Read these FAQ thoroughly before contacting us; many common inquiries have answers here!  Use the search box in the upper right-hand corner of the site to find specific words.

All applicants

What do you look for in an intern?
Overall GPA, DPD GPA, Science GPA, Positive References, strong and positively worded letter of application, well-rounded individual, work experience that has provided transferable professional skills such as, but not limited to:

  • Time management
  • Supervision
  • Task planning and follow-through
  • Self-directed behaviors

What is a graduate certificate? Is it the same as a master’s degree? Can the credits count towards a master’s degree?
Graduate certificates are ideal for individuals who do not wish to pursue a master’s degree or for those who already have one or more advanced degrees and wish to add to their credentials in their field.  It is not the same as a master’s degree.  At this time the credits are not transferable to the ISU FSHN graduate programs but may be transferable to other grad programs at ISU and other universities.

When is the application deadline?
Please check with DICAS or ACEND for specific dates and deadlines. At http://www.eatright.org/cade.asp select computer matching.

What is your first-time pass rate? How many interns successfully complete the program?
Our most recent pass rate is 90%. 95% or more interns will successfully complete the program.

How much does the internship cost?
Both in-state and out-of-state interns are charged the same tuition rate and course fees totaling approximately $7500-$8000.  You will have additional expenses for such things as books, health and auto insurance, CPR/1st/Bloodborne Pathogen certifications, criminal background check, transportation, and general living expenses. (See Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid for details.)

How does the tuition and fees expenses of this internship compare to others?
The ISU Dietetics Internship total tuition and fees expense is in the “lower cost” range of all of the ACEND internships.  If you review the information on the ACEND website, you’ll note that the internship expenses range from “no cost” to more than $20,000.  As you compare the cost of internships, keep in mind that the ISU DI is an accelerated program thus you complete the internship and join the work force sooner than most of the other internship program interns.  Thus when you compare TIME and MONEY, the ISU DI is very affordable.

Can I do my internship part-time?
NO. We are accredited to be a full-time program. Please note that interns are expected to spend 45-50 hours per week in supervised practice.

I know the internship plans for a minimum of 1200 hours, so should I schedule to be at these facilities 10 hours a day, Monday through Friday? Also, do the timings matter (8-5, 9-5, etc.)?
We encourage interns to spend a minimum of 40-45 hours per week supervised practice by the preceptor in their facilities and a minimum of 5-10 hours per week supervised practice by the ISU instructor completing simulations, case studies, literature reviews, and specific activities to meet the 2012 ACEND competencies. You will be in the facility the same hours your preceptor is, i.e. 7-4, 8-5, 11-7, etc. Some interns choose to complete extra hours on weekends; this will be decided by the precepting facility.

Can I come and visit campus?
Sure! We’d love to have you on campus; our office is 1104 Human Nutritional Sciences Building and we are here M-F. To set up an appointment, please contact diisu@iastate.edu. Please note that this is a distance education program, so you will be spending very little time on campus during your internship and that there are no interns or preceptors to meet with because they are located across the country.

What is Staff Relief?
Staff Relief is completed in the MNT facility where the intern feels very comfortable and has spent the most time. In this rotation, interns will be acting as the RD: organizing their workload, completing nutrition assessments, follow-ups, consultations, and educations with proper documentation. This is the intern’s chance to practice being an entry-level RD with minimal supervision (yes, supervision is still required) by the precepting RD.

What is the intern option?
You do not have to have anything scheduled for this time at this point. We will discuss more in the Pre-MNT Workshop. This time will be used for additional skill development or exploration in an avenue the intern is interested in.

I have a question regarding the references, it says to provide contact information from (2) professors and (1) supervisor. I have significant work and volunteer experience. Can I use references from work, volunteer, and school?
If you have significant work and volunteer experience, you may list only one reference from a professor and the other two from work and/or volunteer activities.

Would it be acceptable for me to use professors from my Master’s program rather than my DPD Program?
Yes. You could also include one from each.

Can I have a potential preceptor write a letter of recommendation?
Yes, if you have previous interaction with them and they have significant knowledge of your abilities.

