Online Master’s in Nutrition Serving up a Great Experience

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For aspiring nutritionists and dietitians, there are many routes to success. Though most states require nutritionists to have a bachelor’s degree to be licensed, many also require the master’s degree in nutrition. This higher degree provides the additional knowledge and skills students need to advance to higher positions or to pursue even more advanced education.

This guidebook prepares students for a master’s degree program in nutrition, including answers to the big questions: Will a master’s degree result in higher salaries or bigger promotions? Is it possible to earn the master’s in nutrition online? Where can a high-quality program be found? We’ll examine colleges and programs, break down the costs, and speak to students who have already earned their online master’s in nutrition.

Top Online Master's in Nutrition

Master’s programs in nutrition are a popular choice for graduate students looking to broaden their career options. While many colleges and universities offer a traditionally earned, on-campus degree, online programs have recently seen a jump in popularity as well. These programs are tailored to the busy, often working student, and give them a variety of options of classroom and learning styles with which to undertake the earning of their master’s degrees. The following schools have ranked highest when put against our criteria, and offer the best in online master’s in nutrition programs.

SCORE:  98.66 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Alabama

The University of Alabama offers Bama by Distance, an online program that provides several options for undergraduate, masters and doctoral programs, including an online masters in human nutrition. Unlike many other 36 credit-hour programs, this masters can be completed in only 30 hours, which means students can earn their degree at a faster pace. The online program and degree requirements are identical to that of the on-campus curriculum, so online students can be sure studies will be as rigorous as that of a traditional classroom environment. This program is specially designed for registered dietitians who want to pursue their careers at an advanced level, a doctoral level education or other research opportunities.

  • MA in Health Studies (Health Promotion)
  • MS in Human Environmental Sciences (Human Nutrition)
SCORE:  98.23 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Tennessee

The University of Memphis offers a 33 credit-hour master’s degree for environmental nutrition that focuses not only the effects of food and nutrition but also their integration with the environment. This degree goes beyond human nutrition as a primary field of study and branches out to include food sustainability, cultural food practices, food justice, humanitarian nutrition and alternative and complementary nutrition. The overall coursework appeals to students of many backgrounds, from medical and health sciences to environmental sciences, all of whom can enjoy a better education and more potential job opportunities through completion of this degree.

  • MS in Health Promotion
  • MS in Environmental Nutrition
SCORE:  97.93 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Virginia

The Master of Public Health, helps students master skills needed to advance in their careers and educate society about the importance of nutrition. Coursework prepares students to serve as a public health expert and explore careers as a health educator, public health specialist, missionary or for work in the field of school nutrition and food services. Students become experts on topics such as food-borne illnesses, nutritional health disorders and disease prevention. The online program is 42 credit-hours and covers topics that enrich the student’s understanding of basic nutrition while enhancing their skill set and credentials for a successful career in this field.

  • MA in Human Services Counseling (Health and Wellness)
  • MPH in Nutrition
  • MPH in Health Promotion
SCORE:  94.26 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Mississippi

The Master of Science of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion is offered through the Center for Distance Education at Mississippi State University. Graduates of the program can work in a number of health fields and apply research skills and health promotion techniques. This is a 33-hour program and consists of courses related to research methods, core courses and electives. Coursework covers principles of epidemiology, theory and practice of health education, prevention and control of disease and the nutritional biochemistry of foods. Students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and have taken the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) to be eligible for admission to this program.

  • MS in Food Science Nutrition and Health Promotion (Health Promotion)
SCORE:  94.26 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi offers an online master’s degree in nutrition, specifically entitled, Nutrition and Food Systems. This degree allows students to focus upon program management for child nutrition and dietetic practices. There are three areas of curriculum choices including applied nutrition, child nutrition program management and dietetic practice. Additionally, elective hours are also offered in adult education, educational administration, community health, research, statistics, as well as many other areas of study. Each student will have the opportunity to develop their areas of interest regarding researching clinical or community nutrition, child nutrition program management and food service management with facilities that are qualified within the area.

