Everything You Need to Know About the DICAS Dietetic Internship Application
Applying for dietetic internships? Here's everything you'll need to know about the DICAS application — from personal statements, resumes, letters of recommendation, to D&D Digital. Get the info you'll need to get matched!
UPDATE: this post was originally written in 2018 and updated in November 2020 for clarity and with more helpful information about the dietetic internship application process.
Thinking of applying for dietetic internships and don’t know where to start? I was in your shoes not long ago and it took weeks — no months — of reading and searching to fully understand how the DICAS application process works.
I’m here to tell you, it’s not easy. Speaking now from the other side I can tell you that it’s very intense and, as you’ve probably heard before, the dietetic internship match rate hovers around 50%.
However, I can also tell you that in the end the hard work, late nights, and liters of coffee that fueled me through the application process were all worth it when I was matched to my number one program.
Because the DICAS dietetic internship application is so confusing, I've broken down what you'll need know as you enter the internship matching process.
Ready to create the best dietetic internship application you can? Let’s break it down!
👉 Need help with your DICAS application? I used All Access Dietetics coaching program as a student and LOVED the experience, I highly recommend it if you want a step-by-step guide to creating your best application. Use the code FORKINTHEROAD to receive 20% the Get Matched Course.
🍏 What is DICAS?
DICAS, or the Dietetic Internship Centralized Application Services, is the centralized application that all programs use that participate in the computer matching process.
It is an online portal that applicants use to apply to multiple internships at once by inputting their personal information and uploading supporting materials such as a resume, personal statements, and letters of recommendation.
📅 When are DICAS dietetic internship applications due?
It is important to note that there are two application periods per year:
- Spring Match: By far the most popular match date that most internships use, this application is typically due on February 15th and match day is in early April.
- Fall Match: Fall match applications are due in September and the match day is in early November. Only some programs accept applications for fall match, so be sure to check if your desired programs participates in the fall matching period.
The DICAS application website can be a bit confusing ,and for this reason I highly recommend creating an account well ahead of your matching period to ensure you have had time to take a look around and get used to the format.
My fellow classmates and I found that the customer service representatives at DICAS were very attentive and quick to answer any questions that I had during the application period.
👉 Tip from experience: The DICAS portal website shuts down to new accounts prior to opening for each application period. If you created an account in advance of your application period, your information will be saved but you will not be able to access it for the short period prior to the next match. Don't freak out if you can't access it for a bit! (Many of my fellow students did.)
The first material you will need to upload in your application is one general resume that you will submit to all programs that you apply to within the portal.
I'll repeat, for emphasis: DICAS allows you to upload only one resume, so make sure that it is not specific to one program as all of the programs you will apply to will be able to view it.
⭐️ Resume tips
Over the course of my own application period and helping students with their applications, I heard from many professors and dietitians that being concise and keeping your resume to one page is preferred.
However, if you have a lot of relevant experience then it is perfectly acceptable to have more than one page. But if you DO decide to do a two page resume, make sure to fill your second page–you don’t want to leave half of a page blank. Personally, I had many different experiences I wanted to highlight and filled my resume to two pages.
There is no right or wrong answer to having a one- or two-page resume, just go with your gut and decide what you would like to highlight without trying to cram too much information in for the sake of length.
💡 Some other important tips I received for the dietetic internship resume:
- Extend your margins to 0.5″ to create more space on the page
- Make sure formatting is uniform throughout
- Choose a font that is clear and easy on the eye
- Bulleted lists do not get periods
- Lump your clinical, community, food service, or other experiences into sections to highlight strengths.
- If you want to include your GPA for one school, you must include it for all. If you have one less than stellar GPA you’d rather not highlight then leave all of them off (GPA is still viewable in the personal information section of DICAS).
- Use action words to start each description, and avoid using the same action word twice.
- Find a way to show your personality in the resume: use interesting action words, adjectives, and phrases when describing your experiences.
📝 Personal statement(s)
Your personal statement is the meat and potatoes of your application and is arguably the most important component because it is the only piece in which you are able to let your personality shine!