How many interns are accepted into the Iowa-Based locations? How many into the Nationwide locations? International?
We typically accept 15-20 interns into the Iowa-Based locations, 60-65 Nationwide, and 5-10 into the international rotation (which will come from both Iowa-Based and Nationwide) for a total of 80 interns each class or 160 interns each year.  Because of the high volume of applications and the limited number and varying facilities, the Iowa-based location is highly competitive.  Applicants from states other than Iowa are strongly encouraged to complete a Nationwide application.

When will I be notified regarding an interview?
The ISU DI only conducts phone interviews for the International rotations.  Therefore most applicants need not worry if you are not contacted for an interview after you submitted your materials. The international interviews will be completed approximately 1-2 weeks after application deadlines.

Do you recommend working during the internship?
No. Work is strongly discouraged during this internship. This program is very intense and accelerated. Once an intern gets behind in required tasks and assignments they rarely get caught up successfully.

How much time will the internship require from my daily life?
Success as a Registered Dietitian means lifelong learning and a substantial and regular time commitment. Successful completion of this accelerated dietetics internship requires a high level of motivation and commitment and significant portion of the intern’s time. Work and volunteer commitments outside of the internship are not recommended.

Can I receive financial aid through the university?
PERHAPS. Financial aid is available through Iowa State University Office of Student Financial Aid for dietetic interns who are accepted into the program. If you need financial aid, contact the Office of Student Financial Aid at 515-294-2223, after you have been matched with ISU Dietetics Internship.

Can I defer my payment of fees and tuition? Or pay it in installments?
If you need to work out special arrangements to pay your tuition and fees contact the Accounts Receivable Office at 515-294-7388.
Do NOT contact the Accounts Receivable Office until you have been matched with the ISU Dietetics internship program.

Is student housing available on the ISU campus?
Ultimately, housing is the responsibility of the intern. Interns are required to live in the area in which they complete the internship. Because the ISU dietetic intern is considered a full-time ISU graduate student, he or she may be eligible for student housing on the ISU campus. This housing would only be realistic for interns working in the Ames/Des Moines area.

Is there a stipend for preceptors? Can they get paid for precepting me?
There is no money in the internship budget to pay preceptors. The facility where you train gains in non-monetary ways from your work as an intern; for example, projects you complete in the course of your rotation should be selected to be timely and useful to the facility as well as a good learning experience for you. You will be able to research answers to questions, do studies for customers or staff, provide in-service education for employees, nutrition education for kids and patients, and develop newsletters, pamphlets, patient/customer education materials, etc.

I want to do my internship where I live now and not in Iowa.  Is that possible?
Yes.  This is the “Nationwide Location”.  There are several additional steps to follow and complete BEFORE you apply to this.  Please note that you are required to locate your own preceptors and facilities.

What if I don’t want to complete the Graduate Certificate because I already have a Masters degree?
The Dietetics Internship and the Graduate Certificate in Dietetics Internship are completely intertwined.  The requirements for successful completion of both are exactly the same.  As you complete the requirements to receive the DI Verification Statement, you are completing the requirements for the Graduate Certificate in Dietetics Internship.  There is no difference in cost or length of time required for completion. Many professionals have more than one graduate degree and certificate.

I have significant work experience. Can I use this experience to meet the 2012 ACEND competencies?
Perhaps. The ISU Dietetics internship participates in the Prior Assessed Learning (PAL) program recognized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Please note that the fees related to PAL evaluation are the equivalent of the course credits required in the specific rotation. Information about this program is available on the Prior Assessed Learning web pages. You will find:

  • Instructions and information related to PAL.
  • A web-link to the ACEND competencies expected of the entry-level dietetic professional.
  • Each of the forms to be completed for PAL assessment which can be downloaded.

Remember that you must identify and document any experiences claimed in the PAL forms and these experiences must show progressively complex and intricate abilities, knowledge, understanding, and skills.

What is the application fee?
The non-refundable application fee for all choices is $75 and is submitted electronically with the online application.  If you apply for more than one selection (i.e. the Iowa-based location and the Iowa-based with international rotation), you will need to submit one $75 fee for each.

I submitted my application materials but found out I cannot complete the program at this time. Can I get my money back?
Life sometimes throws us a curve and causes changes in our plans. However, the application fee is non-refundable so we are unable to return your funds.
NOTE: Payments that have insufficient funds or have “stopped payment” or other similar situations are subject to a $30 fee. This is University policy.

