Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD)

The Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) is the Premier Professional Sports Nutrition Credential in the U.S.


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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. 

Board Certification as a Specialist in Sports Dietetics

CSSD Eligibility Requirements

CSSD Eligibility Requirements Update

Minimum requirements for specialist certification are established and approved by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. In order to be eligible to become a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) 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.
  • Initial Certification: Documentation of 2,000 hours of sports dietetics practice experience as an RD within the past five years. 
  • Recertification: Documentation of 1,500 hours of sports dietetics practice experience as an RD within the past five years*.

Certain education and professional experiences can substitute for some of the required sports practice hours up to a total of 500 hours maximum.

  1. Education:
    • Completed graduate degrees in sports nutrition, exercise physiology, exercise science, kinesiology, nutrition with sports emphasis or nutrition to substitute for 300 hours (masters) and 400 hours (doctorate). 
    • If your educational degree was used to substitute for the required hours with initial certification, you cannot use the same degree for recertification.
  2. Professional experiences (completed within the past five years from the date of application):
    • Primary author of an article in a peer-reviewed scientific publication- 20 hours per article
    • Co-author of an article in a scientific publication- 10 hours per article
    • Author of a published sports dietetics textbook/manual- 100 hours per textbook
    • Author of a chapter in a published sports dietetics textbook/manual- 15 hours per chapter
    • Sports research as a sole or principal investigator- 20 hours per research activity
    • Sports research as a co-investigator - 10 hours per research activity
    • Sports-related continuing education- 75 hours must follow PDP guidelines
    • International Olympic Committee (IOC) Diploma in Sports Nutrition- 500 hours.

*CSSDs whose credential has lapsed, may recertify with 1500 hours of sports dietetics practice experience (rather than the 2,000 hours of practice experience required for initial certification), provided they apply for the next available testing window following the lapse of their credential.

Board Certification as a Specialist in Sports Dietetics Nutrition Examination Dates and Fee

NEW!  The Board Certification as a Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) examination will be administered year-round beginning February 11, 2019.

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.

View Available Modules

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.