The bachelor’s degree in nutritional science combines coursework in medical nutrition, communication, public health, and food management. In addition to general education requirements, basic science courses cover topics such as physiology, anatomy, chemistry, and biology. This foundation helps students understand how the body works and how it processes food at the biological and chemical level. Other courses may include food writing, clinical nutrition, and nutrient metabolism. Health and nutrition degrees at the bachelor's level often require an internship and are usually designed to prepare graduates for the .
Master’s degree programs in dietetics and nutrition explore advanced concepts, theories, and research in nutrition science. They are often pursued by healthcare practitioners seeking continuing education credits or just broadening their current scope of work. Some programs have a focus in a particular application of nutrition, such as food service management, nutrition for clinical care providers, or human performance nutrition. Some nutrition master’s degrees can also prepare students with bachelor’s degrees in other disciplines for .
Online Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition
A bachelor's degree in nutrition is the entry-level requirement to begin a career as a nutrition consultant, nutrition educator, or dietitian. Online bachelor’s programs may have concentrations in nutrition science or dietetics, or they may be health sciences degrees with a nutrition or health and wellness specialization. Admission requirements will depend on the school, but in general, applicants need a high school diploma or an equivalent and acceptable SAT or ACT scores. Some schools also require particular prerequisite courses. Bachelor's programs take approximately four years and require the completion of 120 credits.
A student who is earning a bachelor's degree in nutrition will take general education courses for the majority of their first two years in school. Science classes will include biology, psychology, chemistry, and physiology. Every school has its own general education requirements in communications, social sciences, arts and humanities, and foreign language. Core courses for the remaining two years of a bachelor's program cover anatomy and physiology, introduction to nutrition, advanced nutrition, dietary planning, medical nutrition therapy, food science, exercise science, social aspects of nutrition, and child development and nutrition.
Graduates from bachelor's programs may be qualified to work as a nutritionist for a nonprofit organization, a hospital or clinic, a gym, or for a private dietary counseling center. Some nutritionists also work as weight loss coaches for diet programs like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. Bachelor's degrees in dietetics and nutrition science are also good preparation for students who wish to continue their education at the graduate level in nursing, biology, or nutrition.
Online Master's Degree in Nutrition
To enroll in a master’s degree in nutrition program, students must have a . Some graduate programs also require that applicants complete prerequisite courses or have relevant work experience. While a master's degree is not required to work as a nutritionist, a graduate degree can help qualify you for higher-level positions and a higher salary. Some master's degree programs prepare students to earn the credential, which is highly desirable among employers. The majority of master’s degree programs take two years to complete, assuming students take two to three classes per quarter or semester.
The nutrition master's degree can be appropriate for several types of students. One type is the student who majored in nutrition or dietetics during their undergraduate degree. These students can use a master's to gain advanced knowledge and research skills. Another audience includes students without previous nutrition experience who want to gain the scientific knowledge and internship hours to earn a . Another possible student group includes nurses and health professionals who are seeking a more in-depth understanding of nutrition for their current clinical role.
Nutritionists study every aspect of the food system at the graduate level. In addition to advanced nutrition courses, master's programs may focus on nutrition subcategories such as pediatric nutrition, sports nutrition, eating disorders, and nutrition and aging. Other courses teach students about the production of food, how food is marketed to people, and how people get their information about nutrition and make food choices. Students also study how nutrition affects people's bodies and minds through courses like psychology of nutrition, nutrition for disease prevention, nutrition for weight control, and childhood or developmental nutrition. Many master's degree programs also heavily incorporate clinical practice, research opportunities, and seminars.
Because master's graduates usually have prior professional experience, they are eligible for more advanced career opportunities than undergraduates. Graduates with a master’s degree may be qualified for leadership nutritionist positions in community centers, healthcare facilities, or private nutrition information centers, or they may choose to work in academia conducting research or educating others.
Online Nutrition Certificate Programs
Online nutrition certificate programs prepare students to help clients improve or enhance their lifestyle by adhering to proper eating habits and healthy diets. These programs are offered by a number of online colleges and universities and require 9 to 12 months of training. Applicants must possess a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Certificate programs aim to teach students how to assess the dietary needs of clients, devise realistic meal plans, educate patients on increasing their nutrient intake, evaluate the outcome of their clients' goals, and stay aware of new industry trends. Topics that may be discussed in classes include nutrition basics, medical terminology, learning strategies, developing healthy eating habits, stress management techniques, fitness anatomy and physiology, exercise science terminology, and injury prevention.
Those who hold a certificate in nutrition may be hired by outpatient centers, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, community organizations, and physicians' offices. Many people continue their education and obtain and degrees in the field to prepare them for careers in management and consulting. Graduate certificates can be used by nutritionists to further their skills. Professionals in healthcare areas can use these certificates to add nutrition knowledge to their skill set.