WCU’s Dietetic Internship Program is included in a 22-month Master of Health Sciences (MHS)- Nutrition concentration program which begins each Fall semester, and is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
The mission of the Dietetic Internship Program is to provide a high quality supervised practicum that prepares entry-level registered dietitian nutritionists and promotes life-long learning, meaningful engagement, and service to the region.
Goal 1 Graduates will become entry-level registered dietitian nutritionists practicing in North Carolina and Appalachia.
Objective 1.1: “At least 80% of responding employers of dietetic internship program graduates will indicate satisfaction with graduates’ preparation for entry-level practice.”
Objective 1.2: At least 80% of program graduates complete program/degree requirements within 36 months (150% of the program length).
Objective 1.3: 80% of program graduates take the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists within 12 months of program completion.
Objective 1.4: The program’s one-year pass rate (graduates who pass the registration exam within one year of first attempt) on the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists is at least 80%.
Objective 1.5: Of graduates who seek employment, 75% are employed in nutrition and dietetics or related fields within 12 months of graduation.
Goal 2 Graduates will pursue individualized professional development activities and engagement in service.
Objective 2.1: At least 80% of program graduates will complete a professional development activity within the first year of program completion.
Objective 2.2: At least 80% of program graduates will pursue service to the profession of dietetics as a preceptor, leader, or through civic engagement within 5 yrs post- graduation.
Program outcome data available upon request.
Western Carolina University has both an accredited undergraduate program in dietetics (DPD) and an accredited dietetic internship with a graduate degree (MHS-ND) program.
*Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will require a minimum of a master's degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). In order to be approved for registration examination eligibility with a bachelor's degree, an individual must meet all eligibility requirements and be submitted into CDR's Registration Eligibility Processing System (REPS) before 12:00 midnight Central Time, December 31, 2023. For more information about this requirement visit CDR's website: CDR Credential Eligibility Requirements
CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
Tuition rates are reviewed and set annually by the North Carolina legislature. The University reserves the right to alter any charges without prior notice. Graduate distance learning tuition and fees per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state rates can be found at WCU Tuition and Fees.
Residency for tuition purposes is determined through the UNC system’s Residency Determination System (RDS). Information on the residency laws and policies can be found on the above-mentioned page. The requirements are the same for both residential and distance students.
The table below lists some examples of costs to expect during the DI program. It includes estimations and may change without prior notice.
|Type of Cost
Graduate School Application
Textbooks and Supplies
Professional Liability Insurance
Criminal Background Check
(max if not covered by Ins.) $140.00
Rent, Food, and Gas
Varies per site, preference and commute
Varies per site
See WCU graduate school website
Various financial sources, such as grants and loans are available to qualified graduate students in the Dietetic Internship Program. To become eligible, an application for financial assistance can be obtained by contacting WCU Financial Aid Office in Room 230 of the Robinson Administration Building, telephone 828.227.7290. Additional information is located at WCU Financial Aid. Financial aid recipients are expected to comply with the guidelines established by each specific granting or loaning agency.
There is a scholarship available specifically for MHS-Nutrition students in the Dietetic Internship program. The general scholarship application is required for consideration for these scholarships. Application opens during the Fall semester, and the deadline for submitting the scholarship application online is in early Spring semester. Students also must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by January 1 each year in order to be considered for need-based scholarships.
Graduation degree requirements for WCU can found in the Graduate Catalog.
To successfully complete Western Carolina University’s MHS-Nutrition concentration degree and receive a signed program completion Verification Statement, interns must meet all of the following criteria:
The intern will receive a Dietetic Internship Verification Statement in-person or via mail within 2 weeks following successful completion of the MHS- Nutrition concentration.
All coursework during the first year of study is completed through online formats and provides flexibility to learn where you live! Once supervised practice site placement through practicum courses begins during the summer, the expectation continues for students to have access to a computer, scanner, printer, and the internet for communication, documentation, and assignment completion. MHS-ND students are required to live within a reasonable distance and commute to supervised practice placement sites once practicum courses begin, and regardless of where the student resides at the time of the application.
The MHS-ND (Dietetic Internship) Supervised Practice sites are:
Activities to assess competencies must be included in the program and sufficient time must be scheduled in each area to enable students to practice the role of the dietitian. About 50% of supervised practice hrs are in clinical or MNT experiences, 25% are in community experiences, and 25% are in foodservice management and administrative dietetic experiences. Alternate practice experiences (e.g. simulation, role playing, case studies) are also part of the supervised practice %.
The WCU MHS-ND (Dietetic Internship) utilizes the pre-select option and is accredited to give priority consideration for early admission to up to six applicants from WCU on an annual basis. The remaining positions in WCU MHS-ND (Dietetic Internship) will be filled through regular computer matching each Spring. Once accepted through the pre-select option, applicants must apply to the WCU Graduate School (Master’s of Health Sciences- ND concentration) to start in the academic year immediately following application (Fall semester start). Final acceptance is contingent upon successful completion of DPD requirements and maintenance of required GPAs as described below, as well as acceptance through WCU’s Graduate School. Not being selected for pre-select acceptance in no way reflects an applicant's eligibility for the internship positions which will be filled through the regular computerized matching process.
The following individuals are eligible to apply through the pre-select process provided that they meet all other admissions requirements:
Application Instructions and Pre-select Review Process
If you are eligible to apply through the pre-select process, you will need to complete the DICAS application and submit application materials electronically. The process to apply through the pre-select option is outlined below.
Pre-Select Application Materials
All completed application materials will be reviewed by a MHS-ND selection panel. Applications may be rejected for incompleteness or non-compliance with directions. All documents submitted for the pre-select application process become the property of WCU and will not be returned.
The MHS-ND selection panel strongly considers an applicant's previous dietetics related work experience as well as professional attributes in deciding whether to admit an applicant for pre-select acceptance. Applicants considered for pre-select should be able to especially demonstrate effective communication, self-directed learning, flexibility, motivation to work in a fast-paced academic program and site environment, and the ability to work as a team player in the area of dietetics.
Experience interacting with patients and/or residents in a healthcare setting is strongly recommended.
Application for pre-select admission should be in an electronic submission and include the following materials from this pre-select checklist:
A 1-2 page Goal/Personal Statement (approximately 1000 words) describing your motivations toward a career in dietetics, short- and long-term professional goals, strengths that will help you succeed in the program and in reaching your goals, areas of/opportunities for improvement, and what makes you a good candidate specifically for the WCU MHS-ND (Dietetic Internship) program.