Nutrition & Dietetics: Overview

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What Is An RDN?

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) or Registered Dietitians (RDs) are food and nutrition experts who have met criteria and earned the opportunity to continue to refer to themselves with an RD or RDN credential.

How Can You Become An RDN?

  • Currently, by completing a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college or foreign equivalent.
  • Earning a Verification Statement through a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) which includes the necessary coursework to meet knowledge requirements set by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
  • Completing 1200 hours of supervised practice through an ACEND accredited Dietetic Internship, Coordinated Program in Dietetics or an Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) offered through an ACEND accredited program.
  • Passing a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
  • Complete continuing professional educational requirements on an ongoing basis in order to maintain the credential of RD or RDN after passing the national registration exam.
  • State certification or licensure varies from state to state. Please reach out to your state Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for more details. 

Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will require a minimum of a master's degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) In most states, such as Pennsylvania, graduates must also obtain licensure or certification to practice. Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND- accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics at Marywood University are eligible to apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program/ apply to take the CDR credentialing exam to become an RDN. For more information about educational pathways to become a RDN please click here.

Similar to other health care professions, RDNs must take and pass a national board registration examination to earn the RDN certification. The RDN exam is a computer-based exam that covers the content in the three major areas of dietetics: clinical, community, and food service. The registration examination is updated every five years to reflect the information that entry-level dietitians should master after completing a Didactic Program in Dietetics and internship. For more information regarding the examination, refer to their website at www.cdrnet.org.

How Can Marywood Assist You?

Marywood offers several program options that lead to the RDN credential. You may choose to earn:

  1. A Bachelor’s of Science (BS) in Nutrition and Dietetics degree and your Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) Verification Statement* which provides you eligibility to apply for an accredited Dietetic Internship Program. (DPD-Traditional Option)
  2. A BS in Nutrition and Dietetics degree through the Spanish Option and your DPD Verification Statement* which provides you eligibility to apply for an accredited Dietetic Internship Program. (DPD-Spanish Option)
  3. A BS in Nutrition and Dietetics degree, your DPD Verification Statement* (through either the DPD-Traditional or DPD-Spanish options), your Master of Science (MS) degree, as well as completion of Marywood's accredited Dietetic Internship Program* in an accelerated time frame (5 years) through a pre-selection process.
  4. Your DPD Verification Statement* which provides you eligibility to apply for an accredited Dietetic Internship Program (for those students who have an earned BS/BA), while you also earn your MS degree is in Nutrition or Sports Nutrition Exercise Science. (DPD-Grad Option)
  5. Your DPD Verification Statement* (through the DPD-Grad option) which provides you eligibility to apply for an accredited Dietetic Internship Program, as well as completion of Marywood's accredited Dietetic Internship Program* through a pre-selection process while you earn your MS degree is in Nutrition or Sports Nutrition Exercise Science. 
  6. A Master of Science degree in Nutrition and your Dietetic Internship Program Verification Statement from either our onsite or distance tracks. 

* All students must apply and be accepted into each ACEND-accredited program and be in good standing in the program to earn a Verification Statement from that program.

About Nutrition & Dietetics

Marywood's nutrition and dietetics programs integrate the theories, practices, and skills of nutrition and exercise science, applying them to the challenges that both athletes and non-athletes face in choosing diet and exercise regimens that will maintain optimum health and maximize performance. Our programs also address the challenges of choosing appropriate diet and exercise patterns to prevent chronic diseases.

Professional Practice

  • Includes the application of knowledge of foods, nutrients, and their requirements to the care of individuals and groups throughout the life cycle.
  • Involves medical nutrition therapy, food systems management, community nutrition, health promotion and entrepreneurial activities, and sports nutrition.
  • Aims to provide quality learning experiences in nutrition and dietetics that are based on the standards from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics(ACEND)

Mission Statement

The mission of the Nutrition and Dietetics Department is to provide dedicated faculty, quality facilities, and a diverse environment which support nationally recognized undergraduate and graduate education, research and service in the areas of nutrition, dietetics, and sports nutrition/exercise science.