The simple truth is Americans have astonishingly bad diets. Graduates of the best Online Master’s in Nutritional Science are eager to fix that!
As more Americans recognize that they need healthier eating habits, nutritional science has expanded into broader areas. Scientific trends in nutritional studies are developing in nutrigenomics (personal DNA), the role of proteins in aging, nutrition as it relates to microbiomes (gut health), and even the role of climate change on agriculture and nutrition.
Nutritional science has grown in prominence in the scientific community by contributing to better healthcare, agricultural improvements, and global climate contributions.
What is a Master’s in Nutritional Science Degree?
Graduate programs in Nutritional Science typically concentrate on research, analysis, or communication of nutrition. Programs may offer various concentrations in nutrition and obesity, nutritional education, public health, and molecular nutrition to name a few. Some schools are beginning to add a cutting edge climate change and nutrition specialty.
Generally, admission criteria for this degree require you to have a bachelor’s degree (not necessarily in nutrition), some schools will require GRE scores, and professional experience is sometimes preferred. Typically, most master’s programs in this field can be completed in about one year.
You should look for a program holding accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Accreditation assures the program’s courses such as metabolism, disease prevention, and clinical research meet quality standards. Internships, especially in clinical studies, may be included in your program’s curriculum.
Careers for Nutritional Science Majors
There are several careers available to master’s-prepared nutritionists. Careers can be found in clinical areas developing nutritional therapy for patients, working with communities and public health programs, or nutritional management positions in medical centers, schools, and other institutional settings. You can also use your degree to become a sports nutritionist, food safety auditor, corporate wellness consultant, and several other careers.
People sometimes confuse dietitians and nutritionists. While both are experts in the effect of nutrition and diet on health, dietitians are more closely regulated and are able to diagnose and design treatment plans for eating disorders. Dietitians also have completed a practicum experience. However, having an advanced degree in nutrition prepares you to sit for qualifying exams to earn the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential or the Certified Nutrition Specialist. Depending on where you live, you may need licensure or certification to practice.
Master’s in Nutritional Science salary potential
There’s good news on the employment front for nutritionists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects nutritionists will see an 11 percent job increase between 2018-2028. This is much faster than average growth, carried by the boom in two fields: preventative healthcare and the study of climate change’s effect on agriculture.
Depending on where you live and work, the BLS estimates national annual salary ranges from $58,310-$66,420. Median salaries are calculated at $60,370, with the top 10 percent earning $84,610, and the lowest 10 percent earning $38,460.
What are the Best Online Master’s in Nutritional Sciences?
We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start. The editors of CollegeRank utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following three aspects:
40% Potential Salary After Graduation: Average mid-career salary of school alumni
30% Institutional Accreditation: Regional and National Accreditation for the 2019-2020 school year
30% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school
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North Carolina State University was founded in 1887 as the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts. The school now has the largest enrollment of any university in the Carolinas, with more than 35,000 total students. Together, it is part of North Carolina’s Research Triangle, along with Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
NC State offers an online Master of Nutrition degree that does not require a thesis. Students must complete 36 credit hours of coursework, with up to six credits devoted to an internship, directed practicum, or related internship project. Students choose between an emphasis in human nutrition or feed science.
Classes in the program are divided into three groups, and students earn between 9 and 12 credits in each. Group A consists of Core Courses, such as Principles of Biochemistry and Regulation of Metabolism. Group B, Professional Science Master Courses, includes Food Laws and Regulations and Agricultural Waste Management. Group C is made up of electives. Elective course options include Equine Nutrition and Special Problems in Horticultural Science.
Students can enroll in the fall, spring, or either of the two summer semesters. Consideration for admission requires a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and a score above the 30th percentile in all categories on the GRE.
Stony Brook University is the largest employer on Staten Island, with more than 15,000 employees and over 2,700 faculty members. The school’s mascot is the Sea Wolf, who is said to be a creature of good luck, according to the Tlingit tribe, an indigenous people traditionally associated with the Pacific Northwest.
Stony Brook offers an online Master of Science in Nutrition degree. Applicants are expected to have undergraduate credits in physiology, statistics, and an introductory nutrition course. The GRE is not required for admission to the program. The program requires a total of 36 credit hours for graduation.
