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Masters in Nutrition Program Information

A Master of Science in Nutrition program is usually completed in two years of study (full-time) and prepares students for careers in the nutritional sciences, although many graduates choose to enter the job market as registered dietitians. Depending on the program, different emphasis areas are available, and students may complete thesis or non-thesis tracks.

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Master of Science in Nutrition

Public health, clinical nutrition, nutrition education and nutrition therapy are some of the concentration areas that students may pursue in the Master of Science in Nutrition program. 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 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.

Educational Prerequisites

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.

Program Coursework

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
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Therapeutics and nutrition
  • Nutritional status assessment
  • Nutrition and biochemistry

Possible Career Options

Graduates of a master's degree program in nutrition pursue careers in many different areas. Most students become registered dieticians, but other career opportunities are available. Some possible career outcomes include:

  • Research dietician
  • Private health consultant
  • College instructor
  • Clinical nutrition services director
  • Health center nutritionist

Continuing Education Information

Students who wish to continue their graduate studies may choose to enroll in a Ph.D. 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 dieticians 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 dietician (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.

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