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How to Become a Dietitian

How to Become a Dietitian

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

A four-year college degree with a major in dietetics is required to become a registered dietitian (RD). There are two types of programs available:

  • A didactic program involves classroom instruction during college, followed by a field internship for one-year
  • A coordinated program in dietetics requires both classroom instruction and 900 hours of supervised practice.

Before enrolling, ensure that the program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

Find Approved Registered Dietitian Programs

The preparation timeline below provides an example curriculum:

Grade Level Example Courses
Freshman
  • Nutrition I
  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • Psychology I
  • Pre-Calculus
  • Calculus I
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
Sophomore
  • Human Physiology
  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • Nutrition II
  • Microbiology I
  • Life Span Nutrition
  • Statistics I
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
Junior
  • Physiological Chemistry
  • Foodservice Operations Management
  • Communication I
  • Medical Terminology
  • Technical Writing
  • Food Preservation and Packaging
  • Vitamins and Minerals
  • Energy, Metabolism, and Metabolic Integration
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
Senior
  • Food & Nutrition in the Community
  • Foodservice Systems Management
  • Professional Issues in Dietetics
  • Clinical Nutrition I
  • Clinical Nutrition II
  • Nutrition Counseling
  • Interpreting Current Nutrition Research
  • Nutrition Counseling
  • Remaining Requirements & Electives

2. Complete an ACEND-Accredited Supervised Practice Program (6 - 12 Months)

ACEND offers two pathways to the completion of 1200 supervised practice hours:

  • Accredited Dietetic Internship - Completed separate from a bachelor's degree
  • Accredited Coordinated Program - Completed alongside a bachelor's degree

These options allow candidates some measure of flexibility when seeking to become a registered dietitian.

Search for a Supervised Practice Program

For more information, check out the Registration Eligibility Requirements for Dietitians.

3. Take the Registration Examination for Dietitians

Upon graduation, successful completion of the Registration Examination for Dietitians is required to become a registered dietitian. Candidates may not register individually.

Upon completion of a supervised practice program, the director will submit the eligible candidates to CDR for registration.CDR does not allow individuals to contact directly.

The exam is broken down in the following sections:

Section

% of Exam

Food & Nutrition

Food Science & Nutrition Composition of Foods

Nutrition & Supporting Sciences

12%

Nutrition Care Process & Model - Simple & Complex Conditions

Nutrition Screening & Assessment

Nutrition Diagnosis

Normal Intervention

Medical Monitoring & Evaluation

40%

Counseling, Communication, Education & Research

Assessment & Planning

Implementation & Evaluation

Research

10%

Foodservice Systems

Menu Planning

Procurement, Production, Distribution, & Service

Sanitation & Safety

Facility Planning

17%

Management

Human Resources

Finance & Materials

Marketing Products & Services

Functions & Characteristics

Quality Improvement

21%

Specialized areas of practice, such as renal nutrition or pediatric dietetics, nutritional support and diabetes education can be obtained with additional certification.

This type of certification is awarded through CDR, the agency for credentialing through the ADA. Certification is also available through other medical or nutritional organizations.

These specialized certifications are recognized within the professional community but are not required for entry into or maintenance of registration.

Find Specialized Certifications