How to Earn a Dietitian Degree

by Cynthia Gast, Demand Media

Earning a degree is the first step to becoming a dietitian, and students can study one of several majors to qualify for this career field. In addition to a major in dietetics, degrees in food and nutrition sciences and food service systems management are also relevant. To become a registered dietitian, students must also complete an internship or other qualifying supervised work experience and pass an exam administered by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. While registration is not required by law, it is often preferred by employers.

Step 1

Study relevant subjects in high school, and do your best to earn top grades. Courses in biology, chemistry, physiology and culinary arts will help prepare you for college-level study in these subjects, as well as indicate to college admissions offices that you have an interest in this career. If you have the opportunity, classes in economics, sociology and developing computer skills such as using spreadsheets are also a good idea.

Step 2

Learn about college-level programs in dietetics that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. Accreditation means that these programs include relevant courses and that their academic standards ensure graduates are prepared to work in the field of nutrition and dietetics. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics divides these programs into two groups. One group includes those programs that include internships, while the second group offers classroom work only. Narrow the list to schools that meet your requirements for location, tuition and possible financial assistance.

Step 3

Apply to the colleges and universities on your list well ahead of application deadlines. In some cases, you may need to submit a second application to the specific program after you are admitted to the school. Ensure that you complete all the application requirements, such as getting recommendations and taking standardized college admissions tests.

Step 4

Complete all coursework, including class assignments, projects and exams, after you begin the program. Turn in every assignment on time, take notes in class, and review thoroughly before mid-term and final exams. Ask questions when you don’t understand a concept or procedure. Earning good grades now opens doors later to better internship programs, job opportunities and graduate schools.

Step 5

Meet all the requirements for your internship, if one is part of your degree program. Be at work on time and dress appropriately. Remember that an internship is your chance to practice what you have learned in class under close supervision. Interns are expected to ask questions when necessary, so take advantage of this opportunity.

Step 6

Fulfill all the graduation requirements, including any course requirements outside your major. Turn in any paperwork your college or university demands.

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  • Students who attend a program that does not include an internship as part of the curriculum need to complete a supervised work experience after graduation in order to meet requirements to become a registered dietitian.

About the Author

Cynthia Gast began writing professionally over 25 years ago in the automotive magazine niche and has also taught preschoolers and elementary grades. She has been a full-time freelance writer since 2008. Gast holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Illinois.

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