After receiving my BS degree in dietetics from UF, will I be a Registered Dietitian?
No, not yet. Completion of a Didactic Program in Dietetics (like the UF program) is only the first step required to become a Registered Dietitian.
The second step is the completion of an ACEND-accredited dietetic internship program.
- Eligibility for the dietetic internship includes the completion of the Didactic Program, and a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree.
- Receiving an appointment to a dietetic internship is very competitive, and completion of the UF DPD does not guarantee a dietetic internship.
- The national average match rate is about 50%. UF DPD students have a higher match rate, however it varies year to year.
- It has become more critical for dietetic students to plan early for the application process and to use the resources provided by the program such as spring and fall workshops.
The third and final step to becoming an RD is successful completion of the National Registration Examination for Dietitians. It is very important to complete this step as soon as possible after finishing your dietetic internship. There are many study guides and programs available to help you prepare for success in this final step.
How do I prove I’ve completed my BS degree if I’m applying to a Dietetic Internship Program before I graduate?
When you apply to dietetic internship programs, the UF DPD Director will provide you with a “Declaration of Intent to Complete” form. You will submit the completed form to Student Services, and the information will be entered into DICAS. It serves as temporary “proof” that you’re on your way to completing the undergraduate program.
Once you have actually graduated, the Director will provide you with six original signed copies of the “Verification Statement.” This form is your final proof that you did indeed complete the DPD, and it will only be issued to you after you have meet the Verification Statement requirements and after your graduation is certified by UF.
Do Dietetic Internships offer graduate courses?
Some, but not all, dietetic internships offer graduate courses. Internships vary from no graduate credits to a combined Masters/Dietetic Internship.
Students who are interested in graduate programs should research available options. Typically graduate programs require the GRE for admission. Plan to take this exam by the fall of your Senior year.
The University of Florida offers a combined Master of Science – Dietetic Internship (MS-DI) Program. If you have further questions, contact Kohrine Counts, UF’s MS-DI Program Coordinator.
Be aware: DPD graduates will be required to complete a graduate program in 2024 in order to sit for the RD exam.
Where can I obtain more information about dietetic internship programs?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides the most up-to-date information about internship programs. Visit EatRight ACEND for a listing of each program and information on cost, length of internship, internship director, and area of specialization. The AND website also has a direct link to the individual programs’ websites which provide detailed information about the programs.
Another resource is the Applicant Guide to Supervised Practice Experience, a valuable tool that describes many of the dietetic internship programs that are available. The Guide provides detailed information such as the usual number of applications received by individual programs and answers to frequently asked questions. This Guide is available for review in Student Services.
How much does a dietetic internship program cost?
Costs vary widely, so you should check with each program about required expenses. Most accredited dietetic internships associated with regionally accredited university graduate programs qualify for government-sponsored loan programs. You should check the individual internship’s website to see if financial aid is available at a specific dietetic internship.
Additionally, numerous scholarship and loan opportunities are available to help pay the costs of the supervised practice experience.
What are the characteristics of a successful applicant for dietetic internships?
Being a successful applicant to a dietetic internship starts long before you fill out the application forms. Although programs may have varying selection criteria, applicants who receive appointments to supervised practice programs tend to have the following characteristics:
- A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (although a 3.2 or higher is recommended)
- A 3.0 GPA or higher in professional courses
- A 3.0 GPA or higher in biological and physical science courses
- Significant paid or volunteer work experience
- Strong letters of recommendation
- Leadership in organizations
- Willingness to relocate
- Clean criminal history (programs require criminal background check)
How can I improve my chances of being admitted to a dietetic internship program?
A student has no guarantee of receiving a DI appointment. Internships continue to become more competitive. In order to increase your chances for an appointment, you should:
- Investigate programs early to identify their admission criteria.
- Maintain a grade point average over 3.0 (although 3.2 or higher is more realistic).
- Get dietetics related work or volunteer experience (hospital experience is considered valuable; college foodservice, camp foodservice, nursing home foodservice, and community nutrition programs are also very good; many other types of work experiences can also be valuable). Start early and consider ways to get experience in more than one area of practice.
- Seek opportunities to conduct/assist with nutrition/dietetics research.
- Participate in activities that demonstrate leadership (college/university clubs, sports, community service projects, organizations).
- Get to know dietetics faculty members through faculty office hours, FSHN Club, or independent study. You will need letters of recommendation from them.
