College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Nutrition & Food Science

Dietetic Internship, Registration Exam, State Licensure FAQs

The Dietetic Internship

  • What does the dietetic internship entail?
  • Will I earn a Masters degree while completing the dietetic internship?
  • Is it possible to work while I complete the dietetic internship?
  • Are there part-time dietetic internships?
  • Is it possible to complete a dietetic internship via distance education?
  • When do I apply for a dietetic internship?
  • What factors are considered for acceptance into dietetic internships?
  • Where can I get work or volunteer experience in the field of dietetics?
  • Can I be accepted into more than one dietetic internship?
  • Will I be given assistance with applying for dietetic internships?
  • Where can I complete a dietetic internship?
  • How do I decide which dietetic internship is right for me?

Registration Exam for Dietitians

  • When do I take the Registration Examination for Dietitians and what does the exam entail?
  • Do I have to pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians before I am eligible to work in the field?
  • How do I prepare for the Registration Examination for Dietitians?

Dietetics Licensure

  • What is dietetics licensure and how do I become a licensed dietitian?

______________________________________________________________________________

The Dietetic Internship

  • What does the dietetic internship entail?
  • Will I earn a Masters degree while completing the dietetic internship?
  • Is it possible to work while I complete the dietetic internship?
  • Are there part-time dietetic internships?
  • Is it possible to complete a dietetic internship via distance education?
  • When do I apply for a dietetic internship?
  • What factors are considered for acceptance into dietetic internships?
  • Where can I get work or volunteer experience in the field of dietetics?
  • Can I be accepted into more than one dietetic internship?
  • Will I be given assistance with applying for dietetic internships?
  • Where can I complete a dietetic internship?
  • How do I decide which dietetic internship is right for me?

What does the dietetic internship entail?
The dietetic internship is a full-time supervised practice experience that lasts approximately nine months. The programs include rotations in clinical nutrition, foodservice management, and community nutrition. Many programs also include supplementary activities including optional rotations, professional conferences, and class days to provide the intern with a wide range of experiences and contacts in the field. All programs are affiliated with hospitals and much of the internship will be completed in a hospital setting. Click here for a listing of all internship programs in the U.S. The University of Maryland College Park Dietetic Internship has a unique emphasis on information technology and the communication of nutrition information to the public.

Additional information can be found at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website "Dietetic Internship Match Students".

Will I earn a Masters degree while completing the dietetic internship?
The dietetic internship is a non-degree granting program therefore you will not earn a Masters degree during the time you are in the internship program. There are several combined dietetic internship/Masters degree programs in the U.S. and this may be a good option for those students who know that they would like to pursue their Masters degree. In the DC area, Johns Hopkins Bayview and the United States Army offer these programs. Information on other programs of this type can be found on the program list from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Is it possible to work while I complete the dietetic internship?
The dietetic internships are full-time and include 40+ hour work weeks along with projects, papers, and other activities. Therefore it is difficult to work while you are completing a dietetic internship. Some interns manage part-time jobs where they are able to work only evenings and weekends.

Are there part-time dietetic internships?
There are a few part-time dietetic internships which can be found on the program list from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. There are also a few distance internship programs that offer a part-time option. None of the dietetic internships in the DC-Metro area offer a part-time option.

Is it possible to complete a dietetic internship via distance education?
Distance internships are available. You can find these programs on the program list from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some of the internship programs that offer a distance option are the University of DelawareSodexo Dietetic Internships, and Bowling Green State University. Usually the distance dietetic internships require that you be on site for a week or two at the beginning of the internship for an orientation. After that, all rotations are completed where you live and interaction with the Internship Director and other interns is arranged via the Internet. It is your responsibility to set up all necessary rotations near your home prior to the start of the internship. The application materials for the internship will include instructions on the type and length of rotations that need to be arranged. Please be advised that it can be somewhat difficult to find rotations in the DC-Metro area because the local internships use many of the sites for their own interns. However, some University of Maryland graduates have been able to successfully complete distance dietetic internships.

When do I apply for a dietetic internship?
Most students complete their dietetic internship immediately after they have completed the coursework, although it is possible to wait a year or two. It is not advised that you wait longer than that because there may be a concern about the recency of your coursework. The internship applications are due in January and February of each year for internships that begin in August or September. You will be notified if you have received an internship in mid-April.

What factors are considered for acceptance into dietetic internships?
Dietetic internships base their acceptance on a variety of factors including grades, work or volunteer experience in the field of dietetics, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and an interview. It is recommended that you have an overall GPA and major GPA of at least a 3.3 along with significant work and/or volunteer experience in the field including some hospital experience in order to be accepted into a dietetic internship. Students with a slightly lower GPA may be accepted with extremely strong work or volunteer experience and strong letters of recommendation. When you are researching where to apply, each internship will provide you with their criteria for acceptance and this may be one factor that you use in deciding where to apply.

