Study Nutrition



1. What is Dietetics?

A dietitian is a qualified healthcare professional registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), who plays an important role in improving the health of individuals, groups of people or communities. Dietitians are well qualified to practice in all fields of nutrition. They can use their nutrition skills and knowledge to adapt an individual's diet to treat a medical condition or educate the public about healthy eating. A dietitian functions as an important role player in the medical care team.


2. What does a degree in Dietetics entail?

This qualification comprises a program that leads to a professional degree that leads to registration as a dietitian at the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) in the Professional Board for Dietetics and Nutrition.
Students are equipped with the theoretical knowledge, practical skills, professional ethos, behaviour and attitude that are necessary for dietitians and managers of nutrition care to practice their profession according to the needs of the country and international standards. The programme equips students with skills that are needed in all three fields of the profession namely, food service, therapeutic and community nutrition. Dietitians are also involved with research in the related fields of interest within the profession.

3. Admission requirements

•    National Senior Certificate with university entrance
•    A minimal APS count of 30
•    Mathematics - Level 5 (60-69%) AND
•    Physical Science – Level 5 (60-69%)

A pass mark of 50-59%(level 4) in the language of teaching and learning concerning home language or first additional language level.

4. Manner and duration of presentation

The program is only presented on a full-time basis and is offered over a period of four (4) years.
Note that the language of instruction is Afrikaans, but simultaneous interpreting into English is available. Some of the lecturers are English and the instruction of their modules take place in English, but simultaneous interpreting into Afrikaans is available.

5. Selection Process

Prospective students are subject to a selection process. The criteria used for the selection includes the following:  

     I.  Academic component (Grade 12 average). Prospective student should provide a certified copy of their Grade 12 or latest results. (Grade 11 final results can accompany the application)

     II.  Proof of a visit to a registered dietitian.

    III.  A telephonic interview with a selection panel that will be arranged to take place in August.

Candidates that meet the minimum requirements will be contacted in July to provide a short video of 60 seconds long explaining why you want to study dietetics and why at the NWU.

6. Postgraduate studies

After successfully completing the BSc in Dietetics degree the student will acquire admission to the MSc degree in Dietetics or Nutrition, but is subject to a selection process on the grounds of academic performance as well as availability of capacity in the subject field. The following admission requirements required:

  • The student must at least achieve a pass mark of 60% in each of the following modules: NUTT312, NUTT323, NUTT324, NUTR321 and NUTR471 or equivalent modules;
  • Descriptive statistics (STTN111) or an equivalent module is a co-requisite.

After the MSc degree in Dietetics or Nutrition a PhD in Dietetics or Nutrition may follow if the prerequisites are met.

7. Career opportunities

•    Public sector: Department of Health; Correctional Services or the Military.
•    Private sector: Food, healthcare or pharmaceutical industries; Private hospitals; medical aids, food companies, private practice or the foodservice industry.
•    Research: The Medical Research Council (MRC); Universities or the food industry.
•    Teaching: Universities or Schools (may require a post-graduate teaching qualification).
•    Entrepreneurial opportunities: Private practice, Consulting Dietitians, Health Communications.


8. Compulsory community service year

The Department of Health requires a compulsory community service year on completion of the BSc (Dietetics) programme. The goal of this year is to deploy expertise to rural parts of South Africa where these services aren’t normally found. The dietitian receives an entry level salary for one calendar year and fringe benefits, depending on the region where they will work (e.g. rural allowance, housing allowance, etc.).

9. Faculty specific requirements

  • Students are legally required to register as a student dietitian with the HPCSA’s Professional Dietetics Council at the beginning of the first year of study.
  • For practical training during the years of study, the possession of a valid driver's license before the start of the second year of study is a requirement.
  • Student membership of the professional association (ADSA) is compulsory from the first year of study.
  • All costs associated with the practical training in the fourth year of study must be borne by the student himself.
  • No student will be allowed to serve on a residence committee of a residence in the fourth year of study