Become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

The Process

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Complete a bachelor's degree at a regionally accredited institution

To become a registered dietitian nutritionist, the first step is to complete a bachelor's degree at a regionally accredited institution in a program that combines science, foods, nutrition, and foodservice management, and is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This is called a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). The dietetics program at James Madison University is an accredited DPD program. Students must apply and be admitted to the dietetics major.

Complete an approved Dietetics Internship (DI)

Following graduation from a DPD, you must complete an ACEND-accredited or approved Supervised Practice experience (Dietetic Internship, Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway, or Coordinated Program), These are supervised practice experiences of at least 1200 hours directed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

Students successfully completing the JMU DPD will receive a signed Verification Statement necessary before beginning a Supervised Practice experience.

Verification Statement Forms will be processed as soon as the JMU Registrar has posted the degree to the student’s record, normally within one month following graduation. Five signed copies of the Verification Statement will be sent to the home address listed in the student’s official record.

Verification Statements showing completion of DPD requirements at JMU will be issued only to students who complete the professional program after full admission to the dietetics program at JMU.

The JMU DPD does not evaluate transcripts for DPD completion of students who are not attending JMU. The university does not admit students to undergraduate programs if they possess a Baccalaureate degree. Therefore, the DPD at JMU cannot admit these students to the program nor issue Verification Statements to them.

Detailed information about the Dietetics Internship and opportunities for computer matching applicant to internships can be found starting on page 23 of the program handbook.

After successful completion of this experience, you will be ready to take the registration examination for dietitian nutritionists administered by the Commission on Dietetics Registration (CDR). Passing that examination qualifies you to use the RD/RDN credential.

Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will require a minimum of a master’s degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). In most states, graduates also must obtain licensure or certification to practice. Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics at James Madison University are eligible to apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program.

For more information about educational pathways to become an RDN please visit ACEND Information for Students.

Obtain a state license

The Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential is a national certification of competence in dietetics. Virginia does not have state licensure for dietitians at the current time. Other states in which you might practice may require you obtain a state license as a dietitian/nutritionist before you are allowe to practice. Information on state licensure requirements are summarized by CDR on their state licensure page at https://www.cdrnet.org/state-licensure.

JMU Dietetics Program

In the James Madison University Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), students use creativity in learning from classroom experiences, case studies, computer applications, and problem-solving and decision-making projects. Students will gain research experience in their senior year. Students also obtain real-life experiences by completing a hospital-based practicum covering all aspects of dietetics practice.

The four year program in dietetics includes courses in many areas to prepare you for a variety of careers in dietetics. You will complete the general education program designed to provide a firm liberal studies base for your continued education, and courses in biology, chemistry, and mathematics along with your foods and nutrition courses.

The DPD program follows the standard James Madison University academic calendar with one course required during the summer between the junior and senior years to be completed in a distance education format from the student's hometown.