University of Vermont

Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences

Practicum Courses: Gaining practical experience

Faculty in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences recognize the great value to all undergraduate students to participate in some kind of field or community placement.  Therefore, students majoring in dietetics are required to successfully complete at least one credit in one of the courses listed below.  Students majoring in Nutrition and Food Sciences are welcome to participate in any of these courses, but have no requirement. 

Marcia Bristow MS, RD, CD is the Faculty Coordinator for the practicum courses.

Some students do their placement in accordance with the semester schedule, working a certain number of hours per week throughout the semester.  Other students prefer to gain experience when classes are not in session, either during the summer or between semesters in January.  It is also possible to begin your work during the school year, but not complete it until after the semester has ended.  Of course, in all cases, a grade will not be assigned until the work is completed. 

Students occasionally decide they would like to obtain credit for more than one placement over the time period of their undergraduate experience.  It is fine to do so.  However, the department may not be able to provide support to get you set up in more than one placement due to time constraints. 

Time Commitment:

You are required to invest a minimum of 45 hours per credit.

See Schedule of Courses listing for the maximum number of credits you can take per semester

You will keep a Timesheet Log (pdf) during the semester, review it with your supervisor and turn it in with your evaluation. Your supervisor must sign both the evaluation and the time sheet.

If you are interested in participating in a placement, you can initiate the process in one of two ways:

  1. You can identify a site and supervisor on your own:

    Looking at the examples under the course options listed below might give you an idea of where to start. A site could be in Burlington, elsewhere in Vermont or out-of-state. You may generate an idea by speaking with your advisor or another faculty member who knows you. If you have an idea about where you would like to do a placement, but are not sure how to approach somebody, you may prefer to set up an appointment with Marcia first. 

  2. You can set up an appointment with Marcia to explore possibilities:

    You do not need to come with a pre-determined idea of where you would like to be placed. Together we will consider your interests and inclinations. Our goal will be to identify some options for follow-up. In some cases, following our appointment, I will make initial contact with a potential supervisor. In other cases, you will initiate the process.

Course Options:

  • NFS 195 (for freshmen and sophmores) or NFS 295 (for juniors and seniors) Special Topics:

    Register for this course if you will be working in a food industry business learning about the science of making food(or drink) such as Ben & Jerry's, MAgic Hat or Shelburne Farms cheese making.

  • NFS 196 (for freshman and sophmores) or NFS 296 (for juniors and seniors) Field Experience:

    Register for this course if your placement is in a clinical environment such as Fletcher Allen, University Health Care or a private practice.

  • NFS 197 (fall) or NFS 198 (spring) Undergraduate Research:

    Register for this course if you will be doing research with an NFS faculty member. A written Research Practicum Contract (pdf) outlining the research is filled out and signed by you and the faculty supervisor and given to Marcia.

  • NFS 274 Community Practicum:

    Register for this course if your placement is with a community non-profit, the Vermont Department of Health or other state office, public school system, UVM Extension, a nursing home or a food related business where you are not involved in a food science componenet(e.g., City Market, Eating Well Magazine or a weight loss program)

Course Registration Information:

Prior to registering for any course listed above a faculty override by Marcia is required. Please send an email to her including your 95 student ID number to receive the override.

You will choose the number of credits when you register for the course. Please be sure you have discussed this with your supervisor before selecting credits.

Registration must occur by the end of the add/drop period as with any other course.

If you are hoping to do a placement outside of the regular semester schedule please first receive approval of your plan and discuss when the credits will be applied.


  • A written Practicum Contract (pdf) outlining your practicum and signed by you and your supervisor is due to Marcia within one month following the start of the semester in which you are doing your practicum experience: unless you have made other special arrangements with Marcia.

  • A time sheet documenting hours and activities completed during the practicum experience. Keep in mind 45 hours/credit hour must be documented in order to earn the associated credit; for two credits, 90 hours would need to be documented, etc.
  • A final 5-10 minute online presentation process will be completed at the end of your experience.  Due dates will be announced by the instructor at the end of the summer, fall and spring semesters.  Details about the online process can be found here:. Final Presentation Information (pdf). This final presentation assignment is not required of students who are involved in a research experience.

  • A completed Evaluation Form (pdf) (from supervisor) is due three days before the end of the exam period.
Group Meetings:

Students registered for any of these courses are expected to participate in one class over the course of the semester. During this class which will be held at the end of the semester, prior to exam week, each student will give a 10 minute power point presentation.  This is a chance for students to learn about different opportunities in the dietetics, nutrition and food science field.  It is also a time for students to share their own experiences and to hear about the experiences of other student interns. 


The supervisor at your placement will recommend a grade as part of the written Evaluation (pdf) completed at the end of the semester. It is up to Marcia Bristow to submit your final grade. Your oral presentation will not be assigned a grade. However, the quality of your presentation , as well as your participation in the mandatory presentation class, will influence the grade recommended by your supervisor.

In summary, the following 3 documents and 1 assignment MUST be received electronically by Marcia Bristow in order to receive credit:

  1. The Research Practicum Contract (197 and 198) OR the Practicum Contract (274, 295, 196 and 296): due one month after the start of the semester
  2. The timesheet: due 3 days before the end of exams
  3. The evaluation: due 3 days before the end of exams
  4. The presentation: due date will be announced

Contact Marcia Bristow with questions regarding our Community Practicum program

Last modified November 19 2015 10:00 AM