How to Choose a Masters in Applied Clinical Nutrition Degree + Online Option

This article discusses the masters in applied clinical nutrition degree program, some of the subjects and courses to take, and why you may want to consider the degree as a career move. It also presents an online option for a masters in applied clinical nutrition that you may want to consider.

What Is a Masters in Applied Clinical Nutrition?

The field of applied clinical nutrition focuses on the nutritional needs of patients who are in a health care facility. Thus, it involves patient management in inpatient hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other care facilities. Primarily, it looks at dietetics and nutrition, helping patients to maintain a health energy balance, while at the same time ensuring that they receive the right levels of minerals, vitamins, proteins, and other nutrients.

There are numerous routes of administration for nutrition, with the preferred one being oral administration. Applied clinical nutrition looks extensively at other forms of administration, however. These include intravenous and parenteral nutrition, nasogastric feeding, and other forms of enteral administration.

While a large part will focus on how nutrition is administered, emphasis will also be placed on the nutrients that are necessary for a body to function and heal, and the impact of different nutrients on overall health. Essentially, you will learn to analyze whether a patient has the right nutrition to maintain existing good health, or to improve on poor health. You will study how food nutrients are processed in the body, and how they are stored and discarded. Furthermore, you will look at how the foods we eat affect our overall health and well-being.

Graduates are expected to be able to determine the nutritional needs of patients based on their medical and family history, as well as their lifestyle. You will have strong involvement in laboratory analysis and tests, the results of which you will use to make recommendations on nutritional needs and diet. Furthermore, you will often advise patients on how they should change their diet to prevent ill health.

Why Earn a Masters in Applied Clinical Nutrition?

Once you have earned a masters in applied clinical nutrition, you will be an expert in the field of nutrition and how this can be used to promote health, prevent disease, and heal. You will help people lead healthy lifestyles, particularly when they are in the hospital or have a disease that must be managed by health care professionals. Typically, you will:

  • Assess the health needs of your patients and how these are linked to nutrition
  • Provide counseling on healthy eating habits and nutrition issues
  • Help to create appropriate meal plans, looking at personal preferences and costs
  • Evaluate whether the nutritional recommendations have had a positive effect, and make adjustments as and when required
  • Provide outreach services to discuss the importance of adequate nutrition and how this relates to overall good health and the management of a certain disease.
  • Take part in new research in the field of nutritional science
  • Write reports on individual patients’ progress and that of certain population groups

You will also have a medical role because you will have to assess whether the health of patients is improving as a result of nutritional strategies. Because of this, your work will be different every day, since you have to work with individual patients in hospitals and outpatient clinics. The results of your work can be collated and used to develop plans for the nutritional treatment of other patients with similar conditions. As such, you will also have a multidisciplinary role, working with other health care professionals, hospital catering staff, and home health care providers, for instance.

Applied clinical nutrition is an important sub-specialization in which you will focus particularly on medical nutrition therapy. This means that you will work exclusively in health care institutions, such as private practices, clinics, long term care facilities, and hospitals, dealing with people who already have poor health. Based on the needs of the residents or patients, you will develop individualized nutritional programs, as well as counsel people on the importance of proper nutrition for better health. You may also choose to further specialize your skills, for instance, by focusing solely on diabetes or kidney disease.

Earning a masters in applied clinical nutritional will give you enhanced job security, as your skills will be in much higher demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that dietitians and nutritionists earned a median salary of $58,920 per year as of May 2016, but that is at bachelor’s degree level. With a master’s degree, you will be more likely to be in the top 10% of earners, who enjoy salaries of $82,410 per year or more. Furthermore, with a master’s degree, you will be able to take on a position of leadership, which will greatly increase your personal job satisfaction. Most applied clinical nutritionists work in outpatient care centers, local, state, and private hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, accommodation and food services, and for the government.

Online Option for Masters in Applied Clinical Nutrition

New York Chiropractic College

One option that is available online is offered by the New York Chiropractic College. This college has the mission, vision, and value of advancing the science of nutrition and its relation to health. The emphasis is on patient-centered care and on using evidence-based practice to assess nutritional needs, perform interventions, and promote good health. The program looks particularly at therapeutic plants and whole foods, and how these impact overall wellness.

Graduates from the program are respected for their advanced knowledge of the link between health and nutrition, particularly through metabolism and biochemical processes, and the relationship between micronutrients and macronutrients. Further, you will be in demand for your advanced clinical research skills, and your focus on whole foods and therapeutic plants, including herbal supplementation.

The program takes two years to complete and is delivered 100% online. Faculty members are highly respected and credentialed professionals in the field. While you will work independently, there will be interactive weekly discussions with other students, and group assignments are also included. After graduation, you will be able to take the exams for becoming a Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN), Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS), Diplomate for the Chiropractic Board of Clinical Nutrition (DCBCN), and Diplomate for the American Clinical Board of Nutrition (DACBN). It does not prepare students for a Registered Dietician (RD) credential, however.

Core courses:

  • Biochemistry: The Macronutrients
  • Theories and Principles of Applied Clinical Nutrition and Whole Food Science
  • Nutrition Across the Lifespan
  • Clinical Nutrition for Pain and Inflammation
  • Design, Analysis, and Critical Evaluation of Research
  • Behavioral Nutrition
  • Clinical Herbalism
  • Professionalism and Ethics
  • Drug Induced Nutrient Depletion and Herb/Drug Interaction
  • Nutritional Assessment
  • Therapeutic Nutrition
  • Clinical Sports Nutrition

Some of the career paths are:

  • Clinical nutritionist
  • Sports nutritionist
  • Herbalist
  • Nutritional educator
  • Chef


By earning a masters in applied clinical nutrition, you can greatly advance your career. Moreover, you will play a pivotal role in improving the health of vulnerable populations. Your skills will be in high demand and you have the opportunity to further your career and education as well.

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