        
Total Credits 11   9   9
Fall   Spring   Summer  
NURS 7613 Finance and Quality Management in Healthcare Organizations 3 NURS 7605 Advanced Healthcare Policy 3    
NUTR 7060 Advanced Clinical Nutrition 3 NURS 7615 Leadership and Interprofessional Collaboration 3    
NUTR 7954 Advanced Practice Residency 3 NUTR 7962 DCN Project Seminar II 1    
NUTR 7961 DCN Project Seminar I 1        
Total Credits 10   7    

Program Total = 75 Credits

Egan Admission

Admission to the program will be competitively offered to students who hold a baccalaureate degree from a four–year college or university, or it's equivalent with a 3.0 GPA or better in any subject who have completed the required pre-requisite courses prior to admission.

Graduation Requirements

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

  • Verification of successful completion of all practicum and academic course requirements
  • Demonstrated competence in all ACEND required competencies and performance indicators for those pursuing a verification statement
  • Resolution of all financial responsibilities
  • Return of all loaned items including library books, ID badge, etc.

Students pursuing a verification statement must complete all course requirements in 150% 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.

More About Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition

Program Costs

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Program Costs

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

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.

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

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Egan Update

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