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Do registered dietitians (RD) also have graduate degrees?

Michaela Ballmann
Nutrition & Dietetics

Registered Dietitians are not required to have a graduate degree, though many do. What is required, though, is a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, a three-part internship (at an inpatient, outpatient/community, and foodservice facility), passing of the national RD exam, and ongoing completion of continuing education hours. There are many graduate and post-grad degrees available for dietitians who want to further their education, including Masters of Science, Masters of Public Health, PhD, etc. Take note that the term “nutritionist” is not protected, and therefore anyone with or without education in nutrition can use this title, so turn to a Registered Dietitian for nutrition advice.

Cassie Vanderwall
Nutrition & Dietetics

It is important to identify sound sources for health information. Not all Registered Dietitians (RD's) have graduate degrees, but you can be sure that an RD is a trustworthy source for nutrition information. Also, it is important to note that not all nutritionists are RD's. The primary difference between an RD and a nutritionist is education.

A nutritionist may or may not have a degree or certificate. They are not required to completed supervised practice, a registration exam, or continuing education and therefore are not allowed to provide individualized nutrition education, or MNT. In fact you could be a nutritionist!

A registered dietitian has at least a Bachelor’s degree, has completed a dietetic internship with at least 1,200 hours of supervised practice, and passed a registered examination. RD's also complete 75 hours of professional education every five years to maintain their certification. Making RD's the nutrition expert!

Nadine Pazder
Nutrition & Dietetics

While not required yet, many RDs also have graduate degrees. I have a Master of Science and many of my colleagues have PhDs.

There are a number of dietetic internship programs that include masters level course work leading to a MS degree.

The advanced degree may not be in dietetics or nutrition, but in a related field for specialization. For example, MBA if an RD is interested in advancement in healthcare administration, exercise physiology if an RD is interested in sports medicine, in journalism if the RD enjoys writing for the media, or education if the RD aspires to be involved in the education and training of practioners of the future.

 

Approximately half of RDs also hold advanced degrees, for example a master’s of science in nutrition or public health. Some RDs also hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatric, renal, diabetic or sport nutrition.
Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
A graduate degree is not required to be a Registered Dietitian (RD) at this time. An RD completes a bachelors degree, qualifying internship and must past a registered exam.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.