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Students who have the long-term goal to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) must first complete an accredited Dietetic Supervised Practice Program (DSPP). Upon completion of a DSPP the student is then eligible to sit for the national registration examination. Individuals who pass the RDN exam will have earned their RDN certification.

In recent years, the national acceptance rates to DSPPs has risen to 67% of applicants who apply are accepted to DSPPs (this is up from 50% just 5 years ago).  While acceptance into DSPPs is competitive, students chances are better than ever before to be accepted into a DSPP!

Penn State's DPD program offers high quality training and experiences that have enabled our graduates to consistently exceed the national acceptances rates for placement into DSPPs.  To see our acceptance rates, see the Program Outcomes section of the Nutrition and Dietetics option homepage.

Penn State DPD students who were accepted into DSPPs  share some or all of these characteristics:

  • A cumulative GPA of a 3.0; A GPA in the DPD prescribed and additional courses of at least 3.2.
  • Attended open houses of the DSPP and/or DSPP Fairs that bring together program directors from multiple programs in one location.
  • Have work experience (either paid or non-paid) in a dietetics-related area during the course of their B.S. degree, preferably over 200 hours.
  • Demonstrate good communication skills and the ability to work well with others.
  • Convey enthusiasm for the DSPP program they are applying to and are knowledgeable about the program.
  • Demonstrate leadership experience in student organizations, internships, or jobs.
  • Have taken the GRE and meet the program's minimum requirements (between 30th and 60th percentiles) -- for those that offer a Masters degree or offer graduate credits

Other factors that may affect a student’s acceptance include:

  • the qualifications of the other students who are applying to the same DSPPs;
  • how well the student communicates with the director of the program;
  • the student lacks one or more strong reference letters; and
  • whether or not the DSPP has an emphasis in one of the areas of dietetics (clinical, community, food service) and that the student as experience in those areas beyond the classroom.

See the ACEND website “Suggestions for Improving your acceptance into an Internship” for additional tips for success.

Nutrition and Dietetics option students are encouraged to visit with the DPD director, Dr. Coleman-Kelly, for additional guidance in preparing their application for DSPPs. Students should do this as soon as they declare the Nutritional Sciences, Nutrition and Dietetics option.