Becoming an RDN

How do I become an RDN?

Anyone who wants to earn the credential of Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) must obtain the minimum of a master's degree and complete a dietetics program that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). 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 1000 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 can earn either a bachelor's or graduate degree. 

    Upon successful completion of a graduate-level CPD, graduates are eligible to sit for the RDN credentialing exam. No internship is required, as the 1000 required practice hours are completed during the program. Graduates of a bachelor's level CPD would need to complete a master's degree before becoming eligible to sit for the RDN credentialing exam.

    WSU has a graduate-level CPD so graduates of our program are immediately eligible to take the RDN credentialing exam without further education or internship.

  • 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 1000 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 four years, and DIs typically run from 8 to 24 months depending on their specific requirements. Graduates of a bachelor's level DPD would need to complete a master's degree before becoming eligible to sit for the RD credentialing exam.

    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 eligible to obtain the 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. You 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, and the only one where you can complete your graduate dietetics degree in just four semesters. 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 three 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 (PDF).

  • Advantages of a CPD
    1. Completion of practical experience with academic credit.
    2. Reinforced learning by combining classroom and practical training.
    3. No need to compete for unpaid internships after completion of the academic program.
    4. Diverse practice experiences in multiple settings.
  • Program costs

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

    First semester

    Item Estimated cost
    Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics student membership $58
    Textbooks and course materials $300
    Tuition (based on 11 credits for in-state, graduate school) $8,379

    Note: Tuition fees will vary if the student is not a resident of Michigan or Windsor.

    Second semester

    Item Estimated cost
    Physical examination and lab fees $751
    Textbooks and course materials $125-$200
    Tuition (based on 9 credits for in-state, graduate school) $6,913

    Note about physical examination and lab fees: This amount is for a complete physical and all required vaccinations (MMR, varicella, DtaP1 Hepatitis B, influenza, covid-19, and a TB test) if completed at the Campus Health Center for a student with no insurance. This amount will vary depending on if all vaccines are needed, and if the student has insurance coverage. Vaccinations can also be completed for low cost at local health departments.

    Third semester

    Item Estimated cost
    Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics student membership $58
    Lab coat $35
    Textbooks and course materials $140-$200
    Tuition (based on 11 credits for in-state, graduate school) $8,379

    Fourth semester

    Item Estimated cost
    Textbooks and course materials $125-$200
    Tuition (based on 11 credits for in-state, graduate school) $8,379

    Note: Costs are estimates and as such are subject to change. This list does not include the cost of housing or transportation to supervised practice sites. 

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

    Our CPD program is at the graduate level and students who complete the program are awarded a master's degree in dietetics. However, students who already have an M.S. degree from WSU or another college or university can still apply.

    If your degree is in nutrition, you probably have all the appropriate prerequisite courses and will not need any additional coursework to apply to the CPD, but we will evaluate your transcript to make sure.

    If your degree is in another area, 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.

  • I 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 not need additional prerequisite courses to apply.

  • I have a bachelor's in nutrition.

    Most of your prerequisite coursework is probably done, but there may be a few exceptions. You can find the list of prerequisites on our MS in Dietetics requirements page. The CPD will give you the training and credentials to practice in the field of nutrition and dietetics.

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

    You will need to complete the prerequisite coursework before applying to the program. You can find the list of prerequisites on our MS in Dietetics requirements page. The CPD will give you the training and credentials to practice in the field of nutrition and dietetics.