Types of Masters in Nutrition Science Programs

This article describes the different types of master’s in nutrition degrees you can get, as well as the different specialities. Also included are some of the online universities where you can earn your master’s degree in nutrition. It also describes some of the certifications you can earn in the nutritionist field.

For those who are interested in diet and nutrition, a great career path to consider is as a nutritionist or a dietician. These professionals in food and nutrition are experts in healthy eating, which can lead to reduction in disease and better overall health. Many nutritionists instruct their clients about healthy things to eat to achieve a healthier and more active lifestyle.

Many nutritionists provide highly customized information for specific clients. For example, you might teach a client with type 2 diabetes how to make healthy daily meals to keep blood sugar in check. Other nutritionists may work with a heart patient to construct a diet with healthy fat and little sugar to reduce chances of future health complications.

Some nutritionists may be self employed and can meet with many different patients. Others may work as consultants for many different companies and organizations.

The common types of nutritionists are:

  • Clinical nutritionist: These professionals provide primarily medical nutrition services. They often work in hospitals, long term care facilities, private practice, clinics, and many other institutions. Their primary duties are to create individualized programs for patients, and generally counsel patients on how to boost health through good nutrition.
  • Community nutritionist: Develops programs to counsel the public on many topics related to health, nutrition and food. These nutritionists often work with certain patient groups, such as the elderly and adolescents. They frequently work in public health clinics, non profit organizations, and HMOs.
  • Management nutritionists: These are experts in planning food programs for many different food service settings. For instance, they might work in cafeterias, prisons, schools and hospitals. Some of them can be responsible for sourcing affordable and healthy food.

Many nutritionists have a bachelor’s degree, but the best work is generally for those who have earned their master’s degree. States require that nutritionists be licensed to practice their profession for the most part.

Many nutritionists and dieticians eventually earn their Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) designation. This designation is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

Another designation that some professionals elect to earn is that of Certified Nutrition Specialist or CNS. CNS’s engage in the highest level medical nutrition therapies and also research and education. To qualify, you must have at least a master’s degree and have 1000 of nutritionist experience.

There also are other specialities that nutritionists can focus upon. There are also certifications available in pediatrics, gerontology, oncology, sports and renal.

The job market generally for nutritionists is solid, as the field is set to expand by 16% by 2024. This is because there is a larger emphasis on promoting health and wellness to prevent people from getting expensive health problems. It makes the most sense to prevent people from getting some of the diseases that are related to poor diet, such as diabetes, heart disease and even some forms of cancer.

In terms of pay, the median salary in this growing field is $57,910, and the top 10% earn more than $80,000 per year. Generally, the highest salaries are reserved for nutritionists who work in outpatient care centers, as well as a variety of hospitals.

A related field to nutritionist that you may consider as well is that of health educator. A health educator promotes wellness among various populations of people. They also develop and implement new strategies that improve the health of everyone in the area. To become a health educator, you can earn a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. Some health educators opt to earn the Certified Health Education Specialist certification.

Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics

This two year, online master’s degree is offered by Arizona State University, and its program is based upon fundamental building blocks of nutrition. The program reinforces the skills that you need to be a successful nutritionist: project management, problem solving and the ability to interpret research literature.

Students will develop new competencies in the latest nutrition research methods. The master’s program will culminate in a capstone project at the end of the second year. It will allow you to design and evaluation certain nutrition interventions in a workplace that will use the skills and knowledge that you have built during the duration of the program.

Master of Science in Nutrition and Wellness

Benedictine University offers this unique online degree program that is designed specifically for registered dieticians who want to expand their skills. It also is appropriate for students who have a BS in a life or physical science. This program offers a multi-dimensional health study that allows you to learn much more about nutrition and health risk assessment, intervention and evaluation.

You will study macronutrient and micronutrient metabolism; how functional foods and phytochemicals work; and how nutrition can have a profound impact on disease and conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

Your required courses include:

  • Biostatistics
  • Health and Wellness Research
  • Obesity – Theory and Practice
  • Complementary Nutrition Therapies
  • Advanced Nutrition Topics
  • Public Health Education Methods
  • Advanced Metabolism
  • Data Analyses and Interpretation

Master of Science in Applied Nutrition

The University of New England offers a 36 credit hour Master of Science in Applied Nutrition that has the most relevant and timely classes for professional nutritionists who want to advance their careers to the next step.

Each student must take six core classes of the curriculum, and then the student is able to choose five of their own electives, and finally a capstone at the end of the second year. This allows you to focus your nutritionist career on areas that most interest you.

Your required classes are:

  • Trends and Issues in Nutrition and Global Food Systems
  • Nutrition Across the Lifespan
  • Research Methods
  • Nutrition and Metabolism
  • Nutrition Education and Health Behavior Change
  • Nutrition Practice for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Master of Science in Nutrition and Integrative Health

This master’s degree is offered by Maryland University of Integrative Health, and provides a very innovative approach to studying nutrition. The primary emphases in this three year program are on the physiological, environmental and socio-cultural roles that food plays in all of our lives.

Depending upon your interests, you also can choose these specific concentrations:

  • Human clinical nutrition: This is ideal for the student who wants to mostly work with clients in a private practice or possibly to join a medical setting with other healthcare professionals.
  • Community nutrition education: This is a great fit for the student who wants to come up with new and innovative plans for nutrition education for communities that have been traditionally underserved.
  • Herbal medicine: A good choice for students who want to study natural herbs as well as nutrition.

The field of nutrition is definitely one that is ripe for opportunity in the 21st century. With the strong focus on preventing people from getting sick and using health care resources, a nutritionist with a master’s degree should be able to find many excellent opportunities to help others and to earn a good living.

Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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