DICAS allows you to upload and attach a different personal statement for each internship program you are applying. This means that you absolutely, positively, 100% should tailor your personal statement for each internship and should NOT use one uniform statement.
The personal statement has five prompted questions that must be answered (but make sure to check the website of each program to make sure they do no have additional questions they’d like included):
- Why do you want to enter the dietetics profession?
- Discuss experiences that have helped to prepare you for your career.
- What are your short-term and long-term goals?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses or areas needing improvement?
- What other information do you consider important for the selection decision?
⭐️ Personal statement tips
Make sure not to miss my article on the mistakes you should avoid when writing your personal statement, but there are a few key guidelines to remember when writing your personal statement:
- Use all the words you're allowed. The prompt calls for 1000 words or 8000 characters, so if you find yourself at 1000 words and still have characters left then you should definitely use them! Take every opportunity to tell the director how amazing you are. Unless – and this is important! – the program’s website specifically says only 1000 words.
- Don't waste time formatting your draft. The personal statements must be pasted into a text form on DICAS, so don’t waste time formatting your draft when you won’t even be uploading the document.
- Don't regurgitate your resume. Don’t use your personal statement to restate all of the experiences that are already listed on your resume. Use the statement to explain why you’re a great intern and then use your experiences to back them up.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread. Ask your friends, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, professors, boss – whoever – to read it. Then ask them again.
- Read it out loud. Reading your writing out loud will help you to find sentences that don't don't flow or sound unnatural.
💌 Letters of recommendation
DICAS allows you to upload a total of four letters of recommendation, but you are only allowed to attach three letters to each application. This is beneficial because you are able to decide which letters would make the most impact to each specific program.
Why would you want to have four letters if you can only attach three to an application? Let’s say that you have four letters:
- One from your DPD director
- One from your favorite professor
- One from a volunteer supervisor
- One from your boss.
If a program specifies that they would like to see two academic letters and one from work/volunteer then you can send the letters from your DPD director, professor, and choose between the remaining two for your experience recommendation.
However, if another program has no preference and highlights work and volunteer experience as important in their decision, then choosing the work, volunteer, and DPD program letters may be more impactful.
⭐️ Letters of recommendation tips
- Only ask for letters from people that know you well and are absolutely sure will write you a great letter. Many directors say that the letters are one of the most important parts of the decision-making process.
- You must generate an email from within the DICAS application to each letter writer, so make sure to ask the writer in person before doing so. The letters can take a lot of time to write, so get the go-ahead before generating the email.
- Your letter writers will also have to fill out a form. The form that letter writers must fill out includes a table in which they rate you as ‘Outstanding’, ‘More than Satisfactory’, ‘Satisfactory’, and ‘Needs Improvement’, and includes such qualities as conceptual skills, interpersonal skills, punctuality (ahem), and responsibility. The form also prompts the writer to list the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Ask early and be prepared! Create a small portfolio about yourself including the programs you’d like to apply to, the the dates the applications are due, a list of your strengths and weaknesses, and any other information that you would like the letter writer to focus on. You may also list classes and projects you completed for a specific professor, or a list of how you improved your workplace for a supervisor. Be creative!
- Choose letter writers who understand the importance of the dietetic internship application. I had classmates who asked a supervisor who was not well versed with the DI application process and the letter did not have the impact it could have if the supervisor knew how important it was to the applicant’s future.
You are required to send in all transcripts from all academic institutions that you have ever attended, no matter what. Many of my fellow students were unaware of this before applying and were very disappointed that their cumulative GPA was lower because of classes that were take years ago. Also be aware of this so you can order transcripts from schools you attended in the past.
Order your transcripts ASAP! There is always, always, always trouble with transcripts before the application deadlines. Always. Even for friends who had graduated the semester before. DICAS must receive the transcripts directly from your school and usually takes about 4-5 business days to process and show as received in the portal.
