Becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Three-Step Process Overview

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) are experts who address today’s complex issues surrounding foods and nutrition. Because the RDN credential is widely recognized as the designation that an individual is an expert in food and nutrition, most employers are looking for individuals with their RDN certification in their qualifications for hire. The demand for RDNs and nutritionists is expected to grow by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Similar to other health care professions, the RDN credential is not earned upon graduation with a four-year degree. The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics Education (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics accredits dietetics education programs. Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited DPD at SUNY Oneonta are eligible to apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program (dietetic internship). 

After successfully completing an accredited supervised practice program, you will be eligible to sit for the national Registration Examination for Dietitians administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Those who pass the exam will earn the designation of Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). In New York state, graduates also must obtain certification, and, soon, licensure, to practice through New York State Education Department Office of Professions.  

Note to prospective students

As of January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration has changed the requirement from a bachelor's degree to a master's degree in order to be eligible to take the CDR credentialing exam for registered dietitian nutritionists.  In order to be approved for registration examination eligibility with a bachelor’s degree, an individual must meet all eligibility requirements and be submitted into CDR's Registration Eligibility Processing System (REPS) before 12:00 midnight Central Time, December 31, 2023. For more information about this requirement visit CDR's website

Check out SUNY Oneonta’s accredited M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program. This is a full-time, three-semester, non-thesis Future Education Model Graduate Program that integrates supervised experiential learning with graduate coursework. We have a Pre-select Option for SUNY Oneonta seniors to earn early acceptance too. Our students can finish our B.S. in Dietetics in 4 years and then, if accepted, our M.S. program in 1 year and thus sit for the RDN credentialing exam in 5 years.  

There are three steps to becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist:

Students who graduate from SUNY Oneonta and meet all DPD requirements will receive a Verification Statement from the program director. People who hold a BA/BS in another field may also apply to complete the DPD courses and/or earn a second degree in dietetics and earn a DPD Verification Statement. 

Program of Study

Graduates are then eligible to apply for an ACEND accredited dietetic supervised practice program. SUNY Oneonta offers a Pre-Select Option for SUNY Oneonta dietetics majors to gain early acceptance into our online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program

Supervised Practice

By completing an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program (1,200 hours), students master expected competencies and demonstrate skill in applying what they have learned. There are a limited number of appointments to supervised practice programs available each year and the programs are competitive, with a "match" (acceptance) rate of about 60% nationwide.

SUNY Oneonta’s match rate is substantially higher than the national average. We are proud to report that our internship acceptance rate for the past three years has been 91% (2017), 88% (2018), 100% (2019), and 100% (2020). 

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics maintains a list of accredited of DSPPs. There are 3 types of accredited supervised practice programs that students can choose to apply to: 1) Dietetic Internships, 2) Future Education Model Graduate Programs, and 3) Coordinated Masters programs.

During these programs, students will gain experience in the three major areas of dietetics: clinical dietetics, community and nutrition education, and food systems management. Many offer additional experiences in research, sports nutrition, pediatrics, culinary nutrition, retail nutrition, informatics, food sustainability, and other related areas. Programs also vary by length, location, online vs face-to-face, and whether there is graduate credit earned or Master’s degree upon completion.  Dietetic internships without graduate degree may be 9 months long, while programs combined with a graduate degree may be anywhere from 16 to 32 months.

You can apply to supervised practice programs in the spring of your senior year and, if accepted, you will typically start the program in summer or fall. You will be responsible for the tuition and all other expenses associated with that program.

The dietetic program director and faculty provide assistance in the application process for supervised practice programs however, completion of the DPD does not guarantee placement in a supervised practice program. A unique feature of our curriculum is NUTR 300 Dietetics Professional Seminar which provides detailed information about applying to supervised practice programs. Improving the chances of being a successful applicant begins in the first year of college by working to obtain and maintain the best possible GPA, acquiring extensive volunteer experience, being active in student organizations and working closely with dietetics faculty. Professional behavior is a must. Some students opt to take a year between graduation and the supervised practice to gain this extensive experience.

