The importance of nutrition and good diet is well understood today, especially in how it affects long term health. By eating well and exercising, many illnesses and diseases can be prevented, and this leads to longer life and lower health care costs.
It is understandable then that the field of nutrition is growing rapidly today with many favorable job opportunities. To take advantage of the possibilities in this career field, many professionals are earning their master’s degree in nutrition.
A master’s degree in nutrition explores how the many nutrients in foods affect the health of human beings. You will learn how to advise people on what they should eat to live as healthy a life as possible. Also, you will learn about how good nutrition can prevent many of the most serious diseases affecting Americans, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Some of the most common types of jobs you can work in with a master’s degree in nutrition include:
- Clinical nutritionist: These special nutritionists provide medical nutrition therapy. They often work in long term care centers, hospitals, clinics and private practice. They come up with special nutritional programs based upon the specific health needs of patients. They also may counsel sick patients about how to improve health with better nutrition. Some of these workers may specialize even more by working with patients with kidney disease or diabetes.
- Community nutritionist: They develop special programs to counsel the general public on food, health and nutrition related topics. They may work with specific groups in the community, including the elderly or adolescents. They may work in public health centers, non profit agencies and government facilities.
- Management nutritionists: They plan food programs, and usually work in food service, such as hospitals, cafeterias, prisons and schools. They may need to buy food and carry out many business related tasks, including budgeting.
Why Earn a Master’s Degree in Nutrition?
Americans are living longer than ever, and more Americans are staying more active as they age. There is a strong interest in staying fit and healthy longer so that people can better enjoy their elder years.
However, the statistics don’t lie: More than ⅓ of American are obese. Many serious diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and kidney disease, are closely associated with obesity. We now understand that is it very important to maintain a healthy diet and activity level to stay in good health.
Another reason good nutrition and diet is being emphasized is that these good habits help people to stay healthy and not get sick with expensive, chronic illnesses. Keeping people healthy saves a lot of money in health care expenses.
For all of these reasons, there is more need today for nutritionists and dieticians. The demand in this field is going to increase by 15% in the next decade. Nutritionists who have a master’s degree will be in a very strong position to enjoy a long and prosperous career in the field of nutrition.
Earning a master’s degree in nutrition will open the door to many excellent job opportunities, but admission requirements can be tough. For example, the University of Washington’s admission requirements for its master’s program are:
- Bachelor’s degree in any field, but you must have courses in general chemistry, organic chemistry, physiology, nutrition and biochemistry
- 0 GPA minimum in undergraduate work
- GRE scores required. You should have scores at or above the 50th percentile
- Updated resume
- College transcripts
- Writing samples
Curriculum and Courses
Northeastern University offers a high quality, accredited Master of Science in Applied Nutrition. It has been designed for students who have an undergraduate degree in dietetics or the health sciences. This is a 100% online program that will allow full time workers to earn their master’s degree on their own schedule. Most students are able to complete the degree in less than three years.
This program is taught and led by highly experienced practitioners in the field, such as exercise scientists, dieticians, nutritionists and psychologists. Together, this staff will provide you with an excellent background in disease prevention, metabolism, nutrition and health promotion.
You can choose from the following four concentrations:
- Obesity and Eating Disorders
- Nutrition Education
- Nutrition and Fitness
- Business and Entrepreneurship in Nutrition
Students in this program are able to increase their nutrition knowledge in these ways:
- Apply research and theories about nutrition in situations in the real world
- Examine the physiological actions, metabolism and how carbohydrates, proteins, fats and vitamins all interrelate in the human body
- Study numerous techniques and methods that are used in nutritional research
- Investigate theories and programs that are needed to facilitate healthy behaviors
- Recognize the many complex factors that influence results in nutritional practice
Your core classes include:
- Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism
- Medical Nutrition Therapy
- Research Methods in Nutrition
- Health Promotion/Disease Prevention
- Clinical Health Behavior Change
- Applied Research in Nutrition
- Food and Society
Career Outcomes and Job Titles
Some of the common job titles for those with a master’s in nutrition are:
- Health promotion manager
- Health practice manager
- Health care consultant
- Fitness instructor
- Corporate nutrition director
Job Salary and Outlook
- Nutritionist or Dietician — As noted above, this field will experience rapid growth in the coming years, with 15% increase in demand anticipated. It is expected that much of this demand will occur because of the strong interest in preventative health care at companies, health care and insurance companies. Also, as people are growing older, there will be more need for professionals to help these elderly to stay healthy. Median salary is $57,900.
- Health Educator — Some people with a background in nutrition may become health educators, which will see a 13% increase in demand by 2024. These professionals work with individuals and communities to encourage them to practice healthy eating and exercise habits. These actions can help them to prevent illness in many cases. Also, some corporations may employ health educators to assist in keeping employees healthy to reduce health care costs and absenteeism. The median salary is $51,900.
- Fitness Trainer — Some professionals with expertise in nutrition may work as personal consultants and fitness trainers. Job demand in this field will increase by 8% by 2024. Many businesses, government agencies and insurance organizations are recognizing the benefits of health and fitness programs for their workers, and this interest could result in ample job opportunities in the fitness field. Median salary in this field is $36,000 per year, but people with a master’s could earn more than $70,000.
Scholarships and Grants
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: This organization offers several scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in a career in nutrition.
- University of Minnesota: For students who attend this program for their nutrition degree, you can qualify for these scholarships: FSCN Departmental Scholarship, FSCN Global Learning Scholarship and other scholarships through the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.
- American Nutrition Association: This is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the best possible health in the country, through good nutrition and wellness education. This organization is appropriate for professionals, students, and businesses/nonprofits.
- School Nutrition Association: This organization is dedicated to promoting good school nutrition at elementary, middle and high schools in the US.