Cornell University offers both a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) and supervised practice through the Dietetic Internship (DI). These programs are separate. Both programs may be of interest to students pursuing the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD/RDN) credential.

The Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD/RDN) credential is the most widely held credential of nutrition practitioners. Many jobs in nutrition require the RD/RDN credential to be considered for employment. The Commission on Dietetics Registration (CDR) confers this credential once you have met all of the criteria to be registered. 

Steps to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD/RDN):

  1. Complete the minimum academic requirements for a supervised practice program and hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Some but not all programs will require candidates to complete a DPD program and obtain a DPD verification statement from an ACEND-accredited program. *Note, as of January 1, 2024, a graduate degree will be required to be eligible to take the Commission on Dietetic Registration Exam.*  
  2. Complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice dietetics program. Supervised practice/experiential learning is combined with the Coordinated Program and Future Graduate Program to assist you in completing your graduate degree during the program. If you opt to do a stand-alone graduate degree, you will then need to apply to an accredited supervised practice dietetic internship after completing your graduate degree. 
  3. Pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration's Dietetic Registration Exam. Once you complete your graduate degree and supervised practice, you may schedule to take CDR's Registration Examination for Registered Dietitians to become a credentialed as registered dietetics nutritionist. This is called "RDN eligibility," meaning you have completed the requirements to become eligible to take the national exam (RDN Exam Overview). 
  4. Gain licensure in your state of practice, if applicable. Many states have regulatory laws (i.e., licensure) for food and nutrition practitioners. All states accept the RDN credential for state licensure purposes (State Licensure Information). 
  5. Maintain continuing education. After successfully passing the national exam and earning the credential, RDNs maintain ongoing professional development in order to stay up to date on the latest research, recommendations and best practices (Continuing Professional Education Requirements for RDNs).

The DPD program at Cornell University is currently accredited through 2024 by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. ACEND can be reached at: 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, IL 60606-6995 Phone: 1-800-877-1600 Ext. 5400.

The DPD program at Cornell University includes required coursework necessary to complete ACEND's knowledge requirements and learning outcomes based on the 2022 Accreditation Standards for Nutrition and Dietetics Didactic Programs (DPD)

The DPD is a program, not a major, and as such DPD coursework may be completed with any major. DPD coursework fits best, however, with majors in the Division of Nutritional Sciences. Issuance of a Verification Statement verifies that a student has completed DPD requirements and is eligible for supervised practice. The Verification Statement is the form used by ACEND-accredited programs to document that an individual has completed the requirements of a dietetics education program. The completion of ACEND Didactic Program requirements and at least a bachelor's degree from a U.S. regionally accredited college/university or foreign equivalent are necessary for eligibility to enter an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program. The Verification Statement is also used to verify that all academic requirements are met for Active membership in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A Verification Statement will be issued to Cornell students after all necessary steps required by the program and successful completion of required course work has been verified (see Policies and Procedures). 

The Cornell DPD currently graduates approximately 10-20 students per year. Selecting the DPD program at Cornell University will prepare students for supervised practice programs and provide advising throughout the program to determine the best fit for each DPD student. Admission to supervised practice programs is competitive. Students with a strong GPA, relevant work/volunteer experiences, and strong letters of support often do well in placing to their top choice of supervised programs. The Cornell DPD program provides resources, advising, and assistance for each student interested in pursuing the RD/RDN credential.

Tuition and fees depend on several factors, including which undergraduate college you apply to and if you are a New York state resident. We encourage you to explore all available financial aid options at Cornell.

Cornell University students interested in pursuing a career as a Registered Dietitian will need to formally apply (typically in their junior year) to the DPD offered by the Division of Nutritional Sciences. Interested students should register as "Pre-Dietetics" students by downloading and submitting the DNS Didactic Program in Dietetics Student Intent Form to or bring the completed form to B36 Kinzelberg Hall.

More detail can be found on Applying to the DPD

Mission of the Cornell DPD Program: The Cornell DPD program produces graduates with critical thinking and prepares graduates for supervised evidence-based practice, leading to eligibility for the Commission on Dietetics Registration (CDR) credentialing exam to become registered dietitians/registered dietitian nutritionists and for leadership in their careers in nutrition and dietetics. To accomplish this, the DPD at Cornell has established two overarching program goals:

Cornell DPD Goals & Objectives:

Goal #1 – Program graduates will be capable of integrating knowledge and theory in nutritional sciences and exhibit skills necessary for competent supervised practice and for careers in nutrition.      


