SJSU DI: Frequently Asked Questions


Update 7/16/2020:

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of our current interns have not been able to continue training on-site. The SJSU DI does have a remote-training plan for a limited number of approved hours, but it is very likely that the current interns will be delayed in finishing their DIs. In addition, many of our new interns who are suppose to start this summer 2020 do not yet have a set start date from sites. These issues that the SJSU DI is dealing with is not unique to SJSU; almost all DIs across the country are having on-site training delays because of Covid-19.

Because of this backlog of interns and lack of DI sites allowing interns to train on-site, the SJSU DI may possibly have to limit the number of applicants for the next couple of cycles. Nothing has been decided yet regarding the Fall 2020 application semester, but please keep the above issues in mind as you are trying to plan your education timeline.

What are some alternative plans students can consider if there are not enough internal SJSU DI sites due to the pandemic?

  • Consider applying to external DIs. For more info about applying to external DIs:
  • Consider having a job lined up; Jobs within the dietetics field can help students strengthen their professional experiences and DI applications.
  • Current, relevant job opportunities are posted on our department LinkedIn site as well as various job search sites. Recommend you utilize the resources at the SJSU Career Center and work with the SJSU Career Center counselors to improve your job prospects.
  • Consider obtaining a CDM, Certified Dietary Manager, certification (does not require additional coursework) and obtaining a CDM job, which is a management role that includes both clinical and foodservice management experiences. CDM positions are well paid and can be used to meet internal DI eligibility hours!
  • Consider taking the DTR Exam after obtaining your DPD verification statement and then work as a DTR in a clinical setting to gain relevant professional experience and meet internal DI eligibility hours.
  • Undergraduate students can consider applying to graduate school given the graduate degree requirement starting in 2024 (see below for FAQ related to this requirement). If you are interested in the SJSU MS program: 



Starting January 1, 2024, the minimum degree requirement for eligibility to take the RD exam will change from a bachelor’s degree to a graduate degree (in any field).

For SJSU Undergraduate Dietetic students who plan to apply/complete the SJSU DI and want to become an RD before the Graduate Degree Requirement becomes effective:

  • SJSU DI application timeline
  • You must complete your DPD coursework (BS Nutritional Science, Dietetics concentration) by Spring 2022 at the latest.
  • You must apply for our DI during the Fall 2022 semester (at the latest), so that you can get an internship site placement and start the internship by Spring 2023.
  • You must complete the internship, complete all paperwork, and get your DI verification statement by December 31, 2023.
  • For more info about this Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) graduate degree requirement: 

Who is currently eligible to apply for the SJSU DI?

Currently, the SJSU DI is only available to SJSU students from the programs: BS in Nutritional Science, Concentration in Dietetics or MS in Nutritional Science.

SJSU students are not guaranteed a spot in the SJSU DI; all eligible students must apply and be accepted into the DI program. The SJSU DI is not a combined MS/DI program. 

Note: Students apply to the SJSU DI during an application semester. More info about the SJSU DI can be found on our SJSU DI Brochure

Who will be eligible to apply to the SJSU DI starting the Spring 2023 DI application semester?

  • Students enrolled in the SJSU MS in Nutritional Science program
  • Individuals who received their DPD Verification Statement from SJSU and completed a graduate degree (at SJSU or elsewhere) 

What are the SJSU DI application requirements?

All information regarding the SJSU DI application requirements and application and selection process can be found on our SJSU DI Brochure.   

What factors should I consider if I am trying to decide if I should try to complete the SJSU DI before the 1/1/2024 Graduate Degree Requirement deadline?

Deciding whether or not to get your RD credentials without a graduate degree is a personal choice. You should think about and understand the pros and cons before making an informed decision.

  • How strong of a student/learner are you? Will you be able to complete the DPD coursework and get your B.S. degree (without having to retake classes, ~ 4 - 5 years), apply and get accepted into the SJSU DI (1 semester), and complete all the DI requirements and competencies (7 - 10 months) before December 31, 2023?
  • What kind of career do you hope to have? If future RDs all have graduate degrees, what will your career advancement look like if you are a RD without a graduate degree?
  • What is your personal/financial situation? Does it make sense to complete the DPD and B.S. degree now, maybe work as a DTR for a while (to save money and gain valuable dietetics experience), then complete a graduate degree, and then apply to a DI at a later date?
  • Do you really need a RD credential for the job you want to have? Gaining work experience can help you decide if pursing a graduate degree and the RD credential is right for you.



Update 7/16/2020: For Fall 2020, only students who plan to apply for the SJSU DI in Fall 2020 will be able to take the DI Content Exams. When we are allowed back on campus, the department will add extra DI Content exam dates throughout the academic year so students who did not qualify to take the exams in Fall 2020 can “catch-up” if needed.

What are the DI Content Exams? 

There are three multiple choice DI Content Exams one must pass in order to be eligible for our DI.

The Content Exams cover these 3 topics (one exam for each topic that cover material from both classes listed below):

  • Nutrition (NUFS 8 & NUFS 106A)
  • Food Science (NUFS 101A & NUFS 103)
  • Food Management (NUFS 111 & NUFS 113)

When are the DI Content Exams? 

DI Content Exams are administered once every semester a day or two before classes start

How do students sign up to take the DI Content Exams? 

