For every career that a person could consider, the most important step is earning an education, and this is especially true if you want to work as a dietitian or a nutritionist. The majority of states—46 out of 50—have specific requirement for working in the dietetic profession, and the most important of these requirements is to complete a bachelor’s degree related to the field.
If you’re considering becoming a dietitian or a nutritionist, it’s important that you learn about the educational requirements for these fields and your options for completing a degree. Read how you can complete a dietetic education and discover a few of the dietetic programs that will train you for this exciting field.
Types of Schools
Most people who are seeking to become a registered dietitian assume that they will need to complete their education at a specialized school. However, while you may not realize it, you can earn your bachelor’s degree in dietetics, nutritional science or a related field from a regular college or university. Major state universities, and some technical schools, offer dietetic programs that will make you eligible for registration upon their completion.
The only requirement is that your degree is earned at an institution that has been accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). ACEND is a national level organization that is focused on promoting the field of dietetics, and one of the ways that it does this is by accrediting dietetic educational programs.
One of the primary reasons to complete a dietetic education is that it is a requirement for becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with the Commission on Dietetic Registration, a requirement for licensure in many states.
If you are seeking a RDN, there are two program types that you can enroll in. The first is known as a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). Most accredited universities will offer a DPD, which will cover all the courses necessary to earn your bachelor’s degree.
The other type of program that meets the RDN educational requirement is called a Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CP). A CP covers all of the coursework that is included in a DPD, and also includes an internship component where you will complete 1,200 hours of supervised work experience. Whichever of these programs you choose, you will complete courses in subjects like dietetics, clinical nutrition, biology, psychology and food management services.
You may also complete a Nutrition and Dietetic Technician Programs (DTP). Completing a DTP will earn you an associate’s degree and will entitle you to apply for an internship necessary to receive the Nutrition and Dietetic Technicians, Registered (DTR) designation.
Accredited School Links
As mentioned, if you want to earn either your RDN or DTR, you will need to completed a degree from an institution that has received ACEND accreditation. If you earn a degree from a non-accredited institution, you will not be eligible to register with the Commission on Dietetic Registration and you may not be able to become licensed in the state where you intend to practice. Fortunately, ACEND maintains a registry of accredited institutions that offer dietetic education programs:
- Institutions that Offer a Didactic Program in Dietetics
- Institutions that Offer a Coordinated Program in Dietetics
- Institutions that Offer Nutrition and Dietetic Technician Programs