  • Graduates will rate the preparation received in the program, on average, as “satisfactory” or better.
  • Alumni will rate the preparation in the program, on average, as “satisfactory” or better.
  • Program directors, academic advisors, and employers will rate the preparation of our students, on average, as “satisfactory” or better.

Goal #2 – Program graduates will have critical thinking skills necessary for supervised evidence-based practice, for leadership development and for graduate study.


  • The program’s 1-year pass rate (graduates who pass the registration exam within one year of first attempt) on the CDR credentialing exam for RDNs is at least 80%.
  • At least 80% of program students complete the program/degree requirements within 3 years (150% of the program length).
  • At least 50% of program graduates apply for admission to a supervised practice program prior to or within 12 months of graduation.
  • Of program graduates who apply to a supervised practice program, at least 75% are admitted within 12 months of graduation.
  • 50% of students not applying to or accepted into supervised practice programs who do not plan to take the DTR exam will gain acceptance into graduate school and/or apply/reapply to supervised practice programs within 12 months of graduation.
  • At least 50% of graduates will indicate they have “satisfactory” experiences with leadership roles during the DPD program or that they feel prepared to take on leadership roles in their careers after graduation.

The success of the DPD at Cornell is measured using outcomes related to program goals. A full report of outcomes is available upon request.

Admission to supervised practice programs is competitive. Students with a strong GPA, relevant work/volunteer experiences and letters of support often do well in placing to their top choice of supervised practice programs. The Cornell DPD currently graduates approximately 10-20 students per year. Of students who apply to supervised practice programs the year they complete the program, approximately 95% are accepted.

Our DPD graduates are highly successful and well-prepared for evidence-based practice, leadership, and graduate study. Placement rates of our graduates in dietetic internships and graduate schools are 95% and better. Feedback from our graduates, program directors and employers indicate satisfaction with knowledge and skills developed through the program. The passing rate of our graduates taking the Registration Examination for Dietitians for the first time is 99% (five-year average).

Any student accepted to Cornell may consider the DPD. Most students however are completing one of the majors offered by the Division of Nutritional Sciences. Many nutrition majors at Cornell complete the courses required for the dietetics program. Students completing the DPD are required to register as a pre-dietetics student with the Dietetics Office and work closely with their faculty advisors and with the Dietetics Program faculty to prepare course schedules and to acquire field, work, and research experiences that enhance classroom learning. Pre-dietetics students formally apply to the DPD, typically in the junior year. Accepted students work with the DPD director to further prepare and plan for application to supervised practice programs. Guidance for students on completing DPD requirements, program policies and applying to supervised practice programs can be found in the DPD Handbook.

Candidates outside of Cornell with a degree who are interested in the DPD program may consider applying to Cornell through the special studies option. The special or visiting student option is offered through the transfer departments in both the College of Human Ecology and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Please note that earning a second bachelor's degree at Cornell is not an option. Students accepted via this option have two semesters to complete dietetics coursework. Coursework in physical and biological sciences, behavioral sciences, communications, computational sciences and nutrition core courses, including lifecycle nutrition, should be completed prior to application.

The majority of students completing DPD requirements at Cornell pursue supervised dietetics practice, a necessary step to become eligible to sit for the National Registration Examination for Dietitians (Registered Dietitian). The Registered Dietitian (R.D.) credential is the most widely held credential of nutrition practitioners. A Registered Dietitian is a food and nutrition expert who is a translator of the science and art of foods, nutrition, and dietetics in the service of people. Many jobs in nutrition require the R.D. credential to be considered for employment. Registered Dietitians work in a wide variety of settings including management, community, research and clinical settings. Some R.D.s practice in highly specialized areas such as pediatrics, diabetes management, nutrition support, eating disorders and oncology. Successful completion of the DPD also prepares students to sit for the National Registration Examination for Diet Technicians. For more information on what an R.D. and a DTR are, please visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Policies and Procedures in the DPD

Credit for Prior Learning

Transfer of coursework credit from other universities to fulfill degree requirements follows the policy of Cornell University. See the Courses of Study catalog for more information. To individualize didactic experiences for current students who come with prior coursework and/or experiential learning, it is the policy of the Cornell University Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) to acknowledge appropriate substitutions where indicated. Substitutions are assessed by the DPD director who will consider each case on an individual basis. Requests must be submitted with ample lead time to fully assess the adequacy of the proposed substitution. Substitutions are reserved for students in unique and/or unusual situations (e.g. returning students, students completing studies off-campus, students seeking a Verification Statement post-graduation) and are not intended as a typical replacement of the DPD minimum academic requirements. In most instances substitutions will not be granted academic credit and substitutions will not show up on transcripts; students must fulfill requirements for their major.

