What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Nutrition Program?

Online master’s in nutrition programs open the door to attending distant schools without the hassle and expense of moving across the country. Despite coursework being delivered online, you can expect the same quality of education as in a traditional classroom setting with additional scheduling flexibility. When comparing online programs, you should review various options to find the best school for your needs and career goals.

Available concentrations

If you know what you want to do in the nutrition field, one of the first things to look for when comparing programs is whether you can focus your studies on that specialty. Some of the most popular concentration options for a master’s in nutrition include:

  • Didactic Program in Dietetics: This concentration covers the benefits of dietary restrictions and modification and how these techniques can promote well-being.
  • Applied Nutrition: This concentration offers leadership courses and allows students to integrate environmental, cultural, and other factors to create a community health improvement plan considering multiple approaches.
  • Biochemical and Functional Nutrition: Focuses on the science of nutrition, how it can be used as medicine, and the study of nutrition’s impact on genetics.
  • Global Health: Covers nutrition studies on a global scale, focusing on the role of nutrition in economic growth as well as how to prevent communicable diseases and address humanitarian crises.
  • Healthcare Informatics: Provides training in using technology for collecting, storing, and using nutrition information to improve collaboration between healthcare professionals and enhance the quality of patient care.

Common degree curriculum

Students pursuing a career in nutrition have several directions they can take, so it’s essential to look into the differences between schools when selecting a master’s in nutrition program. Schools that require on-campus classes to complement online coursework may be too far away to complete the program without moving. You should also think about your goals and find a program that offers courses that match your desired career path.

Several factors, such as your chosen school and preferred concentration, can affect the courses offered. Some courses, however, are standard throughout programs. The foundational courses you can expect to encounter include:

  • Exercise and Nutrition: Examine the effect nutrition has on physical performance.
  • Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism: Gain a better understanding of dietary recommendations and how they relate to the digestive system and metabolism.
  • Food Laws and Regulation: Learn about the importance of laws and regulations in the food industry, the history of their development, and the process by which these laws are passed and implemented.
  • Principles of Biochemistry: Investigate how living things interact with biomolecules and how this affects the nutritional value found in animals and plants.

Certification and license preparation

After you graduate, consider continuing your education by earning professional certifications, which will help you get hired more quickly and advance to higher-paying positions. Some of the most valuable certifications in this field include:

Program accreditation

Only apply to schools approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. If your school doesn’t have regional accreditation, you may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed. As mentioned above, you should also look for programs accredited by ACEND due to the licensure requirements in this field.

Program completion timeframe

Most master’s in nutrition programs require 30 to 40 credit hours of coursework and are designed to be completed within two years. If you only attend school part-time, it may take three or more years. Some programs require an internship or thesis, which can add to the time needed to complete the program. To shorten completion time, some schools offer accelerated programs that allow students to take a heavier course load to earn a master’s in nutrition in just one year.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Nutrition Graduates

The employment outlook is excellent for those with a master’s in nutrition. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs in the United States is projected to increase by just 3% over the next decade. Most nutrition occupations are expected to grow much faster, making it easier to find work and negotiate pay raises. 

While only a bachelor’s degree is required for most jobs in this field, earning a master’s still offers career benefits. Workers with a master’s degree earn an average salary of $1,661 per week, while those with a bachelor’s degree earn $1,432. This amounts to a difference of nearly $12,000 per year.

Remember that how much you make will also depend on where you live, with areas with a higher cost of living generally offering higher salaries. For example, dieticians and nutritionists make an average salary of $80,160 in California but just $60,590 in Oklahoma.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)

Dietitians and Nutritionists

Dietitians and nutritionists use their nutrition knowledge to prevent disease and improve the health of their clients. This process includes identifying dietary needs, creating a nutritional plan, monitoring the plan’s implementation, and assessing the results.

$66,450

7%

Agricultural and Food Scientists

Agricultural and food scientists conduct the research needed to improve the productivity and sustainability of the farming industry, sharing their findings with the public, food producers, and other scientists. They also play a role in creating and producing new food products.

$74,940

6%

Health Education Specialists

Those who work in health education apply their knowledge of nutrition to promote the health and well-being of communities. They work with other specialists to identify and develop solutions for community health concerns and aid in the creation of health education programs.

$59,990

7%

Professional organizations

Joining professional organizations is a great way to stay on top of industry trends, network with colleagues and related professionals, and fulfill continuing education requirements. Here are a few of the more popular professional organizations dedicated to those in the nutrition field:

  • American Society for Nutrition: The ASN provides members with industry publications and encourages them to join Research Interest Sections, focusing on different nutrition specialties. The organization also offers continuing education opportunities and members-only discounts.
  • National Association of Nutrition Professionals: The NANP offers certification programs and hosts an annual conference — this event is an excellent resource for networking. The organization’s career center is also open to members, giving them a direct line to job opportunities.
  • American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition: ASPEN is an international community for nutrition professionals that provides career connections through volunteer activities and hosted events. The organization also offers members tools to help advance their careers, continuing education opportunities, and access to a comprehensive library covering various relevant topics.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Nutrition Degree

Despite the affordability of online master’s in nutrition programs compared to on-campus options, some students may be unable to pay without help. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine federal grants and loan eligibility. Graduate students can also look into private loans and scholarships if additional supplementation is needed. 

Student Finance Resources and Guides

With all the different financing options available, it can take time to figure out your next step after submitting the FAFSA. The resources below are excellent places to continue your search for financial aid.

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Interested in a degree?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.