Steps to Becoming a Registered Dietitian
A registered dietitian (R.D.) is a food and nutrition professional who has met the academic and professional requirements to qualify for the R.D. credential. In addition to R.D. credentialing, many states have regulatory laws for dietitians, and you can meet these requirements through the same education and training required to become an R.D.
To become a registered dietitian, you will need to:
- Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college and complete coursework 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).
You can accomplish the first two items by completing Immaculata's dietetics curriculum, which combines the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' 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 R.D. credential with a bachelor’s degree in another major.
You will need to take all required courses and earn a grade of at least a B- in all professional courses (FNU), as well as maintain a minimum GPA of 2.6 in order to successfully complete the DPD. Once you have done so, you will be issued a verification statement indicating that you have successfully completed an accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics and may pursue a dietetic internship.
- Course Sequence Sheet for Undergraduate Verification Requirements
- Verification Requirements for Students with a B.S. Degree
- Verification Requirements for Prerequisites for Graduate Dietetic Internship
Following completion of the bachelor's degree in dietetics and DPD requirements, you 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 will help you gain practical experience in clinical dietetics, community nutrition, foodservice management and many other areas in the field of dietetics. Immaculata's Dietetic Internship program includes all of these areas in addition to an emphasis on cultural competence and diversity in dietetics practice. There are also several other internship programs in the Philadelphia area as well as throughout the country.
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
After your internship, you must pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians. You may then also be eligible to apply for an additional credential, such as licensure, in the state in which you practice.