What is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and How Do I Become One?

A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is a food and nutrition expert. In order to achieve the RDN credential, certain academic and professional requirements must be met:

Complete a bachelor’s degree through an accredited program like the KSC Public Health/Nutrition Option. Course work must be accredited or approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (Keene State’s degree program is accredited.)

Complete a dietetic internship accredited by ACEND. This is a separate program that students apply to after a bachelor’s degree is obtained. Students applying to dietetic internships should be aware that admittance to programs is very competitive, and it is not guaranteed that all who apply for dietetic internship programs will be accepted. In recent years, the acceptance rate has been approximately 50 percent. Dietetic internships are typically nine to twelve months long.

Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Applicants can take the exam after the completion of the dietetic internship (beginning January 1, 2024, an earned Master’s degree will also be required). Passing the national examination leads to attainment of the credential of Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).

In order to maintain registration, RDNs must complete continuing professional education requirements.

Some RDNs have specialty certifications, including pediatric nutrition, renal nutrition, sports nutrition, and diabetes education. These certifications are not mandatory. About 50 percent of RDNs hold advanced degrees.

Many states have state-specific regulatory laws or licensing for dietitians.