Becoming a RD

How do I become a RD or RDN?

Anyone who wants to earn the credential of Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) must obtain the minumum of a bachlor's degree and complete a dietetics program that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) (candidates can choose which of the 2 credentials they prefer to use). A listing of ACEND-accredited programs can be found at the link above. Two routes to earn the credential are currently available:

  • Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CPD)

    An ACEND-accredited CPD combines all the necessary coursework and a minimum of 1200 hours of supervised practice experience that is required for eligibility to write the national registration examination for dietitians, which is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Graduates of a CPD earn either a bachelor's or graduate degree, depending on the specific CPD.  An undergradaute CPD program can be completed in 4 years (2 years of prerequisites and 2 years in the professional program).

    Upon successful completion of a CPD, graduates are eligible to sit for the RD/RDN exam. No internship is required, as the 1200 required practice hours are completed in the program

    This is the type of program we have at WSU.

  • Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) PLUS Dietetic Internship (DI)

    An ACEND-accredited DPD provides the required coursework leading to a bachelor's or graduate degree, depending on the specific program. Graduates of a DPD must then complete 1200 hours of practice in an ACEND-accredited DI to establish the eligibility to write the national registration exam for dietitians, which is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.  An undergraduate DPD can be completed in 4 years, and DIs typically run from 8 to 24 months depending on their specific requirements.

    Appointments to DIs are awarded on a competitive basis and most use a national computer matching process.

  • After your program: Writing the exam and licensure

    Once you have successfully completed a CPD or DPD plus DI, you are eligilbe to obtain the RD or RDN credential by applying for and successfully completing the registration exam.  Exam requirements are set forth by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).  Complete details on the process can be found at the CDR link.

    Some states have licensure requirements for dietitians to practice.  If you want to practice in one of those states, you must apply for licensure through their regulating body.  You can contact the state's dietetic association for more details. 

    Michigan does NOT require licensure for dietitians at this time.  Your are eligible to practice in Michigan with your RD/RDN credential.

Why choose the Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CPD) at Wayne State in Detroit?

Our CPD is one of only three ACEND-accredited programs in Michigan. Since its inception in 1980, the Wayne State CPD has been fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

Program graduates who plan to remain in the Detroit metropolitan area readily find employment at many of the facilities and agencies where they completed their rotations.  In fact, over 80% of our graduates find employment in the field within 3 months of graduation.

Admission to the CPD is competitive, with class size limited to 20. Students can apply by April 1 for the program that begins in the fall semester of that same year (application to the CPD is separate from application to WSU). Students can view more details about the program in the CPD Student Handbook.

  • Advantages of a CPD


    1. Completion of practical experience with academic credit.
    2. Reinforced learning by combining classroom and practical training.
    3. Registration eligibility in four, rather than five, years for undergraduate students.
    4. No need to compete for unpaid internships after completion of the academic program.
    5. Diverse practice experiences in multiple settings.
    6. Flexibility to follow the program as an undergraduate, graduate, or non-degree (post-bachelor) student.
  • Program Costs

    The table below shows an estimate of costs for the 2-year CPD, not including the 2 years of prerequisite courses. Please see more information on WSU tuition here.


I already have a Bachelor's degree, can I apply to the CPD at WSU?

Our CPD program is at the undergraduate level and students who complete the 4 year program are awarded a Bachelor Degree in Dietetics.  However, students who already have a BS degree from WSU or another college or university can still apply.

  • I already have a bachelor's in dietetics from a DPD

    The CPD is right for you. It will take the place of an internship and provide advanced dietetics courses not part of your undergrad dietetics degree coursework. Because you have your dietetics degree, you will enter the program at the second year level, and you complete the program in three semesters vs four.

    Many students like yourself take the opportunity to work on a master's degree at WSU while completing the dietetics program.  A CPD advisor can give you more information on this option.

  • I already have a bachelor's degree in nutrition

    Most of your prerequisite coursework is probably done, but there will be a few exceptions such as applied dietetic courses. The CPD will give you the training and credentials to practice in the field of nutrition and dietetics.

    The RD designation is a requirement for most positions in which you assess nutritional status and teach either individuals or groups about nutrition. Many students like yourself take the opportunity to work on a master's during the program.

  • I already have a bachelor's degree in another area

    You have met the first requirement for becoming an RD, which is to have a bachelor's degree. This means that you don't have to worry about degree requirement courses.

    The number of program prerequisite courses you will need depends on your degree. Generally, those students who completed degrees in the sciences, in particular, the health sciences, have fewer prerequisite courses to take.

    The CPD can build on and enhance your background. Many disciplines such as education and psychology are the perfect partner for the CPD because of the importance of the specialized content they bring to understanding and teaching people. Many students like yourself take the opportunity to work on a master's degree during the program.


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