Best Master’s in Nutritional Sciences Degrees 2021

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Professionals in the nutritional science field often pursue a master’s degree to qualify for leadership roles. There is still much to discover about how food impacts the human body, and many master’s programs focus on research contribution. Other nutritional sciences master’s programs prepare learners to become professors. Professionals can also pursue a nutritional sciences degree to facilitate a career change.

Nutritionists perform vital services for the community, including educating patients about ways to achieve particular health goals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dieticians and nutritionists earned a median income of $61,270 as of May 2019. The BLS projects employment for these professionals to increase 8% between 2019 and 2029. This guide explores career options for professionals with a master’s degree in nutritional sciences, along with typical program outcomes, scholarship opportunities, and professional organizations for nutrition students.

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Top 10 Master’s in Nutritional Sciences Degrees

FAQ


  • What can I do with a nutritional sciences degree?

    Graduates of nutritional sciences degree programs often become dieticians. These professionals can work for corporations, such as grocery store chains, and in clinical settings.


  • Is a nutritionist a doctor?

    Unlike doctors, nutritionists cannot diagnose or treat diseases with medications and therapies. Nutritionists typically undergo less clinical training and education than doctors.


  • What is the highest degree in nutrition?

    A doctorate in nutrition is the terminal degree in the field. Most doctoral programs require four to six years to complete.


  • What schooling do you need to become a nutritionist?


    According to the BLS, dieticians and nutritionists need a bachelor’s degree to earn entry-level positions. These professionals can earn a graduate degree and certifications to improve their job prospects.

Best Master’s in Nutritional Sciences Degrees 2021

  1. Tufts University
    Location

    Medford, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    At the top of our list is Tufts University, an elite, private research university located near downtown Boston, MA. Among Tufts’ stellar graduate schools, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy has pioneered research, and educational and community-service programs that improve the nutritional health and well-being of populations throughout the world.

    Program Features

    Tuft University’s Friedman School offers a Master of Nutrition Science and Policy designed for a wide range of individuals - from health professionals to recent graduates with a passion for nutrition. This is a world-class program which offers an interdisciplinary curriculum that addresses nutrition science, global and US food policy, global nutrition programs, and applied research skills. Courses include:

    • Economics for Food and Nutrition Policy
    • Global Food and Nutrition Policy
    • Statistical Methods for Health Professionals
    Notables

    Tuft’s Master of Nutrition Science and Policy is comprised of ten courses - seven required courses, two electives, and a thesis. The program is designed to be manageable for working students and is delivered in a blend of online courses and intensive campus-based experiences. You’ll learn from expert, world-renowned researchers and teachers. And by studying full-time, you’ll be able to finish the program in one to two years.

  2. University of California-Davis
    Location

    Davis, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    One of ten campuses in the University of California system, the University of California Davis is located on a gorgeous campus just west of Sacramento. Known as one of the “public ivies,” UC Davis is known for high caliber programs delivered through its globally-recognized professional schools and colleges.

    Program Features

    Graduate Studies at UC Davis offers a Master of Science in Nutritional Biology for a diverse student body from around the world. As a student, you’ll experience state-of-the-art research facilities, productive laboratories, and a progressive spirit. UC Davis offers collaborative and interdisciplinary curricula that provide students with the qualitative and quantitative skills necessary for professional research and teaching in nutritional biology. Emphases include:

    • Biotechnology
    • International and Community Nutrition
    Notables

    UC Davis’ MS in Nutritional Biology is an interdisciplinary 30-credit program with a huge amount of flexibility in course selection. Apart from the thesis requirement and one required seminar course, students work with a graduate advisor to build a study plan that best reflects their specific interests. And for those interested in a terminal degree program, there is a non-thesis option which includes 36 credits of coursework and a comprehensive exam.

  3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Location

    Champaign, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Originally founded in 1867 as a state-supported, land-grant institution, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a large public research university that U.S. News and World Report ranks among the top 50 national universities in the country. The school has a reputation for excellence in research, teaching, and public engagement - including exceptional interdisciplinary nutrition graduate programs.

