For additional information about becoming an RD visit The American Dietetic Association web page at

There is a specific process to obtaining the RD credential. The following 4 steps will help you understand the time, money and energy commitment necessary for this rewarding career.

Dietetics student working at Pangea

Step 1: Attend a university or college that offers an accredited program in dietetics.
These programs are referred to as Didactic Programs in Dietetics, or more simply, DPD programs. DPD programs are typically 4 year programs that provide the academic coursework required for the RD credential. Some programs, called coordinated programs, include the dietetic internship along with the DPD program requirements. Oregon State University is NOT a coordinated program though it does host a separate Dietetic Internship. At Oregon State University you must declare your major as Pre-Dietetics. Formal admittance to the OSU Dietetics program requires 2 years of specific course work and the maintenance of a GPA above a 3.0.

Step 2: Gain acceptance to a CADE/ADA accredited Dietetic Internship (DI) program.
Acceptances into Dietetic Internships are very competitive as there are not enough spots to accommodate all the DPD graduates in the United States each year. Dietetic Internship programs are between 6-9 months long, include 1200 hours of training and education, and vary in cost. The DI experience is often referred to as a "fifth year". Students apply to several programs across the country and go through a computer matching process based on the DI programs evaluation of an individual's application.

Over the past few years students have needed a GPA of 3.4 or higher to be considered an eligible candidate for DI programs. DI program acceptance criteria also includes a student's history of work and volunteer experience, involvement in professional organizations as well as leadership experience and potential.

Step 3: Take and pass the National Examination for Registered Dietitians.
Following the successful completion of the Dietetic Internship, students are now eligible to take the National Examination for Registered Dietitians administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Students must pass the exam to be able to use the RD credential.

In many states there are regulations surrounding licensure. Students are encouraged to become familiar with their state's rules and regulations regarding the credentials required for and the scope of practice of dietetics.

Step 4: Maintain the RD credential through Lifelong Learning and continuing education.
The CDR requires a specific number of continuing education hours every 5 years. The Professional Development Portfolio allows RDs to develop career and supporting educational goals that reflect their areas of interest, expertise and future training needs.

Other Certifications:Students in Dietetics Lab

  1. If a student does not gain acceptance into or pursue a dietetic internship, they may wish to acquire a different credential. The Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR) credential can be obtained after passing a DTR exam. Students who have verification statements attesting to their successful completion of an accredited DPD program are eligible to apply for the opportunity to test for this credential. For more information about this option and the process for application refer to CDR's web site.
  2. CDR also offers pathways to obtain 5 different specialty certifications for RDs. The five areas currently available for specialization credentials are: Renal, Pediatrics, Oncology, Sport and Gerontological Dietetics. These specialty certification exams require specific numbers of practice hours and the successful completion of an exam. For more information on specialty certifications refer to CDR's web site.
  3. Certificates of training in Adult and in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management are also available through CDR. These certificates do not result in any new credentials but allow RDs to obtain comprehensive, specialized training in weight management. For more information on seminar dates, fees and availability refer to CDR's web site.

For more information contact Academic Advising