30 Best Online Masters in Nutrition Degree Programs [2020 Guide]

With an online master’s in nutrition, you can turn your passion for healthy food into a successful career in a growing field. Your nutrition expertise will help others eat well, grow strong, and stay healthy. Your studies can prepare you for licensure and a satisfying career in health and wellness.

Masters in Nutrition Degree

Best Online Master’s in Nutrition Degrees

nutritionist working in her office

For you, healthy eating may be about more than your personal wellbeing. You may also be driven to help others make dietary choices that will enhance their health. Nutrition masters programs can help you achieve the goal of becoming a professional dietetics expert.

If you are already a dietary professional who studied nutrition during your undergraduate program, this master’s degree may help you advance your career. As you become more knowledgeable, you may become ready to take on more responsibility at work or pursue certification programs.

A nutrition master’s degree may also help you enter this field for the first time. Even if your bachelor’s degree is unrelated to dietetics, a master’s degree can provide the foundation that you’ll need for a successful career.

For this program, you’ll take classes on human physiology, nutrients, metabolism, and public health. Other courses may address nutrition-related issues, such as obesity, dietary deficiencies, and maternal health. You may discuss ways that nutrition, food access, and social justice relate to one another.

nutritionist talking to a client in his clinic

At some colleges, research is a significant focus of the curriculum. You’ll learn to interpret others’ studies, conduct your own research, and share your findings. During your program, there may be opportunities to assist with ongoing research.

Some nutrition master’s degree programs include the opportunity to select a degree concentration. Specializations at your school may include clinical nutrition, community nutrition, public policy, and global health and nutrition.

With this degree, you could pursue becoming a professional nutritionist or a dietitian. The curriculum and related experiences may prepare you to take the exam for becoming a registered dietitian. Not all programs are accredited for this, though, so consider that before enrolling.

After graduation, you could provide nutrition advice for individual clients, or you might pursue work as a food director in a medical or care facility. You could also be a health educator, a food scientist, an agricultural researcher, or an expert who weighs in on public policy.

Master’s in Nutrition Curriculum & Courses

nutritionist and patient during consultation

Guiding others’ health and wellness choices is a significant responsibility, so you’ll need to take many classes about food and the human body for your masters in nutrition science.

  • Dietary Needs for Aging – This course will cover nutritional considerations for the elderly, especially those with health conditions.
  • Global Population Health – You may discuss global food supplies and talk about ways to improve worldwide public health through dietary initiatives.
  • Health Counseling and Education – This course will equip you to work with individuals or groups to provide dietary guidance and help people make good food choices.
  • Health and Nutrition Ethics – In this class, you will learn about healthcare privacy laws and other considerations that should guide your dietetics practice.
  • Human Physiology – A class on physiology may cover growth and development throughout the lifecycle with an emphasis on the role of nutrition.
  • Maternal and Child Nutrition – You will explore the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy and lactation, and you’ll also consider the effects of diet on children’s growing bodies.
  • Metabolism – Through a study of biochemistry, you’ll learn about the body’s metabolic systems and the role that food intake plays.
  • Nutrition Theory – This foundational course will give you a framework for thinking about healthy eating, nutrient intake, and the consequences of poor nutrition.
  • Research on Nutrition Topics – You’ll learn to study others’ nutrition-related research and become a scientific researcher yourself.
  • Technology for Dietetics – This course may cover digital resources that can help you and your clients formulate reliable nutrition plans.

In addition to coursework, you will probably need to complete a capstone experience before graduation. Often, this is a master’s thesis, but some schools rely on final projects instead. There may also be an internship required for your program.

Nutrition Careers & Salaries

Nutrition Careers & Salaries

When you tell people that you’re considering a master’s degree in nutritional science, they might assume that you’re planning to become a nutritionist.

While it’s true that this may be one of your top options, you shouldn’t think of it as a career track with a singular focus. Within this realm, there are a wide variety of places you could work and responsibilities you could cover.

Some nutritionists meet one on one with clients to discuss food choices or create customized diet and exercise plans. You could do this in a private office setting, a medical clinic, or a community organization. In a hospital, you might consult with patients who have received diagnoses that require dietary changes.

Other nutrition experts oversee food intake for large groups of people. For example, you might take care of menu supervision in a hospital, a long-term care facility, or a school. You could also be a health educator who teaches classes about food choices.

A registered dietitian, also known as a registered dietitian nutritionist, has received special certification. This title may qualify you for jobs that aren’t available to non-certified nutritionists.

food scientist working in her laboratory

Food and nutritional science is another line of work to consider. You could conduct research or encourage government officials to base public policies on scientific findings. Working for a food manufacturer, you might be responsible for studying the health effects of your products, researching consumer tastes, or overseeing legal compliance.