  • MS in Nutrition and Food Systems (Management of Child Nutrition Programs)
SCORE:  93.77 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Nebraska

At University of Nebraska-Lincoln, an online master’s in dietetics opens the doors for students to more deeply engage with dietetics and nutrition, which are inseparable aspects of public health and other health-related fields. The program is mainly geared toward registered dietitians and students eligible to take the registration examination who want to pursue the study and implementation of dietetics at a more advanced level. This online master’s covers everything from public policy and healthcare delivery to current and innovative information and practices in food, nutrition and food service management. Through this coursework, students learn how to advance their careers, pursue research projects or write intensive papers that can help them evolve as modern dietitians.

  • MS in Dietetics
SCORE:  92.85 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: North Carolina

North Carolina State University online Master of Nutrition offers students two options: an emphasis on human nutrition, food and bioprocessing and a feed science emphasis. Human nutrition focuses on improving food quality, safety and food-related public policy, while feed science concentrates on feed science technology, animal nutrition and feed formulation. This 36 credit-hour degree encompasses 15 credits of core nutrition courses and six credits of an internship or directed practicum relevant to a student’s independent project. Most of the coursework involves graduate-level nutrition and related science, and the program emphasizes inspiring innovation in nutrition research.

  • Master of Nutrition
SCORE:  92.5 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: South Dakota

South Dakota State University offers an online masters in dietetics and nutrition that requires an RD or RDN credential for admission. The program provides students the opportunity to refine knowledge of their field and open the doors for more career options. This 36 credit-hour degree focuses on the application and integration of dietetics to create food and nutrition programs that best help and enhance the lives of participants and patients. This personalized online program works through concepts in biomedical sciences, human behavior and program management to achieve these ends. Students are tested in the end by an oral defense and the student’s choice of a written thesis, research paper or exam.

  • MS in Dietetics
SCORE:  92.42 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Missouri

The Online Master of Science Degree in Nutrition and Human Performance program enhances students’ knowledge in the areas of health and wellness research, nutritional biochemistry, metabolism and nutrition research methods. Students learn how to analyze a person’s diet and health, identify nutritional deficiencies and make lifestyle recommendations that would improve the person’s well-being and maximize human performance. The online format affords students the flexibility to complete their coursework on their own schedule. Graduates of this program are qualified to sit for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN) and Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) exams. This program can also serve as a foundation to enter the Doctor of Chiropractic Program.

  • MS in Nutrition and Human Performance
SCORE:  91.99 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Arizona

The online MS in Nutrition (Dietetics) program is offered by ASU’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion and covers the basics of nutritional science and assessment protocol for the working professional. Students learn essential skills, including problem-solving, critical thinking and inquiry and project management skills. Students also learn how to interpret research literature so they can use this knowledge to conduct research studies. The program ends with an applied project where students perform nutrition assessments and develop nutrition interventions for various cases. This is a non-thesis program designed for registered dietitians with at least one year of experience and helps students develop the essential entry-level skills to be successful in their careers.

  • MS in Nutrition (Dietetics)
SCORE:  91.66 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Michigan

The Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics program is available through Central Michigan University’s Global Campus and is designed for entry-level and experienced professionals in the field. The entire program is completed online and involves 31 to 37 credit-hours. Graduates acquire advanced knowledge and skills to interpret scientific literature so that they can conduct nutritional research independently and apply their skills and knowledge in the workplace. Students have three options to choose from: Thesis, Internship or Course Work. All tracks cover topics such as macronutrients, micronutrients, advanced clinical nutrition, research methods in nutrition and dietetics. Students also participate in mandatory online chat sessions every week.

  • MS in Nutrition and Dietetics
SCORE:  91.46 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Massachusetts

Through an online Master of Public Health and Nutrition degree, University of Massachusetts Amherst teaches students how to approach and manage the complex health challenges that the world faces today, from chronic disease and malnutrition to obesity and food insecurity. It is the only fully-credited and fully-online program with this particular focus. The online master’s is designed for nutrition health professionals and students with advanced degrees to give them a broad background in public health and public health nutrition through interdisciplinary studies. This program does not prepare students to take the registered dietician exam as it does not offer a dietetic internship as part of the curriculum.