At the end of each semester, the Department will email all DPD students and provide a link to an online Google Form for DI Content Exam sign ups. After students sign up for their first DI Content Exam, they will be added to a DI Content Exam Canvas course, where additional info about the exams can be found. 

  • You can take a maximum of two DI Content Exams per semester, so plan ahead.
  • You have two attempts to pass each exam. A score of 80% or higher is considered passing.
  • If you sign up to take a DI Content Exam, and you fail to show up to take the exam, then this counts as one of your two allowed attempts .

Are study guides and materials available to help students prepare for these Content Exams? 

The first time you sign up to take one of these DI Content Exams, you will be added to the DI Content Exams Canvas site. All available study materials are posted on this Canvas site. Some faculty shared only their syllabus; some faculty shared lecture slides; everything that is available are posted on the Canvas site. Please do not ask individual faculty members to provide tutoring or for additional exam prep materials.

If I fail one of the DI Content Exams twice, what are my options in terms of the Dietetic Internship? 

Passing the three DI Content Exams is only a part of the SJSU DI eligibility criteria. There are other eligibility criteria such as having a 3.2 minimum GPA in select DPD classes. Refer to the SJSU DI Brochure for more details.

If you fail any of the DI Content Exams twice, then you are no longer eligible for the SJSU DI. You have the option to apply to external Dietetic Internships; students would work with the DPD Director, Dr. Ashwini Wagle, for external DI applications. 



When should students complete these hours?

You must complete these hours prior to the start of your application semester. We recommend you start early. You can count past work/volunteer experiences within the last 5 years (from your application semester).

Where are some places where students can complete these hours?

To find places to work/volunteer, we recommend you:

  • Join the department LinkedIn group for networking opportunities and job postings
  • Pay attention in NUFS 31 when students from NUFS 192 share their project experiences and contact info from places they worked/volunteered
  • Join the NUFS Student Club and attend their events to network with invited speakers and learn from senior/graduating students about their work/volunteer experiences/potential opportunities
  • Search job databases such as: SJSU Handshake,,, etc.
  • Network with DPD faculty and other DPD students
  • Have your resume and cover letter ready (recommend work with SJSU Career Center)

How should students document their hours?

Students can use any of the following as evidence of completion of required hours: time cards, pay stubs, emails from supervisors, personal records (with supervisor verification), or a letter signed by supervisor.

What counts towards the 225 non-clinical hours?

  • Food service-related experiences (restaurant, server, host/hostess, barista, etc.)
  • Community nutrition experiences (WIC, Second Harvest, food pantry, Head Start, Meals on Wheels, senior nutrition programs, Timpany Center, etc.)
  • Nutrition education experiences (Peer Health Educators, wellness fairs, etc.)

What counts towards the 225 clinical/hospital-like setting hours?

  • Types of facilities that count as hospital-like settings: hospitals, dialysis centers, diabetes clinics, skilled nursing facilities, sub-acute care facilities
  • Types of facilities that are not considered hospital-like settings (these can count for non-clinical hours): student health center, wellness centers, gyms, lifestyle coaching, private practice, retirement homes, biometric screening events 
  • To qualify for clinical hours, the work performed must allow you to (1) experience a hospital-like setting, where there are patients with various disease states, (2) observe the role of the RD as a part of a multidisciplinary health care team, and (3) gain familiarity with electronic medical records. 

What type of work/volunteer experiences would qualify?

  • Examples of work at hospital-like facilities that count: diet tech/diet aide, menu planning, creation of education materials, in-service for staff, chart screening/review, working with hospital food service team, almost anything dietetic-/nutrition-related in a hospital-like setting
  • Examples of work at hospital-like facilities that do not count: greeting patients, helping patients with way-finding, passing out magazines, office work, anything not related to nutrition
  • For non-clinical hours: most food, nutrition, and/or dietetics-related experiences count.

Do students need to work under or with a dietitian in completing these hours?

  • For the non-clinical hours: The supervisor does not have to be a dietitian.
  • For clinical hours: The hospital-like facility will have a dietitian on staff, so your nutrition-related work/volunteer experience should involve the RD at the facility.
  • When you apply for the SJSU DI, you will need 3 recommendations, typically a combination of evaluations from supervising dietitian(s) and faculty member(s).


Who should I ask to write a recommendation for my DI application? 

Per the ACEND/AND applicant guidelines: "Make sure that your letters of recommendation and references are from individuals who really know the quality of your work and your character, and are willing to put positive recommendations in writing and say them to others. Vague or mediocre letters of recommendation are clues to internship programs that either your work or character is not good or that the person who wrote the letter of recommendation does not know you well.

  • Always do your best work, and always cultivate good relationships with your advisors, teachers, employers, peers, patients, clients and students.
  • Ask for letters of recommendation from people who know that you do high-quality work, have a strong study and work ethic, and behave in a professional and ethical manner.
  • Make sure that that people who are writing letters of recommendation or serving as references are doing so, because they truly believe in you, not because they feel obligated to do so.
  • Make sure that the people you ask to write a letter of recommendation or serve as a reference are considered by others to be honest and professional.
  • Never ask for a letter of recommendation or a reference from someone for whom you have done poor or mediocre work or with whom you have been in trouble."

At least two (out of three) of your letter writers should be Registered Dietitians, because letter writers will need to evaluate your application of knowledge in areas such as nutrition content, medical nutrition therapy, and foodservice management.