Hello and welcome to my resource page on the steps I took as a career changing to becoming a registered dietitian. When I was applying to coordinated dietetics programs, I scoured the internet for resources to help me with my decision-making process. My hope is that this page will serve as a resource for all aspiring RD’s.
My personal path to become an RD…
…was unconventional and challenging, but equally as rewarding and fun! Prior to starting my MPH Nutrition/Dietetics program at the University of Washington, I worked for 5 years as a corporate finance professional in Washington D.C.. I had to take 8 prerequisite courses before I was eligible for my program.
After two years of researching, studying, interviewing, applying, and ultimately accepting a spot in my dream coordinated dietetics masters program, I’ve learned a lot. The most important lesson that I learned wasn’t found on the internet, but through the experience as a whole.
If I could pass on one piece of advice to fellow career-changers it would be: believe in yourself. No matter your background or experience, if you really want to become a Registered Dietitian, you will find a way. Yes, you will work hard for it and make sacrifices, but I promise that every step is worth it.
first stage: applying to graduate programs
Step 1: Decide what kind of program you want to apply to.
- A coordinated program will include the dietetics coursework + the 1200 hours of supervised practice. (Recommended)
- A didactic program only includes the dietetics coursework and after receiving a verification statement, the student is able to apply for the dietetic internship separately. The current match rate for dietetic internships is 50%.
Step 2: Decide what kind of program you want to apply to.
- Introductory Biology (1 or 2 semesters) ← took in college
- General Chemistry (1 or 2 semesters) ← took in college
- Microbiology + Lab (1 semester) ← (Spring 2014)
- Anatomy & Physiology + Lab (1 or 2 semesters depending on the program) ← (Summer 2014 + 2015)
- Introduction to Nutrition (1 semester) ← (Fall 2013)
- Organic Chemistry + Lab ← (1 semester – some do not require the lab) ← (Summer 2014)
- Sociology or Anthropology (1 semester) ← took in college
- Biochemistry (1 semester) ← (Spring 2015)
- Psychology (1 semester) ← Took in highschool (heck ya, AP credits!)
- Food Science (1 semester) ← (Summer 2015)
In most cases, you don’t have to have all of the courses done before you apply, but they must be done before you start your program. I would recommend taking these in order since they build on one another.
I still needed 7 of these courses when I started the process. It took me 2 years to finish them all – taking 1 or 2 a semester while working fulltime (my classes were online, in the evenings, or on the weekends.)
Step 3: Take the GRE
Standardized tests are not my forte and I found it really difficult to manage studying for classes and the GRE at the same time. I ended up taking the GRE twice and only got a mediocre score both times (although I did improve the second time!) Remember that the GRE is only one component of your application. If it doesn’t go as well as you hope, it’s okay 🙂
Step 4: Visit your top schools, meet with admissions staff, talk to current students, and look at what the program’s alumni are doing with their degrees.
Step 5: Find a way to get nutrition-related experience.
You will need it to write your essays and although most schools don’t list it as a requirement, it will make you a much more competitive applicant. I list some ideas here.
Step 6: Apply and apply early.
If you school has a priority date and a regular date, make sure you apply by the priority date.
Step 7: Rejoice when you get accepted!
second stage: complete the required coursework + practical internship experience
Some helpful posts:
Application tips My personal experience applying to graduate schools
My personal experience applying to graduate schools
Program information Moving to Seattle
Moving to Seattle