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.
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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 59,740 jobs in the United States in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The employment rate of nutritionists and dietitians is expected to rise by about 16% for the years 2014-2024. In May 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual wage for these workers was $57,910.
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.