  • MPH in Nutrition
SCORE:  91.38 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Oregon

The Master of Science (MS) in Food Systems and Society program gives students a chance to identify and analyze societal factors that affect our food systems. This is a 48 quarter credit graduate degree program with courses about food system equity, critical inquiry and research, food policy and social change. Students study visions and perspectives on food, assess conditions of the food system and learn about strategies that can create positive change. It is designed for working professionals and combines online classes with in-person intensives on campus. Students come to the campus twice per year for intensive sessions with program faculty and food system leaders.

  • MS in Food Systems and Society
SCORE:  91.35 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Illinois

The Master of Science (MS) in Nutrition and Wellness program is offered by the Department of Nutrition and prepares students to provide nutrition and wellness program services in their community. The online program is designed specifically for registered dietitians (RD) and those with a bachelor’s degree in life or physical science. This is a multi-dimensional program that covers the basics of nutrition and health risk assessments, interventions and advanced clinic skills. Students also learn how to analyze data and make key decisions that improve wellness among their clients. Students can complete this advanced online nutrition degree program in two to two-and-a-half years by taking one class at a time. All students choose a concentration in Health Education or Nutrition Entrepreneurship.

  • MS in Nutrition and Wellness
SCORE:  91.34 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: New York

The Master of Science Degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition is a 2-year online program that prepares students to become clinical nutrition professionals. Students learn about the relationship between nutrition and health, biochemical aspects of metabolism and the importance of a whole foods approach to nutritional therapeutics. The program also covers nutritional and herbal supplementation based on clinical evidence and scientific studies. Completion of the program prepares students to sit for the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) and the Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN) exams. The entire program is completed online and involves online lectures, assignments and group participation. Faculty members are professionals in the field and coordinate interactive weekly discussions online.

  • MS in Applied Clinical Nutrition
SCORE:  90.9 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: New York

Designed for busy working professionals, the School of Education’s Master’s of Applied Nutrition program prepares students and practitioners interested in expanding their knowledge and skills in the field of nutrition. The program gives students a chance to apply current research into practice and learn key skills for leadership, management and administrative roles in the field. Students can specialize in Obesity and Eating Disorders or Fitness and Sports Nutrition through this master’s program. Both educational tracks can be completed entirely online in as little as one year. Students applying for this program must have a bachelor’s degree and current licensure as a registered dietitian is preferred.

  • MS in Applied Nutrition
SCORE:  90.35 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Florida

The University of North Florida offers an online master’s degree in nutrition whereby students are offered three options: the MS/Diabetic Internship or the Thesis or Non-Thesis, for their 43-hour semester program. For students interested in advanced nutritional knowledge in health programs that are community based or clinical, the MS Thesis or Non-Thesis option in Nutrition degree program is available. Registered dieticians interested in pursuing their graduate training emphasizing on community or clinical dietetics benefit from the design of the Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics options of thesis and non-thesis. During the pursuit of the latter, 1200 hours of supervised practice work, in coordination with coursework, is completed with the goal of helping graduates pass their National Registration Exam.

  • MS in Nutrition and Dietetics
SCORE:  90.26 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: New York

The New York Institute of Technology’s online clinical nutrition program instructs students on how to use proper nutrition to address various facets of healthcare. This includes the treatment and prevention of illness as well as boosting a patient’s immune system, achieved through the implementation of effective planning for each patient. Many students have nutrition backgrounds, but others come from a science foundation, such as medicine or dentistry. At the end of the program, students are not yet eligible to be a registered dietician and must seek additional education elsewhere to earn that title.

  • MS in Clinical Nutrition
SCORE:  87.78 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: No STATE: Maryland

The Master of Science in Nutrition and Integrative Health program is taught from a holistic and integrative perspective to cover all aspects of nutritional sciences, nutrition education and applied nutrition concepts in the clinical and public health environment. Students should learn how to review assessments, apply nutrition theory and gain skills in leading client and group coaching sessions. Students can choose one of three areas of concentration: Human Clinical Nutrition, Community Nutrition Education and Herbal Medicine. Graduates can explore a number of careers in this field, including research, consulting and writing positions. This program can be completed in two years and a hybrid format with on-campus classes is an option.

