Steps to Becoming a Registered Dietitian
A registered dietitian (RD) is a food and nutrition professional who has met the academic and professional requirements to qualify for the RD credential. In addition to RD credentialing, many states have regulatory laws for dietitians, and these requirements are met through the same education and training required to become an RD.
The following steps are required to become a registered dietitian:
- Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college and complete course work accredited or approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the ADA).
- Complete didactic coursework that constitutes a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), as defined by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
- Complete a Dietetic Internship at a health care facility, community agency, or a foodservice corporation or combined with undergraduate or graduate studies. Typically, a practice program will run 10 to 12 months in length.
- Pass a national registration examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
The first two items can be accomplished by completing the Dietetics curriculum at Immaculata University, which combines the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic's 2012 Eligibility Requirements and Accreditation Standards for Didactic Programs in Dietetics and Immaculata University’s liberal arts core requirements. These options are available at the traditional undergraduate level as well as through the College of LifeLong Learning for students seeking the RD credential with a bachelor’s degree in another major.
Upon successful completion of the bachelor's degree in Dietetics and the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), a verification statement will be issued to the student, indicating that he/she has successfully completed an accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics and may pursue a Dietetic Internship. A student will be considered to have successfully completed the DPD if all required courses are completed and the student has received a grade of B- or higher in all professional courses (FNU) and maintained a minimum GPA of 2.6.
- Course Sequence Sheet for Undergraduate Verification Requirements PDF
- Verification Requirements for Students with a B.S. Degree PDF
- Verification Requirements for Prerequisites for Graduate Dietetic Internship PDF
Following completion of the bachelor's degree in Dietetics/DPD requirements, students must apply, be accepted into, and complete a post-baccalaureate Dietetic Internship. These programs require a minimum of 1,200 hours of supervised practice and help students gain practical experience in clinical dietetics, community nutrition, foodservice management and many other areas in the field of dietetics. The Dietetic Internship Program includes all of these areas in addition to an emphasis in cultural competence and diversity in dietetics practice. There are also several other internship programs in the Philadelphia area as well as throughout the country. Click here for a list of all dietetic internship programs in the country.
After the internship, students must take and pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians. They then may also be eligible to apply for an additional credential, such as licensure, in the state in which they practice. Acceptance into Dietetic Internship programs has become fiercely competitive, with national acceptance rates around 50% (2012). Acceptance into Dietetic Internships is based upon a number of factors, including:
- Overall undergraduate GPA and GPA in science and professional courses (generally a 3.0 or above).
- Dietetics-related work or volunteer experience
- Leadership experience
- Letters of recommendation
- Letter of application