Schools for Aspiring Registered Dietitians: How to Choose

Becoming a registered dietitian (RD) requires three major steps, the first of which is completing approved, didactic coursework at a university or college.

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Registered dietitians commonly provide nutritional therapy with the aim of preventing and treating diseases in settings such as hospitals and private practices, as well as in community and research settings. Interested individuals must meet minimum education requirements, pass an exam, and then get hands-on training experience before they are ready for a job in the field. There are schools across the country that provide the necessary academic training.

Dietian Schools

These schools provide relevant programs for aspiring dietitians:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (In-state, 2015-2016)*
Ball State University Muncie, IN 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's $9,498 undergraduate, $8,242 graduate
Bowling Green State University Bowling Green, OH 4-year, public Bachelor's $10,796
Brigham Young University Provo, UT 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's $5,150
Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's $6,507 undergraduate, $9,684 graduate
Kansas State University Manhattan, KS 4-year, public Bachelor's $9,350
Oregon Health & Science University Portland, OR 4-year, public Master's, Postgraduate certificate $20,412
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 4-year, public Bachelor's $10,002
University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,664 undergraduate, $13,447 graduate
Virginia State University Petersburg, VA 4-year, public Postgraduate certificate $7,370

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

  • Although many schools offer dietetics or nutrition programs, prospective students aspiring to be an RD must look for schools that have a program approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE).
  • Aspiring RDs may want to consider the fact that some universities build the requisite 1,200 hours of practical experience into their academic programs; these are known as coordinated programs.
  • Some other CADE-accredited programs provide students didactic instruction through degree curricula, but graduates are expected to apply to and complete a CADE-approved internship separately.

Bachelor's Degree in Dietetics

Programs specifically for those aspiring to become registered dietitians are usually offered through dietetics programs; dietetics is sometimes offered as a concentration track via nutrition programs. Those in coordinated programs undertake practical experiences as part of the curriculum, while graduates of non-coordinated programs receive verification of eligibility to participate in a supervised internship.

Master's Degree in Dietetics

Individuals with a bachelor's degree in another field may enroll in an accredited master's degree program in dietetics in order to begin the process of becoming an RD. Students learn about nutritional assessment, food service management and counseling methods.

The extensive process of becoming a registered dietitian requires years of education. Students can find relevant, accredited bachelor's and master's degree programs that can prepare them for the registration exam and practical training requirements.

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