Can I Become a Registered Dietitian Through Online Courses?

Online courses can prepare you to earn the registered dietitian (RD) credential from the American Dietetic Association. However, you'll also have to complete an in-person internship. Keep reading to learn more about the process of becoming a registered dietitian.

Online Programs for Registered Dietitians

To become a registered dietitian, a student must earn a bachelor's degree and complete an internship program approved by the American Dietetic Association's (ADA) Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). He or she must then pass CDR's national Registration Examination for Dietitians.

Some schools offer bachelor's degree programs in dietetics that allow students to complete online coursework while fulfilling internship requirements at a facility near their home. Often called coordinated dietetics programs, these academic offerings typically feature coursework that mirrors that of on-campus programs.

Curriculum

Prerequisites for online courses in dietetics usually include organic chemistry, biochemistry, psychology, microbiology and statistics. Core dietetics coursework tends to address nutritional needs at various life stages as well as the role culture plays in dietary practices. Other course topics might include food science, nutrition education and nutritional assessment.

Internships

Internships can require up to 32 hours of job experience per week. Interns typically plan menus, develop a budget and monitor meal preparation for public schools, community food pantries or hospitals.

Students enrolled in a coordinated bachelor's degree program might meet these requirements on a semester-by-semester basis or after completing program coursework. Other schools offer didactic dietetics programs that allow students to transfer to a separate internship program after graduating. These 10- or 12-month internship programs also might be available in a distance learning format, allowing students with limited dietitian training programs in their area to enroll in a school's internship program while completing fieldwork at a local hospital or school.

Continuing Education Options

Master's degree programs in dietetics, which typically are geared toward ADA-registered dietitians who want to advance in their careers or prepare for doctoral studies, also can be completed online. These programs teach advanced topics in medical nutrition and disease, macronutrients and nutritional status assessment.

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