  • MS in Nutrition and Integrative Health (Community Nutrition Education)
  • MS in Nutrition and Integrative Health (Herbal Medicine)
  • MS in Nutrition and Integrative Health (Human Clinical Nutrition)
SCORE:  80.64 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: No STATE: California

The Master of Science Degree in Nutrition Care Management is a comprehensive online program that prepares students to assume leadership positions in the field of nutrition care. Students can choose the Medical Nutrition Therapy track to become a nutrition care manager or the Foodservice Systems Management track to prepare for departmental leadership positions at health care facilities and educational institutions. Students must complete a 2-day orientation at the Loma Linda University campus before they undertake courses online. The program can be completed in two years, but may take up to five. Students work with a mentor or work supervisor throughout the program and participate in online group discussions. Prerequisites include two years of work experience as a registered dietitian.

  • MS in Nutrition Care Management

What to Expect from an Online Nutrition Master’s Degree Program

An online master’s in nutrition program is ideal for students who want to further their education while maintaining their current job and family obligations. Depending upon the program, students may take classes in an asynchronous (self-paced) format, allowing them to submit coursework when it’s convenient for them, or they can work in the synchronous format, which requires scheduled interactions and deadlines for coursework completion. In either format, students can keep in touch with peers and professors through chat rooms, email, video conferencing and the like.

Master’s degree programs are designed for those who have already earned a bachelor’s degree and have a strong idea of their career direction. In light of this, master’s programs focus on educational elements that allow students to advance in their profession. Here are some of the most important components of the online master’s in nutrition:

Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) requirements

Those who earn a master’s in nutrition online could be eligible for the CNS certification. In order to sit for the exam, applicants must have graduated from a master’s or doctoral nutrition program at an accredited school, taken the required for-credit courses during their time in the program, and completed at least 1,000 hours of documented supervised experience. To obtain this certification, the student’s nutrition program must meet the requirements of the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists.

Top-notch faculty

The faculty of a master’s degree program should demonstrate a commitment to academic excellence. Look for teachers who have worked in the nutrition field for several years. In addition to sharing valuable firsthand experience, faculty should have an in-depth understanding of current issues within the profession, such as the obesity epidemic and questions surrounding foods from factory farms. Top-notch faculty can also help students network with other dietitians, nutritionists, fitness experts and other industry contacts.

Flexible practicum experiences

Master’s degree programs in nutrition have a strong focus on academics, but also require practical experience in order to graduate. Those earning their master’s in nutrition online can complete these hands-on requirements through a practicum experience in their local area. Some schools partner with hospitals, community centers, private practices and other nutrition and dietetics providers to allow students to earn supervised experience that counts toward their degree requirements. A school with flexible practicum guidelines might even allow students to complete these requirements in their current job. Examples of acceptable practicums include internships at hospitals, community clinics or fitness centers, as well as targeted work at research facilities, such as working with a nutrition and cancer prevention study.

Strong career counseling services

As networking is an essential part of career advancement, students should look for a college that offers this perk. Nutrition degree holders have numerous career options, which can sometimes be overwhelming. Reaching out to qualified career counselors can mean all the difference in a successful job search. Look for career counseling services that focus not just on general career information, but also offer specific information in the fields of nutrition, fitness and healthcare.

Accreditation in good standing

When choosing the best online master’s in nutrition, find out if the school and/or program is accredited by the proper bodies. Many employers will only recognize a degree that has been awarded through an accredited school. Moving on to a higher degree level also requires accreditation; for example, someone who wants to pursue a PhD in nutrition will have to show proof of graduation from a master’s degree program at an accredited school. In addition to earning regional or national accreditation, as well as special accreditation for their online programs, nutrition programs often seek endorsement from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. This accreditation helps to ensure that the program meets the rigorous educational requirements of the nation’s highest-quality nutrition programs.

These five key elements can help prospective students narrow down which colleges and universities might be the right fit for their career goals. In addition, evaluating course offerings can also help determine the best program.

