Depending on where you are in your academic career, there are specific educational steps in becoming a Registered Dietitian (RD). Whether you are a high school student, currently a college student, a college graduate seeking a career change, or an international student, the various paths to becoming an RD is fully explained at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic's Student Center. Here, you will learn about the specific eligibility requirements for any dietetic internship (including this one) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Before applying to a Dietetic Internship and sitting for the national board RD exam, you are required to have the following:
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Can be any discipline (nutrition, psychology, marketing, engineering, kinesiology, etc.)
- Complete an ACEND-approved Nutrition Dietetics Program
- Must provide a Verification Statement for proof of completion
- If you are about to complete the program, you must provide a ‘Declaration of Intent Form’ from your DPD Director
If your degree is in Nutrition, Dietetics, or a similar area, then your DPD curriculum was most likely integrated in this degree program. However, for graduates with a degree in a non-nutrition field (marketing, exercise science, psychology, etc.), you are required to return to a college/university who offers an accredited DPD since their bachelor degree did not integrate nutrition-based courses. Depending on the student's learning needs, there are distance/online DPD programs as well as traditional, classroom-based DPD’s.
Only after these two Requirements are met can one Formally Apply to MUSC’s Dietetic Internship Program. You will then qualify to site for the National RD Board Exam.
Competition for a dietetic internship is extremely competitive. Only about half of those who meet the criteria above are formally matched into a dietetic internship given the limited internship spots nationwide. For instance, Clemson and Winthrop University (the only DPD programs in South Carolina) may cumulatively graduate 40-60 students per year who are applying to an internship whereas MUSC only accepts approximately 10 interns per year. It is important to know this before wanting to follow this path to becoming a Registered Dietitian. Maintaining a very strong GPA, obtaining letters of recommendation from professors and work supervisors, gaining strong nutrition-related work and volunteer experiences, serving in leadership positions in your community, and even conducting research or other investigatory activities is highly encouraged to be considered. Our internship is more competitive than most others given our desirable geographic location, success outcomes of graduates, and caliber of our curriculum.
DPD Program Information
A Didactic Programs in Dietetics (DPD) program can be completed as a stand-alone program as part of a bachelor's degree in Nutrition, Dietetics, (or similarly titled), or as part of a master's degree in Nutrition, Dietetics, (or similarly titled). Completion of a DPD ensures all graduates are educated in core studies of nutritional sciences and prepared for a supervised practice internship.
Learn more about all Didactic Programs in Dietetics, Dietetic Internships, and Coordinated Programs. Some DPD’s also have distance-learning options available.
While exact courses and titles vary from one DPD program to the next, the DPD curriculum is approximately 3-4 semesters of core nutrition-focused classes such as:
- Medical Nutrition Therapy 1
- Medical Nutrition Therapy 2
- Food Service Management
- Research and Statistics
- Public Health Nutrition
To be considered for a DPD, hard sciences including organic chemistry (with lab), microbiology, and biochemistry are prerequisites, explaining the wide discrepancy in total semesters needed (another 1-2 semesters). Each DPD program has specific criteria. The DPD director and staff can review courses already taken to determine what other course work is required to meet DPD requirements.
The DPD curriculum will train you to use the Dietetic Internship Centralized Application System (DICAS), the program in which to apply to the majority of dietetic internships (including this one). The DPD is also responsible for orienting you to the internship matching process where you must register and submit your internship choices, in order of preference, to a third-party agency called D&D Digital.