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 CBNS 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 CBNS Credentials Council.

Examination Fees and Procedures

The 4-hour CBNS 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. CNS Credential Application Form PDF Version, Word Auto-Fill Version  and CNS-Scholar Application examination Form PDF VersionWord Auto-Fill Version, 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 CBNS 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, eligible applicants may postpone taking the examination for up to 18 months from their scheduled exam date without penalty or additional fees so long as the CBNS is notified in writing prior to the first day of the month of their scheduled examination. After 18 months, previously eligible candidates who have not yet taken the examination will be disqualified and will be required to re-apply and pay new fees.

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 Re-certification and Yearly Maintenance 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. Re-certification is required at five-year intervals (by December 31) by submitting a re-certification 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 re-certification, successful CNS holders consent to be listed in the CBNS directory and website. The re-certification and maintenance fees are used by CBNS 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