The degree can be completed in two years, if students take two courses per semester (including the summer). Students taking one course per semester will complete the program in four years. Core courses include Survey of Nutrition Concepts and Issues and Trends in Nutrition. The school also offers “selective” courses in topics such as Macronutrients and Maternal and Child Nutrition.
Students may transfer up to six credits into the program. Stony Brook also offers an Advanced Certificate program in nutrition, in addition to the master’s degree program. Students who matriculate into the Advanced Certificate program or graduate with the certificate may continue on to the master’s program, if they maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
The University of Texas at Austin is known by many as a “Public Ivy,” which means it is a public university that provides an Ivy League-quality education at a public price. The university is home to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, along with the J. J. Pickle Research Campus and the McDonald Observatory.
UT Austin’s online Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences is designed for both students and professionals working in nutrition, wellness, and other health-related fields. UT Austin describes its program as “science-based” and “human-focused.” This is a 30 credit hour degree that can include a concentration in either Health Promotion and Disease Prevention or Biochemical and Functional Nutrition.
Core courses in the program include Molecular Nutritional Sciences and Experimental Design and Statistics. There a five required core courses, which are followed by five elective courses related to the student’s concentration; for example, the Disease Prevention concentration includes a course on Nutrigenomics.
Graduates of the program are prepared to pursue careers as Registered Dieticians or in another health and wellness profession. Some alumni go on to teach at community colleges; to work in public health administration; or in technical positions at food, pharmaceutical, and chemical laboratories.
Texas Tech University is a public university located in Lubbock, TX. It is designated by the Carnegie Foundation as having the highest level of research activity for a university. The school’s marching band, known as the “Goin’ Band from Raiderland,” has been nationally recognized for the quality of its performances.
Texas Tech offers an online Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. This 33 credit hour program includes 12 hours of core courses and seven dietetic practice-based electives. Admission to the program does not require the submission of GRE scores, though it is preferred that applicants have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
Elective course offerings in the program include options such as Bariatric Nutrition, Pediatric Nutrition, and Nutrition and Geriatrics. Students may also complete a concentration in Nutrition and Healthy Weight, Nutrition and Sports, or Nutrition in the Lifecycle.
To be eligible for this program, students must either be completing a dietetic internship, be a currently registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, or be in the process of receiving a DPD (Didactic Program in Dietetics) verification statement. The program covers knowledge and skills related to practice areas of nutrition such as diabetes, obesity management, and eating disorders.
The University of Utah offers more than 100 undergraduate majors, along with 92 graduate degree programs. The U is home to the first medical school in the state of Utah, and is it the oldest institution of higher learning in the state. Well-known alumni include Martha Raddatz, of ABC News, and Nobel Prize winner Mario Capecchi.
The University of Utah offers an online Master of Science program in nutrition and integrative physiology with an emphasis in nutrition. The program is designed for students who hold an undergraduate degree in dietetics, health science, or a related area. The degree is not intended for those who plan to become a Registered Dietician.
Utah’s program requires 38 credit hours, divided between 26 hours of core courses and 12 hours of electives. Students can typically complete the program in two years, when taking three classes per semester (assuming that students do not take courses during the summer semester). Elective courses may include Methods in Weight Management or Advanced Pediatric Nutrition.
The University of Nebraska, Lincoln is the largest and oldest school in the University of Nebraska system. Nebraska’s athletic programs compete under the nickname the Cornhuskers, a reference to the local agricultural industry. The capacity of the school’s football stadium is larger than the population of the third-largest city in the state.
UNL has an online Master of Science in Nutrition and Health Sciences that can include a specialization in dietetics. There are three options for completing the program, which require between 30 and 36 credit hours. The options depend on whether or not students choose to complete a thesis or a minor.
Students may pursue optional specializations in the program, such as Community Nutrition and Health Promotion, Dietetics, and Nutrition and Exercise. In addition to the MS program, UNL has a Ph.D. in Human Science program, which offers a specialization in nutrition and health sciences. The school also offers a graduate certificate program in Transdisciplinary Childhood Obesity Prevention.
