To help current and aspiring Registered Dietitians achieve their goals, we developed the following study guide for RD certification and licensure.
RDN certification can offer many benefits, including greater job opportunities, higher salaries, and further career advancement in the dietetic profession.
This study guide will focus on the RDN, which stands for Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. The RDN exam is administered by The Commission on Dietetic Registration.
What Is a Dietitian technician?
RDs are food and nutrition experts who have met the Commission on Dietetic Registration’s (CDR) criteria to earn the RD credential. RDs work in a wide variety of employment settings, including health care, business and industry, community/public health, education, research, government agencies and private practice. refer to the Scope of Practice documents and Academy Definition of Terms.
What Are the Requirements to Take the RD Examination?
Option 1—Dietetic Internship
Option 2—Coordinated Program
Option 3—Future Education Model Graduate Program
Option 4—DPD ISPP
- Completion of a bachelor’s degree* granted by a US regionally accredited college/university (or foreign equivalent).
- Completion of an Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD).
- Did not match with a DI.
- Completion of an ACEND accredited DPD ISPP.
Option 5—Doctorate ISPP
- Completion of a doctorate granted by a US regionally accredited college/university (or foreign equivalent).
- Completion of an ACEND accredited doctorate ISPP.
Option 6—Registration Eligibility Reciprocity
Registration eligibility reciprocity is extended to individuals who completed all certification requirements (academic, didactic, experiential, and examination) in the country with whom CDR has an agreement. CDR currently has reciprocity agreements with the following foreign regulatory boards.
- Dutch Association of Dietitians/Ministry of Welfare, Public Health and Culture (NVD).
- Philippine Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).
- Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI).
If you have completed certification requirements with one of the above credentialing bodies, please follow the instructions on the International Registration Eligibility Application.
Option 7—Canadian Registered Dietitian
Canadian applicants who are graduates of a Partnership in Dietetic Education and Practice (PDEP) accredited program, and who are licensed as a Canadian RD (or equivalent provincial designation) may apply for registration eligibility with CDR. This pathway is in effect January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2023. Click here to learn how to apply.
Option 8—International Dietetics Programs
Foreign Dietitian Education Programs (FDE)
All FDE programs are located in a country outside of the U.S. These programs provide nutrition and dietetics coursework and supervised practice experiences in the country in which the program is located, to meet ACEND’s core knowledge and competency requirements to become a nutrition and dietetics practitioner in that country. A verification statement is issued to individuals who successfully complete the program as evidence of eligibility to apply for a U.S.-based ACEND accredited dietetic internship. An individual must apply, be accepted to and complete a dietetic internship or other ACEND accredited supervised practice program in the U.S. in order to meet eligibility requirements to take CDR’s entry-level registration examination for dietitian nutritionists.
International Dietitian Education Programs (IDE)
All IDE programs are located in a country outside of the U.S. and provide the required nutrition and dietetics coursework and at least 1200 hours of supervised practice experiences (at least 900 of which are completed in the U.S.) to meet ACEND®‘s core knowledge and competency requirements to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. A verification statement is issued to individuals who successfully complete the program in order to be eligible to take the CDR credentialing examination.
To access the list of ACEND accredited International Dietetics Programs, please click here.
What is the RDN credential option?
RDs have the option to use of the credential “registered dietitian nutritionist” (RDN).
Will the new optional RDN credential have an effect on state licensure of RDs?
No. Legal counsel determined that adding the optional RDN* credential will not affect licensure or other regulations. Many state licensure/certification laws already reference the term nutritionist (e.g., LDN or CDN).
Why is the Academy offering the optional Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential?
The option was established to further enhance the RD brand and more accurately reflect to consumers who registered dieti- tians are and what they do. This will differentiate the rigorous credential requirements and highlight that all registered dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.
Inclusion of the word “nutritionist” in the credential communicates a broader concept of wellness (including prevention of health conditions beyond medical nutrition therapy) as well as treatment of conditions.
This option is also consistent with the inclusion of the word “nutrition” in the Academy’s new name.
There is an increased awareness of the Academy’s role as a key organization in food and nutrition by media, government agencies, allied health organizations and consumers. For instance, the Academy has noted an increase in the number of media impressions (print, broadcast and electronic) from the Academy’s media outreach activities. Twenty billion media impressions were obtained in 2011, prior to the Academy’s name change; contrasted with 30 billion impressions during the first six months of 2012 alone.
This provides additional rationale for the incorporation of the word “nutrition” into the RD* credential resulting in the optional RDN* credential.
What member input was considered?
In 2010, the Academy began exploring the option of offering the registered dietitian nutritionist credential. It was supported by participants in the 2011 Future Connections Summit and most recently by the Council on Future Practice in its 2012 Visioning Report. The recommendation was shared and discussed in the House of Delegates at the Fall 2012 meeting. The 2013 joint meeting of the major organizational units (Commission on Dietetic Registration, Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, Council on Future Practice, Education Committee, and Nutrition and Dietetics Educators and Preceptors DPG) supported moving forward.
Must RDs use the RDN credential?
No. The RDN credential is offered as an option to RDs who want to emphasize the nutrition aspect of their credential to the public and to other health practitioners.
Does the optional RDN have a different meaning than the RD credential?
No. The RD and RDN credential have identical meanings and legal trademark definitions.
How should RDs use the new credential for signatures and materials such as business cards?
Click here for Guidelines for Credential Placement.
Do CDR registration ID cards include both the RD* and RDN* credentials?
Yes. The registration identification card reflect both the RD and RDN credentials.
Is there an additional cost?
No. There is no additional cost for using the RDN credential.
Are RDs be required to meet separate recertification requirements if they choose to use the optional RDN credential?
No. The current RD recertification requirements apply to the RDN credential.
How does the new optional RDN credential fit into the Academy’s ongoing branding and marketing efforts?
The Academy is developing a plan to strengthen and differentiate a respected brand.