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Athabasca University

How to become a Dietitian (or Nutritionist)

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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 the term Nutritionist is not protected by law in some Canadian provinces, therefore the term Nutritionist can be used by anyone with or without any formal education or training. The term "Registered Nutritionist" is protected by law in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and the term "Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist" is protected by law in New Brunswick. In these cases, the educational requirements are the same for both dietitian and nutritionist. Understanding the different terminology is important when considering career opportunities for your location. For more information on these differences, please view the Dietitians of Canada article "Is there a difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?" as well as,  McMasters University Science Departments’ article on Canadian Dietitian/Nutritionist Information and Programs.

Athabasca University does not offer a degree in this area of study. It may be possible to complete AU courses for transfer to another university program. See the AU Undergraduate Course listing. Review admission and program requirements of the institution from which you plan to obtain your dietitian or foods credential. Before registering for any courses or programs, research career, education, and professional options.

1. Research career information on becoming a Dietitian or Nutritionist.

The following links contain useful information regarding duties, working conditions, skills, education, salary, and employment prospects.

2. Research post-secondary options. 

Research and contact post-secondary institutions offering accredited programs in dietetic education for program information, transfer credit information, and admission requirements.
See the Canadian, American, and International listings of accredited universities offering programs in dietetic education.

3. Research professional registration requirements.

To become a practicing dietitian in Canada, you will need to know professional registration requirements for your location. The educational requirements for registration may vary from province to province.  In some instances, you may also be required to hold membership in the national association, Dietitians of Canada, to practice as a dietitian.

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

4. Become an AU Student

Once you have completed your research and you determine you can take an AU course(s) for credit toward a program elsewhere, apply as a non-program student.


Alberta Learning Information Services (2017). Alberta Occupational Profiles:  Dietitian. Retrieved October 24, 2017 from

Dietitians of Canada (2017). Retrieved October 24, 2017 from

McMaster University (2017): Canadian Dietitian/Nutritionist Information and Programs. Retrieved October 24, 2017 from

National Occupational Classification (2011). 3132 Dietitians and Nutritionists. Retrieved October 24, 2017 from*


Updated November 17 2017 by Student & Academic Services

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