What degrees qualify for a CNS?
All CNS applicants must have completed a Master’s or Doctoral degree in the field of nutrition from a United States regionally accredited college or university, or its foreign equivalent; OR a Doctoral degree 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.
What are the course requirements for applying for the CNS credential?
All candidates must have completed the following course requirements (to be completed in semester hours – quarter hours will be converted to semester credits):
(a) Biochemistry – 6 credit hours
(b) Physiology or Anatomy/Physiology – 3 credit hours
(c) Clinical/Life Sciences – 12 credit hours
(d) Nutrition Science – 9 credit hours taken at the graduate level only.
All courses must be taken at a regionally accredited institution.
How do I know if my courses qualify?
Candidates can seek to verify that courses fulfill the requirements by reading the descriptions on the Curriculum Overview and making sure all courses were taken at a regionally accredited institution. While we are prepared to answer your application related questions, we are unable to guarantee acceptance of the application until a complete review has been conducted by the Credentials Council.
How do I know if the colleges and universities I attended are regionally accredited?
In order to verify that the institutions attended are regionally accredited, candidates may search the database of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
What if I went to college/university from a school outside of the United States?
Please have your transcripts sent to us via WES.org or another third party verification service for non-US institutions/degrees. All other application materials remain the same. Please go to the Students tab/credential evaluation/comprehensive course by course report. You should only request transcripts from schools where the coursework will be used on the CNS application: http://www.wes.org/application/apply_now.asp
Do I need to submit my professional license to become a CNS?
No, submission of professional license information is not required.
How is the Certification Examination for Nutrition Specialists developed?
The process begins with a comprehensive job analysis conducted and analyzed by subject matter experts, with data gathered from experienced clinical nutrition professionals currently in practice regarding the knowledge and skills needed for competence in practice. From this job analysis, the examination content outline is developed. A Council of subject matter experts, including members of the BCNS Board of Directors, write and review questions. This team also categorizes the questions in accordance with the domains outlined in the exam content outline. Once a question is approved and categorized by the Council, it is added to the test data bank. A psychometrician performs detailed statistical analysis to ensure each examination is drawn from the test bank and scored in a psychometrically valid manner.
What topics are covered on the exam?
The CNS examination contains specific content domains, which include: Fundamental Principles of Nutrition, Nutrients and Human Health, Nutrition Assessment, Clinical Intervention and Monitoring, and Professional Issues. To see more detail about each content domain and the percentage of the exam each comprise, please see the Examination Content Outline.
Is there a study guide for the exam? How should I best prepare for the exam?
BCNS does not publish a study guide in accordance with the requirements of the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). There are other organizations who publish study guides, nutrition primers, and review courses. The BCNS does not endorse any specific study preparation method or course. BCNS strongly recommends candidates use multiple reference materials when studying for the examination.
The Examination Content Outline is the key tool to be used to identify potential areas of strengths and weakness. Based on this, a candidate can assess potential areas where additional reference materials may be helpful in exam preparation.
Does the examination change each time it is offered and do the questions vary in level of difficulty?
BCNS does change its examination each time it is administered. However, the psychometric method used to score the exam, ensures that the level of difficulty is consistent from one exam to the next. For this reason, those who took the examination in previous administrations and those who will take it in the future, all have equal opportunities to obtain a passing score.
How often is the exam offered?
The BCNS examination is offered twice per year, typically in the early summer and early winter.
Where is the exam held?
The examination sites are located throughout the United States and posted on the BCNS website for each upcoming examination. The application includes an Examination Site Information Section, in which the applicant is to select three exam sites in order of preference. Please note that assignment to a specific location cannot be guaranteed. After the applications have been reviewed by the credentials council, candidates will receive notification confirming authorization and assigned location to sit for the BCNS examination. Formal notification with specific instructions will be sent to candidates 14 days prior to the exam day.
How long is the exam?
The exam contains 200 multiple-choice questions (pencil and scantron); and is 4 hours in length.
What can I bring to the exam?
A valid form of primary identification which includes a photograph and signature is required to take the exam. You may bring pencils and non-communicating computers. Please note that purses, briefcases, and other personal belongings must be properly closed and stored. Prohibited items include: communicating calculators, pagers, cell phones, and electronic digital devices. Scrap paper will be provided.
Are there restrictions on re-taking the exam?
Candidates may take the examination one time per calendar year as they continue to meet the eligibility requirements. In order to retake the exam, candidates must submit a Reexamination Application and a $200 examination fee.
When will I be notified of the exam results?
Score reports will be issued via email approximately 4-6 weeks after the exam.
How is the passing score determined?
The method used by BCNS to determine the passing score is known as the Angoff technique, and is in accordance with the standards set by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), which has fully accredited the CNS certifying program. It includes Examination Development Council analysis on an item-by-item basis. If an item is considered by the Committee to be more difficult, the expectation of candidate performance is lower than if an item is considered by the Committee to be less difficult. These Council judgments of item difficulty are expressed as numeric performance indices. The pass-fail cut score reflects these item performance indices, and is expressed as a percentage equivalent.
