Professional Development | Oct 27 2017

Breaking down the graduate degree requirement for dietitians

Dietitian master's degree mandate

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) changed the minimum education requirement for dietitians to a graduate degree. Dietitians On Demand has done the research for you and has created this easy guide to help you navigate the changes.

What actually changed?

On January 1, 2024, CDR raised the minimum required education level for prospective registered dietitians from a Bachelor’s degree to a graduate degree. In layman’s terms, this means that new dietitians will be required to hold a minimum of a graduate degree to be considered eligible to sit for the registration (RD) exam.

If you are already a practicing dietitian or were registration eligible before the above date, don’t worry — these changes will not directly affect you. Dietetic technicians, registered (DTRs) are also not affected by this change. And of note, no other aspect of the eligibility requirements is changing.

Why did CDR change the education requirement?

A few reasons. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the rationale for the degree requirement change is basically three-fold.

  1. To keep pace with other healthcare practitioners. Other disciplines in healthcare are moving toward requiring advanced degrees. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics feels that dietitians should have similar education preparation.
  2. So that dietitians will be held in a higher regard. The Academy expects that dietitians with advanced degrees will be empowered to lead the nutrition care process, rather than simply participating. This higher level of leadership will hopefully lead to more career advancement opportunities.
  3. To pave the way for higher compensation. The Academy notes that dietitians in 2010 were paid 40% to 45% less than other non-physician clinicians. In 2011, dietitians with a graduate degree were paid an average of $5,000 more per year than those with only a Bachelor’s degree.

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Other details you should know

If you are considering a career as a dietitian and will be affected by this change in the education requirement, one interesting thing to note is that your graduate degree can be in any major or field of study. For example, if dietetics is your second career and you already hold an MBA, you do not need another advanced degree to meet the requirement. Or perhaps you would like to obtain a graduate degree in a complimentary field — counseling, marketing, psychology, public health, etc. Go for it! For now, any graduate degree in any field of study will satisfy the upcoming change.

In the future, the Academy is hoping to create “seamless” programs that will combine the dietetics required courses, satisfy the graduate level degree requirement, and provide supervised practice experience. So in the future, look for dietetics programs to evolve to meet these new educational requirements. If you would like to read the Academy’s full discussion of the upcoming education change, click here.

Thus, as of January 1, 2024, new requirements to become a dietitian are: completion of didactic coursework, graduate degree, supervised practice program, and RD exam. You can view all the different pathways to becoming a registered dietitian here.

Dietitians On Demand is a nationwide staffing company for registered dietitians, specializing in short-term, temporary and permanent-hire positions in acute care, long term care and food service positions. Check out our job openings, or request your coverage today!

Reference: 2024 Graduate degree requirement – registration eligibility. Commission on Dietetic Registration website. Available at Accessed August 10, 2023.
Sara Glanz, registered dietitian

About Sara Glanz

Sara Glanz, MS, RD, LD, CNSC worked as a traveling dietitian for Dietitians On Demand for two years before joining the corporate team. In her current role as Director of Clinical Education, she has championed the continuing education program to empower dietitians everywhere to achieve their professional goals.

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