With a master’s, you may be able to teach nutrition at the college level, either on a part-time basis or at a community college.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions for dietitians and nutritionists are currently growing at a rate of 11%.

 

Career

Median Annual Salary

Regulatory Compliance Manager

$83,410

Healthcare Administrator

$66,459

Agricultural or Food Scientist

$65,160

Clinical Nutrition Manager

$64,583

Postsecondary Teacher at a State Junior College

$61,430

Dietitian or Nutritionist

$60,370

Exercise Physiologist

$49,170

Health Educator

$46,910

Nutrition Manager

$45,273

Nutritional Educator

$37,360

 

The above figures represent the average salaries of workers around the country, and your wages may be different. Certifications and higher degrees may increase your earnings.

Choosing a Nutrition Degree

nutrition degree student studying in library

Picking a school for your graduate program is a major choice, so it’s smart to consider your options carefully. Each program has its own characteristics and strengths, so you’ll need to evaluate which is the best fit for your goals and learning style.

  • Accreditation – Any school you choose should hold regional accreditation. If you plan to become an RD, you’ll also want the curriculum to be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
  • Cost – Universities usually charge by the credit hour. The cost per credit and the number of hours required will influence your overall tuition price.
  • Length of time – Some programs can be completed in just one year, but others may take two years or more. Keep in mind that internship experiences may increase the overall length of any program.
  • Online format – Taking online classes can be a flexible way to earn a master’s degree, especially if the program allows you to access course materials and complete assignments whenever it suits your schedule.
  • Specializations – Some concentrations, such as community nutrition education or food science, may be available from only a few online colleges.
  • RD preparation – Among ACEND-certified schools, there are two different approaches to providing RD preparation. Coordinated programs include both the education and dietetic internship components of qualifying for the RD Exam, but didactic programs require that students go through a separate matching program to secure an internship.
  • Requirements – Some colleges require students to complete a master’s thesis, but others have students complete a major research project. There may also be an exam or internship requirements.

Admission to nutrition master’s degree programs, especially those that include the dietetic internship component, can be competitive. To increase your chances of being selected, it’s a good idea to apply to several schools that would satisfy your preferences.

Admissions Requirements

masters in nutrition student studying on his laptop

Before you can earn a master’s degree in nutrition online, you’ll need to apply to a college and be accepted. A strong application may help you stand out to admissions committees.

  • Essay – Writing a personal statement helps the admissions committee get to know you, your areas of interest, and your goals.
  • Letters of reference – You should ask people who have supervised you in academic or professional capacities to attest to your work ethic, capabilities, and determination.
  • Test scores: Many graduate schools require that applicants take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) to prove their readiness for graduate-level studies, but you may be able to request a waiver.
  • Transcripts – You’ll need to furnish proof of any college work that you’ve already completed —for your bachelor’s degree and any additional courses. Your transcripts show what grades you earned and whether you’ve taken any prerequisites, such as statistics or biochemistry. Schools may be looking for a minimum baccalaureate GPA.

In addition, you will probably need to fill out an application form that includes your personal contact information and other basic information. A fee may be due along with the application. Some colleges have additional admissions requirements, such as resumes or written interview responses.

Accreditation

masters in nutrition accreditation

Before applying to a school, always make sure that the institution bears regional accreditation. That serves as a sign that the college does an acceptable job of providing a good education. Without regional accreditation, you can’t be sure that you’re attending a quality school, and you may have a hard time securing financial aid, transferring your credits elsewhere, or getting a good job.

According to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), there are six organizations in the U.S. that can give regional accreditation to master’s-granting institutions.

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Your graduate school should be recognized by one of these accrediting bodies.

For a nutrition degree, it’s also a good idea to attend a program whose curriculum has been approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Otherwise, you won’t be able to take the exam from the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) for becoming a registered dietitian (RD).

Nutrition & Dietetics Professional Organizations

nutritionists at a seminar

Nutritionists and dietitians can learn a great deal from one another. To find opportunities to network with others in your field, consider joining one or more professional associations. In addition to cultivating relationships among nutritionists, these groups often provide educational resources.

