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Child Nutrition Degrees and Training Programs

Read about degree programs that provide child nutrition training. Learn what degree can be earned, what is needed to enroll in this type of program and what courses are commonly offered in the curriculum. Get detailed career information for dietitians and nutritionists; this information includes employment outlook statistics and average salary figures.

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Essential Information

The terms are often used interchangeably, but important differences exist between a dietitian, who earns both a college degree and registered dietitian credentials, and a nutritionist, who can practice without a governed degree. Programs targeting child nutrition specifically are not common; to study for this specialization, individuals will need to pursue post-baccalaureate training within a graduate degree program such as a Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics with a pediatric nutrition concentration. Training focused on child nutrition could also be gained through a graduate certificate option within a master's degree program in nutrition.

Students may choose the pediatric specialization in order to focus on pre-term or full-term infants, healthy children or children who have diseases related to nutrition. Along with coursework, students will participate in internships and clinical experiences. The master's degree may be structured to require a thesis or might allow for additional coursework to take the place of a thesis.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants to graduate-level training in nutrition will generally need to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited nutrition program. Specific thresholds for grade point averages and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores may also apply.

Program Coursework

Students take departmental core classes and a science core on advanced nutrition, which may offer biological chemistry, nutrigenomics and phytonutrients. Other core courses include diet therapy, research and statistics. Candidates may be required to do additional research or culminate studies with a comprehensive written examination, followed by an oral defense. Thesis or not, pediatric nutrition students will learn about:

  • Specialized nutritional needs of healthy infants through adolescents
  • Pre-term and full term infant nutrition
  • Nutrition for high-risk infants
  • Medical nutrition therapy
  • Leadership in the profession
  • Individual study in pediatric nutrition

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for dietitians and nutritionists should increase 20% from 2010-2020, which is above average compared to other career fields. The average salary for these professionals was $56,170 as of May 2012, reports the BLS.

Demand for dietetics and nutritional counseling, treatment and service continue to grow in public as well as private delivery systems. Dietitians and nutritionists work in such settings as industry and business, hospitals and clinics, government agencies, colleges and universities, international health organizations and agencies and research firms.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics