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Stephen F. Austin State University

Students with Bachelor's Degree, RD Pathway

How to Become a Registered Dietitian if Your Degree Is Not in Dietetics

Congratulations, you have achieved a college degree. This is quite a feat, especially given that only about 30% to 40% of the U.S. population has achieved this.

You understand the importance that nutrition and lifestyle have in wellness, prevention and the management of chronic disease. By becoming a registered dietitian, you can make a significant impact on people's health and increase your chances of working in a clinical setting. However, your degree is not in dietetics. This isn't a problem!

Because you already have a bachelor's degree, you will have a slightly different process than students who entered our program at the baccalaureate level. Not to worry, SFA offers the necessary programs required to help you reach your goal of becoming a registered dietitian.

Here are the steps that you need to take:

First, obtain a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) verification statement of completion. Note: this is at the undergraduate level.

What is a DPD verification statement?

Our accrediting agency, the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) requires that students working towards becoming registered dietitians meet specific learning outcomes. There are a wide variety of courses at the undergraduate level that have ACEND required learning outcomes. Once these learning outcomes are met, a DPD verification statement can be issued by the DPD Director.

We make it easy for students who have degrees outside of the DPD to meet these learning outcomes. Our nutrition courses are available at a distance so that you do not have to physically be on campus. Some of the science courses can be taken at community colleges. Depending on what coursework you have already taken, this may take multiple semesters at the undergraduate level.

To get started, please contact Sarah Drake, DPD director, at drakes@sfasu.edu. Ms. Drake will review your transcript and work with you to develop a plan to complete your DPD coursework at the undergraduate level in the most efficient time possible.

The only admittance requirements that we have in the DPD is admittance to the university.

Second, work toward applying to an ACEND-accredited dietetic internship.

You are in luck; we have a combined master's and dietetic internship at SFA! You will not find a more unique internship because our program focuses on integrative and functional nutrition.

Our internship participates in the dietetic internship centralized application system (DICAS) in the spring semester. Once you near the completion of your DPD coursework, you will establish an account with DICAS and complete your application. You are also required to participate in a matching process through D&D Digital.

Our handy guide Dietetic Internship Information for DPD Students provides more information on what you need to apply to our dietetic internship and how to apply when you are ready to take that next step.

Dr. Darla O'Dwyer, the dietetic internship director, can be reached at dodwyer@sfasu.edu. View this website for more information about our program and what makes it unique, including is a video featuring an overview of our program.

We think our internship is one of the best and would love for you to apply to SFA's program, but due to the competitive nature of internship programs, you are encouraged to apply to more than one internship. To learn more about dietetic internship programs, visit the ACEND Accredited Programs website.

Third, complete an ACEND-accredited dietetic internship supervised practice program.

Our program at SFA takes approximately 10 months to achieve a dietetic internship (DI) verification of completion and another summer and fall semester to complete the rest of the Master of Science program. Other programs vary in their length. Some are stand-alone programs while other programs are combined MS/DI programs.

Fourth, sit for the national registered dietitian exam.

Once you have passed the RD exam, you have met your goal. But now what you really need is a job! There are many career opportunities for registered dietitians.

According to the 2019 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Compensation & Benefits Survey of the Dietetics Profession, the total cash annual average salary for registered dietitians was $65,000 after one year of employment, ranging from $50,900 to $104,800. Business, management, education and research positions had the highest compensation while clinical and community positions had the lowest compensation.

Contact Us

We are happy to help you reach your goals. Contact us for more information:

Sarah Drake, DPD Director
drakes@sfasu.edu
(936) 468-5560

Darla O'Dwyer, DI Director
dodwyer@sfasu.edu
(936) 468-2439

Program outcomes data are available upon request. Please contact the DPD director or DI director.

Not Finding What You Need?

Of course, we want you to attend SFA, but if these programs do not meet your needs, then visit the ACEND-accredited programs website. In the Program Type box, search for "Future Education Model Graduate Program" to find other programs that might help you get a DPD verification statement but at the graduate level.

Note: 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). Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) at Stephen F. Austin State University are eligible to apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program such as the Dietetic Internship (DI) program at Stephen F. Austin State University. Once the 1200 hour supervised practice experience has been completed, candidates are eligible to apply to take the CDR credentialing exam to become an RDN. Visit the ACEND website for more information about educational pathways to become an RDN. Annual costs of the program can be estimated at the business office's website.

The DPD and DI programs at SFA are granted accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly the American Dietetic Association, 120 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, IL, 60606-6955, (312) 899-0040, ext. 5400.