Students who are interested in studying the field of dietetics at the master's level may want to learn more about the structure and content of these types of graduate degrees, which will be covered below. Additionally, this article will provide prospective students with information regarding a career in dietetics and the salary that they can expect to earn once they begin working.
Information About Master's Degree Programs in Dietetics
At the master's level, students can study the field of dietetics typically in combination with nutrition, as Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics are commonly offered degrees in this field. Some of these degrees may be designed for students who already have an educational background or work experience in this field by providing them with further and more specialized study, while other programs are accessible to students without such background. Generally, in addition to coursework, students in these programs will be required to complete some type of practicum or field experience in dietetics and nutrition in order to fulfill the program requirements. Course topics typically required in these programs include:
Carbohydrates, Lipids, and Proteins
Students enrolled in programs in dietetics will undoubtedly take one or multiple courses that cover the role of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins in human health and nutrition. This course will cover the process by which the human body is able to metabolize various macronutrients. Students will learn about which types of factors may affect this process from different perspectives, including both biochemical and clinical.
Vitamins and Minerals in Human Nutrition
It is also common for these programs to include a course that focuses on different micronutrients and their role in human health and diet. Students will learn about how vitamins and minerals are metabolized and what can affect the metabolic process. In addition, the class will focus on how the deficiency or excess of different minerals and vitamins can affect human health and contribute to a variety of health problems and diseases.
Research Methods in Dietetics
Generally, these programs will require students to take a course that focuses on research methods in dietetics, as this is an essential skill for students who are interested in working in dietetics or nutrition research as a career. In such a class, students will learn how to properly identify a research question and which steps are necessary to properly investigate this question. Some topics that may be covered in this course include research design, data collection and analysis, and data interpretation.
Nutrition Therapies in Dietetics
Another course that students will commonly take in master's degree programs in dietetics is a course that focuses on various types of nutrition therapies. This course may cover medical nutrition therapy as it pertains to patients who have problems like HIV, cancer, diabetes, and allergies. Students will also study different therapy methods that can be used for different population groups, like geriatric and pediatric therapies.
Food and Culture
Students may also take a course that focuses on the relationship between food and different cultures and how this may affect diet. The course may focus on this relationship within the United States, as well as internationally. Students will learn how various dietary practices developed over the years as well as people's attitudes towards food and how different food cultures and practices have influenced preferences in the United States.
Salary and Career Information for Dietitians
Individuals who are interested in a career as a dietitian will likely want to check the requirements that are set by the state they intend to work in, as each state sets its own regulations for dietitians. Generally, it is necessary to have an educational background in dietetics and nutrition, and many states also stipulate that individuals become licensed or certified by the state. Students who have studied dietetics at the undergraduate level may want to earn their Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential. By completing a master's degree in this field, individuals are also eligible to become Certified Nutrition Specialists (CNS), which requires an advanced degree and a large number of supervised experience hours.
In terms of salary, dietitians and nutritionists earned a median wage of $59,410 as of 2017 according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It is possible to earn more in this field, as the top ten percent of dietitians/nutritionists made more than $83,070 in the same year. Additionally, this career field is projected to experience high job growth between 2016 and 2026, as the BLS predicts that it will grow by 15%, over twice as much as the nationally projected growth for all occupations.
In summary, students who are interested in master's degree programs in dietetics can find these programs at a number of universities where they will take courses and complete a practicum experience. Graduates of these programs can enter the work force and will likely be faced with favorable job prospects considering the growth in this field.