Explore UAB

Dietitian Education PracticumAs part of a Coordinated Program in Dietetics, students of the MS in Nutrition Sciences – Dietitian Education Program (DEP) and Dietitian Education Certificate (DEP-C) must complete specific dietetics coursework and 1,000 hours of supervised practice experiences to earn their graduate degree and be eligible to take the national examination to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). The supervised practice experiences are offered during a specific, sequenced plan of study that is built into the graduate degree program within practicum courses (NTR 670–NTR 676). Visit the “Curriculum” tab for more information about how practicum courses fit into the program curriculum.

Supervised practice experiences are an opportunity for students to learn from practicing professionals in areas of medical nutrition therapy, community nutrition, food service administration and management, research, and specialty practice settings. In supervised practice experiences, students learn to apply their knowledge of nutrition and dietetics to real-life situations under the guidance of professionals, known as preceptors.

Examples of Preceptors and Supervised Practice Sites

A preceptor is a practicing dietetics professional who provides personal instruction, training, and supervision to students during their supervised practice.

Check out the videos below to see examples of DEP students completing supervised practice:

Planning Supervised Practice Experiences

As part of the MS in Nutrition Sciences – DEP and DEP-C requirements, supervised practice experiences comprise seven courses (NTR 670–NTR 676). These courses have the word practicum in their title. As part of course requirements, students are required to complete a specified number of hours in each course (ranging from 18 to 25 hours/week) to meet both graduate coursework and supervised practice requirements. Admitted students will receive more detailed information regarding hour requirements for each practicum course.

All students are responsible for identifying their own supervised practice experiences. Being able to identify your own preceptors for supervised practice experiences is a wonderful opportunity to personally tailor your professional growth. To begin the process of identifying preceptors, we recommend that you reflect on 1) what you envision yourself doing once you have completed the program requirements and become an RDN, and 2) what practice sites or facilities are available near you. The practice site or facility is an organization or business that provides the opportunity to complete the required supervised practice. Examples of possible supervised practice sites include, but are not limited to, hospitals, university health or wellness services, community feeding programs or food banks, outpatient education centers, fitness and wellness centers, and more.

Upon admission to either the DEP or the DEP-C, students participate in a required three-step orientation that walks them through identifying preceptors and practicum sites. Students are also provided continual support throughout the duration of the program by the dietetics practice coordinator.

What Can You Do to Prepare for Supervised Practice?

Students are not required to have supervised practice preceptors identified prior to admission to the program; however, it’s never too early to start networking.

While we discourage you from reaching out to potential preceptors prior to being admitted into the program and completing the orientation with our dietetics practice coordinator, there are some things you can do in the meantime. Before applying to the DEP, we recommend you join the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics or your local chapter as a student member (i.e., Birmingham District Dietetic Association). This will enable you to build relationships, network, and shadow or volunteer with local RDNs. You will be requested to provide shadowing hours in your application.

Request More Info

Contact Information
Academic Interests


Program IDs



Term IDs

Hidden Fields

Contact Us

Marian Carter, Ed.D.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Schedule a Zoom Appointment