CNS-S for Scholars

Who Should Obtain the Credential?

Scholars, researchers, educators, product developers or scientists seeking distinction in the field of clinical or applied nutrition science.

Education Requirements

The candidate must
  • Hold a Doctoral degree in nutrition or in a field of clinical healthcare (including, but not limited to, MD, DO, DC, DDS, Doctor of Nursing, ND, PharmD) from a United States regionally accredited college or university, or its foreign equivalent.
The candidate must also have completed the following minimum for-credit coursework:
  1. Nutrition (minimum of 9 semester credit hours). Examples of such course topics include but are not limited to: therapeutic nutrition, nutrition assessment, developmental nutrition, micro nutrients, macro nutrients, functional nutrition, nutrient depletion & drug/herb interactions, dietary supplements, nutritional disorders, pharmacology, and biomedical science courses that involve nutrition-related metabolic systems.
  2. Biochemistry (minimum of 6 semester credit hours)
  3. Physiology or anatomy/physiology (minimum of 3 semester credit hours)
  4. Clinical or life sciences (minimum of 12 additional semester credit hours). These courses may be prerequisites for the above courses and include, but are not limited to: biology, micro-biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, botany or nutrition.

“Regionally accredited” means an institution that was accredited, at the time the degree was awarded, by a regional accreditation body in the United States which is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the United States Department of Education. Degrees from institutions outside the U.S. must be from that country’s equivalent of a regionally accredited U.S. institution.

Experience and Scholarship Requirements

The candidate must demonstrate evidence of both experience and scholarship in nutrition in accordance with the following:
  • Experience: A minimum of the equivalent of three full-time years of experience in the nutrition industry, research, academia, writing, or clinical practice;
  • Scholarship: A minimum of five of any combination of the following:

    ---Nutrition papers in peer-reviewed journals or trade journals;
    ---Nutrition chapters in textbooks or reference books;
    ---Non-professional nutrition books that are based on sufficient scientific research and have been reviewed and approved by the BCNS Credentials Council;
    ---Nutrition-related patents;
    ---Comparable works of scholarship

The experience and scholarship may be completed after passing the Certification Examination for Nutrition Specialists℠.  However, the candidate will not be awarded, and may not use, the CNS-S credential until both are completed and approved.  

Examination Requirement

The candidate must achieve a passing score on the Certification Examination for Nutrition Specialists℠, offered twice a year, typically in the spring and fall.

The examination is designed to test the knowledge and skills acquired by those who have successfully completed both the academic and experiential criteria of the CNS and CNS-S. While we may approve those who have not yet completed the experience requirement to sit for the examination, evidence shows that those with experience perform better than those without.

The examination contains 200 multiple-choice, single answer questions. It covers a broad spectrum of basic and applied nutritional science based on an explicit set of competencies. These have been determined through a job analysis study conducted on practitioners.

The competencies are grouped into domains, subdomains and tasks. As the examination may only assess knowledge pertaining to these competency statements, they serve as the outline, or blueprint for the examination.

See How to Prepare for the Examination and the Examination Content Outline.

Recertification Requirements

To maintain the CNS credential, all CNS certificants must recertify every five years and document 75 Continuing Education (CE) credits. Learn more about recertification. 

Application and Required Forms

CNS-Scholar Exam Application (Fillable PDF Form)

CNS-Scholar Experience and Scholarship Application

*For instructions on using fillable PDF forms, visit the Forms & Helpful Documents page.