Concentrations & Coursework

Students who have a strong sense of their target career path may decide to enter a specialization while pursuing their master’s degree in nutrition. Specializations allow students to focus on the areas that interest them, building the knowledge and skills to jump-start their career upon graduation. Some students might prefer a nutrition degree that allows them to work with patients in hospitals or kids in schools, while others might gravitate toward research. Below are some of the most popular nutrition concentrations in today’s accredited schools:

Dietetics

This concentration is designed for those who are already working in the nutrition field and want to enhance their education and skills as practitioners. Based on the scientific foundations of nutrition and health, it delves into various issues, such as patient management, nutrition and chronic disease, and nutrition for adults, children and the elderly. This specialization enables students to utilize current nutrition information in real-world applications.

Clinical Nutritionist

Works in hospitals, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation clinics and private practices. Teaches others proper nutrition, including advice on maintaining a healthy weight or adjusting diet for specific conditions, such as pregnancy.

Community Nutritionist

Works with public health agencies, government agencies and larger institutions that serve diverse populations. Plans and develops community nutrition programs, such as after-school meals, and educates the public on nutrition topics.

Nurse

Might work in a nursing home, hospital, acute care center, rehabilitation clinic or home health care. Responsible for the well-being and good health of patients. Oversees their nutritional needs or works closely with dietitians to ensure proper meals are served.

Human nutrition

Ideal for those who want to work in laboratory or research positions, this specialty focuses strongly on research methods, biochemical laboratory skills, and advanced practice knowledge relevant to a particular field of study, such as obesity issues or at-risk populations. Students will learn to apply current research and developments to common nutrition issues, and will examine the less common scenarios that might affect nutrition on a local, regional or global level.

Clinical Nutritionist

Works in hospitals, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation clinics and private practices. Teaches others proper nutrition, including advice on maintaining a healthy weight or adjusting diet for specific conditions, such as pregnancy.

Social Worker

Works in a variety of healthcare or community settings, helping individuals manage the issues impacting their lives. May work closely with those in food services to ensure adequate nutrition for individuals, families or communities.

Pharmaceutical Representative

Typically works in an office, leveraging a thorough understanding of the medications developed by the pharmaceutical company, how they interact with common foods and how nutritional needs could change during treatment.

Obesity prevention and management

Here, the focus is on the numerous issues that go hand-in-hand with obesity, including the social, cultural, environmental, health and psychological causes and ramifications. Students will study the complexities of these issues and how they intersect to create what is becoming a worldwide epidemic. This knowledge will increase students’ ability to help obese patients adopt the proper strategies to manage their conditions.

Weight Loss Specialist

Gives regular advice to those who are seeking help with weight loss, offering tips on diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes. May work in a wide variety of settings, including rehabilitation clinics or private centers.

Fitness Trainer

Typically works in a gym or with private clients. Duties include leading, instructing and motivating groups or individuals who need guidance in proper exercise technique. Might also offer nutritional advice.

Food and nutrition management

This program offers in-depth study of nutrition and the entire food industry, enabling nutrition experts to move into food preparation, management and supply positions. Courses focus on molecular nutrition, chemistry, business, tourism management, supply management and other points related to the business and nutritional goals of the food industry.

Food Service Manager

Works in restaurants, parks and other establishments that provide meals to the public. Creates meals and menus for the establishment, orders supplies, supervises employees and more.

Chef

Responsible for preparing meals for customers in a restaurant or other food service facility, tweaking menus based on food supply of foods and desires of clientele. Might also choose the most nutritious meals for the menus.

Sales Representative

May work over the phone, online or in person. Demonstrates a strong knowledge of nutritional guidelines, products that meet those guidelines and supplements or medications that could help consumers meet their wellness goals.

School nutrition specialist

Although this concentration is available with the master’s degree in nutrition, it can also be found under the umbrella of the master’s of public health or education. This area of study focuses on the unique nutritional requirements of children in a school setting. Students will be prepared to assess the needs of diverse populations, ensure proper nutrition for at-risk students, choose effective food service operations programs, and prepare reports for governing bodies of school districts.

Food Service Manager

Works in restaurants, parks and other establishments that provide meals to the public. Creates meals and menus for the establishment, orders supplies, supervises employees and more.

Public Health Official

In addition to educating the public on health issues, creates policies and standards for public health organizations. Also pushes legislation with the general public’s health in mind.

