Pre-Dietetics at UH Mānoa

Text compiled from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) website, Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) website, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) website, UHM’s FSHN website, UHM 2013 Dietetics Option Handbook, and the UHM 2017-2018 Catalog.

Dietetics Programs in Hawai`i: Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition (Dietetics Option) at UH Mānoa

Field Description

Registered dietitians, or RDs, are experts in applying the science of nutrition to assessing or developing plans involving the diets of individuals and the community as a whole.   RDs often provide nutrition counseling, develop diet plans, and educate people about nutrition. They can also work in large-scale food service operations and ensure that they are sanitary, cost effective, and capable of meeting the nutritional needs of the target population. Clinical RDs can specialize in nutrition-related diseases (such as diabetes) or the health of different age groups.

The terms “Registered Dietitian,” “Professional Dietitian,” and “Dietitian” are protected by law, and only those who have met the educational requirements and qualifications mandated by their state can use the title. The term “Nutritionist” is not protected, and can be used by people with different levels of training.

Work Setting

RDs can work in a variety of settings, including clinics, hospitals, food service and processing, private practice, government and non-profit organizations, and education.  The job description of an RD is highly dependent on the setting they work in.

For more information on job outlook, click here.

Related Careers:  dietetic technician, food service management, health education, public health nutrition, and nutrition research.

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Dietetics Program

Years of Schooling Required to Become a Dietitian:

4½+ years of education

  • Bachelor’s Degree (~4 years);
  • Certificate or Master’s Degree (1-2 years, optional);
  • Internship (½-1 year).

Degree Conferred

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (AND) is the accrediting body for all registered dietitian (RD) programs. To become an RD, students must hold a bachelor’s degree, graduate degree, or certificate of completion from an ACEND-accredited didactic program, complete an ACEND-accredited internship, and satisfy state licensure requirements. Students with a non-dietetics bachelor’s degree may opt to complete a certificate or master’s degree instead of completing a second bachelor’s. Some schools also offer coordinated programs, which combine a bachelor’s or master’s degree and the internship into a single program.


Graduates of accredited didactic programs are eligible to apply for internships. The internship requires a competitive application process, and consists of at least 1200 hours of supervised practice under an RD.  An internship can also be obtained through the UH Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) program. The ISPP program offers the opportunity for twelve UH Mānoa dietetics graduates who were not accepted to mainland internship programs to complete an internship in Hawai`i. For more information about this program, you can visit the Hawaii Dietetics Association website.


RDs interested in specializing can apply for specialty certification from the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Areas for specialization include gerontological nutrition, sports dietetics, pediatric nutrition, and renal nutrition.

The Licensing Examination(s)

Forty-six states have enacted legislation regulating the profession of dietetics. The Registration Examination for Dietitians is a national exam administered by the CDR, which may be required for licensure depending on the state in which you intend to practice. Students who have completed a dietetics internship or coordinated program are eligible to sit for the exam. A list of state licensure agencies is provided by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Upon completion of required training and licensure, dietetic professionals hold the title of “Registered Dietitian” (RD). All dietitians must be licensed to practice.

Becoming an RD in Hawai`i

In Hawai`i, practicing as an RD requires membership with both the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and the Hawai`i Dietetic Association (HDA).

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Most importantly, remember that requirements vary from school to school! You must research to create a list of all the prerequisites you will need to apply to the schools you are interested in attending.

The University of Hawai`i at Mānoa offers an ACEND-accredited bachelor’s degree under the Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) major, Dietetics Option. The following admission guidelines pertain only to UHM’s Dietetics program:

  • Incoming Freshmen – open declaration via UH Mānoa application.
  • Transfers (from other majors and/or other institutions):

Must meet with the FSHN undergraduate advisor, have a minimum entrance GPA of 2.8 (all courses require a C or better with the exception of FSHN 185, in which a B or better is required), and have completed the following courses:

FSHN 185The Science of Human Nutrition3 cr.
CHEM 161/161L and 162/162LGeneral Chemistry I and II8 cr.
PHYL 141/141L and 142/142LHuman Anatomy and Physiology I and II8 cr.
MATH 140 or higherPrecalculus or higher3 cr.

Note:  Transfer students must see a FSHN advisor to have prior coursework evaluated before applying. Please refer to the Dietetics Option Student Handbook provided by the Department for more information regarding the program.

CHEM 171/171L might not be accepted by the dietetics program in place of CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L. Students should double check with the FSHN advisor if the program would accept CHEM 171/171L in place of CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L.

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Experience and Personal Development

Gaining experience in the health professional field in which you are interested is a huge benefit in figuring out if that is the field you want to work in and provides you with a deeper understanding of the field. Some professional schools want to see that you have experience in their field and some schools may require a large amount of particular experience such as hands-on, patient contact experience or experience shadowing a professional in that field. Schools need to be certain that the students they accept are capable of completing the curriculum and are likely to become strong professionals in the field. Schools may see this through the experiences students had.

