Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD)

Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD)


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The CSSD is offered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) for registered dietitians (RDs) who have specialized experience in sports dietetics. Being Board Certified as a Specialist in Sports Dietetics designates specific knowledge, skills, and expertise for competency in sports dietetics practice. 


CSSD Earns Accreditation by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)

The CSSD is the first and only sports nutrition certification program to be accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Created by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, NCCA accreditation reflects achievement of the highest standards of professional credentialing. CSSD, RD and DTR programs and its five specialist certification programs are now accredited by NCCA. 

Apply for CSSD certification online application:

Exam Dates: The CSSD exam is offered within a 3-week time period two times a year. During those periods the computer-based exam is available at about 100 locations in the United States. Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc. administers the exam. Successful completion of the eligibility application and the CSSD exam earns the applicant a five-year CSSD certification and satisfies CDR's five-year CPEU requirement for Registered Dietitians.


Eligibility: Minimum requirements for specialty certification are established and approved by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Access CDR's website for information about eligibility, instruction booklet, and application for CSSD certification:  Eligible candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Current Registered Dietitian (RD) status by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
  • Maintenance of the RD status, for a minimum of two years from the original examination date (by the date of the specialty examination).
  • Initial Certification: Documentation of 1,500 hours of specialty practice experience as an RD within the past five years (by the date the application is due).
  • Recertification: Documentation of 1,000 hours of specialty practice experience as an RD within the past five years by the date the application is due (effective until July 2018).

CDR Sports Dietetics Self-Assessment: CDR has launched an online “Assess and Learn: Sports Dietetics: Nutrition for Athletic Performance” self-assessment module. The module has been approved for 5 CPEUs. Link to CDR’s website:

Why Certification? The Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics credential is the way to advance your career in sports dietetics, gain a competitive edge in employment, and provide unique benefits to clients and employers, such as sports medical nutrition therapy for special populations. CSSDs apply sports nutrition science to fueling fitness, sport, and athletic performance. Specialty certification differentiates sports dietitians from those who are less qualified to provide sports nutrition services. Credibility, visibility, and marketability of sports dietitians is enhanced by specialty certification. Specialty certification facilitates networking and partnering with organizations that share common goals.

Job Opportunities: Employers are already requiring the CSSD for sports nutrition positions. Employment opportunities exist in these areas:

  • Athletic performance companies
  • Colleges and universities (athletics, student health, campus wellness, faculty and staff)
  • Corporations (wellness, food industry)
  • Health care organizations (hospitals, clinics, eating disorder treatment)
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Military bases and affiliates
  • Online nutrition coaching
  • Professional sports organizations
  • Private practice
  • U.S. Olympic Committee and training facilities

History of the CSSD: In summer 2005 CDR appointed SCAN members to a Sports Dietetics Specialty Practice Analysis Workgroup (SPAW). SPAW members assisted CDR in developing a Sports Dietetics Practice Analysis Survey that was conducted in fall 2005. The survey data were used to develop a content outline and items for the CSSD specialty examination. SPAW also successfully completed the following:

  • Identified knowledge, skills, and abilities for competency in sports dietetics practice
  • Developed a sports dietetics practitioner definition (see below)
  • Assisted in developing eligibility requirements for sports dietetics specialty certification
  • Identified sports nutrition resources applicable to sports dietetics practice
  • Assisted in developing a CSSD specialty exam and a content outline for the exam

SPAW transitioned into the Sports Dietetics Specialty Examination Workgroup (SSEW) that assists CDR with the following:

  • Write and review specialty exam items
  • Update the sports nutrition reference list

Original SSEW Members: Steven E. Black, Lt Col, USAF, BSC, PhD, RD, CSSD; Kim Crawford, PhD, RD, CSSD; Nancy DiMarco, PhD, RD, CSSD, LD; Christopher Halagarda, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS; Diane King, MS, ATC, RD, CSSD; Susie H. Langley, MS, RD, CSSD; Michele A. Macedonio, MS, RD, CSSD, LD; Bob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS: Ingrid Skoog, MS, RD, CSSD; and Patti Steinmuller, MS, RD, CSSD, LD.

Definition - Sports Dietetics Practitioner: Sports Dietitians are experienced registered dietitians who apply evidence-based nutrition knowledge in exercise and sports. They assess, educate, and counsel athletes and active individuals. They design, implement, and manage safe and effective nutrition strategies that enhance lifelong health, fitness, and optimal performance.


Page updated August 18, 2015.