How to Become a Nutritionist and Dietitian in Montana

There are two ways to be qualified to work as a nutritionist in Montana. One is to earn a qualifying advanced degree. The other is to earn a degree at at least the bachelor’s level and then pursue licensing. Licensure is based on meeting the certification standards of the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Registration by the CDR is the one pathway to becoming a nutritionist that does not involve education at the master’s level.

It is necessary to meet state requirements to perform certain nutrition-related duties — not just to use the professional titles (

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Becoming a Registered Dietitian

The Commission on Dietitian Registration grants Registered Dietitian (RD) and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credentials. The RD and RDN are equivalent.

In order to qualify for national registration and Montana licensure, a person will need to enroll in an accredited or approved program. The national accrediting agency for dietitian programs is the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

International programs constitute an exception to the requirement for program-level accreditation. Although ACEND has begun accrediting international programs, licensing by equivalency is projected to continue into 2019.

Montana has, as of 2016, just one accredited program. It is didactic. This means that a student who enrolls in the program will complete his or her supervised practice subsequently. A prospective student may also look into online options. Distance programs may be coordinated or didactic. Coordinated programs incorporate 1,200 hours of pre-professional experience.

Prospective RDs may complete their pre-professional experience in any of three ways. Those who pursue coordinated programs will have completed their experience requirement by the time of graduation. Those who complete didactic programs generally apply to internships during their final year. There is a centralized application process. Internship arrangements are typically made through this matching process, but some interns are pre-selected on the basis of existing ties to the institution.

Montana currently has one internship program. It has an annual enrollment of 23 and a focus on sustainable food systems. It lasts one academic year. Students may use the ACEND directory to search for accredited internships throughout the nation. They may also search for distance programs. Some programs have the capacity to monitor internships across state lines.

There is a third option for students who do not match: the Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway, or ISPP. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics can provide general information (

The candidate will take a certification examination after other requirements have been met. It is a computer-delivered multiple choice assessment and is widely available at Pearson VUE sites around the nation. The exam covers dietetics principles, nutrition care, foodservice systems, and management of programs and services. The largest component is nutrition care. A candidate handbook is available for download from the CDR website (

The Application Process

License applications are available from the Board of Medical Examiners ( Prospective licensees are asked to review laws and rules before making application.

The applicant will perform a self-query of the National Practitioner Data Bank. He or she may download the required form from the Health Resources and Services Administration website or call 800-767-6732. The applicant will receive the query and submit it to the Board in its original sealed envelope.

The licensing agency will also require a copy of the CDR registration card. Registration must be current; it is not sufficient just to have met initial requirements and passed the examination.

There is a $100 application fee.

An applicant must submit license verification from any state where he or she has held licensing, even if the credential is not current. The application packet includes a verification form and directions.

A complete application file can generally be processed in ten days. Non-routine applications take considerably longer. (The packet includes a number of questions about the applicant’s legal, professional, and educational background; it also includes an affidavit that authorizes release of records to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, Healthcare Licensing Bureau.)

License Maintenance

Nutritionist licenses are renewed biennially. The licensee will provide evidence of current CDR registration (

Registered Dietitians recertify through the CDR on a five-year basis. They must meet CDR requirements for professional development.

Qualifying as a Nutritionist Based on Graduate Level Training

A person can call himself or herself a nutritionist on the basis of 1) a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree or 2) a doctoral degree. Under current law, the professional will not actually be licensed unless he or she also holds CDR certification. The practice act does, however, include information for graduate-level practitioners. The nutritionist will need either 1) bachelor’s and master’s degrees or 2) a doctoral degree. The field of study may be dietetics, public health nutrition, or food and nutrition (

Professionals with advanced degrees in nutrition may hold concurrent RD registration. Some ACEND-accredited programs are offered at the master’s level. ACEND-accredited schools may evaluate the transcripts of candidates who hold degrees. The Montana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes that many RDs hold advanced degrees and some hold specialty certifications (

However, there are also accredited schools that offer non-RD nutritionist tracks at the graduate level.

Additional Information

The Montana Board of Medical Examiners can provide information about requirements for nutritionist practice. Requirements and exemptions are described in state statute. Board of Medical Examiners staff members can be reached by telephone at (406) 444-5773 or by email at ‘dlibsdmed at’.

The Montana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is an additional resource ( The national accrediting agency, ACEND, is under the banner of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; MTAND is the state affiliate.