A master's degree in nutrition provides advanced study in food science and nutrition. Public health, clinical nutrition, nutrition education and nutrition therapy are some of the concentration areas that students may pursue. Some courses focus on human physiology, particularly metabolic and molecular processes, while other classes look at the behavioral dimension of nutrition, along with how people choose what they eat. Students may be required to research and write a thesis.
Master's Degree in Nutrition
Students in a graduate-level nutrition program learn which foods are high in nutritional composition and are beneficial and integral to overall well-being. Alternatively, students may investigate foods that are low in nutritional value and may contribute to lethargy and obesity. Students may look at common factors that can impact the nutritional content of food, such as food handling, cooking and food processing.
Admission into a master's degree program in nutrition varies from school to school. Most universities require that students have an undergraduate degree, but do not specify a particular area of study. However, programs do require that applicants complete prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry, physiology and nutrition. Other universities, especially those that offer master's degree programs with a clinical nutrition emphasis, require that applicants have undergraduate degrees in nutrition and be registered dietitians. GRE scores and letters of recommendation are also likely to be requested.
Classes vary according to area of emphasis. Many nutrition master's degree programs provide a foundation in the sciences before introducing advanced topics in nutrition. Some possible core courses include:
- Culture and nutrition
- Exercise and nutrition
- Metabolic diseases
- Therapeutics and nutrition
Graduates of a master's degree program in nutrition pursue careers in many different areas. Most students become registered dietitians, but other career opportunities are available. Some possible career outcomes include:
- Research dietitian
- Private health consultant
- College instructor
- Clinical nutrition services director
- Health center nutritionist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that dieticians and nutritionists earned a median salary of $57,910 in 2015. A larger number of nutritionists are desired in medical settings in recent years because healthy dieting is advocated more frequently for preventative healthcare. Employment of dietitians and nutritionists is expected grow by 16% between 2014 and 2024.
Continuing Education Information
Students who wish to continue their graduate studies may choose to enroll in a doctoral program in nutrition. This degree is research-based and involves the completion of a dissertation. Many Ph.D. grads take research or teaching positions.
Licensure for those who plan to become registered dietitians is also currently required by 35 states. Master's degree graduates are encouraged to check with the state they plan to work in for specific requirements. Additionally, the registered dietitian (RD) credential is awarded by the American Dietetic Association Commission on Dietetic Registration. The RD credential is optional but signifies knowledge and expertise in the area of dietetics.
Graduates of a master's level nutrition program have a healthy career outlook following completion of their programs, which delve into various aspects of nutritional sciences. Those striving to become registered dietitians may need to attain licensure depending on the state in which they live.