Instructions for Application to Sit for the CNS® Exam

Instructions for Application to Sit for the
Certified Nutrition Specialist
® Examination
CNS and CNS-Scholar Credentials

Note that academic requirements outlined on the BCNS Credentials and Eligibility Requirements page, must be met before applying to sit for the BCNS Certifying Examination. The experience requirement may be completed after passing the examination. However, candidates will not be awarded, and may not use, the CNS or CNS-S credential until the experience requirement is completed and approved by the BCNS Credentials Council.

Examination Fees and Procedures

The four-hour BCNS certifying examination is administered in various locations in the USA biannually. See the exams page for the latest exam dates and deadlines. Eligible applicants will be advised of the exam date and available sites for examination. Application forms for the CNS and CNS-S credential are available on the CNS certification page. The application, including payment of a nonrefundable application fee of $50, must be received by the posted application deadline.

The $50 application fee is not refundable. An additional examination fee of $300 will be due before an approved applicant will be allowed to sit for the examination. Both fees ($350 in total) may be included with this application. The examination fee of $300 is refundable, if a written refund request is received by 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 paid previously, the $300 examination fee will be refunded. Applications will not be accepted after the posted application deadline, without exception.

If necessary, approved applicants may postpone taking the examination for one examination cycle from their scheduled examination date without penalty or additional fees, provided the BCNS is notified in writing at least seven days prior to the scheduled examination. After that, previously approved candidates who have not yet taken the examination will be required to re-apply and pay the application fee. No refunds will be made if the BCNS receives notification after the published refund deadline.

Certification Examination Specifications

Candidates for the Certified Nutrition Specialist credential and the Certified Nutrition Specialist-Scholar credential will be allowed four hours to complete the examination. The examination questions will be drawn from a bank of questions submitted by invited experts and validated by a review committee. The examination will consist 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, nutrition assessment, prevention and management of disease by nutritional means, epidemiology, and integration of these areas are threaded throughout the examination.

A diploma acknowledging the Certified Nutrition Specialist 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 a subsequent examination. Please contact us at for additional information.

Five-Year Recertification and Annual Fees

Once the CNS or CNS-S diploma is issued, certification will be maintained for five years, to the end (December 31) of the fifth year. Recertification is required at five-year intervals (by December 31) by submitting a recertification fee of $200 and documentation of 75 credit hours of acceptable continuing credits. A yearly maintenance fee of $50 also is required. The current-year maintenance fee is due from newly-certified CNS designees within 60 days of their initial certification. By applying for recertification, successful CNS holders consent to be listed in the BCNS directory and website. The re-certification and maintenance fees are used by BCNS to improve the examination program, maintain and publish a directory of CNS designees, and act on legislative matters in the interest of CNS designees.

Application procedure for CNS

Application Procedure for CNS-Scholar