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Athabasca University

How to become a Dietitian (or Nutritionist)

by Julia McDonald

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Becoming a dietitian in Canada consists of three steps:

1) obtain a four year bachelor's degree with a focus in Foods and Nutrition. Dietitians of Canada maintains a list of accredited Dietetic Education programs at Canadian Universities.

2) complete the supervised practical training;

3) register with a provincial dietetics organization.

Some professionals use the terms dietitian and nutritionist interchangeably; however, all dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians.

The term dietitian is protected by law through provincial legislation in all Canadian provinces whereas in some Canadian provinces the term nutritionist can be used by anyone with or without any formal education or training. The term "Registered Nutritionist", however; is protected by law in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Quebec and the term "Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist" is protected by law in News Brunswick. In these cases, the educational requirements are the same for both dietitian and nutritionist.  For more information on these differences, please view this article "What is the Difference Between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?" on the Dietitians of Canada website, as well as,  McMasters University Science Departments article on dietitian /nutritionist programs.

Although Athabasca University does not offer a degree in this area, it is possible to do courses that can be transferred to another university. Our website has a complete list of our programs and courses.

Before registering for any courses or programs:

1. Research career information on Dietitian or Nutritionist.

The following links contain useful information on duties, working conditions, skills, education, salary, employment prospects and opportunities and more:

2.  Contact the post-secondary institutions you would like to attend.

Contact the post-secondary institutions that offer accredited programs in dietetic education for the course calendar, about transferable credits information and admission requirements.

See the Canadian, American, and International listings of accredited universities offering programs in dietetic education.

3. Contact the Canadian Dietetic Association or a provincial counterpart for registration requirements.

To become a practicing dietitian in Canada, you may need to be registered. The educational requirements for registration may vary from province to province.

View the Canadian, American, and International information on registration requirements.

4. Contact an AU Counsellor

A counsellor can provide you with more information on this particular career path and make sure the program you choose meets your goals. You can contact a counsellor by email, book a telephone appointment by calling 1-800-788-9041 ext. 6723 or use the online appointment form.

5. Contact an AU student advisor.

An advisor can help you select courses and develop a program plan for studies at Athabasca University. (For courses or programs at another institution, you must contact that institution directly for further assistance.)  You can e-mail an advisor at or call 1-800-788-9041.For more information on this service, visit the Advising web page

6. Become an AU Student

Once you completed these steps, you are ready to become an AU Student.


Alberta Learning Information Services (2006). Alberta Occupational Profiles:  Dietitian. Retrieved Nov. 24, 2006 from

Dietitians of Canada (2006). Retrieved Nov. 24, 2006 from

Doug Cook's (2006): What is the Difference Between a Registered Dietitian and a Nutritionist?  Retrieved on Dec. 11, 2006 from

McMaster University (2006): Dietitian & Nutritionist Programs. Retrieved Dec. 11, 2006 from

National Occupational Classification (2006). 3132 Dietitians and Nutritionists. Retrieved Feb 5, 2007 from*


Updated February 04 2014 by Student & Academic Services

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