Nutrition Science  

       Dietetic Internship -- Frequently Asked Questions
About Our Program Track Descriptions Admission Internship Only Admission MS-Internship Alumni Spotlight Faculty and Preceptors Frequently Asked Questions

What are the program options at East Carolina University (ECU)?

There are 2 program options available, as follows:

Combined Master of Nutrition + Dietetic Internship program (MS/DI)

  • You can find more information about this program at
  • The MS/DI program requires a minimum of 36 semester hours of graduate study.
  • We have thesis and non-thesis program options available, both of which require a research project.
  • The graduate course work is completed entirely online.
  • Those who completed the program spring2012 completed within a range of 4 to 10 semesters.
  • Continuous enrollment (each fall and spring term) is required.
  • Following successful completion of this program, you will be eligible to sit for the RD exam AND have completed your Master of Science (MS) degree in Nutrition.
  • Dietetic Internship program (DI) only – check out details on our ECU website

What are the entrance requirements for the MS/DI program? How do I know if I am a competitive candidate?
Admission Requirements include:

Bachelor's degree in Nutrition from accredited program (Accreditation Council on Education in Nutrition and Dietetics); Verification statement from an ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics; undergraduates who are within one semester of graduating may apply
Minimum GRE score: Average of Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning at the 30% percentile.
Overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on 4.0 scale
Minimum grade of C in College Algebra, completed in past 5 years.

Application instructions can be found at
For internship only, do I have to apply to the graduate program if I already hold a graduate degree?
Yes, if a prospective intern already holds an advanced degree, admission will be as a non-degree-seeking student.  The web address for the Office of Graduate Studies at East Carolina University is

How do I apply for the MS/DI program?

  1. Submit your application as a degree-seeking student to ECU’s graduate school for the MS degree in Nutrition. The link for specific instructions on how to complete the general Graduate School Application can be found at Indicate in your application is you will begin taking graduate coursework toward your degree SUMMER term; you are required to begin coursework the term you have indicated.
  2. 2 letters of recommendation will be submitted through  
  3. Link to the Supplemental MS in Nutrition Application: Further information about the Supplemental Application components can be found at
  4. Indicate your ranked Track preferences by sharing with

When are the program deadlines and when will I be notified if I am accepted?
MS/DI program:

  • Complete applications must be submitted by December 1.
  • You will be notified of acceptance into the program by January 31. D & D Digital is notified by February 1 of those who are preselected to the combined program.
  • If the date of submission &/or acceptance is a weekend day, the application deadline/acceptance notification will be the Friday preceding this date.

Internship Only: 

  • Applications are due February 15th for the following Summer Session 2 start date (end of June.)
  • D & D Digital notifies intern applicants of their matching status by April.

How do I combine graduate credit with the Dietetic Internship (DI) at East Carolina University?
Upon successful completion of internship supervised practice, interns will have earned 12 hours of graduate credit.  Additional courses are required to complete the Master of Science in Nutrition degree. If you apply to other university graduate programs, these credits may or may not count, depending on your choice of major.

Is the Dietetic Internship at East Carolina University accredited?
Yes, the East Carolina University Dietetic Internship is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 South Riverside Drive, Chicago, IL 60606, 312/899-0040, ext.5400.  ACEND accredits the Internship for an enrollment of 16 full-time and 4 part-time interns. Part-time slots are determined by the local sites each year.  Several sites prefer full-time interns only.

Who should provide the references for my application?
Professors and supervisors from work or volunteer experiences are the best choices. Try to select someone who writes well and can describe your work ethic and relationships with others.

Why is nutrition-related volunteer or work experience so strongly encouraged?
The program preceptors are interested in selecting students who might be hired in the future.  They prefer interns who have proven themselves as dependable employees.  Interns who have had some nutrition-related experience tend to adjust better to the hectic pace of the internship placement. The Student Dietetic Association provides leadership experiences before completion of an undergraduate degree.

Who serves on the selection committee?
The 4-person selection committee consists of ECU faculty or registered dietitians (RDs) who are preceptors throughout North Carolina.

What criteria are used?

Overall grade point average, GRE scores, references, honors, involvement in dietetic association or other professional activities, food or nutrition-related volunteer and/or work experience. 

What is the computer matching process for the Internship-Only option?

