Graduate Programs in Sports Nutrition: Degree Overviews

Oct 10, 2019

A graduate degree program in sports nutrition can provide the knowledge needed to become a professional nutritionist or athletic trainer. One of the most common graduate degrees offered in this field is a Master of Science in Sports Nutrition.

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Essential Information

Athletes tend to burn more calories than non-athletes and often require special attention to their diet for proper performance and optimum health. A master's degree program in sports nutrition provides training in the core nutritional elements that are most helpful and harmful to athletes. Students in 2-year master's degree programs are expected to build upon previously learned knowledge of basic nutrition, dietetics, chemistry, and human physiology, while gaining advanced education as sports nutritionists.

Most master's degree programs in sports nutrition require a thesis paper or project in addition to seminar courses. Students are usually paired with a faculty adviser who can help them select a particular aspect of sports nutrition they will research. To be considered for admission, students should already hold a bachelor's degree in nutrition, dietetics, exercise, or athletic training. They should also be prepared to submit GRE scores and letters of recommendation. Voluntary certification can be obtained through the American Dietetic Association.

Master's Degree in Sports Nutrition

Graduate programs in sports nutrition often consist of advanced-level courses on specific bodily processes affecting athletes and the nutritional supplements and diets needed to sustain them. Some examples of course topics include the following:

  • Nutritional assessment
  • Exercise training
  • Sports supplements
  • Minerals and vitamins
  • Fluid and electrolyte balance
  • Eating disorders in sports

Employment Outlook and Career Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that dietitians and nutritionists, including sports nutritionists, held about 70,900 jobs in the United States in 2018 ( The employment rate of nutritionists and dietitians is expected to rise by about 11% for the years 2018-2028. In May 2018, the BLS reported that the median annual wage for these workers was $60,370.

Continuing Education

The BLS indicates that most U.S. states require nutritionists to obtain state licensure in order to practice. Sports nutritionists can also gain voluntary certification from the American Dietetic Association and become Registered Dietitians by passing an examination and completing a supervised internship experience.

Students who have studied within the fields of dietetics, nutritions, and athletics may have an interest in pursuing graduate studies in sports nutrition in order to qualify for a wider variety of careers.

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