Students seeking a course substitution will contact the DPD director a minimum of two months in advance of the start of the required course. Students will be required to submit proof of prior coursework and/or proof of experiential learning as deemed appropriate by the DPD director.

The DPD director will review submitted information and assess it for evidence of fulfilled knowledge requirements and learning outcomes. If partial fulfillment is determined, additional activities to completely fulfill requirements and learning outcomes may be proposed by the DPD director and used in combination to completely fulfill requirements.

If the substitution is approved, the DPD director will complete and sign a "Courses Substituted to Meet Didactic Program in Dietetics" form. This form will be kept in the student's DPD file as proof of completion and referred to as needed during the transcript evaluation process for issuing a Verification Statement. The student will also be notified of the decision.

For students applying to supervised practice programs, the course being substituted for should be listed on the DPD Course List page of the supervised practice application. Under the grade column, list a "P" for "passed" and leave this course out of the GPA calculation for the DPD. If the course is substituted with a course from another institution, then that institution name, course name and number, number of credits and grade should be listed on the DPD Course List page. Details and approval of the substitution will be recorded on the "Courses Substituted to Meet Didactic Program in Dietetics" form and kept in the student's DPD file.

Issuance of Verification Statements

Upon successful completion of the program, each student will be issued eight Verification Statements signed by the DPD director. The Verification Statement is proof of completion of the Didactic Program in Dietetics. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that transcripts for all DPD and degree course work is submitted to the Dietetics Office. Verification Statements are kept on file indefinitely.

Cornell students seeking a Verification Statement must request an official transcript with date degree conferred from the University registrar. The transcript shall be sent to the Dietetics office.

The DPD director and dietetics staff will review the transcript to ensure successful completion of required DPD coursework. ACEND's Verification Statement form will then be completed, embossed with the DNS seal and signed in blue ink by the Didactic Program in Dietetics director.

An original, signed Verification Statement will be mailed to the Dietetic Internship accepting each student, as appropriate. An original, signed Verification Statement will also be kept on file for all students completing the dietetics program. Additionally, each student will be mailed six original statements for personal use (e.g. for licensure application, future internship applications, Academy membership, employers, etc.).

For a Verification Statement to be issued from Cornell University, a minimum of a baccalaureate degree and all DPD minimum academic requirements must be met. In addition, a minimum of 21 credits under the Professional Sciences requirement must be completed at Cornell. Alternatively, a Cornell University graduate student may be issued a Verification Statement by Cornell if dietetics requirements are completed while that student is a graduate student at Cornell University. In either case, transcripts and course syllabi for dietetics coursework taken outside of Cornell must be provided by the student in order to complete the transcript evaluation process (see policy on "Credit for Prior Learning").

In extraordinary situations, Cornell DNS graduate students may be granted course credit toward a Verification Statement for a course where they served as a teaching assistant. In this situation, the instructor for the course must complete a summary of the course description, content covered, credit equivalent and whether the course was successfully completed. The summary will then be sent to the DPD director to determine if the necessary foundation knowledge and skills were successfully addressed by the student.

Program Complaints

Complaints or concerns about the program should be discussed with the DPD director. Grievances should be directed to the Division of Nutritional Sciences director. If a complaint is not resolved, a grievance shall be directed to the associate dean for academic affairs of the student's college (Human Ecology, Agriculture and Life Sciences or Arts and Sciences). If that complaint fails to be resolved, a formal program complaint may be issued to ACEND (120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000, Chicago, IL 60606-6995; ph. 312-899-0040 ext. 5400). The student will not suffer retaliation for issuing a complaint or grievance.

The DPD defers to the policies of Cornell University for issues related to tuition and fees and other student costs. There are no DPD-specific costs for any distance education learning activities that may take place.

Per the Cornell University Registrar, “Cornell may change the format or duration of courses based on factors including but not limited to health or safety concerns, the judgment of the instructor, instructor status, pedagogical needs, or student enrollment numbers.” In the case that distance education is necessary, students will be provided with instructions from the course instructor on how to complete the course using distance education. If you require assistance to complete distance education at Cornell University, please refer to the following links to get additional help from available resources: 

For more information, contact us at

Program support provided by Diana Wixson, 108 Savage Hall, (607) 255-2690

*120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, IL 60606‐6995; ph. 312‐899‐0040 ext. 5400