Pre-Select Option for M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program

SUNY Oneonta offers a Pre-Select Option for DPD seniors in our online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program. This Future Education Model Graduate Program integrates supervised experiential learning with graduate coursework and can be completed in one year. With the Pre-Select Option, a senior DPD student at SUNY Oneonta will apply for the online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program in the fall of senior year. The same selection process and criteria will be used to evaluate the Pre-Select Option candidates as is normally used.

Pre-Select Option seats are limited, so if you think that you might be interested, please review the program website, attend an information session (held every semester), and contact the director of the online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program early in your college career.

M.S. Requirement Effective January 1, 2024

Effective in 2024, all students enrolled in the DPD program must be prepared to complete a master's degree in any major if they intend to become registered dietitians. A typical education guideline will be four years for the B.S. degree, completion of the accredited 1,200-hour internship, and two years for the master's degree. The SUNY Oneonta online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program combines the internship and master's degree in a three-semester program.

For more information on the dietetic internship, please review the Guidelines for Dietetic Internship Application section below.

The Registration Exam is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) for those who have successfully completed the first two steps. Considerable information about the RDN exam is available from the CDR website. More information about becoming an RDN and the RDN exam.

Students who earn their RDN credential and want to practice as Dietitians may need to apply for licensure, before they are eligible practice dietetics and provide nutrition counseling in states that require licensure.  Licensing statutes include an explicitly defined scope of practice, and performance of the profession is illegal without first obtaining a license from the state.  A list of the states that require licensure is available on the Commission on Dietetic Registration website. In New York State, graduates must obtain certification to practice through New York State Education Department Office of Professions. Licensure will soon be available in the state of New York.

SUNY Oneonta’s three-year average pass rate for the RDN credentialing exam is 96%, which is well above the programmatic goal of 80%.

Guidelines for Dietetic Internship Application

There are two components to the application process.

1. Application

You will apply to each Dietetic Internship (DI) you are interested in. Almost all dietetic internships use the online Dietetic Internship Centralized Application System (DICAS, which allows applicants to apply to any number of participating DI programs by completing a single online application. To participate, you must establish a DICAS profile, and then complete the application and all required forms at DICAS.org. Note: You will need to submit any application fees on DICAS and other application fees directly to the DIs to which you apply. You will also need to submit application materials directly to any dietetic internship that does not participate in DICAS. For the Spring Match, the DICAS Application opens early December to allow applicants to begin their application on https://portal.dicas.org/. Mid-February (Feb. 15, usually) is the deadline for completing the DICAS Application. For the smaller Fall Match, DICAS opens in June with a deadline in mid-September. The DICAS application fee for the first designation is $45, and $20 for each additional designation.

2. Computer matching

The second component is the computer matching process. D&D Digital Systems is the company that handles the computer matching process for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. There is a large Spring Match (April) and a small Fall Match (November).  As a Dietetic Internship applicant, you must register with D&D Digital Systems (D & D), pay a fee ($55) by credit card, and enter your contact information for the computer matching by the same deadline (usually Feb. 15 for the Spring Match and Sept. 25 for the Fall Match). Here, you will list and prioritize each internship to which you are applying. You will be notified through the D & D’s website of your internship match on Appointment Day, usually the first week of April or first week of November.

Computer Matching FAQs

Computer matching is a twice-a-year matching process that serves as a clearinghouse to help applicants obtain Dietetic Internship positions of their choice and to help Dietetic Internships obtain applicants of their choice. It eliminates unfair pressures and premature decisions on and by programs to accept or reject applicants, and it eliminates unfair pressures on applicants to accept or reject an appointment into a Dietetic Internship. ACEND has contracted with D & D Digital Systems to facilitate matching through this computerized process.

You may apply to as many programs as you wish. You will need to rank all programs applied to in order of preference on D&D. The computer uses this information to match applicants to a program.