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Supporting nutrition professionals since World War I, the Academy represents registered and non-registered nutritionists and technicians, medical nutrition billers, and dietetics educators and students. When you join, you’ll enjoy print and digital publications, online socialization, career resources, and membership in a local affiliate.
  • American Council on Science and Health ACSH champions the use of sound scientific research in healthcare practice and policies, and they publish articles and carry out advocacy efforts to that effect. This group does not have a membership plan, but supporters can donate to the cause.
  • American Nutrition Association The ANA is committed to the concept that people need personalized nutrition for health and wellness, and they empower professionals to assist with that goal. As a member, you’ll have access to online videos and webinars, print or digital publications, job information, and professional discounts.
  • American Society for Nutrition For nearly 100 years, ASN has promoted nutrition research and dietary decisions that are based on scientific facts. Your membership fee will allow you to read multiple online publications, and you’ll be able to secure discounts and join interest groups.
  • American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition Whether you are a dietitian or another professional involved in advancing patient care through nutrition, you will appreciate the support that ASPEN provides. This group is focused on clinical nutrition and offers membership benefits like networking opportunities, online toolkits, continuing education programs, and event and publication discounts.
  • National Association of Nutrition Professionals NANP explores the relationship between nutrition and whole-person wellbeing. If you are committed to holistic nutrition, you can join this group to contribute toward industry advocacy, network with like-minded professionals, and access training programs.
  • School Nutrition Association: SNA supports professionals who ensure that students have access to healthy, affordable meals at school. Whether you join as an individual or a school district, you’ll have access to professional development resources and mentoring opportunities.

Joining one of these organizations during your graduate years may lead to a lifelong membership. As you become established in your career, you may even participate in group leadership or contribute presentations and articles.

Nutrition Licensing and Certification

masters in nutrition student studying online

Although there are jobs in nutrition that you can do without licensure, you’ll have more opportunities available to you if you choose to become a registered dietitian. Certification programs can enhance your career prospects and salary potential as well.

  • Certified Clinical Nutritionist – This credentialing program for clinical nutritionists is administered by the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCB); earning it requires that you take several online courses and pass a three-hour examination.
  • Certified Nutrition Specialist – The Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists (BCNS) runs the CNS certification for professionals who provide personalized nutritional guidance; there are educational requirements, and you must pass the Certification Examinations for Nutrition Specialists.
  • Commission on Dietetic Registration Specialty Certification – Through the Commission on Dietetic Registration, a division of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, you can earn board certification in an area like Obesity and Weight Management, Oncology Nutrition, Sports Dietetics, or Pediatric Critical Care Nutrition.
  • Registered Dietitian – An RD, also known as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), is a professional who has completed an ACEND-accredited undergraduate or graduate degree program, undertaken an ACEND-approved dietetic internship, earned a passing grade on the RD Examination, and received state licensure.

Earning your master’s degree in nutrition is a smart educational move because some of these programs are open only to professionals with graduate degrees. Current regulations stipulate that you can become an RD with only a bachelor’s degree, but graduate degrees will be required beginning in 2024.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

financial aid for masters in nutrition students

Most students depend on financial aid to reduce their college expenses. To fund your education, you may need to use both government and private assistance.

  • Fellowships – Some charitable or industry organizations may award you a fellowship to help cover the cost of conferences, school-related travel, or research endeavors.
  • Grants – If your financial need warrants it, the federal government or your state government may cover a portion of your tuition costs. This money will not need to be repaid.
  • Loans – You may be able to borrow money so that you won’t have to pay all of your tuition costs upfront. Compared to private loans, state and federal loan programs usually have the most affordable interest rates.
  • Scholarships – You may receive financial contributions from your school or a private organization. These awards may be one-time gifts or renewable for each year of your program.
  • Workplace tuition reimbursement – Your employer may choose to contribute to your school costs if the education that you receive will directly benefit your job performance.

To qualify for federal aid, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Other assistance programs may request your FAFSA results as well.

Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics

What Can I Do With a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics?

A nutrition masters can prepare you for a job as a nutritionist. You might work one-on-one with patients or provide dietary guidance for large groups of people. Some nutritionist jobs are only for registered dietitians, but your master’s program might prepare you to earn that credential.

Instead of providing nutritional guidance, you could also use this degree for a career in food science, exercise physiology, or health education.

How Much Can You Make With a Masters in Nutrition?

According to the Center on Education and the Workforce, the median masters in nutrition salary is $70,000 per year. The lowest 25% of people with this degree earn less than $51,000 annually, and the highest 25% earn more than $104,000. Your personal earnings will be influenced by the position, geographic region, and any certifications that you hold.

How Long Is a Masters in Nutrition?

nutritionist working on her laptop

A master’s degree is often considered a two-year program, but the actual timeframe depends on a number of factors. With full-time enrollment in an online nutrition masters degree, you may be able to finish in around 12 to 18 months, especially if your school offers a year-round accelerated course schedule.

Transferring in courses or having a nutrition background may also help reduce the overall length. Part-time study will take longer, of course — perhaps three to five years.

Where Can I Get a Masters in Nutrition?

There are many schools that offer nutrition master’s degrees. You can choose between on-campus study and online classes. If you want to be licensed as a registered dietitian, you’ll need to select a school that is ACEND-certified and then complete an approved internship.

Your studies can be through a coordinated program, in which your college enrollment includes both coursework and the internship, or a didactic program, in which you’ll fulfill the internship requirement separately.

