ClinicSupervised Practice (Practicum) Requirements

As a Coordinated Program in Dietetics, students of the MS in Nutrition Sciences- Dietitian Education Program and Dietitian Education Graduate Certificate Program must complete specific dietetics coursework and 1,200 hours of supervised practice experiences (practicums) within their academic program to both 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-in to the graduate degree program (Visit either “Curriculum” tab for more information).

Supervised practice experiences (practicums) are an opportunity for students to learn from practicing professionals in areas of community, food service, clinical, and specialty practice settings. In supervised practice experiences, student learn to apply their knowledge of nutrition and dietetics to real life situations under the guidance of professionals, known as preceptors.

Internship Sites

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

Though Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) must serve as preceptors for certain practice areas (ex. Medical Nutrition Therapy), other professionals may serve as preceptors for some supervised practice experiences. The following are some examples of professional credentials that might be held by preceptors. Professional credentials are a set of standards that are set by a credentialing body.

  • Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
  • Licensed Dietitian (LD), Certified Dietitian (CDN)
  • Registered Nurse (RN), Nurse Practitioner (NP), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
  • Physician Assistant (PA)
  • Food Service Director (examples include schools, hospitals, nursing homes)
  • Pharmacist
  • Licensed Social Worker, Licensed Psychologist
  • Certified Diabetes Educator
  • Physical Therapist
  • Program Director
  • Pharmaceutical sales representative
  • Medical Doctor
  • Healthcare administrator

Planning Supervised Practice Experiences

As part of the MS in Nutrition Sciences- Dietitian Education Program track and Dietitian Education Graduate Certificate Program requirements, there are seven courses that comprise supervised practice experiences. 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 20-40 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.

Local or Remote Supervised Practice

All students, local or remote, are responsible for identifying their own preceptors for supervised practice experiences. Students must identify a minimum of three preceptors for the following practice areas: clinical preceptor, food service management, and community.

Tips on Identifying Preceptors

The ability for our students to identify their own preceptors for supervised practice experiences is a wonderful opportunity for them to personally tailor their professional growth. Supervised practice experiences are the ideal time to students to gain experiences in practice areas they envision themselves working in the future, upon completion of all requirements needed to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. To begin the process of identifying preceptors, we recommend that students first reflect on 1) what they envision themselves doing upon completion of program requirements, and 2) reflect on what practice sites or facilities are available in your area. The practice site or facility is an organization or business that provides the opportunity for you 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 or wellness centers, and more.

Once you have a better idea of the supervised practice experiences you’re looking for, you can begin to contact potential preceptors at those locations. You may also consider becoming actively involved in the local nutrition efforts of your community. You can do so by volunteering with or shadowing potential preceptors, in your area, or by joining the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and your state or local branches.

Students are not required to have preceptors of supervised practice facilities identified prior to admission to the program. However, it’s never too early to start exploring your options. Students admitted to our graduate degree programs are provided much more detailed information about the supervised practice experience process, and are given guidance and support necessary to meet these supervised practice requirements throughout their time in our graduate program.