For each examination, the pass-fail cut score will vary somewhat based on that exam’s difficulty level, but the cut scores are equated such that an equivalence of difficulty is maintained. Historically cut scores have ranged between 60 and 69%. This historic range represents outcomes to date but should not be considered policy; it is possible for a future cut score to fall outside of this range. View historical data.
What if I require special accommodations for the exam?
Individuals requiring special accommodations must submit Special Accommodations Request Form and Documentation of Disability-Related Needs Form. Candidates will be contacted by the BCNS to ensure that a testing appointment is scheduled to accommodate their needs.
Can I take the exam before completing my advanced degree?
No. Candidates must have completed a qualifying master’s or doctoral level degree prior to taking the exam.
Do I have to complete the supervised experience before I take the exam?
No. Applicants may apply to sit for the exam without having completed the experience requirement. Although candidates may be approved to sit for the exam prior to completing the supervised experience requirements, the examination is designed to the test knowledge and skills acquired by those who have successfully completed both the academic and experiential criteria of the CNS. The CNS credential will not be awarded until both the examination and experience requirements are fulfilled. You will have 5 years after taking the exam to complete the supervised experience hours.
Where do I go to find an internship for my supervised practice experience?
Many CNS candidates have fulfilled the supervision requirements by reaching out to local organizations, clinics, private practices and medical offices and offering their services. Organizations such as WIC, Institute for Functional Medicine, American College for Advanced Medicine, Health Professionals, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics are useful resources. Approach these entities as you would a job interview. Have your resume/cv updated, use a cover letter and distinguish yourself by relaying your nutrition degree, your CNS candidacy, area of expertise and manner in which you may be of assistance.
If a location is found but has no on-site supervisor, the CNS candidate may find his/her own supervisor and conduct supervision sessions remotely.
What type of experience must the CNS-S submit?
CNS-S must complete the CNS-S Experience Requirement as well as the Scholarship Requirement. The CNS-S Experience Requirement requires that the candidate documents a minimum of the equivalent of 3 years of experience in any one or more of the following categories: (a) Nutrition Industry; (b) Research; (c) Academia; (d) Writing; (e) Clinical Practice. The CNS-S Scholarship Requirement requires that the candidate demonstrates evidence of scholarship in nutrition in accordance with a minimum of 5 or any combination of the following: (a) Nutrition papers in peer-reviewed journals or trade journals; (b) Nutrition chapters in textbooks or reference books; (c) non-professional nutrition books that are based on sufficient scientific research; (d) Nutrition-related patents; (e) Comparable works of scholarship.
What does the supervision requirement entail?
The Supervised Experience Requirement illustrates that the CNS candidate has demonstrated evidence of experience in nutrition under the supervision of a BCNS approved supervisor. Candidates must document 1,000 hours of supervised practice experience in the following nutrition categories:
(a) Nutrition assessment (minimum 200 hours);
(b) Nutrition intervention, education, counseling, or management (minimum 200 hours);
(c) Nutrition monitoring or evaluation (minimum 200 hours);
(d) Remaining hours may be in any of the above categories.
Who can supervise me?
Supervisors must have a minimum of 3 full time years of clinical experience in nutrition care and one of the following credentials: CNS in good standing; MS or doctoral degree in nutrition with a state license or certification; or an MD or other doctoral-level licensed professional whose scope of practice includes nutrition. Supervisors must be approved by the BCNS by submiting a resume and Supervisor Approval Request Form.
How much time do I have to complete the supervised experience for the CNS?
Candidates have 5 years from the testing date to complete their experience. Experience obtained prior to matriculating in the qualifying degree program will not be counted towards the supervised hours.
How much time do I have to complete the scholarship requirements for the CNS-S?
CNS-S candidates have 5 years from the testing date to complete the scholarship requirement.
Why do I need to become recertified?
The BCNS supports ongoing professional development of its certificants. Therefore, it is mandatory that certificants can demonstrate the retention, reinforcement, and expansion of their knowledge and skills pertaining to new advances and information in nutrition science, by submitting 75 Contuning Education credits earned over the previous 5 year period.
How often do I need to be recertified?
Every 5 years
What do I need to do to become recertified?
Certificants must submit a Recertification Application which includes recording 75 CEs, and pay a $200 recertification fee. Please note that we do not require Certificates of Attendance. However, we ask that individuals retain such certificates for 2 years after submitting the application.
Where can I get CE requirements?
Individuals may earn CEs as a participant in a professional and structured educational activity containing a minimum of 50% nutrition content; teaching nutrition courses at a regionally accredited institution; authoring or co-authoring books and articles in the field of nutrition; or editorship of a professional nutrition journal.
How much does recertification cost?
$200 by check or online payment. Please note that you must still pay your annual $100 fee on the year of your recertification.