    Program Features

    UIUC’s Division of Nutritional Sciences offers a Master of Science in Nutritional Science Featuring faculty from seven colleges on the Urbana and Chicago campuses, UIUC’s interdisciplinary program offers individualized study plans and extensive research opportunities. Students gain a comprehensive graduate education in nutrition that will serve as a catalyst for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary nutrition research. Courses include:

    • Seminar in Foods and Nutrition
    • Topics in Nutrition Research
    • Biochemistry
    Notables

    UIUC’s MS in Nutritional Science is a 32-credit program comprised of required and elective courses and a thesis (or an oral exam if you choose the non-thesis option). As a student, you’ll also have the opportunity to take part in an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics accredited graduate dietetic internship program. This includes specific graduate course requirements and a six-month dietetic clinical internship. UIUC also offers dual degree options for highly qualified students.

  4. Purdue University-Main Campus
    Location

    West Lafayette, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in West Lafayette, IN, Purdue University is a top-ranked public research university. Historically, Purdue has a STEM focus with top-ranked programs in a number of areas. The Interdepartmental Nutrition program draws on many of these disciplines, with faculty that provide a wide range of expertise and training opportunities.

    Program Features

    Purdue’s Department of Nutrition Science offers a Master of Science in Nutrition Science with several emphasis options. Depending on your area of interest, you’ll be accepted to Interdepartmental Nutrition Program and then train under a faculty mentor within that faculty member's home department. You’ll choose from one of four Emphasis Groups within the INP:

    • Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition
    • Human and Clinical Nutrition
    • Animal Health, Growth and Development
    • Public Health and Education
    Notables

    Purdue University’s MS in Nutrition Science is a 30-credit program that offers a high degree of latitude when it comes to course selection. You’ll need to complete core content and skill-building requirements, but you’ll work with your faculty advisor to build a curriculum that fits your own professional goals. And with Purdue’s highly competitive tuition, this program represents great value for your tuition dollar.

  5. Ohio State University-Main Campus
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in the state capital of Columbus, The Ohio State University is a nationally-ranked public research university and one of the largest, by student population, in the country. With internationally-renowned faculty, Ohio State’s College of Education Human Ecology (which houses the Department of Human Nutrition) ranks among the best in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.

    Program Features

    Ohio State’s Department of Human Nutrition offers a research-focused Master of Science in Human Nutrition. Students learn the science of nutrition through courses in disciplines across the university, gaining foundational knowledge of the scientific relationships that exist between diet, health and disease, and how nutritional research can set public policy. You’ll study numerous areas of nutrition including:

    • Food Science
    • Macronutrient and Micronutrient Metabolism
    • Global Nutrition
    • Medical Nutrition Therapy
    • Nutrition Counseling.
    Notables

    Ohio State’s MS in Human Nutrition is a 30-credit program comprised of five core courses, three research courses, electives, and a thesis. As a student, you’ll have abundant opportunities for in-the-field training, with businesses regularly seeking students for internships throughout the school year. And you’ll work alongside researchers specializing in nutrition and related health disciplines, solving diverse issues that affect diets and patient well-being.

  6. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Minnesota’s beautiful Twin Cities, the University of Minnesota is a highly ranked national public research university. The school offers stellar graduate programs through a number of acclaimed graduate colleges. The Department of Food Science and Nutrition collaborates with research centers throughout UMN to focus on the relationship between nutrition and health.

    Program Features

    UMN’s Department of Food Science and Nutrition offers a Master of Science in Nutrition for individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Taught by expert teachers and scholars in the field, the program prepares students to thrive in a variety of positions - from research and teaching at the university level to nutrition-related positions in government, healthcare facilities, and commodity organizations. Courses include:

    • Nutritional Biochemistry
    • Nutritional Physiology
    • Nutrition and Genetics
    Notables

    UMN’s MS in Nutrition is a 30-credit program comprised of four core courses, electives, and a thesis or culminating research project. You’ll also be able to gain valuable work experience through an ACEND-approved UMN Dietetic Internship. And all master’s students obtain teaching experience at the university level as well. Also, by completing additional graduate credits, you’ll have the opportunity to become a Registered Dietitian.