Clinical Nutritionist

Works in hospitals, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation clinics and private practices. Teaches others proper nutrition, including advice on maintaining a healthy weight or adjusting diet for specific conditions, such as pregnancy.

Community Nutritionist

Works with public health agencies, government agencies and larger institutions that serve diverse populations. Plans and develops community nutrition programs, such as after-school meals, and educates the public on nutrition topics.

Food Service Manager

Works in restaurants, parks and other establishments that provide meals to the public. Creates meals and menus for the establishment, orders supplies, supervises employees and more.

Public Health Official

In addition to educating the public on health issues, creates policies and standards for public health organizations. Also pushes legislation with the general public’s health in mind.

Nurse

Might work in a nursing home, hospital, acute care center, rehabilitation clinic or home health care. Responsible for the well-being and good health of patients. Oversees their nutritional needs or works closely with dietitians to ensure proper meals are served.

Chef

Responsible for preparing meals for customers in a restaurant or other food service facility, tweaking menus based on food supply of foods and desires of clientele. Might also choose the most nutritious meals for the menus.

Weight Loss Specialist

Gives regular advice to those who are seeking help with weight loss, offering tips on diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes. May work in a wide variety of settings, including rehabilitation clinics or private centers.

Fitness Trainer

Typically works in a gym or with private clients. Duties include leading, instructing and motivating groups or individuals who need guidance in proper exercise technique. Might also offer nutritional advice.

Social Worker

Works in a variety of healthcare or community settings, helping individuals manage the issues impacting their lives. May work closely with those in food services to ensure adequate nutrition for individuals, families or communities.

Pharmaceutical Representative

Typically works in an office, leveraging a thorough understanding of the medications developed by the pharmaceutical company, how they interact with common foods and how nutritional needs could change during treatment.

Sales Representative

May work over the phone, online or in person. Demonstrates a strong knowledge of nutritional guidelines, products that meet those guidelines and supplements or medications that could help consumers meet their wellness goals.

Specializations enable a student to hone in on the specific skills and knowledge they need to forge their desired career path. However, another way to assess a program is through the master’s course listing. Students can determine which classes are required, the available electives, and which courses might be suitable for a particular concentration. The following is a list of typical courses one might expect to find in a master’s in nutrition online program:

Nutritional Assessment through the Life Cycle

This course focuses on the life cycle of the average human, with specific studies in the nutritional needs of infants, children, adolescents, adults and the elderly. Four primary methods of nutritional assessment are used, including laboratory, clinical, anthropometric and dietary. The course will also assess individuals in specific situations, such as those undergoing cancer treatment.

Macronutrients and Micronutrients

This course covers how the human body processes nutrients, including their usage, storage, digestion, absorption and excretion. Students will gain an understanding of how vitamins and nutrients interact in the body and the importance of keeping a healthy balance of all necessary elements.

International Nutrition

This course covers various issues that affect certain parts of the world, from developed countries to third-world areas. These include the incidence and treatment of nutrition-related illnesses and diseases, food supply problems and other challenges.

Research Methods

This is an in-depth refresher course on research methods, including new techniques for advanced nutrition research. Topics include laboratory techniques, methods of instrumental analysis, and human subject interviewing, as well as reviews of literature and current studies.

Nutrition in Medicine

This course targets nutrition as it applies specifically to medical settings and issues. Topics include nutrition for patients undergoing chemotherapy, dealing with obesity, struggling with eating disorders and other challenges. Students will also learn how nutrition affects pharmaceutical interventions, and how certain medications can interact with common foods.

Public Health Nutrition Management

This course focuses on the responsibilities of nutritionists at the community level, including international and domestic programs, public health services and community engagement in nutritional endeavors. Also includes an overview of planning and management on local, state and federal levels.

National Nutrition Issues

Discover the federal government’s position on nutrition across the nation, including current and past policies, policy formulation, program development, financial implications and consumer advocacy endeavors.

Nutrition Intervention

Studies focus on nutritional intervention with various populations and the research methods that bring about policy changes. The course delves into conceptual modeling, intervention strategies, research design and accurate measures of effectiveness.

