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Dietetic Internship Program

COVID-19 Update

Please be advised that the ACEND Board determined that in instances where programs and/or students/interns are affected by COVID-19 and only during this occurrence, programs may award up to 600 hours, of the total 1200 hours, to alternate supervised experiences for RDN programs.

On Monday April 6, 2020, the ACEND Board voted to temporarily reduce the required number of supervised practice hours for programs accredited under the ACEND 2017 Accreditation Standards from 1200 hours to 1000 hours for RDN programs (DI), for the period starting January 1, 2020 and ending June 30, 2022.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions not allowing interns on site, the DI program has made modifications to the curriculum for the long-term care, WIC and renal dialysis experiences. Competencies for the long-term care experience are being met by a combination of online instruction and through senior/elderly experiences during the clinical and mini-staff experiences.  Both the WIC and renal experiences are being conducted virtually. Registered dietitians who work at these sites connect by phone or Zoom with interns to review their job functions, and actual client cases. RDN preceptors provide opportunities for interns to complete counseling competencies by role playing patients. Interns complete required hours through online related coursework.


About the Program

The Dietetic Internship (DI) is a combined program which requires completion of a MS or PhD degree from the Department of Nutrition. The MS in Nutrition offers degree programs in Cellular and Molecular Nutrition or Public Health Nutrition, and doctoral degrees in Cellular and Molecular Nutrition or Community Nutrition. Study for the Master’s degree takes place during the first 4 semesters (Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall). A DI Course, introducing knowledge and skills to be used during the supervised practice is taken the 2nd Fall. The supervised practice follows, in the Spring from January-August (31 weeks). The master’s degree and supervised practice are usually completed in two years. Note that Public Health Nutrition non-thesis students complete a 8-week block field experience the first summer which counts towards the supervised practice hours. These students complete the DI by June. There is an option to also complete a MPH degree or to complete the DI in conjunction with a PhD from the Department of Nutrition.

Internship Facts

  • The focus of the Dietetic Internship (DI) is Community Nutrition.
  • The program has a strong public health component, but also prepares interns for a career in clinical nutrition.
  • The DI accepts 10 interns each year. The first year students are in the MS Program. Spring of the second year is the DI, a 40 hour per  week experience for 31 weeks. Interns remain in the DI summer semester or may complete the Block Field Experience the first summer.
  • The DI is located in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge-Maryville area surrounded by the beautiful Smoky Mountains.
  • Over the past 5 years, 100% of graduates have passed the RDN exam within one year of first attempt.
  • Over the past 5 years, 100% of graduates seeking jobs in dietetics have obtained positions in the field.

Mission, Goals, Objectives and Outcome Measures

Steps to becoming a Dietitian Nutritionist RDN

DI Brochure

DI Handbook

General Information

The DI program aims to provide an experience component in dietetics which culminates in registration eligibility. The experience will provide dietetic interns with the clinical application of knowledge learned through their Didactic Program in Dietetics and undergraduate curricula. Emphasis is placed on the integration of knowledge and experience leading to a strong capacity to solve problems. As interns gain experience, increased responsibility for professional practice will be given. Individualized study is stressed to give the dietetic intern experience in integration of knowledge from many areas of study. An interdisciplinary approach assists the intern in development of innovative solutions to increasingly complex problems. This includes an increased understanding of self and one’s role as a member of the comprehensive health care team. Preceptor evaluation and student self-assessment contribute to this understanding in relation to meeting the life-time goals of a dietitian. The DI program provides flexibility for individual interests through individual enrichment, “personal choice” experiences.

The focus of the DI program is clinical and community.  Students completing the DI program will possess the knowledge and performance requirements necessary for entry-level practice in the dietetic profession. Each student completes a 30 week experience, 1200 practice hours, including a 5-7 week staff experience which provides an opportunity to integrate and apply knowledge and skills at a staff level. At completion of the DI program and MS requirements, the graduate will receive a verification statement and be eligible to sit for the RD exam.

DI Application Procedure

We are no longer accepting applications to this Dietetic Internship program. The final class of interns will graduate Summer 2021.


Since 1897, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been continuously accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees.  For questions, contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500.

The DI program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) & Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).

Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) is located at: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000 Chicago, IL 60606

Phone: 800-877-1600 ext. 5400