  7. University of Connecticut
    Location

    Storrs, CT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A land-grant public research university located in Storrs, CT, the University of Connecticut is a nationally ranked institution with a long history of providing high-quality programs to Connecticut students. The school offers high-caliber undergraduate and graduate programs in Nutrition through its highly regarded Department of Nutritional Sciences.

    Program Features

    The University of Connecticut offers a Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences which takes an interdisciplinary approach to nutrition. The program is supported by other departments throughout the university and benefits from collaborative arrangements with other institutions. Program course work develops an advanced level of knowledge in nutrition and related sciences - as well as research competencies. Students choose from one of three emphasis areas:

    • Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition
    • Human Nutrition and Metabolism
    • Community Nutrition
    Notables

    The University of Connecticut’s MS in Nutrition Sciences is a 30-credit program which includes a thesis option and a non-thesis option for those students who want to complete a terminal degree in Nutrition. And research projects span a wide range of topics, so you’ll have the chance to delve deeply into an area of interest to you - while enjoying the university’s state-of-the-art facilities.

  8. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located just outside downtown Gainesville, the University of Florida is a prominent public research university and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The school’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has developed an international reputation for its accomplishments in teaching, research, and extension.

    Program Features

    UF’s Department of Food Science and Nutrition offers a Master of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition. With approximately thirty full-time faculty teaching around 100 students in the program, you’ll be assured a close relationship with your instructors. You’ll take part in a rich academic environment - and you’ll be able to tailor the degree to your own career aspirations through areas of emphasis:

    • Human Nutrition
    • Molecular and Cellular Nutrition and Metabolomics
    • Food Microbiology
    • Food Processing
    • Food Technology
    Notables

    UF’s MS in Food Science and Human Nutrition is a 30-credit program comprised of 24 course credits and six research credits. With only four required courses, students have a broad scope in their course selection, within the limits of their emphasis area. At UF, you’ll also have the chance to broaden your program by selecting from courses in topics like biochemistry, medical sciences, animal science, or epidemiology (just to name a few).

  9. University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Location

    Madison, WI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in the chilly midwestern city of Madison, WI, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a major public research university that U.S. News and World Report ranks among the top 50 national universities in the country. With a particular strength in biological sciences, UW-Madison’s Department of Nutritional Sciences has a reputation for outstanding programs in diet and nutrition.

    Program Features

    UW-Madison’s Department of Nutritional Sciences offers a Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences with two possible areas of emphasis. As a student, you’ll gain a thorough understanding of nutrition principles as they apply to both humans and animals. And UW-Madison has one of the largest biological science research communities in the world, which will support you throughout this multidisciplinary program. The areas of emphasis are:

    • Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition
    • Human Nutrition
    Notables

    UW-Madison’s MS in Nutritional Sciences is a 30-credit program with few required courses. You’ll be able to create a degree program within your emphasis area which includes a research-based thesis. All students are also encouraged to gain teaching experience through assistantships. And if you’re interested in completing a degree in Nutrition, but can’t move to Wisconsin to do so, UW-Madison also offers an online MS in Clinical Nutrition.

  10. Rutgers University-New Brunswick
    Location

    New Brunswick, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The oldest campus of Rutgers University, Rutgers-New Brunswick is a public research university that U.S. News and World Report ranks among the top 75 national universities in the country. The school has a history extending back to the colonial period, but today offers cutting-edge graduate programs which include high-ranking graduate programs in Nutritional Science.

    Program Features

    Rutgers University’s School of Environmental and Biological Sciences offers a Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences that provides both a broad, multidisciplinary understanding of the field of nutrition as well as specialized knowledge in a chosen area of research. Research mentorships are conducted by distinguished faculty from both Rutgers and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Two emphasis areas are offered:

    • Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology
    • Applied and Community Nutrition
    Notables

    Rutger’s MS in Nutritional Science is a 30-credit program in which you’ll take coursework in nutritional sciences and related topics while conducting a research project culminating in a final thesis or dissertation. The research emphasis of Rutgers’ program makes it ideal for students who intend to obtain a PhD in nutritional sciences or related fields, and also those seeking additional basic knowledge for jobs in research or teaching.