I am a student with an F-1 Visa; can I apply to your program? Because the ISU DI is a distance program, students with an F-1 Visa are not eligible.

Nationwide locations

If I am accepted, what town would I fly into? Where would I stay?
If you are accepted to our program you would fly into Des Moines, IA. You can rent a car (and share with other interns) or contact the airport to see if any shuttles are heading to Ames. You will stay in Ames. We will send out more information about potential (not always possible) on-campus housing options, but you are free to room with other interns or find any hotels on your own.

I am from out of state, how often will I have to travel to Iowa?
Once for the first week Pre-MNT Workshop. This is REQUIRED, no exceptions.

Do I need to set up my specific schedule before I am accepted into the internship?
Yes, for the Nationwide or Nationwide with the International rotation, the rotation schedule must be submitted online with all preceptors and practice sites/facilities listed.   Preceptor/Facility Forms will be required if you are matched.

I have been in contact with a possible preceptor who has worked with ISU before. She said she has filled out the preceptor and facility application before. Is it OK to not include again?
If your preceptor has worked with us in the past, have them type a short statement to you (email is fine) stating they have filled out our forms previously and that they are willing to precept you should you match to our program.  This may be included with the preceptor commitment letter.

Do I have to follow the suggested rotation schedule or can I start rotations as they are available at my precepting sites?
The suggested rotation schedule works best for most interns, so we do encourage you to stick to the schedule as much as possible. However, if specific sites are only available on certain dates, we do allow flexibility in the schedule. Please make sure you are completing the required number of hours/weeks in each rotation.

I spoke with a couple of my preceptors and they are wondering if I will have to strictly follow the rotation schedule or it would be okay to juggle the rotations around to accommodate staff schedule? The MNT preceptor would prefer all my MNT rotations were completed at one time. Is this OK?
The suggested rotation schedule works best for most interns, so we do encourage you to stick to the schedule as much as possible. However, if specific sites are only available on certain dates, we do allow flexibility in the schedule. Please make sure you are completing the required number of hours/weeks in each rotation.

Can the entire community rotation be completed at WIC or does it have to be completed in different public health facilities?
At least one week should be completed in a WIC facility, and the entire community rotation may be completed at WIC, but additional sites can be selected depending on facility availability and intern preference.

Can I complete a portion of my Community Rotation in a grocery store?
Yes, if your preceptor is an RD.

Can I work in a school district for the entire rotation for food service management rotation? Can this be a private school?
It is optimal if at least one week is spent in a hospital, long-term care, or assisted living facility in order to experience therapeutic, tray line/room service or other meal delivery system and dysphagia diets. At least one week should be spent in public schools in order to experience free and reduced meals, and child nutritional standards. The entire FSM rotation cannot be completed at a private school.

I am not clear about the requirement for the 1 week specific rotation requirement in clinical/LTC food service management. Is this clinical or long term care, the intern picks one? Would doing several weeks in a clinical inpatient setting satisfy this requirement?
At least one week of FSM should be spent learning about therapeutic diets, tray line/room service or other meal delivery system, and dysphagia diets. This can be accomplished at a medical center, assisted living center, long-term care facility or similar facility.

I have found a hospital that has agreed to take me as an intern and they are currently in the process of filling out the proper forms, but they have asked me to go ahead and complete a drug screen and background check.  I know that ISU performs a background check as well. How should I proceed?
ISU does perform a background check; however some facilities have their own requirements. You must comply with your facility’s specific requirements.  If the facility approves, you may wait until you know you are matched to complete additional requirements.

What qualifications do my preceptors need?
MNT: Registered Dietitian, Clinical Nutrition Manager, Department Director, or Dietetic Technician, Registered (for some portions of the internship). Community: Registered Dietitian, Registered Nurse, agency director, or other appropriate professional. FSM: Certified Dietary Manager (CDM), department director, or other appropriate professional. In a public school setting this person might be an RD, CDM, department director, or other appropriate professional.

Do all of the recommended areas have to be met for MNT rotations, or just most of them?
Meeting all of the recommended areas is best; however, some specialties may be difficult to experience in certain geographic locations. We have interns keep a logsheet to track the variety of conditions they are exposed to, in order to assure a breadth of experience.

