What Education Is Needed to Become a Dietitian?

If you’re interested in becoming a dietitian, you’ll need to complete a bachelor’s degree program in dietetics, food, and nutrition, and pass a national exam.

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Introduction

Dietitians are food and nutrition experts who help people live healthier lives. They advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal. Dietitians typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, food science, or a related field. Some dietitians also earn a master’s degree or doctoral degree.

What Education Is Needed to Become a Dietitian?

Dietitians need at least a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, food and nutrition, or a related field. However, many dietitians have a master’s degree or higher. You will also need to complete a supervised practice program, which can last up to two years. After that, you will need to pass a national exam to become a registered dietitian.

Associate’s Degree

There are multiple education paths you can take to become a dietitian. The most common route is to get an associate’s degree from a community college, though you can also get a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a university. There are even some online programs available.

No matter what type of program you choose, you’ll need to complete coursework in anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and food science. You’ll also need to complete a practicum, which is a supervised internship where you’ll have the opportunity to put your skills to work in a real-world setting.

Bachelor’s Degree

Becoming a registered dietitian generally requires completing a bachelor’s degree that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE). The CADE is the accrediting body for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. According to the Academy, more than 200 undergraduate and graduate programs are currently accredited by the CADE

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To become registered, dietitians must also complete a supervised practice program and pass an examination. After that, they must complete continuing education credits to maintain their registration.

Master’s Degree

The minimum education requirement for dietitians is a bachelor’s degree, but many dietitians have a master’s degree. A bachelor’s degree takes about four years to complete, while a master’s degree takes an additional two to three years.

There are no specific undergraduate majors required for admission into dietetics programs, but most programs recommend taking courses in the sciences, such as biology, chemistry, and physics. Other recommended courses include communications, English, mathematics, and sociology.

Dietetics programs typically lead to a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nutrition or dietetics. These programs include coursework in the sciences (e.g., biology, chemistry, and physiology), food science and technology, food service systems management, business and marketing Management principles), and/or counseling and psychology. Many programs also require completion of an internship or practice experience.

Doctoral Degree

In order to become a registered dietitian, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, complete a dietetic internship, and pass a national exam. Some states also have additional licensure requirements. Once you have met all of the necessary requirements, you will be able to use the title “registered dietitian” (RD).

While it is not required, some dietitians choose to pursue a doctoral degree in order to further their knowledge and career. A doctoral degree in dietetics may allow you to work in research or teach at the college level. If you are interested in pursuing a doctoral degree, you will need to complete an accredited doctoral program and earn a PhD or Doctor of Science (DS) in dietetics.

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Conclusion

Dietitians typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, food systems management, or a related area. Some states have additional requirements, such as completion of an accredited program and passing a state-recognized exam.

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