What Are the Goals of a Nutritional Sciences Degree?

A nutritional sciences degree qualifies holders to obtain state licensure. Each state sets unique requirements for nutritionists, so students should consider attending a school located in the state in which they plan to work.

Curricula vary by school, but most schools list program outcomes on their website. Some nutritional sciences degree programs emphasize research, while others prepare learners to work with patients. Additionally, some curricula cover nutrition for all age groups and dietary preferences. Others focus primarily on one population subgroup. Learners should select a nutritional sciences master’s program that aligns with their career goals.

Why Get a Nutritional Sciences Degree?

Earning a graduate degree can lead to personal and professional benefits, such as higher salary potential and increased job satisfaction. The following list highlights five common reasons to pursue a master’s degree in nutritional sciences.

Opportunities in Higher Education
An advanced nutritional sciences degree may qualify graduates to become professors. However, some colleges and universities require professors to hold a doctorate.
Personally Beneficial Knowledge
Master’s students in the field learn valuable information about nutrition, which they can apply to their everyday lives.
Ability to Help Others
A working knowledge of nutrition can help individuals lead healthy, happy lives. Nutritionists empower individuals and communities with this knowledge.
Increased Job Prospects
While dieticians and nutritionists can practice with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree can lead to higher-paying positions and leadership roles.
Self-Employment Potential
After building a client base, successful nutritionists often open their own practice. These self-employed professionals set their own rates and business hours.

What Are the Requirements for a Nutritional Sciences Degree?

Nutritional sciences master’s programs typically require 30 to 40 credits, which most full-time learners complete in about two years. Coursework typically involves lectures, textbook readings, and projects. Students often develop meal plans, learn how to assess an individual’s nutritional needs, and conduct research. Some programs require learners to submit research findings to scholarly journals.

Before enrolling in a program, learners should note the thesis or capstone requirement. Students can review their prospective program’s course descriptions and available concentrations to ensure they align with their career goals. For example, students may wish to specialize in an area such as childhood or elderly nutrition.

Professional Organizations for Nutritional Sciences Students

Professional organizations in the field connect learners with experienced dieticians and nutritionists. These groups may offer discounted student memberships and scholarship opportunities. The list below features three organizations that can help students make valuable professional connections in the nutritional sciences field.

  • American Nutrition Association The ANA welcomes learners in programs related to nutrition and health. Student members pay a discounted membership fee and receive access to a peer-reviewed journal, a resource library, webinars, and discounts on training seminars. The ANA advocates for practice rights and insurance benefits for professional nutritionists.
  • American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition Learners interested in feeding tube nutrition can benefit from joining ASPEN. The society also discusses nutrition through traditional consumption methods. ASPEN offers several membership tiers for students and professionals.
  • National Association of Nutrition Professionals The NANP welcomes student members and hosts a forum where members can post questions and network. The organization also provides resources to help professionals earn board certification. The NANP delivers webinars and podcasts with up-to-date information on industry advancements.

Scholarships for Nutritional Sciences Students

Even students earning an affordable master’s degree in nutritional sciences can benefit from scholarships. Most scholarship applications require recommendation letters, essays, and official transcripts. To improve their chance of earning a financial award, learners can apply for multiple scholarships. The following list highlights three noteworthy scholarships for nutritional sciences majors.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation Scholarships


Who Can Apply: The Academy Foundation offers a scholarship exclusively for dietetic graduate students. Applicants must attend an accredited U.S. school and a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. The recipient must maintain membership with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Amount: Varies

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation Grants


Who Can Apply: Learners conducting research in nutrition can apply for grants from the Academy Foundation. These awards help learners complete research in niche dietetics topics, such as the impact of nutrition on oral health or neurological disorders. The Academy Foundation provides most grant applications on its website.

Amount: $5,000-$20,000

Global Health Fellows Program


Who Can Apply: This fellowship program from the United States Agency for International Development places students in research locations, such as the District of Columbia and developing countries. Recipients work full time for two years, conducting research in health fields such as nutrition. Participants also gain practical humanitarian experience. Applicants must demonstrate analytical and communication skills.

Amount: Varies

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