The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign is home to the second-largest university library in the United States, behind only Harvard University. The school has 16 colleges and schools on its campus and offers more than 150 undergraduate majors and 100 graduate programs. In 2015, the school began offering Mandarin Chinese broadcasts of its football games, to better serve its Chinese students.
UIUC offers an online Master of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition degree that requires 32 credit hours of coursework. There are three required core courses, Food Chemistry, Food Processing I, and Food & Industrial Microbiology, which total 10 credit hours. The remaining 22 hours come from electives.
Students may choose to enroll in any graduate-level elective courses offered by the department and available online. Some of the options are: Food Chemistry, Food Processing Engineering, and Package Engineering. Students must take a final exam as a part of the degree program and maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate.
The University of Wisconsin, Madison was the first public university established in the state of Wisconsin. Its main campus is located on the edge of Lake Mendota and is home to four National Historic Landmarks. It is the largest employer in the state, with more than 21,600 faculty and staff.
Wisconsin-Madison has an online Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition that requires 30 credit hours of courses. The program is ideal for individuals with a strong background in clinical nutrition, as the curriculum aims to prepare students to transition their skills into research related to nutritional science.
The MS course plan includes both one-year (full-time enrollment) and two-year (part-time) completion time frames. Students take courses from the following subsets: core nutrition, clinical nutrition, professional skills, and electives. Professional skills courses cover topics such as professional writing and connected learning.
Elective course options include Change Management and Creating Breakthrough Innovations. Prerequisite courses include foundational coursework in chemistry, biology, and nutrition. No campus visits are required to complete the degree. Applicants should have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
The University of Georgia began when Lyman Hall, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, persuaded Georgia’s state legislature to donate land for the creation of a university. The university campus is now spread across more than 40,000 acres, and the school operates educational centers in Washington DC, England, Italy, and Costa Rica.
Georgia offers an online Master of Science in Foods and Nutrition, Community Nutrition degree program. Students must take a total of 10 courses (30 credit hours). The typical degree plan is spread across two years and includes one summer semester. Students typically take two courses per semester.
The default program of study begins with Optimal Nutrition for the Lifespan and Nutrition and Obesity Across the Lifespan. Students then take elective courses during their first spring semester, before transitioning into courses such as Child Nutrition, Research Methods, and Food Sanitation. The final two courses in the program are Nutrition Health and Aging and Nutrition Intervention.
Students may transfer up to six hours into the program. Students do need to submit GRE scores as a part of the admissions process, and it is preferred that applicants have previous coursework or professional experience in nutrition or a related field. Students must also submit three letters of recommendation.
East Carolina University is one of the largest universities in North Carolina, with a student body of more than 29,000, of which more than 23,000 are undergraduates. Many students enjoy participating in Greek life, as the school is home to 27 social fraternities and sororities, as well as historically black and Native American fraternities and sororities.
ECU offers a Master of Science in Nutrition program that is available 100% online. The program requires 33 credit hours, which can be taken on either a thesis or non-thesis track. Students begin with core and research/professional practice courses, before completing 14 to 18 hours of electives (depending on which program track a student is pursuing).
Core courses include Human Nutrition in Physiology and Metabolism and Biostatistics for Health Professionals, which are common to both tracks. Thesis students take six hours related to their thesis project, while non-thesis students take upper-level core courses such as Management in Dietetics and Review of Current Literature. Both tracks include a Seminar in Nutrition course.
Framingham State University began in 1922 as the Framingham Normal School. Since its founding, the school has had 11 different names, most of which referenced its origins as a teachers’ school. FSU became a full university in 2010 and was named a “Green College,” a reference to its sustainability, by the Princeton Review in 2010, 2011, and 2013.
Today, Framingham is home to an online Master of Education program in Nutrition Education, which can also include a specialization leading to a Nutrition Education Specialist (NES) designation. The NES option includes an internship. The program is designed for school health counselors, nutrition professionals, and physical education or health teachers.
