Dietitian Education Requirements

If you are interested in becoming a dietitian, it is critical to have a solid understanding of nutrition and the human body, which entails obtaining a degree in dietetics or nutrition. Read on to learn about courses offered in both undergraduate and graduate programs along with certification requirements. Schools offering Nutrition degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Degree Should an Aspiring Dietitian Pursue?

If you're just starting out, you may be interested in earning a bachelor's degree in dietetics, nutrition or a similar area. Many colleges and universities nationwide offer on-campus or online programs that last four years. General education requirements, such as biology and chemistry, offer a foundation for food science classes. Core topics include clinical and community nutrition, food economics and food production management.

Common Bachelor's Degree Courses Clinical and community nutrition, food economics, biology
Common Master's Degree Courses Medical nutrition therapy, nutrition counseling, human metabolism
Certification Requirements Completion of an accredited bachelor's degree program, 1,200 hours in dietetic internship, and must pass CDR exam
Median Salary (2018)$60,370* (for dietitians and nutritionists)
Job Outlook (2016-26)15%* (for all dietitians and nutritionists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Degrees Are Available for Graduates?

If you already have a bachelor's degree, you may be interested in earning a master's degree in dietetics. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this can help workers achieve higher positions in the realm of research, public policy and clinical leadership. Classes commonly include medical nutrition therapy, nutrition counseling and human metabolism. You may also be required to research and write a thesis on a topic in your field of study. Some distance-education programs are available.

How Can I Become Certified?

The BLS reported as of 2010 that 46 states have guidelines concerning dietitians; of these, 33 require licensure and 12 require certification while one requires registration ( You should check with your state to see what's required to work in this field.

The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) offers optional certification for Registered Dietitians (RD). Education requirements are the completion of a bachelor's degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Dietetics Education. You must also complete a minimum of 1,200 hours in an approved dietetic internship. Once you have fulfilled these requirements, you may sit for the CDR's national credentialing examination. This tests your knowledge of four key areas:

  • Food and nutrition sciences
  • Nutrition care for individuals and groups
  • Management of food and nutrition programs and services
  • Food service systems

Re-certification is necessary every five years, and involves the completion of continuing education units.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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