Admissions committees seek students who have completed the pre-requisites, have high overall and science/math GPAs, performed well on the entrance exam, and have balanced course loads which are challenging yet realistic. These are indications that students are capable of completing the curriculum. Opportunities for exam preparation can be found here: Entrance Exam Preparation Opportunities.

Experiences can provide proof that students will likely be strong practitioners. Admission committees seek students who demonstrated empathy, compassion, and a commitment to public service which can be shown through community service or volunteer work. Committees also want to see high ethical and moral standards and a conscientious work ethic as well as demonstrated maturity through judgement, responsibility, and dependability. Work ethics can be shown through employment opportunities.

Committees seek students who understand the field and what it entails. Different experiences that could provide exposure to the field include enrichment opportunitiesinternshipsshadowing, or volunteering. Through experiences students may show that they have excellent communication skills and a high degree of professionalism in all aspects of life, and potentially gain strong letters of recommendation from supervisors.

Students should aim to have a well-rounded life that balances academics which include a broad liberal arts education with the humanities and social sciences, research, social activities, and personal interests (hobbies, skills, sports, etc.) through Clubs and Organizations.

When applying for professional school, you will be asked to list and describe the experiences you have gained in preparation for the profession of your interest. Rather than having to recall from memory all your experiences, having an experience log will allow you to fill out your application with more ease. Students can use their C.V. as a record of these experiences. However, an experience log can include additional beneficial information, such as your employer’s contact information and a reflection portion of what you learned. You may choose to make a personalized experience log or use our sample by clicking here.

Please click on the following links to explore the different opportunities.

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Researching Schools

There are currently about 220 accredited dietetics programs in the US, each unique in its mission, philosophy, criteria, and strengths. Students can research schools using program directories provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) website.

Although there are resources that “rank” schools, the rankings are rarely pertinent for individual applicants. More important is whether there is a good match between applicant and school.

To find schools that are a good fit for you (PAC peer advisors can help you with this process):

  1. Assess you individual strengths and weaknesses, your professional interests, learning style, and personality;
  2. Start by considering all schools, which usually includes all 220 schools;
  3. Create your “Long List” by omitting the schools that do not match your professional interests, learning style, and personality;
  4. Create your “Short List” by categorizing the schools on your Long List into “Reach,” “Match,” and “Safety,” ranking the schools by preference, and finally choosing how many schools to apply to. Be sure to apply to schools in all 3 categories (“Reach,” “Match,” and “Safety”), and to select schools that you would really want to attend if/when accepted.

Here is more information on researching and selecting schools to apply for. If possible, visit the schools to see their facilities, talk to admissions directors, and chat with students.

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Application Process

The process follows a standard timeline. To become an RD, students must fulfill three requirements:

1.  Complete an ACEND-accredited didactic program (bachelor’s degree, graduate degree, or certification of completion) and internship, or an ACEND-accredited coordinated program.

2. Pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

For UHM’s Dietetics Program only:
Incoming freshmen can declare the FSHN major on their UH Mānoa application.

Transfer students need to complete all of the prerequisite courses, and must meet all admissions requirements to apply to the UHM Dietetics Program. Students must meet with the FSHN undergraduate advisor in order to apply.

Major courses that are open to pre-FSHN dietetics students:

  • FSHN 185 – The Science of Human Nutrition
  • FSHN 181/L – The Chemical Nature of Food/Food Preparation Lab (must obtain an override from FSHN undergraduate advisor or instructor)
  • FSHN 370 – Lifespan Nutrition (Spring Only.  Pre: C or better in CHEM 161/L, B or better in 185; or consent. Co-requisite: PHYL 142/L, or consent)

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Financial Aid

Financial Planning is a crucial step in applying to dietetics programs. It is important for students to create a plan and make decisions in their educational expenses. Students are highly encouraged to budget their finances before, during, and after a dietetics program. To learn more about financial planning, click here.

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Contact Information

For UHM Dietetics Program information, transfer credit evaluations, and academic plans:
FSHN Undergraduate Advisor:  Dr. Maria Stewart
1955 East West Road
AgSci 314M
Honolulu, HI 96822

Phone: 808-956-9114
Fax: 808-956-4024

For information regarding the dietetics internships within the program:
Dietetics Advisor:  Dr. Anne Shovic
1955 East West Road
AgSci 314 I
Honolulu, HI 96822

Phone: 808-956-3847
Fax: 808-956-4024

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Additional Information

UH Mānoa’s Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center (PAC) has reference books, lists of volunteer opportunities, academic planning worksheets, and one-on-one advising by peers who can help you prepare for and apply to dietetics programs.

AssociationsAcademy of Nutrition & Dietetics
Commission on Dietetic Registration
Hawaii Dietetic Association
State Licensure Agency List
UH-Manoa ProgramsUHM FSHN/Dietetics Program
-UHM Dietetics Option Student Handbook
UH-Manoa Clubs and OrganizationsUHM's FSHN Council
UHM Clubs and Organizations
Researching Schools and InternshipsRegistered Dietitian Schools
Dietetic Internships

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