Most dietetic internships select applicants through a computer matching process.  Applicants who are interested in the ECU Internship-Only option must participate in computer matching.  East Carolina University participates in the February match.  To become part of the matching process, internship applicants select their top choices for internship programs on the designated DICAS website. Check out DICAS at and complete the appropriate forms.
For the computer matching process, contact D & D Digital by e-mail:  Applicants pay a fee for the matching service which will inform both the interns and the internship programs of the resulting “match” (selection).

Does the East Carolina University Dietetic Internship accept applicants who are not citizens of North Carolina or not graduates of East Carolina University?
Certainly! We enjoy the diversity and richness that comes from the whole nation. International students must work through a credentialing review agency and take courses in the United States to get a Verification Statement before applying.

Do all the ECU dietetic interns complete their internships in the Greenville NC area?

No!  Interns are assigned to a variety of different geographical areas throughout eastern North Carolina.  The local track assignment for each intern is individualized based site preferences, the availability of rotation sites within the region, the intern’s interests and rank order of matching.  Each intern is “based” in a specific city, but may complete rotations at two or more sites within that geographical area.  Typically, an intern will complete the entire clinical rotation in one facility while the food systems management and community rotations may be completed at two or more completely different sites.  In some situations, an intern may need to travel up to an hour to reach a particular facility in order to obtain experience in a business, community or specialized practice.

How are the field placement assignments determined?

Each intern’s sequence of assigned rotations is individualized.  The Site Supervisors consider both the intern and preceptors’ preferences.  Requests by interns for experiences in areas of special interest are arranged whenever possible.  Interns are asked to rank their Track preferences; every effort is made to honor one of their top 5 choices.  Scheduling with over 100 preceptors must be carefully juggled within the constraints of everyone’s schedule. 

How do I interview for Track Placement?

Interns who are matched can interview by phone, speaking with the preceptors from various Tracks, or they can visit the area. Each interview requires about 30 minutes.  You may wish to use SKYPE if you are not from this area.

When will I know to which Track I have been assigned?

The formal matching interviews occur in April. When Track assignments are confirmed, interns are sent an official communication including the name and telephone number of their Track Coordinator.

What is the length of time for each rotation in the program?

Interns spend 10 weeks in medical nutrition therapy (hospitals, long-term care facilities), 8 weeks in food systems  and 2 weeks in management (hospitals, schools, assisted living centers), 6 weeks in community settings (public health departments, wellness, WIC programs, Extension offices). Finally, 4 weeks of Staff Relief are assigned in either clinical or community sites.

What is the Concentration at East Carolina’s Internship Program?

The ECU internship provides a RURAL HEALTH CONCENTRATION.

Who is responsible for finding me a place to live?

Interns make their own housing arrangements.  Local Track Coordinators may offer suggestions. 

When does the Internship start? How does that differ from the combined MS-DI program?

The ECU Internship orientation courses are administered handled in late June and July ON LINE. A 3-day Orientation occurs in late August/early September.
MS-DI students are encouraged to complete COURSEWORK FIRST, followed by the INTERNSHIP (on-site supervised practice.) The internship certificate is provided when all graduate coursework is completed, in May for full-time students or a later date for part-time students.

Can I get financial assistance or scholarships during my internship at East Carolina University?

Interns accepted to the graduate program as "non-degree" are not eligible for student loans, even though they may be full-time graduate students. Interns admitted as "degree seeking" must be full-time graduate students to be eligible for financial aid.  To discuss eligibility, contact the Financial Aid Office at 252-328-6610.  The website is Additionally, scholarships are available from the ACADEMY or from the North Carolina Dietetic Association Foundation; applications due in February each year.

Is there an Orientation to the ECU Internship before the rotations begin?

Yes, modules are completed in the on-line Orientation Course at East Carolina University before interns begin supervised practice.  At the on-site Orientation, interns receive policies, the curriculum, and guidelines for evaluation that will be used throughout the year.  Some sites require interns to participate in an additional facility-specific orientation; all sites require health insurance, criminal background checks, health exams and liability insurance. Drug testing is required by some facilities. You are expected to maintain copies of these documents throughout the program year; many sites will ask for copies.

How do I get a physical exam and immunizations prior to starting the Internship?

In addition to the immunizations required by the East Carolina University Graduate School, interns must get the Hepatitis B immunization series and a TB test before the start date of the supervised practice rotations. Most hospitals require copies of immunizations, health reports and drug testing before being permitted to begin on site. Interns should keep copies of all of their health records for these purposes.

