Welcome to NutritionScienceDegree.org. We provide information on nutrition science programs and careers, as well as additional training requirements for related areas of study.

Want to learn more? Click on the links below for additional information. You can also follow our blogger, Cindy Silver, a registered dietitian with degrees in biology and food science nutrition.

What Is Nutrition Science?

Nutrition science looks at the connection between diet and health. It also examines the dietary habits and nutritional needs of people in order to establish an optimal way of maintaining health.

More and more people have started taking charge of their health, and, as a result, nutrition scientists and specialists are needed to assist patients with their food choices and physical activity behaviors. If you have a passion for health and wellness, getting a degree in nutrition science might be an option.

Associates vs Bachelors vs Masters In Nutrition Science: Which Is Right For You?

If you want to earn a degree in nutrition science, you have a few different options. Your career goals will determine which degree to pursue. Check out your options below to learn more about which path is right for you:

  • Associate of Science in Nutrition: An AS in Nutrition (or Applied Nutrition, as it’s sometimes referred to) is a two-year degree that prepares graduates for entry-level positions in traditional health settings such as hospitals, private medical offices, and public health agencies, as well as integrative health and wellness organizations and companies.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nutrition: A BS in Nutrition is a four-year program typically designed to prepare graduates to work as a Registered Dietician. Courses cover such topics as nutrition therapy, how to manage daily stress, and ways to incorporate physical activity into daily life. Graduates typically go on to work as a nutritionist, health educator, or coach, or as a health promotion consultant in schools, health care facilities, corporations, wellness facilities, or the fitness setting.
  • Master of Science in Nutrition: An MS in Nutrition is a two-year program designed for students with a bachelor’s in a life or physical sciences, including registered dietitians (RD/RDN), registered nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Graduate-level programs in nutrition often include a research component and culminates in a thesis. Some schools offer a master’s degree in food science or health and wellness.

Below are accredited degree programs that can lead to a variety of career options in nutrition and other related fields.

Featured Nutrition Science Programs

Purdue University

Accreditation: HLC, NCA

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American University

Accreditation: MSA

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Ashford University

Accreditation: WSCUC

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Sacred Heart University

Accreditation: NEASC

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Rasmussen College

Accreditation: HLC, NCA

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California Baptist University

Accreditation: WASC

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What Are My Career Options In Nutrition Science?

Depending on the type of employer and services provided, a degree in nutrition science can lead to a variety of different jobs. With new diets and developments in health and medical research, it’s an exciting time to work in this field. You’ll be directly involved with helping people get healthy! Job opportunities in the field continue to grow in a variety of areas, including the ones listed below:

Type of Job Job Description
Clinical Dietetics Clinical Dietitians provide medical nutrition therapy for patients in institutions such as hospitals and nursing care facilities. They assess patients’ nutritional needs, develop and implement nutrition programs, and evaluate and report the results.
Food and Nutrition Management Food and Nutrition Managers interpret nutritional data, apply nutritional principles to promote health, and ensure the safety and sanitation of food, equipment, and personnel to provide quality care.
Public Health Nutrition Public Health Nutritionists are registered dietitians who implement nutrition policies and programs for health departments as well as design and carry out programs in the general community to promote physical fitness and nutrition.
Education and Research Registered Dietitians in education and research create and write curriculum for state boards of education, Dairy Council, Cooperative Extension Worksite Wellness, teach nutrition and fitness to employees, and manage or assist with clinical protocols, interventions, or clinical trials.

The job outlook for dietitians and nutritionists is a promising one! According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations due to an increased interest in the role of food and nutrition, particularly preventative healthcare.

The BLS reports the states with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients for dietitians and nutritionists in the map below (source: BLS.gov: Occupational Employment And Wages: Dietitians and Nutritionists, data for May 2017).

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Are Dietetics And Nutrition Science The Same Thing?