Core courses are split between education and nutrition courses. Education courses include Learning and Human Development and Research Methods in Nutrition. Nutrition courses include Contemporary Nutrition Issues for Educators and Public Health Nutrition. There are three core courses for each of these subjects. Students also take three specialized elective courses and complete a final capstone.
The program is not intended for students who already hold a Registered Dietician certification. The capstone course calls for students to examine the implementation of nutritional education programs and to consider the ways that programs like this are evaluated critically. Specialized electives refer to courses such as Behavioral Health Psychology and Obesity and Weight Management.
Auburn University was originally founded as the East Alabama Male College and was affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church. Auburn is now a public university and unaffiliated with any religious denomination. Is it the second-largest university in the state of Alabama and has a huge alumni base, including current Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Auburn offers a Master of Science in Nutrition degree. The online version of the program is structured as a non-thesis degree. Students complete 33 credit hours, which includes 28 hours of coursework and five hours of non-thesis research. There are also emphasis options for students to pursue through elective courses.
The default degree plan includes nine credit hours of coursework each semester, including a summer semester. With this course load, students are able to complete the program in only four semesters. Coursework covers topics such as minerals, vitamins, human nutrient metabolism, and nutrition in disease prevention.
The program offers the following emphases: Community Nutrition, Nutrition Science, Sports Nutrition, and Clinical Nutrition. Emphases require students to complete between two and five elective courses. Sample courses include Youth Program Development and Food Laws and Regulations.
The University of Alabama is the oldest and largest university in the state of Alabama. Alabama was the site of historic moments in both the American Civil War and the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. It is home to the only publicly supported law school in the state of Alabama. Alumni of the school include 15 Rhodes Scholars and 12 Truman Scholars.
Alabama is home to a Master of Science in Human Nutrition, which is a 30 credit hour program that can be completed entirely online. There are multiple program tracks that cater to both Registered Dietitians and dietetic interns or students with bachelor’s degrees in nutrition or a related discipline.
Students may choose to follow the generalist track, community track, or clinical track. Each of these begins with courses in Metabolism, Biostatistics, and Research Methods. Students in the generalist track take five electives, while students in the community and clinical tracks take two and three electives, respectively.
Elective course options in the program include Nutritional Epidemiology, Health Behavior, Basic Epidemiology, and Health Promotion Techniques. There are also leadership-oriented courses such as Entrepreneurship in HES and Developing the Leader Within. Students may enter the program in the fall, spring, or summer semesters.
Texas Woman’s University is the largest public university in the United States primarily focused on the education of women, though it has been coed since 1994. The school’s main campus is located in Denton, TX, but the school also maintains health sciences centers in Dallas and Houston. The school’s mascot is Oakley the Barn Owl.
TWU offers a master’s program in nutrition that can be completed in as few as 12 months. Students must complete 36 credit hours, which includes elective courses that merge the science of nutrition with broader theories on wellness, community, and the environment. There are three versions of the program available: thesis, coursework-only, and online.
The fully online version of the program divides coursework between 12 hours of required courses and 16 hours of electives. Students also complete a capstone course during their final semester. Admission to the program requires the submission of GRE scores, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.25, and prerequisite courses in subjects such as anatomy and chemistry.
Central Michigan University’s Mount Pleasant, MI campus is home to a student body of more than 21,000. More than one-third of CMU’s students are enrolled in one of its online programs. The Society of Neuroscience named the university’s neuroscience program the “Program of the Year” in 2013, which coincided with the school opening its College of Medicine.
Central Michigan’s Global Campus offers an online Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics program, which requires between 31 and 37 hours of coursework to complete. Students may choose to complete the program with a thesis, internship, or only coursework. These programs require 31, 37, and 33 credit hours, respectively.
Students in each of these tracks begin with common foundational coursework covering topics such as macronutrients, micronutrients, and advanced clinical nutrition. The internship version of the program includes three courses related to the internship, including Clinical Experience and Summary experience courses. All versions of the program require students to compile an e-portfolio of their work from the program. Students in each track also take at least six hours of electives.
Applicants must submit a two- to three-page personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and must have completed a statistics course (along with prerequisites in biology and chemistry).