Where can I get work or volunteer experience in the field of dietetics?
Students in the University of Maryland Dietetics Program work and volunteer at hospitals, campus dining, the campus health center, government agencies, and many other locations. Many of these job opportunities are sent to the Program Director and distributed via our undergraduate dietetics listserve. In addition, many students have sought out work and volunteer experiences on their own. There are many food and nutrition related organizations in the Washington, DC area where students can volunteer.

Can I be accepted into more than one dietetic internship?
The internship acceptance process is done by a computer match. At the time that you apply for internships you will also submit a matching form indicating the order of your preferences (a ranking). The dietetic internships also rank their candidates. All of this information is used to establish matches. It is expected that you participate in the internship to which you are matched, so you should only apply to those that you are willing to attend. It is considered unacceptable to not complete the internship that you are accepted into.

Will I be given assistance with applying for internships?
In October and November of each year, the Program Director holds informational meetings for all students planning to apply for dietetic internships in February of the following year. The Program Director is available throughout the process to assist you in any way that you need. Ultimately, however, submitting applications is the responsibility of each student.

Where can I complete a dietetic internship?
There are dietetic internships all over the country and you can apply to any number of internships. Many students choose to apply to the local dietetic internships, however, we have had students complete dietetic internships in California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, and many other states. There are a number of programs in the DC-Metro area including the University of Maryland College Park, the National Institutes of HealthSodexo Dietetic InternshipsUniversity of Maryland Medical CenterJohns Hopkins BayviewVirginia Tech, and the United States Army. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics maintains a program list of all dietetic internships in the U.S. Each November/December, there is an open house during which the local Internship Directors come to the University of Maryland to tell our students about their programs. Students applying for internships for the following February are strongly encouraged to attend but all students are welcome. Many dietetic internship programs hold their own open houses and you are encouraged to attend for the programs in which you are interested. Notices about open houses for the local internships are sent out on the undergraduate dietetics listerve. If you are interested in programs outside of the local area you should visit their websites or contact the Internship Directors.

How do I decide which internship program is right for me?
Students choose internships based on a variety of factors including location, program length, emphasis area, and type and length of various rotations. All of this information is available on the website for each internship program and will be included in any information that they send you. In addition, the Program Director has a resource entitled The Applicants' Guide To Supervised Practice, which contains useful information about the various internships. When you are in the process of looking for internships you are welcome to stop by the Program Director's office to utilize this resource. Also, a group of dietetic interns from Tufts University developed a web tool to assist students in choosing internship programs. This tool is available at http://www.dieteticinterntips.com/

Registration Exam for Dietitians

  • When do I take the Registration Examination for Dietitians and what does the exam entail?
  • Do I have to pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians before I am eligible to work in the field?
  • How do I prepare for the Registration Examination for Dietitians?

When do I take the Registration Examination for Dietitians and what does the exam entail?
The Registration Examination for Dietitians is taken after you have successfully completed the dietetic internship. For more information on the exam, read this fact sheet from the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The registration exam is offered in a computer based format and is administered by Pearson VUE at testing centers throughout the U.S.

Do I have to pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians before I am eligible to work in the field?
After you complete the dietetic internship you are considered RD Eligible. Many employers will hire you at this point with the understanding that you will pass the RD exam within a specific amount of time. Until you pass the registration exam, you are not a Registered Dietitian, so you must work under the supervision of an RD.

How do I prepare for the Registration Exam for Dietitians?
Graduates of dietetic internships are able to use the materials they accumulated in their internships to study for the registration exam. There are review courses available such as the Jean Inman Review, online resources such as https://www.eatrightprep.org/rdn-exam, and many other resources available to study for the exam. Your Internship Director will give you more information on the best resources to use to prepare for the exam.

Dietetics Licensure

  • What is dietetics licensure and how do I become a licensed dietitian?

What is dietetic licensure and how do I become a Licensed Dietitian?
There are three levels of state regulation of the field of dietetics and currently 44 states have statuatory provisions regarding professional regulation of dietitians and/or nutritionists. The most restrictive of these regulations is licensure which means that the state statutes include an explicitly defined scope of practice, and performance of the profession is illegal without first obtaining a license from the state. Licensing of dietitians and nutritionists assures the public that individuals disseminating nutrition advice have the appropriate education and experience. Licensure laws protect the public from unscrupulous and unqualified individuals who would portray themselves as nutrition experts. It is the goal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to have licensure for dietitians in all 50 states. Click here for a listing of state licensure agencies from the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2019. Web Accessibility