Graduate Programs Related to Diet and Health: Degree Options

Oct 13, 2019

Individuals interested in health and diet can pursue graduate programs in dietetics or nutrition. Master's-level programs consist of coursework and research, while a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nutrition and Dietetics can lead to careers in research and academia.

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Essential Information

A Master of Science in Dietetics is designed for registered dietitians who wish to advance into management careers in their field, while a Master of Science in Nutrition trains students with bachelor's degrees in any area for careers as nutritionists. Students engage in research involving the impact of diet on human health. They may be able to customize their study plan by choosing an area of concentration, such as diet in a particular population. Doctoral programs are available in the combined study of nutrition and dietetics and often require that students complete a these and an internship to successfully advance through the program.

Master of Science in Dietetics

A Master of Science (M.S.) in Dietetics focuses on the advanced study of models, theories and methods toward improving health care. This degree plan covers such concepts as the improvement of health care processes and the development of health care teams. Students usually complete a thesis or an internship. The program can take up to three years to complete. Along with advanced coursework in diet and health, students in an M.S. in Dietetics program learn the management and policy side of the health care field. Typical coursework in this degree program includes:

  • Community health
  • Current issues in dietetics
  • Nutritional epidemiology
  • Statistics in social sciences
  • Health care performance management
  • Health systems management

Master of Science in Nutrition

Nutrition studies focus on the composition and effects of food on the human body. Students study several aspects of nutrition, such as sociological, physiological, agricultural, behavioral, and biochemical, as well as how the nutrition discipline applies to public health and policy. The coursework emphasizes correlations between food habits, nutrition and disease. At the master's level, students often have the opportunity to choose between a thesis or non-thesis option. The curriculum includes intensive study of:

  • Biochemistry of nutrition
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Nutritional therapeutics
  • Disease and human nutrition
  • Developmental nutrition
  • Nutritional assessment

Ph.D. in Nutrition and Dietetics

A doctoral degree program in nutrition and dietetics offers students advanced learning and research opportunities in human health. Typically, the educational goal of this program is for students to specialize in a research approach toward solving human health and diet issues. Students learn methods for promoting improvements in diet and health among national and international populations. Some programs allow students to choose a concentration based on their research interests or specialize in designated concentrations, such as population nutrition or clinical nutrition. In a nutrition and dietetics doctoral degree program, students gain knowledge on how toxins, nutrients and other factors affect human health. The curriculum typically includes a combination of science courses and topics in nutrition and health, such as:

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical nutrition
  • Preventive nutrition
  • Cell and molecular biology
  • Nutrition of populations
  • Nutritional assessment
  • Issues in food and nutrition

Popular Career Options

Graduates of M.S. in Nutrition programs may pursue career advancement with clubs and gyms, community health centers, medical centers, sports teams, newspaper publishers, community colleges and universities. Positions available to graduates include:

  • Nutritional consultant
  • Nutrition marketing specialist
  • Clinical nutritionist

Some areas in which Ph.D. graduates in nutrition and dietetics are valuable include public health, academics and government. Graduates may pursue positions such as:

  • Researcher
  • Professor
  • Health director

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for dietitians and nutritionists is expected to increase by 11% between 2018 and 2028. The BLS reported in May 2018 that these workers earned a median annual income of $60,370.

Students interested in becoming nutritionists or dietitians have several graduate options available to them. Whether they are more interested in working with clients and patients, or pursuing research options, programs in nutrition and diet are available to suit their needs.

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