Tufts University was founded in 1852 by a group of Chirstians looking to form a nonsectarian institution of higher learning. Tufts is home to the oldest graduate school of international relations in the United States. Today, it has four campuses spread throughout the Boston metropolitan area and a location in the French Alps.
Tufts offers a Master of Nutrition and Science Policy degree that is available fully online. It is designed for health professionals, career-changers, and recent graduates who have a passion for nutrition. The program includes an interdisciplinary curriculum that emphasizes applied research skills and advanced nutritional science.
Students must complete 30 credit hours of coursework, which is split among six hours of science and policy, 12 hours of skills courses, six hours of electives, and three hours of thesis work. Full-time students can graduate in 1-2 years, while part-time students can complete the program in 2-3 years. Electives cover topics such as “Nutrition, Brain, and Behavior.”
The University of Massachusetts, Amherst is considered the flagship university of the University of Massachusetts system. The school offers more than 109 undergraduate 125 graduate degree programs to more than 30,000 total students. Amherst spends more than $200 million each year on research expenditures.
UMass Amherst offers a part-time, online Master of Science in Nutrition degree. This is a non-thesis, fully online program with 33 credit hours of required courses. Students can complete the program in as few as two years. Graduates of the program are qualified to pursue employment in fields such as community nutrition, food safety, and corporate wellness.
Fourteen hours of coursework are dedicated to Advanced Nutrition Core courses, such as Vitamins and Minerals, Public Health Nutrition, and Methods in Nutrition Research. Students must also complete six hours of Public Health coursework, 12 hours of electives, and a one-hour culminating experience (“Advanced Writing Seminar”).
The University of North Florida is a public university located in Jacksonville, FL. UNF’s main campus is surrounded by a nature preserve, which students can enjoy through the school’s eco-adventure program. Students enjoy easy access to nature trails, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing on any of the many lakes near campus.
UNF offers an online Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. Students have the option of choosing from one of four concentrations: Dietetics Professional Studies, Global Health, Healthcare Informatics, or Nutritional Sciences. The Nutritional Sciences concentration has a thesis requirement, while the others do not.
Students must complete 35 credit hours. Each concentration includes 12 hours of required courses, as well as six hours of electives; for example, students in the Healthcare Informatics program take Management of Information Technology and Data Analytics. They may also take electives such as Socio-Cultural Influences on Nutrition.
Oklahoma State University was originally known as the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school adopted its current name in 1957 and now serves a student body of just over 25,000. Oklahoma State’s annual homecoming events include 40,000 alumni and 70,000 participants, leading the school to bill the event as “America’s Greatest Homecoming Celebration.”
OSU offers an online Master of Science in Nutrition Sciences with an emphasis in dietetics. This is a 36 credit hour program designed for Registered Dieticians, those who are eligible to be an RD, or those with a verification statement from a Didactic Program in Dietetics.
The curriculum includes three program core courses and three nutritional science core courses, which together total 18 credit hours. The remaining 18 hours are drawn from elective courses such as Financial Management and Cost Controls in Dietetics, Functional Foods for Chronic Disease Prevention, and Nutrition in Wellness.
The program is not intended for students who plan to pursue a Ph.D., though it may be appropriate for a Nutrition Practice Doctorate. The program’s capstone course, which is included among the nutritional science core requirements, includes a research paper and a final presentation.
The University of Southern California is the largest private employer in the city of Los Angeles. The school has an annual endowment of more than $5.5 billion. Its location near Hollywood makes it no surprise that USC alumni have won more Academy Awards than any other institution of higher learning in the world.
USC is home to an online Master of Science in Nutrition, Healthspan, and Longevity, which is offered through the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. Students can complete the program in a little over three years, when enrolled as a part-time distance student. Students are required to complete a total of 46 credit hours in the program.
The 46 hours of coursework are divided among 28 hours of didactic coursework, 12 hours of supervised practice, and six hours of research. Distance students are required to come to campus for one 5-day Professionalization Seminar in early January of their first year. The summative experience of the program includes a capstone project leading to a peer-reviewed publication or poster.
If you’re interested in nutritional science then check out our list of the 5 Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Nutritional Science Online and the 20 Best Online Master’s in Nutrition!