The terms nutritionist and dietitian are sometimes used interchangeably but they are not equivalent. It’s important to know the differences between the two service providers, and what to look for when choosing one. The chart below outlines the major differences between the roles:

Dietitians Nutritionists
Overview: Dietitians are degree-qualified health professionals who promote nutritional well-being, treat disease, prevent nutrition-related problems, and provide practical, safe advice, based on current scientific evidence. Overview: A nutritionist is a non-accredited title that may apply to somebody who has completed courses in nutrition and dietetics. They often work in private practices and deliver group nutrition and cooking classes. The term “nutritionist” is not protected by law in almost all countries.
Education: Dietitians hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics, including a certain period of practical training in different hospital and community settings. Education: Nutritionists likely need to complete some formal coursework in nutrition-related subjects to qualify for employment. An advanced degree, however, can prepare students to work as educators and researchers in the nutrition field.
Credentials: Dietitians are registered with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) and called registered dietitians, or RDs. They may also be licensed by state. Credentials: Only nutritionists registered with Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) may legally declare themselves as registered dietitians.
Job Duties: Dietitians translate scientific nutrition principles into useful information that can be used by clients to create dietary plans to help promote healthy lifestyles. Dietitians are especially supportive of patients with medical conditions that require individualized dietary plans. Job Duties: Nutritionists work with people to develop a healthy relationship with food by determining their current nutritional status, and educating them regarding nutritional needs, restrictions, and supplements.
 
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Nutritionist Certification: What You Need To Know

Nutritionists are not licensed by state boards, and nutritionists are NOT dietitians unless licensed as one. However, if you choose to pursue a degree in nutrition science or a related field, you’ll likely take courses to prepare you for licensure.

If you want to learn more about each state’s requirements, you can view this resource from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for an overview of the status of licensure and certification statutes. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also provides an overview of the dietetics practitioner state licensure provisions.

The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) awards credentials to individuals at entry, and specialty levels to those who have met specific standards for competency. For more information on these credentials and how to earn them, see the chart below with helpful links and certification requirements.

Name of Credential Overview and Requirements
Registered Dietitians (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) RDs or RDNs are individuals who have:

  • Completed the minimum of a Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Met current minimum academic requirements approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)
  • Completed a supervised practice program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)
  • Passed the Registration Examination for Dietitians
Nutrition and Dietetics Technicians, Registered (NDTR) or a Dietetic Technicians, Registered (DTR) NDTRs or DTRs are individuals who have:

  • Completed an associate or a baccalaureate degree granted by a U.S. regionally accredited college or university
  • Completed a minimum of 450 supervised practice hours through an ACEND-accredited Dietetic Technician Program (associate degree), or meet current academic requirements as accredited by the ACEND (bachelor’s degree)
  • Passed the Registration Examination for Dietetic Technicians
Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition Pediatric Nutritionists encourage healthy food choices for children from as early as infancy, and successfully meet the following criteria:

  • Current Registered Dietitian (RD) status with CDR.
  • Maintenance of RD status with CDR, for a minimum of 2 years.
  • Documentation of 2,000 hours of practice experience as an RD in the specialty area within the past five years
Specialist in Renal Nutrition Renal Nutritionists are experts on diet and nutrition in kidney disease who successfully meet the following criteria:

  • Current Registered Dietitian (RD) status with CDR.
  • Maintenance of RD status with CDR, for a minimum of 2 years.
  • Documentation of 2,000 hours of practice experience as an RD in the specialty area within the past five years
Specialist in Gerontological Nutrition Gerontological Nutritionist are experts in effective nutrition strategies for older adults who successfully meet the following criteria:

  • Current Registered Dietitian (RD) status with CDR.
  • Maintenance of RD status with CDR, for a minimum of 2 years.
  • Documentation of 2,000 hours of practice experience as an RD in the specialty area within the past five years
Specialist in Sports Dietetics Sports Dietitians provide individual and team nutrition counseling to enhance the performance of athletes, and successfully meet the following criteria:

  • Current Registered Dietitian (RD) status with CDR.
  • Maintenance of RD status with CDR, for a minimum of 2 years.
  • Documentation of 2,000 hours of practice experience as an RD in the specialty area within the past five years
Specialist in Oncology Nutrition Oncology Nutritionists advocate for the efficacy of nutritional intervention in cancer care, and successfully meet the following criteria:

  • Current Registered Dietitian (RD) status with CDR.
  • Maintenance of RD status with CDR, for a minimum of 2 years.
  • Documentation of 2,000 hours of practice experience as an RD in the specialty area within the past five years
 
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