Dietetic Internships

What is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) are food and nutrition experts who have met the following criteria to earn the RDN credential:

  • Completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a US regionally accredited university or college and course work accredited or approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
  • Completed an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program at a health-care facility, community agency, or a foodservice corporation or combined with undergraduate or graduate studies. Typically, a practice program will run six to 12 months in length.
  • Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). For more information regarding the examination, refer to CDR’s website at www.cdrnet.org.
  • Completed continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.

Some RDNs hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice. These are awarded through CDR, the credentialing agency for the Academy, and/or other medical and nutrition organizations and are recognized within the profession, but are not required. Some of the certifications include pediatric or renal nutrition, sports dietetics, nutrition support and diabetes education.

In addition to RDN credentialing, many states have regulatory laws for dietitians and nutrition practitioners. Frequently these state requirements are met through the same education and training required to become an RDN.

College Coursework

Dietitians study a variety of subjects, ranging from food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, culinary arts, sociology and communication to science courses such as biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, anatomy and chemistry.

International Professionals

Individuals who completed their education and training outside of the US, or received credentials in another country, may be eligible to become credentialed RDNs in the US. Individuals who have completed the education and credentialing requirements in one country may be eligible for another country's credentialing examination if the two countries have entered into a "reciprocity" agreement to allow this. If reciprocity does not apply, you must have your academic degree validated as equivalent to the bachelor's or master's degree conferred by a US regionally-accredited college or university and complete an ACEND-approved supervised practice requirement to establish your eligibility to sit for the exam. It is important to note that all individuals who establish registration eligibility — whether under the provisions of a reciprocity agreement or through the combination of a validated academic degree and supervised practice program — must successfully write the Registration Examination for Dietitians to earn the RDN credential.

Where to Start if You Already Have a Degree

If you already have a bachelor's degree that is not in dietetics and are interested in becoming a registered dietitian nutritionist, you should have your college transcript evaluated by a director of a dietetics program accredited or approved by ACEND. Because the policies, procedures and costs for the transcript evaluation may vary from one institution to another, you may want to contact more than one dietetics program for further information.

The program director will evaluate your previous academic preparation and identify the courses that you will need to complete at that school to meet the educational requirements for dietetic registration. It may be possible to complete the required dietetics coursework while enrolled in a graduate program. The dietetics program director can advise you of your options.

Once the required coursework is completed, you are eligible to apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program.

Need More Information?

For other career guidance information, contact Academy’s Accreditation and Education Programs Team:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Accreditation and Education Programs Team
120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190
Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995

Phone: 800/877-1600, ext. 5400
Fax: 312/899-4817
E-mail: education@eatright.org

Excerpt from : “What is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?” from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2017. Accessed October 30, 2017. Available from: http://www.eatrightpro.org/resources/about-us/what-is-an-rdn-and-dtr/what-is-a-registered-dietitian-nutritionistOff Site Icon

Ohio Licensure

Licensure is required in order to practice dietetics as defined by law in the state of Ohio. Upon successful completion of a Dietetic Internship and receipt of a Verification Statement, graduates may apply for a Limited Permit to practice dietetics in Ohio. Upon passage of the Registration Exam for Dietitians, individual may apply for a License to practice dietetics in Ohio

Content Updated: January 10, 2018

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