Becoming a Registered Dietitian (RD) / Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

What is a RD/RDN?

  • The titles RD and RDN are synonymous.
  • RDs are food and nutrition expert who has met registration certification criteria set by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (AND), Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition & Dietetics (ACCEND), and Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
  • RDs are often referred to as “nutritionists,” but RDs have more education and training than nutritionists and have greater job responsibilities.
  • Another credential is Dietetic Technician Registered (DTR/NDTR).

What does a RD/RDN do?

  • RDs uses evidenced-based practice to promote good health through nutrition (eating).
  • Registered dietitians assess the nutritional needs of both sick and healthy people and then develop individualized plans of care to improve or maintain health.

In what settings do RDs/RDNs work?

  • Clinical – hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, dialysis centers, home care
  • Community – public health agencies, WIC, schools
  • Corporations – businesses
  • Management – food service, administration
  • Private practice
  • Sports nutrition
  • Research
  • Consulting
  • Culinary
  • Education - teach

How does one become a RD/RDN?

Complete registration certification criteria:

  1. Complete a bachelor’s degree at a U.S. accredited university
  2. Complete ACEND-accredited coursework in a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD verification statement)
  3. Complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program in a Dietetic Internship (DI)
  4. Pass national RD exam administered by CDR

Once registered, must complete continuing professional education to maintain registration.

Note: Starting 2024, an advanced degree will also be a requirement.

Various paths to becoming a RD/RDN offered at SJSU: 

Abbreviations list:

  • BS = Bachelor of Science
  • DPD = Didactic Program in Dietetics
  • Internal DI = Dietetic Internship through SJSU
  • External DI = Dietetic Internship through another institution (outside of SJSU)
  • RD = Registered Dietitian
  • MS = Master's of Science degree

For more information: