Date of Award



© 2016 Ashwini Wagle

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Carol Holmquist

Second Advisor

Peter Fifield

Third Advisor

Lucy McProud


The profession of dietetics is transitioning to the master’s degree (MS) as the entry-level requirement for registered dietitians’ (RDs) to practice. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the attitudes and perceptions of registered dietitians with bachelor’s degrees (BS, RD’s) regarding a transition to the MS degree as the requirement for the RD certification. This study also examined these RD’s attitudes and perceptions regarding impacting factors such as their years of work experience including salary levels and increments, professional stature including promotions and positions, and scope and type of practice. A cross-sectional survey was utilized to collect data and Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 22.0 was used to conduct data analysis. The participant pool was comprised of 107 BS, RDs and included 99 (92.5%) females and 8 (7.5%) males. Fifty-six percent of participants (n=60) were predominantly between the ages of 30-39 years and 88.0% (n=94) reported working in California. Participants expressed greater support for a one-year transitional master’s degree (tMS) rather than the MS degree, and findings indicated lack of support for the universal degree requirement of the MS degree for practice. Participants felt that the MS degree improved the RD’s ability to apply research in clinical practice and improved clinical reasoning skills, however, the degree would not alter the role of the RD, lead to a more defined type and scope of practice, improve the quality of health care for the patients, improve leadership skills or enhance professionalism. RDs who were younger in age and had practiced for a few years were more inclined to be supportive of the transition and were willing to enroll in the MS degree. However, the support decreased with increase in age and years of practice. Participants who believed that the transition was a positive change were found to favor the MS degree and were willing to enroll in the tMS degree, and preferred the “online” mode of instruction. This study provides insight into some attitudes of BS, RDs toward both the educational changes that are taking place and those that may be implemented in the near future.


Ed.D. Dissertation