Registered Dietitian

What is meant by Registered Dietitian?

The term registered dietitian (RD), or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), is a credential that can be used only by individuals who have completed the following requirements:

  • Academic requirements from a didactic program in dietetics approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)*, such as at Michigan State University.
  • Minimum of a baccalaureate degree from a U.S. regionally accredited college or university such as MSU.
  • Supervised practice experience from an ACEND-accredited program (dietetic internship or coordinated program in dietetics or individualized supervised practice program).
  • Successfully pass the national Registration Examination for Dietitian Nutritionists.

When I receive my bachelor’s of science degree in dietetics from MSU, will I be a registered dietitian?

No. Completion of an ACEND-accredited didactic program in dietetics, such as at MSU, is only the first step required to become a registered dietitian/registered dietitian nutritionist.

The second step, completion of an accredited supervised practice experience program, follows completion of the didactic program and the minimum of a bachelor's degree.

Students need to be aware that acceptance to a supervised practice experience program is competitive, and there are no guarantees that students will receive a placement.

The third and final step to become an RD/RDN is successfully passing the national Registration Exam for Dietitian Nutritionists.

What is a Supervised Practice Experience Program?

Graduates in dietetics must complete a supervised practice program in dietetics that has been approved or accredited by ACEND. There are currently two main types of supervised practice experience programs - and an option for an individualized pathway offered through an accredited program.  The usual path for a dietetics graduate is to apply to and complete a dietetic internship.

  • Accredited dietetic internship
  • Accredited coordinated program in dietetics
  • Individualized supervised practice pathway, directed through an accredited didactic program in dietetics, internship, or coordinated program.

What is an Accredited Dietetic Internship?

An accredited dietetic internship provides a minimum of 1200 hours of supervised practice in hospitals, nursing homes, public health programs, and in institutional foodservice operations with training by working dietitians (termed preceptors).  The internship takes place after the completion of at least a baccalaureate degree and ACEND minimum academic requirements. Most are full-time over a 9-11 month period of time.  Some are combined with a master's degree and take 18-24 months.  Please see the MSU Dietetic Internship Program for more information.

What is a Coordinated Program?

A coordinated program in dietetics integrates academic requirements with supervised practice within the last two years of an academic program. Each program is accredited by the ACEND and culminates in a minimum of a baccalaureate degree. Typically, students must apply to a coordinated program after completing prerequisites and reaching junior status, and the number of students accepted is limited. MSU does not have a coordinated program. Some coordinated programs accept students who have already completed a baccalaureate degree prior to the coordinated program.

What is an ISPP?

Individualized Supervised Practice Pathways (ISPPs) have been developed along with preceptor recruiting efforts to give students more options for educational experiences that will make them eligible to sit for the registration exam.  Eligibility requirements and options may vary by program.

* Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000, Chicago, IL 60606-6995; (312) 899-0400 ext. 5400;


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