What will I need to wear and what should I purchase for books and supplies?

Many facilities will require interns to wear lab coats.  Business casual or professional office clothes are appropriate.  Interns purchase textbooks from the campus bookstore on line.  In addition, an up-to-date medical dictionary is recommended.  Interns will be afforded professional liability insurance through the University.  A pocketsize notebook is handy for recording important “need to know” and useful information, especially for clinical rotations.

Will I need a car during my internship?

ABSOLUTELY!! Interns will need a car to complete rotations, depending upon the intern’s place of residence.  During each rotation interns may be asked travel to satellite facilities.   Interns will meet for a seminar at least once a month at various facilities in North Carolina; some of these seminars may be a two or three hour drive from your field placement.  Class days are held on the ECU campus; optional workshops are held in other locations.

How many hours will I be working during my internship?

Interns are expected to “be on the job” at least eight hours a day, five days a week during the 9-12 months of supervised practice.  There may be occasions when the workday will extend longer due to a special event, seminar, or clinic.  An intern may arrange to participate in the Internship on a part-time basis over a longer period of time by pre-planning with all supervisors and the program director.

Is there any sick leave or vacation time scheduled during the East Carolina Internship?
Supervised practice will be intensive over 9-12 months.  There is a great deal to learn in a short amount of time. Interns are expected to make up any time lost due to sick days or personal emergencies.  Occasionally, at the discretion of the preceptor, an intern may work evenings, 10-hour days, or weekends to make-up an absence.

Will I have specific objectives that I need to accomplish during the Internship?
Yes, interns are provided with an ECU curriculum (specific competencies/objectives) that will guide their experiences during the various rotations.  The competencies were developed to prepare interns as entry-level dietitians.  Preceptors provide suggestions as to how the competencies can be met locally, and will evaluate whether or not interns have satisfactorily completed each competency.  

What if I need extra time to complete my internship competencies/objectives?
Each situation is handled individually, but something can usually be worked out.  An intern may need to extend the internship for several weeks or months until she/he is evaluated as competent to function as an entry-level dietitian.  Our goal is for each of our interns to succeed while in the internship and as a registered dietitian.

Are interns required to attend classes on campus in order to earn graduate credits?
Graduate courses are offered online.  Supervised practice hours require field placement in eastern North Carolina.  After the intern hours are complete, the intern may take a job and finish the MS degree anywhere.  
MS-DI students: Be sure to plan with your ECU graduate advisor to complete the MS degree within the 6-year limit required by the Graduate School.

What are Class Days?
Interns are expected to attend mandatory class days each month.  Topics range from renal disease to emotional intelligence.

Will I get grades for the graduate hours I earn for supervised practice?

Yes.  You must achieve a B average to get the Verification Statement, making you eligible to sit for the RD exam.

What is the East Carolina University Dietetic Internship exit examination?

This examination is modeled after the national dietetic Registration Examination (RD exam) given by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).  Similar to the RD exam, the major domains include nutrition care process for individuals and groups, foodservice systems, management, nutrition and food sciences, education/counseling, and research.  The examination is administered at the end of the program and a score of 80% or better on each of two parts is required for program completion. An alternative is to take the on-line CDR practice examination and submit scores when 80% or higher is achieved.

Will I be a registered dietitian when I complete the Internship?

No, once interns have successfully completed the supervised practice and courses, they need to schedule and sit for the National Registration Examination for Registered Dietitians (RD exam).  Graduates of the Internship will receive authorization by the Commission on Dietetic Registration to take the computerized RD exam at one of the approved testing sites about six weeks following completion of the Internship.  The RD exam costs $125.00. Typically, intern graduates are able to take the RD exam about 10-12 weeks after completing all internship expectations.  Graduates are not to use the term “RDE” as there is no such credential.

How much can I expect to pay for the East Carolina University Dietetic Internship?
There is a fee to apply to the graduate program and a cost for computer matching.  Costs include professional liability insurance, program manual, living and transportation expenses, tuition and fees (less for residents of North Carolina.)  In addition, books and materials cost ~$300.00 and there is an RD exam review fee of $400.00.  The estimates are based on recent fees and may vary by academic year.  See the website for current tuition costs.

Where can I find out more information about other dietetic internships?
Check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website at

Revised 4/15/2014

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