Pathway to RDN credentialing

As of Jan. 1., 2024, students must have a master’s degree to take the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) credentialing exam to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). 

Bluffton is meeting this need with the RDN Integrated Master’s Program. This program can be completed in 5 years if you begin as a first-year student, or in one year if you have a bachelor’s degree.

Benefits of Bluffton’s 4+1 program

  • Competency-based education model: This means that practical hands-on learning is integrated into traditional classroom learning.
  • Accelerated learning: Students complete a bachelor’s in Nutrition and Dietetics Advocacy/Pre-dietetics, a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics, along with the required 1,000 supervised experiential learning hours, in five years
  • Seamless transition: Students may enter the Bluffton University program as a first year student and complete their master’s degree without changing schools.
  • Cost saving: Save time and money by paying for only 12 months of graduate courses and supervised experiential learning hours
  • Residential program: Except for the summer semester of three on-line courses, all classes are in-person and supervised experiential learning is completed in local professional work sites.
  • Local facilities and preceptors: Ten years ago, Bluffton began an Individualized Supervised Practice Program to meet previous post-graduation requirement for the hands-on learning required to take the credentialing exam. This program will be discontinued in May 2023. These preceptors will be integrated into the new master’s program.
  • Clinical educator: A full-time, experienced clinical educator arranges all learning experiences and schedules supervised practice sites and preceptors. She develops supervised experiential learning experiences that meet competency requirements, plans meaningful education activities and serves as student advisor.


Pathway to becoming an RDN

As a first-year student with a career goal of becoming an RDN, we’ve developed a plan to help you reach your goals. Seamlessly earn your bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Bluffton University and be prepared to take the RDN credentialing exam.

  • Declare a major in Nutrition and Health Advocacy/Pre-dietetics. Course requirements include supervised experiential learning which count toward your 1,000 hours necessary to take the credentialing exam to become a RDN.
  • Apply to continue: Apply for a fourth year of pre-dietetics and the RDN Integrated Master’s Program in March of your junior year:
  • Receive a bachelor’s degree upon successful completion of the pre-dietetics major
  • Begin the RDN Integrated Master’s Program with three on-line courses starting in the summer after graduation
    • More about the RDN Integrated Master’s Program leading to a Master’s of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Add supervised experiential learning: For fall and spring semesters, spend one day in graduate in-person courses and four days in supervised experiential learning.
  • Receive a master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics.
  • Take the Commission of Dietetic Registration credentialing exam to become a Registered Dietetics Nutritionist. You will have met all requirements for the exam upon completion of the RDN Integrated Master’s Program.

Requirements for fourth year-master’s program

Bluffton students will apply for the fourth year of pre-dietetics and the RDN Integrated Master’s Program prior to March 1 of their junior year. Enrollment is limited to 10 students per year in 2023. Plans are to expand student enrollment when feasible.

To be selected, students must have completed the first three years of the Nutrition and Health Advocacy/Pre-Dietetics major (or equivalent for transfer students).  

Selection criteria will be based on a minimum of:

  • • Overall minimum GPA of 3.0
  • 200-300 documented hours of work in food service or health care
  • All NTR classes passed with a B- or better
  • Letters of recommendation from supervisor and faculty outside of nutrition and dietetics
  • Personal statement (prompts will be provided)
  • Interview with faculty and selection committee
  • Consideration of non-tangibles such as:
    • Attendance
    • Professionalism
    • Behavior
    • Attitude
    • Interest in the profession
    • Ability to do graduate work
What if a student isn't selected to continue 

With quality advising, it is hoped that students will know well before the spring semester of their junior year that, for whatever reason, this program is not for them. Every effort will be made to ensure students graduate and have solid plans for the future.

Students not admitted to the Integrated Master’s Program can either choose another major or graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Health Advocacy/Pre-Dietetics. Their fourth year will be planned with consideration of their individual interests and strengths.

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