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Online Masters Degree in Nutrition: Program Summary

Get info about online master's degree programs in nutrition. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

A Master of Public Health (MPH) or Master of Science (M.S.) in Nutrition program provides a comprehensive review of the biochemistry of nutrition, its physiological effects and its impact on health and illness. These programs are available either fully online or in a hybrid format. Students learn to apply principles of nutrition and counsel clients on using nutrition as a means of complementary medicine.

Applicants to a master's degree program need to have earned a bachelor's degree, with prior coursework in biochemistry, anatomy and physiology. Students without the prerequisite courses may still gain admission if they complete them before starting graduate work.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree is typical for a career as a dietitian or nutritionist. Some states require professional certification, registration, or licensing for dietitians and nutritionists; check with state regulations when choosing a degree program.

Learning Environment

Courses can be completed entirely online or as an online-traditional hybrid. A master's degree is typically earned in 2-3 years. Students access audio or video presentations, lectures, readings and library research through a school's website, and they submit written assignments and quizzes through the same portal. Discussion boards and e-mail provide opportunities for interaction with instructors and other students.

Schools may use content management systems such as Blackboard. Students need a computer, word processing software and Internet access to participate in an online program.

Common Coursework

Master's degree candidates sometimes have the option to choose between a thesis and non-thesis component. Some programs may also require the completion of clinical practicum credits.

Nutrition Biochemistry

This course examines the chemistry of nutritional compounds, such as amino acids, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, proteins and vitamins, in their static state and when interacting with cells. Topics covered include anions, enzymes and metabolic process control.

Assessing Nutrition

Students learn procedures to evaluate the quality of nutrition an individual receives. Blood and tissue analysis, case histories and physical examination are among the studied concepts.

Researching Nutrition

Instructors introduce students to different methods of searching clinical records and medical literature for current information on nutrition research. Course work considers experimental design, data analysis and identifying research bias.

Nutritional Therapy

This course focuses on the connections between nutrition and disease and strategies for alleviating disease through nutrition. Disease etiology, epidemiology and pathology are some of the discussed topics.


Career Information

Earning an online master's degree in nutrition qualifies graduates for positions as dietitians and nutritionists. Many states require such professionals to obtain licensure or certification, which involves passing an exam after completing coursework and an internship. Public health clinics, hospitals, correctional facilities and home health agencies are among places that hire dietitians and nutritionists. Master's degree holders can also become nutrition consultants.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of dietitians and nutritionists was expected to grow 16% from 2014 to 2024. The value of nutrition and a greater emphasis on disease prevention through proper nutrition might have been responsible for the industry's growth. As of May 2015, the median annual salary of dietitians and nutritionists was $57,910.

Continuing Education Information

Doctoral degrees in nutrition are available for master's degree holders interested in teaching at the postsecondary level or becoming a nutrition researcher. Schools were not offering their programs online, however, as of January 2014.

In online master's degree programs in nutrition, students learn about food science principles and how they can be applied to develop dietary strategies that promote wellness. Graduates may pursue state licensure as nutritionists or dietitians, which requires successful passage of a certification exam.

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