Each supervised practice program reviews its own applications and submits a priority listing of acceptable applicants to D&D, along with the number of positions to be filled. Computer matching does not change the applicant's or program's selection process. You will not be matched to a program whose name does not appear on your priority listing.

Before matching begins, the applicant priority lists and the supervised practice program lists are "cleaned." If a program does not rank an applicant, that program is removed from the applicant's list. If an applicant does not rank a program, the applicant is removed from the program's list. Then, the matching occurs using the applicant's prioritized list and the programs' prioritized lists until all possible matches are complete. The process is explained in detail in the "Instructions to Applicants" provided by D&D Digital Systems.

No. Each student is given only one match (their highest priority choice for which a match with a program occurs).

You must notify D&D Digital Systems prior to the drop deadline if you decide to withdraw from the matching process. The fee will not be refunded.

No. Programs and applicants are not told how they were ranked by each other. All information submitted to D&D is kept confidential. Only the applicants are given the final results of their applications. Each supervised practice program is provided with the names of the applicants it obtains in the match.

You will be given a password to log into D&D for the results of the matching process. D&D also provides each program director with a list of applicants matched to its program. If you receive a match, you will be required to notify the program via a certified letter to the program director to confirm the acceptance or rejection of the computer match.

D&D posts a listing of unmatched applicants who have agreed to release their names for programs following the matching. It will also post a list of DI Programs that did not fill. DIs may contact unmatched applicants to fill positions after appointment day has occurred. Unmatched applicants can also contact DIs with openings to apply for an opening.

All costs are borne by the applicant. Applicants must pay a fee when submitting their rank-ordered lists to D&D Digital Systems.

Yes. Applicants should be advised to submit the application to graduate school at the same time the supervised practice application is submitted. The program's list of preferred applicants will include those who also meet the graduate school requirements.

You should carefully consider all aspects of each supervised practice program to which you are applying. Consider the length of program, when the program begins, tuition or fees charged, stipends, graduate credits, housing and availability of financial aid.

If you need time to assimilate information, select programs that are 12 months or more in length rather than shorter programs. All ACEND supervised practice programs must have a minimum number of 1,200 clock hours of experience. Shorter programs typically feature faster paced experiences, more on-duty hours per week and little or no vacation time.

If your financial resources are severely limited, give preference to programs that provide some compensation in the form of a stipend or room and board rather than those that charge substantial fees or tuition. Some programs may require only 20 hours of training per week, thus allowing students to obtain outside employment.

The Nutrition and Dietetic Technician Registered (NDTR) Option

What is a NDTR?

Graduates of Oneonta’s DPD program are eligible to sit for the Nutrition and Dietetic Technician Registration Exam (NDTR) administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Nutrition and Dietetic technicians, registered (NDTRs), are trained in food and nutrition and are an integral part of the health-care and food service management teams. NDTRs work independently as team members under the supervision of registered dietitians in a variety of employment settings, including health care, business and industry, community/public health, food service and research. Many work environments require that an individual be credentialed as a NDTR. Students who do not go directly into a dietetic internship may want to consider obtaining this credential as one way to be more competitive in the future DI applications.

Of the 20 SUNY Oneonta graduates who have taken the NDTR credentialing exam over the past three years, 100% have passed.

NDTR Eligibility and Application

DPD graduates who wish to pursue the NDTR credential must complete: Oneonta’s NDTR Exam Eligibility Review Request Form with email address, the Transcript Degree/Confirmation Release Form and provide a copy of their DPD Verification Form, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics membership card and driver’s license with an accurate address.

This entire application packet should be mailed to Oneonta’s DPD Director. Each form must have your original signature. A check made out to SUNY Oneonta for the appropriate verification review fees should also be included. All fees are waived if done within two months of graduation. The DPD Director will confirm the accuracy and completeness of the packet, the B.S. degree and DPD completion status and initiate the eligibility application process with CDR. CDR will process the application and notify the applicant via email and the testing company of their eligibility.

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