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MHS- Nutrition Concentration

Nutrition and Dietetics major



About the Program

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).  

  • Prospective students must apply to Western Carolina University’s Graduate School, Master of Health Sciences (MHS) Program, as well as through the Dietetic Internship Centralized Application System (DICAS) for admission. Students matched through DICAS does not guarantee acceptance to WCU’s MHS program.
  • All MHS-Nutrition concentration students complete a total of 33 credit hours for degree completion. The course sequence for dietetic interns begins with 1-yr (2 semesters) of distance offered MHS core courses and advanced level (500-600 level) nutrition courses; supervised practice begins the third semester in the summer.  
  • All practicum work settings are in the United States with primary rotation facilities in the region of western North Carolina, north Georgia, and north west South Carolina. Supervised practice rotations and didactic classes are designed to provide the required supervised practice hours and meet the ACEND Knowledge Competencies for the Registered Dietitian. DI graduates are qualified to take the national Registration Examination for Dietitians. More information on supervised placement sites can be found in FAQs.
    Note: ACEND has modified the total required supervised practice hours due to the COVID pandemic
  • DI Program Emphasis area: Nutrition Education
  • WCU DI Program participates in Prior Assessed Learning (PAL).
  • Students enrolled in the DI Program may be eligible for financial aid.
  • Pre-select option available for WCU students


Mission, Goals, and Objectives

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.



No. To become a RDN, five steps are required.

Learn more about educational pathways to become a RDN

Western Carolina University has both an accredited undergraduate program in dietetics (DPD) and an accredited dietetic internship with a graduate degree (MHS-ND) program.

  • Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited DPD program at Western Carolina University are eligible to apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program.
  • Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited DI program, which is completed as part of the MHS-ND program, at Western Carolina University are eligible to apply to take the CDR credentialing exam to become an RDN.

A list of ACEND accredited programs can be found at List of ACEND Accredited Progams; and additional details about the CDR credentialing exam can be found at CDR Credentialing Exam Information

*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).

  • Official transcript(s) for all schools attended
  • Minimum DPD GPA of 3.2
  • Resume
  • Evidence of volunteer and/or paid experience in nutrition and dietetics
  • Declaration of Intent to Complete Degree or DPD Verification Statement
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 in all upper-level undergraduate course work
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • A Goal/Personal Statement
  • ALL applications should be submitted electronically in DICAS:
  • DICAS opens in December and closes in February
  • DICAS initial application fee of $45 & $20 per subsequent application
  • WCU Pre-Select Application Due:  January 15
  • ACEND guidance with video instructions
  • WCU DI Program participates in second match if the internship is not filled in first match and through pre-select.
    • Students who have unsuccessfully participated in the Computer Match Process should check the D&D website for second-round openings. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until all openings are filled.
    • All application requirements must be met, and selection criteria applies to second round applicants.
    • Release your DICAS application materials to the WCU Dietetic Internship for review. Please do not email or fax application materials. Prior applications on file in DICAS may be used.
    • No interview will be conducted for second round applicants, although the DI Academic Coordinator may contact applicants for additional information.
    • Applicants will be offered the position via email and students must confirm their acceptance within 24 hrs.
    • Once all openings are filled, the WCU DI DICAS portal will be closed.
  • Once you have applied through DICAS, you will receive an email to complete your graduate school application and fees. 

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 Amount

Graduate School Application


Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Student Membership


Textbooks and Supplies


Professional Liability Insurance


Criminal Background Check


Drug Screen


Health Insurance



(max if not covered by Ins.) $140.00

Rent, Food, and Gas

Varies per site, preference and commute

Dietetic Internship

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:

  1. Pass all courses with a “B” or better
  2. Must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in order to graduate
  3. Complete all competencies/Learning Outcomes for DIs
  4. Complete all assignments
  5. Work all assigned supervised practice hours
  6. Turn in all evaluation forms
  7. Attend all field trips
  8. The intern must complete the required supervised practice hours and demonstrate satisfactory performance and competence throughout the program rotations as evaluated by site preceptors and Dietetic Internship Director
  9. The intern must complete all program and self-assessments with the Dietetic Internship Director
  10. The intern must demonstrate no misconduct, academic or non-academic, and must perform ethically in accordance with the values of the Academy and Code of Ethics of the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

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:

  • Approved sites that are located in the greater regional area, with flexibility to sites in a larger geographical boundary depending on student interest.
  • With qualified and experienced preceptors.
  • Arranged placement by WCU Nutrition and Dietetic faculty.

Time allocation 
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:

  • Current Western Carolina University Nutrition and Dietetics undergraduate majors in good standing who plan to complete the DPD requirements by May 2024
  • Western Carolina University Nutrition and Dietetics students who have obtained their DPD verification statement within the past 5 years

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.

  1. Email and inform the DI Director of your intent to apply for the pre-select option by December 15, 2023.
  2. Submit all application materials by January 15, 2024 through DICAs.
  3. Pre-select application materials will be reviewed by the MHS-DI Selection panel upon receipt of application materials. Selection of successful applicants is based on the panel’s assessment of the individual’s potential in the program and potential as a practicing dietitian. The panel will use complete application materials (listed below) and possible interviews to make this assessment. Meeting minimum application requirements for the pre-select MHS-ND (Dietetic Internship) option does not guarantee acceptance into the MHS-ND (Dietetic Internship) Program.
  4. Prepare for a potential interview. Qualified pre-select applicants may be contacted by the DI Director for an interview between January 15 and January 28. Interviews will be scheduled in advance.
  5. Applicants will be notified by the DI Director via email of acceptance/non-acceptance through the pre-select option by 5pm EST on January 29. 
  6. Applicants must confirm acceptance via email to the DI Director by 5pm EST on Jan 30. 
  7. The DI Director will notify D&D Digital of WCU pre-selected student names and emails by February 1. Accepted pre-select students are ineligible to participate in the Spring computer match. Please note pre-select applicants not accepted during the pre-select process may apply for other internships, including WCU’s MHS-ND (Dietetic Internship), through DICAS/D&D Digital in the regular Spring computer match process.
  8. Accepted pre-select students must formally apply to WCU’s Graduate School following application guidelines.

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 current resume: summary of your academic, employment, and professional activities. Please include your email address. 
  • Concise justification outlining all paid and not paid work or volunteer experience; it is recommended that pre-select applicants have at least 30 hours of nutrition and/or health-related work or volunteer experience in the last 2 years above and beyond the academic credit requirements of ND coursework; narratives including  how the duties has/have contributed to your skills and abilities as a self-directed learner, effective communicator, and team-player is also desirable. Include complete contact information for the supervisor(s) of the each of the work/volunteer experience.  
  • Good academic standing (reflected by overall GPA ≥ 3.0; DPD GPA ≥ 3.2; ≥3.0 in upper-level undergraduate coursework).
  • A valid Declaration of Intent to Complete Degree or DPD Verification Statement from an ACEND accredited DPD Director
  • Official transcript(s) from all colleges and universities attended. If possible, fall 2023 grades should be included in your original transcripts. Be sure to order transcripts after fall grades have been posted. (**Transcripts should be mailed directly to DICAs)
  • 3 professional letters of recommendation from collegiate professors, employers, community partners, etc. Note: WCU Nutrition and Dietetics Program Director, DI Academic Coordinator, and Clinical Coordinator do not provide references for pre-select applicants to the WCU Dietetic Internship.

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.

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