4+1 RDN Integrated Masters Program

Dietetic exerience at Blanchard Valley Hospital

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are allied medical professionals who put into practice the science and art of food and nutrition to promote health and wellbeing.

promote health through diet

Beginning 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.

Bluffton has candidacy accreditation from Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) to provide the 4+1 bachelor’s and master’s degree program.

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, a Master of 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 online 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 hands-on learning to take the credentialing exam. This program was discontinued in May 2023. These preceptors are integrated into the new master’s program. No need to find your own preceptors, we do it for you.
  • 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.

Bachelor degree
  • 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
Master degree
  • Begin the RDN Integrated Master’s Program with three on-line courses starting the summer after graduation
  • 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.

Certain criteria must be met to gain admission to the RDN Integrated Master’s Program. Admission cannot be guaranteed at any point. Faculty will take a wholistic approach to determining admission to the program. There are a limited number of seats per year.

RDN Integrated Master’s PRogram requirements

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

Application deadline is March 1 of the junior year.
Later dates may be considered.

Application requirements for current Bluffton University undergraduate students:

  • Overall minimum GPA of 3.0 (confirmed with transcripts)
    • All NTR classes passed with a B- or better
  • Completion of the first three years of the Pre-Dietetics (Nutrition and Dietetics curriculum at Bluffton University with the above requirements met.
    • Transfer students need to adhere to the same requirements. Equivalency will be evaluated individually.
  • 200-300 documented hours of work in food service or health care
  • Letters of recommendation from supervisor and nutrition and dietetics faculty
    • Discuss attendance, professionalism, behavior, attitude, interest in the profession and the ability to do written and oral graduate work.
  • Written resume
  • Written personal statement addressing:
    • Personal interest in nutrition and dietetics
    • Significant academic or work responsibilities held
    • Professional goals and reasons for desiring to enroll in this program
    • Strengths you possess and areas in which you need to gain greater experience
    • Anything else you would like us to know about you
  • Interview with faculty and selection committee
not selected for the master's program? 

Students not admitted to the program will continue their fourth year at Bluffton with special advising to plan courses that meet their individual interests. They will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition/Health Advocacy. Every effort will be made by the professors to ensure that students have solid plans upon graduation.

Students in their first year or sophomore years who determine they might not meet these requirements should discuss options with their advisor to find an alternative major, such as Food and Business. This planning should be done as early as possible.