Nutritional Epidemiology

This course focuses on basic methods of dietary assessment, physical activity and anthropometric status, as well as the causes, consequences and prevention of obesity, disease and other nutritional issues. Data analysis and interpretation is also covered.

Advanced Nutritional Biochemistry

This course focuses on a wide variety of biochemistry components, and is sometimes divided into several subset courses. Students will study nutritional antioxidants in human health, inflammation of the microenvironments, nutrition and immunology and nutrigenomics, among others.

A Timeline of the Online Master’s in Nutrition

Many students choose an online master’s in nutrition program for the flexibility to balance their current job or family obligations with educational pursuits. Others simply prefer to finish their degree at their own pace. By understanding the timeline of the online master’s degree in nutrition, students will be better prepared to meet the requirements and achieve academic success.

Year 0

Applying to the master’s program in nutrition can seem daunting. There are many deadlines to meet, numerous forms to fill out, several records to locate for submission, and a myriad of other requirements, which can vary widely between colleges and departments. As the competitive master’s degree program has only limited spots, it is essential to get the proper information to the right people as promptly as possible. The following list can help students achieve these goals:

Choose whether online college, traditional learning, or a hybrid of the two is the right fit. If in doubt, peruse an online class and utilize tools offered by colleges to assess preparation for online work.

Narrow down your search to a handful of colleges, and then use a dedicated calendar to keep track of important dates. Color-code each college so there is no question of where and when documents should be submitted.

Take a close look at the projected expenses, as well as financial aid options. Speak to a financial aid counselor at the school, a personal financial advisor, a current employer or anyone else who can offer insight.

Get all the paperwork together in one place. Transcripts, test scores, recommendations from colleagues, and reviews of work performance might be needed. For transcripts and test scores, certified copies will likely be required for each application.

Have standardized test scores forwarded to the proper place to save time and hassle.

Deadlines are set in stone. Make sure they are met well ahead of schedule.

Year 1

At the start of the first year of the nutrition master’s program, students can expect to take the most basic courses of study. Introduction to Advanced Nutrition or Research Methods are two of the earliest courses, serving as the foundation for later lessons. Later in the year, students can begin looking into the specialized courses they will need to complete their degree and concentration. If the concentration is still undecided, this is the perfect time for students to explore various classes that could help them find their target career path. Keep graduation requirements in mind, and remember that a practicum is usually required for the master’s program. Much of the classwork needs to be completed in the first year to free up time for hands-on experiences in the second year.

Year 2

At the start of the second year of the master’s in nutrition online program, students should decide on a concentration, making it easier to move forward with the proper classes and practicum. Now is also the time to line up the practicum; if attending an online school, speak with the academic advisor about how to handle this. It is also time to look toward final graduation requirements, such as a research project or thesis. Students who are taking accelerated courses will need to start on these requirements earlier in order to graduate at their chosen time.

Insider’s Voice: Advice from a Nutritional Science Grad

As an associate professor at the university level, Jeffery Robertson has experience on both sides of the classroom. He earned his master’s degree online in nutritional science before going on to earn a PhD in the field. Robertson offers the following advice to students exploring master’s degrees in nutrition:

Consider a master’s degree in conjunction with other education.

Despite the fact RDNs can make above average incomes, Robertson notes that “an MS in nutrition is not typically considered a terminal degree if you are looking to get paid.” Instead, he suggests, “it lends additional expertise to an existing profession, such as a physical trainer, teacher, health professional, or is used as a stepping stone to professional or graduate school.”

Don’t skip a specialization

“A wide range of specialization is possible, as nutritional science is where everything meets – from genetics, biological science and economics, to behavior, food, disease, performance, health and lifestyle,”explains Robertson. “All of these mesh in the realm of nutritional science. Find a program that caters to the area of expertise you want to practice in.”

Find a program offering the maximum number of the nutrition courses.

Robertson says schools can vary widely when it comes to the coursework offered to nutrition students. “Traditional MS programs have a core of four to five nutrition-related courses with the remaining courses coming from other areas, such as biology, anatomy, biochemistry, etc.,” says Robertson.“An MS program that focuses solely on nutrition will include a much broader array of courses with up to 12-18 courses of nutrition-related content – a much better return on your educational dollar.”

