Food and Nutrition
Dietetics Option - Supervised Practice Application Process
Early Preparation for Becoming a Strong Applicant
If becoming an RD/RDN is your goal, begin preparing early to make yourself a competitive applicant for selection to a Dietetic Internship program. Achieving the following goals are critically important:
- GPA equal to or greater than 3.0
- Evidence of leadership and professional commitment, for example, student membership in the Academy is highly recommended. In addition, the Montana Student Dietetic Association offers many leadership and volunteer activities.
- Good communication skills—evidenced by portfolio writing samples, resume, cover letter, and personal statement.
- Work experience examples: work experience in hospitals, long-term care facilities, university food service or any other experience in a food-, nutrition-, and/or dietetic-related area.
- Volunteer experience examples: Food Bank, Senior Center, HeadStart, Team Nutrition, WIC program or any other volunteer experience in a food-, nutrition-, and/or dietetic-related area.
- Positive reference letters—usually at least two should come from DPD faculty, while a third could come from a supervisor of paid or volunteer work.
Dietetic Supervised Practice Program (Internship) - Information
Students in the DPD at Montana State University apply to external ACEND-accredited supervised practice programs during their last semester of coursework. ACEND-accredited dietetic internships include the required hours of supervised practice required for eligibility to take the RDN Exam. Upon completion of the supervised practice program, interns will receive a second verification statement from the internship program, which will prove eligibility to take the RDN Exam.
NOTE: Currently, the eligibility criteria for taking the National Registration Exam for Dietitians requires only a bachelor’s degree. As of January 1, 2024, that criteria will be elevated to a master’s degree. The last group to be eligible to take the exam without a master’s degree are those who complete their ACEND- accredited coursework and supervised practice (internship) prior to December 31, 2023. For more information, visit the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
There are several different types of supervised practice programs with the majority of DPD graduates choosing either the DI or MS-DI.
Dietetic Internships (DI)
This was the most common program type as it a stand-alone program designed with DPD graduates in mind offering the required amount of 1000 supervised practice hours. After Jan 1, 2024, a MS degree will be required to apply to stand-alone DIs.
Dietetic Internship with a Master’s (MS-DI)
This program type offers a master’s degree in addition to the supervised practice hours. It aligns with the 2024 Graduate Degree Mandate. DPD students apply to MS-DI through the matching process.
Master’s Coordinated Program (MS-CP)
Like the MS-DI, this program type offers a master’s degree in addition to the supervised practice hours; however, DPD students apply to these programs directly just as they would graduate The transfer of DPD dietetics courses may not align perfectly with the MS-CP courses.
Future Education Model (FEM) Graduate Program
This program type is accredited under a different set of standards than the DI, MS-DI, and MS-CP. The FEM Graduate Program Standards are being piloted as the new format of dietetics FEM Graduate programs include a master’s degree (or doctorate) along with the required hands-on practice. A few FEM Graduate programs require applicants to have a DPD Verification Statement, whereas others have a list of prerequisite coursework.
You should begin exploring supervised practice programs options early in your academic program, so that you fully understand the time and financial commitment required to complete one of these programs. A search tool for locating ACEND-accredited internships is found on their website.
Your DPD Director will assist you with application to supervised practice programs; however, it is your responsibility to initiate and complete all required steps. We recommend that you begin preparing for these applications early by building a strong resume full of dietetic-related experiences.
Dietetic Internship Centralized Application Service (DICAS)
DICAS is the online platform for application to most programs. This platform has been updated and in October of 2023 will offer one location to apply to any of the ACEND-accredited program types. Most DPD graduates apply to either a DI or MS-DI; however, they can also choose to apply to a MS-CP or FEM Graduate Program. The main difference is the application process. For MS-CP or FEM Graduate Program, students will apply directly to the graduate program through DICAS but will not participate in the match process described below for DI and MS- DI. For more information about CPs and FEMs visit ACEND's website.
Computer matching for Dietetic Internships/Graduate Programs
Register with D&D Digital for the computer-match. You will rank the DI or MS-DI to which you are applying. The internships will rank the applications they receive. A computer algorithm facilitates the match process. If you apply to more than one internship and are matched, the match algorithm only results in one match. D&D charges a $55 registration fee. For more information, visit D&D Digital's website.
Some internships do NOT participate in computer matching (D&D Digital) because they accept applications from individuals enrolled in the university which sponsors that particular internship. This is the situation for the MSU Montana Dietetic Internship + MS Dietetic Systems Leadership. Students who graduate from MSU with a DPD Verification statement are eligible to apply early in January to this program, by completing a DICAS online application.
Internships that involve graduate credit courses (or complete graduate degrees) may require that you submit GRE Scores (Graduate Record Examination) along with an application to the graduate school. The application to the graduate school will be separate from the internship application you submit through DICAS (or directly to an internship). You are encouraged to consider taking the GRE early in your last year of the DPD in case you apply to an internship requiring GRE Scores. For information visit ETS' website.
Final Steps to Earning the RDN Credential
- Complete an ACEND-accredited dietetic supervised practice program/graduate program. You will be issued a second verification statement making you eligible to take the RDN exam
- Take the Registered Dietitian Nutrition exam
- As an RDN, complete required continuing education (75 CPEU every 5 years)