If I will be performing a specialist rotation (Renal, Pediatrics, etc.) under the sister facility of the primary MNT facility, do I have to still have my preceptor fill out the facility and the preceptor forms for that?
We may not need additional facility forms, but we will need specific information for each preceptor.

I want to do my rotations in Minnesota but don’t know if they allow the distance ed there.
You can do your rotations there because Iowa State University is registered as a Private Institution with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education pursuant to sections 136A.61 to 136A.71.  (Registration is not an endorsement of the institution.  Credits earned at the institution may not transfer to all other institutions.)

International locations

I am applying for the Nationwide and Nationwide-International internship locations.  How should I handle my preceptor and facility forms?
These forms are submitted online and preceptors will only need to fill them out if you are matched.  A commitment letter from your preceptor is required for your application.

When do I make travel arrangements for the international rotation?
After you are matched, ISU DI faculty will be in contact with specific details.

After you are matched

Who gets my transcripts?
Once you have matched to the ISU DI, details about providing copies of your transcripts will be provided to you through an online Welcome Course.

Is there a bus system in Ames?
Yes, the city of Ames and ISU have a bus system called CyRide. More information can be found on the CyRide website.  Free, temporary bus passes will be provided the Monday of Pre-MNT Workshop Week.

Where can I stay in Ames during Pre-MNT Workshop Week?
You are responsible for finding your own lodgings. Here are some ideas: The Memorial Union on the ISU campus might have suites available. Visit this link for a list of hotels in the area. There are a limited number of 2-3 person apartments available on ISU campus. You might consider contacting fellow interns about sharing lodgings.

How do I register to be a student at Iowa State University?
What YOU do: Follow the directions in the introductory email to access the Blackboard Learn Welcome Course. This will have details about the ISU Graduate College Application which you must complete by the date specified. What ISU does: Once the class of interns is identified and interns have accepted; the list of names, social security numbers, and contact information is provided to the appropriate ISU offices. NOTE: interns NEW to ISU who will be seeking financial aid services must be admitted to ISU. NOTE: current/past ISU students who will be seeking financial aid do not need to do anything to change their student status information.

How do I obtain a student ID card?
There will be time provided during Pre-MNT Workshop to get a photo ID which is highly recommended as certain facilities require this.

What is a NetID?
In the ISU email address, your “NetID” is “yourname”. Your NetID will be used to enroll you in the Blackboard Learn Dietetics Internship course.  For example, a NetID is “cyclone” and the associated email is “cyclone@iastate.edu”.

I got married during the internship. How do I change my name?
Notify the DI of your name change and we will update our files and your verification statements and DI certificate will come with your new name.  We recommend that you do NOT change your name with the University once accepted. It is not necessary to get this changed for the official ISU records, but if you wish to do so, you will need to contact the Office of the Registrar and provide them with information.  There is a completely separate process for notifying CDR and that can be found on their website.

Trouble shooting information:

  • You must be admitted to the university in order to be in the system and thus be eligible for loan deferment.
  • The university will communicate with you via ISU email address and within AccessPlus. You need to your Student ID information for AccessPlus.
  • Additional detailed instructions on establishing your ISU accounts can be found online here.
  • If you encounter any problems or would like to confirm that your accounts have been set up, please contact Human Sciences Distance Education or 877-891-5349.

Do I need to register for classes?
No, once you are admitted to the Graduate College you will be automatically enrolled in the current courses.

Do I need to have certifications in CPR, First Aid, and Universal Precautions (Bloodborne Pathogens)?
YES! Complete this training prior to the Pre-MNT Workshop.  You will need to provide copies of your certificates to the DI Program and preceptors as needed.

What browser works best with Blackboard Learn?
Mozilla Firefox. If you are having problems opening a file, try switching to a different browser. If a link doesn’t work, try copying and pasting into a new tab. If your browser doesn’t allow the link to open, right click and open in a new tab or new window.

When on campus can I use the ISU rec facilities?
As a distance education student, you are not assessed a rec fee so are not eligible to use the facilities unless you pay a daily fee.  An ISU student ID card does not grant you access (see question above).


