BS in Food and Nutrition Online - The University of Alabama (2023)

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?

Nutrition information is constantly changing due to advances in science and research. To ensure that students completing the Didactic Program are competitive for a dietetic internship, The University of Alabama has a “Course Recency” requirement. This means that The University of Alabama will not accept the following nutrition courses (listed below) for transfer if they were taken five (5) years prior to the admission application date:

  • NHM 363 Applied Nutrition
  • NHM 365 Medical Nutrition Therapy I
  • NHM 454 Experimental & Functional Food Science

If the above courses were taken within the last five years (5), admitted students must submit the full syllabus from the semester the course was completed to their assigned academic advisor for evaluation by the faculty. Note: Academic advisors cannot guarantee these courses will be accepted.

Many dietetic internships will also have a “Recency requirement.” You should check with each dietetic internship you are applying to, to determine if they have a “recency policy and the 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 earn a C- or higher in all “DPD Science courses” and PY 101 (or equivalent).
  • Must earn a B- or higher in all DPD Professional courses (NHM designated and BER 345) or equivalent.
  • Must maintain a combined GPA of 3.0 or higher in the “DPD Science Courses” and “DPD Professional Courses.”
  • 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.

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 Introductory Chemistry and Organic Chemistry prior to admission to the program. These science courses are prerequisites for most of the nutrition courses. Please note a grade of C or higher is required for the science 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 346 Nutrition Education: Theories and Practice

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 in-person to a community group.


Group that meets regularly in your community. Audience members must be middle school aged or older. The group should consist of a minimum of 5 people but no more than 20-25.

  • Examples include your child’s middle or high school class, scout troop, or a group that meets regularly at your church, worksite, or in your community.
  • Length: 15 minute presentation (must record workshop presentation)

NHM 363 Applied Nutrition:

This course requires a variety of “hands-on” learning experiences, which must be supervised in person 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. You will meet with the RD on two separate occasions and you can plan to spend 1.5 – 2 hours to complete each lab.

The preceptor will assess the following skills 1) obtaining a diet history and recall and 2) taking anthropometric measurements.


  1. Preceptor: Must be a Registered Dietitian (RD)
  2. Facility type: Any (i.e., hospitals, long-term care, private practice, etc).
    Must meet with the preceptor and volunteer client in-person.
  3. Length: varies (must demonstrate competency in skills required

NHM 374 Quantity Food Production:

This is a University-approved lab course.In order to earn credit for this course, students must participate in both lecture and lab.The lab portion for this class is 60 hours spent working on-site in a food service facility.

Students are responsible for locating a foodservice facility in which to complete a sixty-hour laboratory experience. During the labs the students will assist at each station in preparing meals and learn to work with commercial kitchen equipment. Detailed instructions and lab objectives are included in the modules which will be available the first day of class.

Facility Lab Requirements:

  • Preceptor: Facility manager
  • Facility type: school, hospital, or nursing home preferred. Facility must use batch cooking to prepare at least 100 servings of each menu item.
  • Student must be able to help in the preparation of meat/meat alternatives, starchy sides, cooked vegetables, salads, fruit, bread, dessert and a mixed dish/casserole.
  • Length: minimum 60 hours
  • Shifts shorter than 2 hours will not be counted towards the total required 60 lab hours.

NHM 491 Self-directed Independent Professional Study:

The purpose of this course is to provide you with an in-depth, hands-on supervised practice experience in the area of nutrition practice of your choice. Part of the requirements for this experience are completing 160 clock hours under the supervision of your preceptor at your chosen facility and pass the writing proficiency component of the class. While on site you will be completing 6 objectives that you will work with your preceptor to create. In addition to the hours and objectives, there are also numerous other assignments that you will complete during the semester.

Please make note that completion of this independent study is required for graduation and mandates a time commitment at the selected site of a minimum of 160 hours. This means you must spend 160 hours working directly under the supervision of the preceptoron-siteat the facility. “On-site” includes the facility your preceptor works at and any other locations such as farmer’s markets, health fairs, clinics, conferences, or work-related locations in which you are working with the preceptor as part of their job.PreceptorsCANNOT“supervise” you or any projects you are working on by distance such as via phone, email, Zoom, Teams, Facetime, social media, or any other type of long-distance communication. Hours spent working on projects off-site may not be counted toward the 160 required hours.

While on site you will be completing 6 objectives that you will work with your preceptor to create. In addition to the hours and objectives, there are also numerous other assignments that you will complete during the semester.


  • Must be a Registered Dietitian who has a current registration status with the Commission on Dietetic Registration and is currently practicing in the field.
  • Preceptor may NOT be a student, faculty, or staff of the College of Human Environmental Sciences or a friend or relative of the student.
  • 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.

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.

How do I apply to the BS in Food and Nutrition program?

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, UA Online 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.

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