Can You Afford the Online Master’s in Nutrition?

Choosing to pursue a master’s degree in nutrition is one thing; paying for it is quite another. It’s important to understand the actual cost and weigh that against the potential higher salary of a master’s degree holder. A quick cost overview makes it clear that the nutrition graduate degree can offer an advantage in terms of receiving higher pay. Let’s break down the numbers for nutrition programs, as well as the money students can expect to earn after graduation.

What does it Really Cost?

The cost of pursuing a master’s degree in nutrition depends a great deal on the chosen school, as tuition is the cornerstone of higher education fees. However, students should also take into account other expenses outside of tuition, such as fees, books and supplies.

Some programs charge tuition by the semester or quarter, while others charge a flat fee per credit. The final cost depends on how many credits are required for the degree. For example, a program that requires 50 credits to graduate and charges $350 per credit comes to a total of $17,500 for degree completion. Although some public universities tend to charge a lower rate than private colleges, that is not set in stone. Pay attention to the cost per credit, semester or quarter to get a clear idea of the total expense.

The Expected Income

Those who choose to earn the online master’s in nutrition become more marketable to employers, and could earn more money than before they earned a graduate degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that dietitians and nutritionists who earn an advanced degree or additional certifications could have more responsibility and advanced positions, corresponding to higher pay. In 2013, the BLS reported the following salaries for nutritionists and dietitians:

In addition to a healthy income, those who enter the nutrition field have the opportunity for good job security. According to U.S. News and World Report, the unemployment rate for nutritionists was a low 2.1 percent nationwide. The best opportunities might be found in California, where exceptional average pay can be found in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland and Vallejo.

Over half of all registered
dietitian nutritionists
– 51% – hold an advanced degree.

Dietitian was listed as one of the top 10 least stressful jobs in 2014.

Growth Industries in Nutrition

Nutritionists across the nation can expect job growth of 21 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s 10 percent higher than the average growth for all occupations, and one percent higher than the growth of other health diagnosing and treating practitioners. Much of that growth comes from consumers’ greater understanding about the link between health and diet, new healthcare legislation that enables patients to better control their health issues, and the rise of obesity and other diseases related to nutritional issues.

The highest levels of employment were found in these areas in 2013:

  • General medical and surgical hospitals
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Local government
  • Special food services

The places that employ the most nutritionists aren’t always in the most lucrative industries, however. For those looking to enhance their income with a master’s degree, these higher-paying industries may be a good fit:

  • Grant-making and giving services
  • Federal executive branch
  • Office administrative services
  • Insurance carriers
  • Home health care services

Unusual Paths for Nutrition Master’s Degree Holders

Most students heading into the master’s degree program have a general idea of possibilities in the job market. But sometimes an advanced degree can take students on a path they never expected, outside of the traditional route for a nutritionist. Although often overlooked during the path to graduation, these unconventional careers deserve some exploration.

  • Sports Nutritionist

    Who gets the big stars ready for the big games? That is the training staff, which often includes a dedicated sports nutritionist. This job requires careful attention to the everyday diet of athletes. Sports nutritionists might work for an entire group, such as a college football team, or for an individual whose living depends upon performance on the court or field. A master’s degree in nutrition with an emphasis on sports nutrition can open the door to this lucrative and sometimes star-studded field.

  • Home Economics Teacher

    A deep understanding of nutrition is at the core of the home economics class (sometimes called the “lifestyle skills” or “consumer sciences” class). This course teaches young students how to make their way on their own, from simple accounting to cooking nutritious meals. Positions can be found in school districts across the nation, often at the middle school or high school level, and might also be found in vocational schools, community centers, rehabilitation centers and the like. In many areas, a master’s degree is required to teach at the secondary level.

  • Agricultural Manager

    Being at the start of the food chain can help nutritionists provide better food for consumers down the line. Working as an agricultural manager might involve working in the field with livestock and plants, assessing the nutritional value of final packaged products, planning the proper crop rotations or feed schedules, and other tasks that contribute to the health of animals, plants and, ultimately, consumers. The master’s degree in nutrition gives students a deeper understanding of the nutritional needs and potential dangers of large-scale farming.