Do the interns have rotation objectives for their experiences?
Yes. Each rotation is designed to meet the 2012 ACEND competencies. Please see the 2012 ACEND Competencies (doc) for additional information.

How often are evaluations completed?
Formally, during MNT, interns are evaluated at week 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12. They are also evaluated in their Clinical Presentation and Nutrition Education Evaluations.  During community, interns are evaluated at mid-point and the end. During FSM, interns are evaluated at mid-point, end, and for school nutrition. Informally, interns are evaluated on an on-going basis. ISU instructors appreciate immediate feedback with any concerns in intern performance or behavior.

How many hours are expected at the facility each week?
We expect the interns to complete 50 hours of supervised practice each week. As you might expect, supervised practice includes hours spent on-site at a facility and does require oversight by a preceptor.  Preceptors are identified in the schedule for interns and include not only the RD, but also supervisors, RN, Food Service supervisor and manager depending on the practice setting. It also includes time spent working on projects that would be completed by a professional and with oversight by a preceptor and ISU faculty instructor.  Thus it is very reasonable to expect that an intern will spend 45-50 hours per week in supervised practice with approximately 40 hours on-site and 10 hours spent on specific projects.

How much orientation will the interns need?
Interns will need basic facility orientation and introductions.

How do interns prepare for the rotations?
Interns spend a week in Pre-MNT Workshop learning about professional behavior, communication, time management and other skills for successful program completion. Interns also receive “prep” worksheets to help prepare them for rotations.

What are your expectations of the interns?
Specific expectations are listed in the Leadership and Professional Practice Evaluation (PDF).

Is there a stipend for preceptors? Can I get paid for precepting?
There is no money in the internship budget to pay preceptors. While we recognize this is a significant time commitment, the facility also gains in non-monetary ways form the work of an intern; for example, projects should be selected to be timely and useful to the facility as well as a good learning experience for the intern. Interns will be able to research answers to questions, do studies for customers or staff, provide in-service education for employees, nutrition education for kids and patients, and develop newsletters, pamphlets, patient/customer education materials, etc.


Which transcripts does DICAS need in order to process my application?
One official copy of your transcripts from EACH establishment of higher education you have attended.

After I am matched to the ISU DI - which transcripts does ISU GRADUATE ADMISSIONS need in order to process my application? 
One official copy of your transcripts from EACH establishment of higher education you have attended.

What if I am a current ISU student - does ISU graduate Admissions need my transcripts?
If you are currently an ISU student, you DO NOT need to order anything additional as everything needed is already on file.

What if I graduated from ISU before the application to the DI - which transcripts does ISU GRADUATE ADMISSIONS need in order to process my application?  If you attended ISU, you do not need to provide copies of the ISU transcripts or any transcripts prior to your attending ISU. You DO need to provide copies of transcripts of any schools attended after ISU.

After I am matched to the ISU DI - which transcripts does ISU DI need for CDR to process my eligibility for the exam?
One official copy ONLY of the final transcript where your Bachelor’s degree was earned (this may or may not be where you received your DPD). Transcript must include last semester grades, date and degree conferred. The ISU DI Program must retain this in your permanent file.

What if I am a current ISU student - after I am matched to the ISU DI do ISU transcripts still need to be submitted to ISU DI for CDR to process my eligibility for the exam? 
If you are currently an ISU student or if you transferred in to ISU, the ISU transcripts must still be submitted to the ISU DI.   

Why do I need to wait to order the transcript? 
Before the degree name and date conferred are recorded on a final transcript the university reviews all coursework and other related documents to verify that the individual did, indeed, complete all requirements for the degree. This review may take several weeks post graduation.

What if I graduated w/ a Bachelor’s degree more than 6 months ago? 
You can order the official final transcript immediately after you are matched and have it sent to:  Iowa State University Dietetics Internship,  1104 HNSB,  Ames IA 50011 1123

Why can’t the ISU graduate admissions office and the ISU DI share my transcripts?
The Office of Admissions and the ISU DI Program cannot share copies of transcripts. EACH office has very specific requirements that make separate copies necessary.  Additionally the ISU DI is required by CDR and ACEND to have an official, final transcript of your Bachelor’s degree in your permanent DI folder.