CNS Application Instructions

All education requirements must be met before applying to sit for the Certification Examination of Nutrition SpecialistsTM. The experience requirement may be completed after passing the examination. However, candidates will not be awarded, and may not use, the Certified Nutrition Specialist® (CNS®) credential until the experience requirement is completed and has been approved by the BCNS Credentials Council.

Fees and Procedures

The four-hour Certification Examination of Nutrition SpecialistsTM  is administered twice annually at various locations throughout the United States. See the website Announcements or Events section for current dates and deadlines. Eligible applicants will be advised of the available sites for taking the examination once they have submitted their application. Application forms for the CNS credential are available on the CNS Candidates page of our website. The application, including payment of a non-refundable application fee of $100, must be received by the posted application deadline.

An examination fee of $300 will be due before an approved applicant will be allowed to sit for the examination. Both fees ($400 in total) may be included with the CNS application.

The examination fee of $300 is refundable, if a written refund request is received by the BCNS 30 days prior to the examination date and the examination has not yet been taken.

Applicants meeting the education and experience requirements, and who have applied and paid the application fees in full by the posted deadline will be notified of their eligibility as soon as possible. Applicants deemed to be ineligible also will be notified and, if payment has already been received, the $300 examination fee will be refunded. Applications will not be accepted after the posted application deadline, without exception.

Approved applicants may postpone taking the examination for one cycle from their initial scheduled examination date without penalty or additional fees, provided the BCNS is notified in writing at least 30 days prior to the examination. No refunds will be made if the BCNS receives notification after the published refund deadline. Previously approved candidates who have not yet taken the examination will be required to re-apply and pay the application fee. All candidates who postpone for another exam cycle less than 30 days prior to the examination will be required to pay a late fee.

Certification Examination of Nutrition SpecialistsTM Specifications

Candidates for the CNS credential are allowed up to four hours to complete the examination. The questions are drawn from submissions by appointed experts and validated by a review committee. The examination consists of 200 questions, all in single-answer, multiple-choice format, and will cover the broad spectrum of basic and applied nutritional science. Themes such as basic nutritional science, nutritional assessment, prevention and management of disease by nutritional means, epidemiology, and integration of these areas are threaded throughout the examination.

A certificate acknowledging the CNS certification will be sent to successful candidates who have passed the examination and met all other eligibility requirements. Candidates whose examination scores are below the minimum acceptable standard may request manual confirmation of their examination score upon payment of a $50 re-grading fee. Unsuccessful candidates are eligible to sit for subsequent examinations. Please contact us at for additional information.

Five-Year Recertification and Annual Fees

Once the CNS credential is issued, the certification will remain valid for five years (December 31 of the fifth year). Recertification is necessary every five years (by December 31) and requires submitting documentation of 75 credit hours of acceptable Continuing Education (CE), and a recertification fee of $200. The Recertification Application is available on the Recertification page of our website.

An annual fee of $100 is required by December 31 of each year.