I applied for spring match in January/February of 2015 and my fall 2014 grades did not post until January 22nd. I had already ordered a transcript to ‘Hold for Final Grades’ but the transcript was sent out prior to my grades being posted. A friend of mine had to overnight her transcript to NYU to make the cut–she ended up getting matched, but the stress of that week waiting for the transcript to post on the DICAS was enough to drive her crazy!
📌 Other application information
While the resume, personal statements, letters of recommendations, and transcripts are the big pieces of your DICAS application, there is other information you will be required to input before pressing submit.
🏆 Awards, experience, and volunteer activities
DICAS allows you to enter as many present and past experiences as you’d like and this is an excellent way to throw in more information than you put in your resume.
Maybe you only volunteered with an organization for a few days and didn’t want to include it on your resume, you could definitely add it to this section.
Take care to really understand and fill out the awards and experience carefully and uniformly. Directors are able to print applications and clear, readable, and concise descriptions will be better than long paragraphs.
🎓 Past personal and academic information
DICAS asks for personal information including your contact information, personal information, past colleges, etc.
In addition to general information, you must also input your DPD coursework to evaluate your GPA (in addition to your transcripts).
📚 GPA, coursework, and course list
You will be asked to input all DPD courses taken presently and in the past, as well as those to be taken in the future. Be careful to fill out the classes exactly as they appear on your transcript.
You will also be required to upload your university’s courselist, which can be obtained from your director. This is a list of your classes and how they are designated (DPD, science, electives, etc).
After all classes are entered, DICAS will calculate your overall, DPD, and science GPAs. From experience, I have found that the GPA that DICAS calculates is usually a few points higher than the ones that students calculate on their own. I’ll take it!
😇 Past Convictions
In addition to your current personal information, you will be prompted to answer questions regarding your past misdemeanor and felony conviction.
If you do have a criminal past, don’t lie. It’s not worth it. Just because you have something on your record doesn’t mean that you won’t match, but lying could guarantee losing an internship placement if you are caught.
If you do have a past you’re worried about, it’s best to contact a director and be forthright. It’s better to know your chances of having your application completely disregarded than wasting time applying.
📫 Pressing Submit
Once you have uploaded your resume, personal statements, filled out all information, and have your letters uploads by your writers, you are ready to designate programs that you want to apply to.
You can choose as many programs as you’d like, but there are many who agree that you don’t want to apply to too many as the matching process can be confusing.
The steps for applying to your chosen programs within DICAS are:
- Designate the programs you’d like to apply to
- Attach the correct letters of recommendation and personal statement to each application
- Pay your fee
- Press submit.
Once you submit one application, you cannot go back and change the information you entered in the application. Your application is essentially locked and you can only control the letters of recommendation and personal statement attached to new program designations.
💻 D&D Digital
After you have finished inputting information to DICAS and have designated your programs (and paid your fees–don’t forget!) you must then register and pay for the matching process through the computer matching program D&D Digital.
D&D Digital is the matching service that is used to match applicants to the best possible program through an algorithm that many students find very confusing.
You will hear many myths about how the matching process works throughout the application process, but essentially it works like this:
- You rank the programs you applied to in order of preference.
- The programs will rank the applicants they want in order of preference.
- The computer matching algorithm works its magic and matches the highest ranking applicant with their highest ranking program, if space is available.
That's a very short version of how it works, but just know that if you did the work ahead of time as a dietetics student and put together your best application, you have a great shot at matching with a program.
🎉 After you press submit
What do you do after the application is done? You relax, have a glass of wine, and pat yourself on the back. Then you start freaking out about dietetic internship interviews!
Need help with your application? I highly recommend All Access Dietetics Get Matched Course! I used their service when applying as a dietetics student and matched to my #1 program. Use the code FORKINTHEROAD to get 20% off the course!
Want to learn more about the application process? Check out my other guides to becoming a registered dietitian:
- How to Become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
- 4 Things to Do NOW as a Dietetics Student
- 5 Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make When Writing Your Personal Statement
- How to Rock Your Dietetic Internship Interview
- Taking the RD Exam? This is Your Pep Talk
Have questions about DI applications? Leave a comment or contact me, I love to help nutrition students in any way I can.