What is the difference Between a Nutritionist and a Dietitian?

nutritionist measuring the waistline of a young boy

In most states, “nutritionist” is a broad term that anyone can use. Because it isn’t regulated, you don’t have to have special training or certification to claim this title. On the other hand, you can’t use “dietitian” unless you are licensed by your state as a registered dietitian. To obtain that licensure, you must take specific courses, work as an intern, and pass the RD Exam.

What Does a Master’s in Nutrition Consist Of?

To earn a master’s degree in nutrition, you will take 30 to 60 credit hours of classes and complete related assignments. The coursework will cover topics like metabolism, obesity, nutrients, human growth, and health education. Before wrapping up your studies, you may write a thesis or undertake a major research project. Your school may require practicums or an internship as well.

What Courses Can I Expect in a Master’s in Nutrition Online Program?

Your master’s degree program in nutrition will probably require you to earn between 30 and 60 credit hours. For these, you’ll take classes on human development, public health, metabolism, and nutritional deficiencies. Your courses may have names like Lifespan Dietary Needs, Clinical Nutrition, and Dietary Education. There might also be classes that are specifically focused on research in dietetics, and you may have opportunities to assist with faculty research projects.

Getting Your Nutrition Masters Degree Online

nutritionist studying online

Good food and balanced diets can help people live strong, healthy lives. If you desire to show individuals and communities the benefits of good nutrition, then a master’s degree in dietetics and nutrition may be for you. Graduate studies in this area may prepare you to start your career in this field, advance to positions of greater responsibility, or pursue licensure as a registered dietitian.

Online nutrition master’s programs will allow you to earn this degree in a way that fits your busy lifestyle. You can begin the process of nutrition graduate studies by submitting applications to your top schools.

List of 30 Best Online Nutrition Masters Degree Programs

#1  American University

American University campus

  • MS in Nutrition Education

American University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

#2  Auburn University

Auburn University campus

  • MS in Nutrition

Auburn University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#3  Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green State University campus

  • Master’s of Food and Nutrition

Bowling Green State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#4  Canisius College

Canisius College campus

  • Master’s in Applied Nutrition

Canisius College is accredited by the Middle States Association Commission on Higher Education.

#5  Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University campus

  • MS in Nutrition and Dietetics

CMU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#6  East Carolina University

East Carolina University campus

  • MS in Nutrition

East Carolina University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#7  Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University campus

  • MS in Human Nutrition

Eastern Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#8  Kansas State University

Kansas State University campus

  • MS in Nutrition, Dietetics and Sensory Sciences

Kansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#9  Logan University

Logan University campus

  • MS in Nutrition and Human Performance

Logan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of College and Schools.

#10  North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University campus

  • Master of Nutrition

North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#11  Northeastern University

Northeastern University campus

  • MS in Applied Nutrition

Northeastern University is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.

#12  Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma State University campus

  • MS in Dietetics

Oklahoma State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#13  South Dakota State University

South Dakota State University campus

  • MS in Dietetics

South Dakota State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#14  Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University campus

  • MS in Nutrition

Stony Brook University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#15  Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University campus

  • MS in Nutrition and Dietetics

Texas Tech University is accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#16  Texas Woman’s University

Texas Womans University campus

  • MS in Nutrition

TWU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#17  University of Alabama

University of Alabama campus

  • MS in Human Nutrition

The University of Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#18  University of Bridgeport

University of Bridgeport campus

  • MS in Nutrition

The University of Bridgeport is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

#19  University of Central Missouri

University of Central Missouri campus

  • MS in Nutrition – Clinical Nutrition

The University of Central Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#20  University of Georgia

University of Georgia campus

  • MS in Foods and Nutrition – Community Nutrition

The University of Georgia is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#21  University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus

  • MS in Food Science and Human Nutrition

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#22  University of Kansas

University of Kansas campus

  • MS in Dietetics and Nutrition

The University of Kansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#23  University of Massachusetts – Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst campus

  • MPH in Nutrition

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#24  University of Memphis

University of Memphis campus

  • MS in Nutrition – Environmental Nutrition

The University of Memphis is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#25  University of Nebraska – Lincoln

University of Nebraska - Lincoln campus

  • MS in Nutrition
  • MS in Nutrition and Health Sciences

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#26  University of North Dakota

University of North Dakota campus

  • MS in Nutrition

The University of North Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#27  University of Southern California

University of Southern California campus

  • MS in Nutrition, Healthspan, and Longevity

The University of Southern California is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

#28  University of Southern Mississippi

University of Southern Mississippi campus

  • MS in Nutrition and Food Systems

The University of Southern Mississippi is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#29  University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus

  • MS in Health Sciences – Nutrition

UTRGV is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#30  University of Utah

University of Utah campus

  • MS in Nutrition and Integrative Physiology

The University of Utah is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

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Isaac Collins
Isaac Collins
Author
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