- Apply to more than one program, but not an excessive number. (Successful applicants apply to an average of 3-4 programs).
- Be flexible and willing to relocate. Explore programs outside of Florida!
What is the timeline for applying to Dietetic Internships?
- Freshman/Sophomore Year
- Maintain good grades - aim for 3.2 or higher.
- Become active in organizations or community activities
- Join the Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) Club
- Join the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (only students who are Academy members are eligible for scholarships and awards)
- Obtain dietetics-related work or volunteer experience.
- Join the Gainesville Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (GAND)
- Junior Year
- Begin reviewing the Academy website and the Applicant Guide to Supervised Practice Experience
- Attend the junior orientation for Dietetic Internship Planning, called Dishing Up Dietetics, in Spring semester
- Get to know your faculty advisor and other faculty members. It is important for faculty to get to know you if you intend to ask them to write a letter of recommendation for you. (Remember, you need three letters of recommendation for your application.)
- Get dietetics-related volunteer or paid work experience
- Get involved in activities in the FSHN Club – run for office or chair a committee
- Continue membership in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (required in Junior year or after 60 credits)
- Continue membership in the Gainesville Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (GAND)
- Maintain good grades
- Senior Year
- Call, email, or write internships for additional information and application
- Maintain good grades
- Get even more involved in the FSHN Club
- Continue membership in the AND
- Continue involvement with GAND
- Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
- Select 3-4 internships that match your interests and qualifications
- Check deadlines and apply on time – usually mid-February (but can be earlier so be sure to check the deadlines)
- Appointment match date – April
- If you match in April – Congratulations!!!
- If not, then:
- See a DPD Director for alternatives
- Keep trying to match in the post-match period from April to August (not all programs fill their classes during the match)
- Continue to get experience if necessary
- Apply for internships again for the Fall match (deadline in September) for November appointment date (DI usually begins in January)
How can I get help with the dietetic internship application process?
In the Spring Semester, the Dietetics seniors present "Dishing Up Dietetics" for junior dietetics students about dietetic internship planning.
In addition, a Letter of Intent writing class is given as part of the Dietetics Seminar course (DIE4505) to provide guidance in writing letters of intent for the application packet. Class attendance is required.
What’s this “computer matching” thing all about?
Most dietetic internship programs participate in computer matching with D&D Digital. The process includes rank ordering the internships to which you are applying, and then the internship programs rank order their applicants. In April, students learn if they receive a dietetic internship match to one of their programs.
As mentioned earlier, the national computer matching result for the past two years has been 50%, which means that half of the students applying for internships received a match and the other half did not. University of Florida DPD match rates are higher, but there is no guarantee that you will receive a match.
Computer match information from D&D Digital is available on their website or from the Program Director. There is a $50.00 fee for computer matching to D&D Digital.
What should I do if I don’t receive a dietetic internship appointment?
When students submit an application to a Dietetic Internship program, they need to realize that the selection process is very competitive, and a strong application packet does not guarantee a match to an internship program. The applicant pool is national, and you are in competition with many other students from across the country.
If you do not receive an appointment in the match, you should see the Program Director about available internship programs that might have openings. You should also allow your name to be published on the list of applicants who did not match – it can increase your chances of matching even after the computer match is over! It is still possible to obtain an internship in the post-match period, although it does require an additional application process.
If you are still not successful, you should begin to re-evaluate your credentials, identify your strengths and weaknesses (which we all have), and think about ways to better highlight those strengths and improve those weaknesses.
- Evaluate how you can improve your qualifications
- Look at additional Dietetic Internship Programs
- Obtain a job related to nutrition/dietetics
Students who didn’t match should contact the Program Director immediately to discuss the situation and plan for future matches. The dietetics advisors in the FSHN Department are interested in and concerned about students and can be very helpful in providing support. Don’t give up, there are alternatives! Persistent, qualified applicants nearly always find placement.
After completing a dietetic internship program, what do I do next?
You must apply to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians. Candidates for the RD Exam take their exam on the computer at one of more than 250 Pearson Vue testing centers around the country. The exam can be scheduled following completion of the registration eligibility application procedure, which is discussed in the dietetic internship program.
The exam is approximately three hours long and includes questions in food and nutrition, nutrition services (community and clinical), education and research, foodservice systems, and management.
Upon passing the exam, and notification by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), you will be a Registered Dietitian/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, RD/RDN.