Welcome to NutritionScienceDegree.org. We provide information on nutrition science programs and careers as well as additional training requirements. Want to learn more? Click on any link below for additional information. You can also follow our blogger, Cindy Silver, a registered dietitian with degrees in Biology and Food Science Nutrition.

  1. What is nutritional science?
  2. What are my degree options in nutritional science?
  3. Are dietetics and nutrition science the same thing?
  4. What are my career options in nutrition science?
  5. What should I know about nutrition and food science certification and licensure?

What is nutritional science?

Nutritional science, or nutrition science as it’s also referred to, 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.

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Purdue University

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Ashford University

Accreditation: WSCUC

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American University

Accreditation: MSA

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Sacred Heart University

Accreditation: NEASC

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Rasmussen College

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California Baptist University

Accreditation: WASC

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Are dietitians and nutritionists 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 and prevent nutrition-related problems and provide practical, safe advice, based on current scientific evidence. 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 a master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics, including a certain period of practical training in different hospital and community settings. 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.
Credentials: Dietitians are registered with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) and called registered dietitians, or RDs. They may also be licensed by state. 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. 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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What are my career options in nutrition science?

Depending on the type of employer and services provides, a degree in nutritional 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 in 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 the health department 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 board 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! Employment is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations due to an increased interest in the role of food and nutrition, particularly preventative healthcare.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the states with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients for dietitians and nutritionists in the map below:

Jobs for Dietitians

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What should I know about nutrition and food science certification and licensure?

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 nutritional science or in a related field, you’ll likely take courses to prepare you for licensure.

The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) awards credentials to individuals at entry and specialty levels 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. If you want to learn more each state’s requirements, you can view this PDF for reference as this resource for state licensure provisions.

Name of Credential Overview and Requirements Additional Information
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 have 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 have 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 have 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 provides individual and team nutrition counseling to enhance the performance of athletes and have 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 have 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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Find Your Nutrition Science Program

Research your Nutrition Science program options with our database of over 250 schools. Search by subject, tuition, campus or online to find a Nutrition Science degree that fits your needs.

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