Requirements for Becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) are food and nutrition experts who have met the following educational and professional criteria to earn and maintain the RDN credential:
Complete a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college and accredited DPD coursework as approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. As stated in the accreditation standards, the DPD is a composite of courses designed to ensure the breadth and depth of requisite knowledge needed for entry to supervised practice to become a registered dietitian nutritionist.
Traditional students enroll in an accredited program and complete the DPD as a part of their baccalaureate degree. Please see the degree requirements in the University Catalog, which includes all courses needed for Dietetics.
Students who already have their baccalaureate degree and then decide to complete the DPD may either complete a second baccalaureate degree or have their transcript evaluated by the DPD director to determine what additional didactic courses are needed and enroll as a non-degree seeking student. See Info for Prospective and Transfer Dietetics Students for more information.
Students are awarded a Verification Statement after they have completed the DPD coursework (and have completed a bachelor’s degree). Students will need a Verification Statement in order to enter a Dietetic Internship. The signed Verification Statement indicates that the student has completed the requirements of an accredited DPD.
Supervised Practice Experience
Achieved by either:
- Obtaining an accredited dietetic internship in a post-baccalaureate accredited program averaging 9 to 12 months in length. There are over 250 accredited programs in the U.S. Appointments to dietetic internships are awarded on a very competitive basis through a computer matching process which occurs in November and April of each year.
- Admission to a graduate school program integrating graduate-level academics with dietetic internship components.
Prospective applicants must review supervised practice program websites carefully for current information, including application deadlines, program requirements and tuition. Refer to the Applicant Guide to Supervised Practice or the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for more information about dietetic internships. Read all information carefully.
NOTE: Historically, the two-step process has allowed internships to select from among the most qualified applicants in order to give them the opportunity to complete their education. In recent years, however, the number of internship positions has remained relatively constant while the number of graduates from DPD programs has increased, leaving growing numbers of qualified students who are unable to complete their education and become Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. During the first round of the April 2017 match, approximately 56% of the 4,839 applicants were matched to internships. Moreover, that percentage has been relatively constant over the past 10 years or more, due to large numbers of new DPD graduates, unsuccessful applicants reapplying for internships, and a relatively stagnant number of internship positions. In order to ensure that you will be successful in obtaining a dietetic internship, please see “How to Increase Your Competitiveness for a Dietetic Internship” for more information. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have.
Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Application to take the examination is made to the CDR following verification of completion of the academic (DPD program) and supervised practice (Dietetic Internship program) requirements. The Dietetic Internship program director will provide details regarding the application process.
Complete 75 clock hours of continuing professional education (CPE) every 5 years to maintain registration status as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Continuing professional education is essential for lifelong development to maintain and improve knowledge and skills for competent dietetics practice.