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Becoming a RDN


Step 1: Undergraduate Degree

Dietetic intern standing in from of hospital sign, reading

Obtain a BS degree from a regionally accredited US colleges/universities or foreign equivalents at an ACEND®-accredited education programs. 

Dietitians apply the science of nutrition to help individuals, families, and communities achieve optimal health. Nutrition is the application of biochemistry to the human body. Thus, a BS degree includes lots of science courses. Dietitians also need to have strong math and writing skills, as well as a good understanding of management and human psychology. It's a comprehensive education!

When you finish your undergraduate degree, you'll receive a DPD Program Verification Statement, which allows you to apply for an internship.

Step 2: Masters Degree/Dietetic Internship

Effective January 1, 2024, both a supervised practice program and master's degree are needed to take the credentialing exam required to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). 

ISU offers a combined masters degree/supervised practice program. The Master in Nutrition expands your understanding of the science of nutrition. The ISU supervised practice program, called a Dietetic Internship (DI), is ACEND® accredited. 

DI programs include a minimum of 1,200 hours of supervised practice. When you finish, you'll receive a DI Verification Statement. This paperwork confirms your eligibility to take the national exam (administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration). ISU dietetic interns:

  • Train with a small group of dietetic interns—and make friends for life
  • Learn in a fast-paced, supervised practicum 
  • Complete the required training hours and learning activities within a 16-month time frame*
  • Earn a Master of Science in Nutrition

Many DI programs use a computerized application and matching process. The centralized application service (DICAS) allows you to apply for multiple programs with one application. The D&D Digital system matches you with a DI program. Others have their own application process.

*In extreme circumstances (medical emergency or the need for educational remediation), an intern’s individual learning time frame may be extended. Decisions to extend the intern’s time are made on an individual basis by the program director with input by the intern’s instructors and preceptors.

Step 3: Registration & Licensure

The last step is to sign up to take the credentialing exam.  

When you successfully pass the exam, you may use the registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) credential. Some states require that RDNs also obtain a state license. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has lots of information on licensure rules across the U.S.

Like any profession, dietitians and other nutrition professionals use a lot of acronyms when they discuss their profession. Below is a list of some of the more common abbreviations.

Nutrition and Dietetics: Common Abbreviations  




Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics: ACEND is the accrediting agency for education programs preparing students for careers as registered dietitian nutritionists or nutrition and dietetic technicians. The ISU Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetic Internship are ACEND-accredited.


Commission on Dietetic Registration: The Commission on Dietetic Registration administers rigorous valid and reliable credentialing processes to protect the public and meet the needs of CDR credentialed practitioners, employers and consumers.


Dietetic Internship: The Dietetic Internship (DI) is a post-baccalaureate program that provides only the required competencies (supervised practice) and admits students who have already completed the current ACEND-accredited academic coursework (DPD) and at least a baccalaureate degree.


Dietetic Internship Centralized Application Service: Online applicant portal, for use by students who are applying to Dietetic Internship programs that participate in the DICAS Match.



Didactic Program in Dietetics: The DPD provides the required dietetics coursework leading to a bachelor's or graduate degree. Graduates of ACEND-accredited programs who are verified by the program director may apply for Dietetic Internships to establish eligibility to write the CDR registration examination for dietitians.

also called
Diet Tech

Nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered: NDTRs are educated and trained at the technical level of nutrition and dietetics practice for the delivery of safe, culturally competent, quality food and nutrition services. NDTRs are an integral part of healthcare and food service management teams.

RD and RDN

Registered Dietitian or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist: RDs or RDNs are food and nutrition experts who have met the CDR criteria to earn the RD/RDN credential. RDs/RDNs work in a wide variety of employment settings, including health care, business and industry, community/public health, education, research, government agencies and private practice.

Nutrition and Dietetics: List of Professional Associations

American Public Health Association: APHA is an inter-professional association that champions the health of all people and all communities. The Food and Nutrition Section of APHA is a multidisciplinary group interested in local, national and global food and nutrition issues and in working to influence policies, programs, research and education related to public health nutrition. Offers discounted student membership.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: The Academy is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. It has over 100,000 credentialed practitioners. Members include registered dietitian nutritionists, dietetic technicians, registered, and other dietetics professionals. The Academy offers discounted student membership.

American Society of Nutrition: ASN is an inter-professional association. It brings together the world’s top researchers, clinical nutritionists and industry. ASN members work to advance our knowledge and application of nutrition for the sake of humans and animals. Offers discounted student membership.

Association for Size Diversity and Health: ASDAH is a non-profit organization with an international membership committed to the practice of the Health At Every Size® (HAES®) Principles. Provide educational resources, vetted referral opportunities, and an extensive network of like-minded advocates and professionals.

Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals: ANFP is a national association of 14,000 professionals dedicated to the practice of providing optimum nutrition care through foodservice management. Offers discounted student membership.

Eating Disorder Professionals of Idaho: Empower the eating disorder professionals of Idaho to build connections with each other, to share expertise and resources, and to collaborate/coordinate care in efforts to offer individuals with eating disorders state-of-the-art treatment and the best chance of recovery.  

Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: IAND promotes the value of the dietetic professional, innovation in dietetic practice and ongoing professional development in order to champion healthy lifestyles and nutrition-related public policy for the well-being of our members and the communities they serve.

Idaho Public Health Association: The IPHA is the oldest nonprofit organization representing public, private and consumer health interests in Idaho. Offers discounted student membership.

Public Health Student Association: The Public Health Student Association (PHSA) is an official ISU student organization since the early 2000s. The purposes of PHSA are to organize graduate students in public health and health education. PHSA also provides extra-curricular opportunities for networking, public service, and educational enhancement.

Pocatello Dietitians: A club that provides local RDN's opportunities for CEU's, networking and news updates.

School Nutrition Association: SNA is a national, nonprofit professional organization representing more than 58,000 members. Members provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. SNA has been advancing the availability, quality, and acceptance of school nutrition programs since 1946.

Southeast Idaho Dietitians: This local association aims to connect dietitians on the southeast side of the state and keep them connected with the state association, the Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Treasure Valley Dietitians: A club that provides local RDN's opportunities for CEU's, networking and news updates.

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