Examination for Dietetic Technicians, Registered (DTR) and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN)

Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR) Examination

Students who meet the criteria to receive a verification statement from the Penn State DPD program are eligible to take the DTR examination. Students who take the DTR exam typically choose not to apply to a DI program or are not matched to a DI program.

What does a dietetic technician do?

Dietetic technicians work as dietary aides in clinical settings, such as hospitals and long-term care settings; they work in school food service; and they work as research lab assistants, etc. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides additional information on employment opportunities, job outlook, and salary information.

What are the advantages of taking the DTR exam?

Students should take the DTR exam if the job for which they are applying requires the DTR certification. While the certification will not hurt the student’s chances of getting employment, there are some states that do not require the DTR certification. It is possible for an individual to get a nutrition-related job without it. This will vary by state and by employer.

Students who are planning to apply to a DI program or an Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) are encouraged to take the DTR exam. Directors of these programs look favorably on applicants who have earned their DTR certification.

How to apply to take the DTR examination

The DPD director must submit the DTR application materials to the Commission on Dietetic Registration in order for an individual to take the DTR exam. Please read the following steps carefully to learn what documentation is needed by the DPD director.

Criteria to be eligible to apply for the DTR exam

  • B.S. degree in nutritional sciences or hospitality management: dietetics. It must be officially conferred by Penn State, and an electronic copy of your official transcript must be sent to the DPD Director by email from the Penn State Registrar
  • Verification statement issued by the DPD director of Penn State

Documents that must be filled out and provided to the DPD director

  • DTR application form
  • NDTR misuse form
  • Official signed copy of your verification statement.
  • The above documents can be given to the DPD director in person or mailed to her office:
    Mary Dean Coleman-Kelly, Ph.D., RD
    110 Chandlee Lab
    Nutritional Sciences Department
    University Park, PA 16802
  • Send an electronic copy of your official Penn State transcript after your degree has been conferred by the University. These can be ordered online from the registrar’s office. Send it to Dr. Coleman-Kelly at mdc15@psu.edu.

Additional resources

National board examination for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN)

Similar to other health care professions, RDNs must take and pass a national board registration examination to earn the RDN certification. The RDN exam is a computer-based exam that covers the content in the three major areas of dietetics: clinical, community, and food service.

The registration examination is updated every five years to reflect the information that entry-level dietitians should master after completing a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) and Dietetic Internship (DI) program. The exam was updated in January 2012.

RD Exam Study Outline
Commission on Dietetics Registration (CDR) website

Penn State DPD program RDN Exam Pass Rate information

The Penn State DPD program first-time yearly pass rate for the RDN exam has been greater than the national average for the past five years.
The Penn State DPD program five-year average first-time pass rate is 90%. The national average is 82%.