Doctor of Clinical Nutrition

Program Overview

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

The program prepares students to take the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) credentialing examination to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Beginning January 1, 2024 a graduate degree will be required to sit for this Exam.


The DCN is under the Future Education Model standards. The DCN is a three-year, full-time or four-year, part-time program, which includes didactic courses integrated with supervised experiential learning in community, healthcare and food service settings. Courses include nutrition and dietetics content as well as advanced leadership and research courses taught in conjunction with Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students. Collaborative learning opportunities include simulation to prepare students for interprofessional practice.

Career and Professional Opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment of dietitian nutritionists is projected to grow 11% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. The role of food in preventing and treating disease, such as diabetes, is now well known. More dietitians are needed to provide care for patients with various medical conditions and to advise people using evidence-based practice to improve overall health.

Dietitians can work in a vast number of places, which could include hospitals, long-term care, food service operations, business and industry, sales, supermarkets and schools.