Nutritionists serve an important role. From helping patients improve their diets to consulting with school districts on how to build a lunch menu, nutritionists are needed in a wide variety of settings. It’s no wonder that the field is predicted to grow 8% between now and 2029. As the interest in the role of nutrition in health and wellness has grown, so has the need for nutritionists. Though it is possible to become a working dietitian with a Bachelor’s degree, many nutritionists pursue advanced education. Earning a Master’s degree in nutrition prepares students to specialize in their desired field, to become a researcher or educator, and to elevate their career.
What Can You Do With a Master’s in Nutrition?
Earning a master’s in nutrition can open up a plethora of job opportunities. While many employers are satisfied with Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Registered Dietitian (RD) credentials, there are some careers that prefer their potential hires to hold a master’s, as well as a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential, which can only be earned by professionals who hold an advanced degree.
While all nutrition specialists have a variety of workplaces and paths to choose from, nutritionists who acquire advanced education and credentials have access to even more options. While an RD or RDN typically works in institutional environments, such as hospitals, school systems, nursing homes, or long-term care facilities, master’s degree holders can also work as an educator, clinical nutritionist, researcher, community health advocate, and consultant. Most Clinical Nutritionists (CN) work in private practices to provide nutritional counseling services or work in close collaboration with a patient’s larger care team. Those CNS holders who work in private practice may have higher earning potential. With all the benefits of earning a master’s, an MS in nutrition program may be starting to sound beneficial. However, if you’re a working professional, attending traditional school may pose some logistical problems. While some students may go directly from their bachelor’s program to a master’s program, many master’s candidates find that they need to work during their studies. This is where pursuing an online master’s degree in nutrition can be helpful.
Earning a Master’s in Nutrition Online
If you followed a traditional educational path, it may have never occurred to you to pursue an online master’s in nutrition. However, there are many reasons why getting a master’s in nutrition online is a wonderful option.
There are many different reasons why a student might choose an online master’s in nutrition instead of an in-person program.
- Flexibility: An online program offers flexibility for students who are working professionals or have a family. Students who need a little more flexibility can take up to five years to complete their courses. Online students receive the same care in instruction that in-person students do. You can study from anywhere while learning from a diverse group of professors.
- Expediency: For those looking to complete the program quickly, an online program can be finished in as few as twenty-eight months.
- Making a Career Switch: An online program is also a wonderful choice for those looking to make a change in their career. Students take several foundational classes and then can continue onto the master’s level courses.
A master’s in nutrition online requires students to take the same courses that in-person students must. Over seven terms, students take anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, developmental nutrition, functional nutrition, and more. The courses taken in this program adequately prepare students to apply for certification from the American Clinical Board of Nutrition and the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board. The online program includes a virtual clinic, the first of its kind, that offers graduate students practice in the field and 255 hours of supervised experience credit. These experiential hours can be applied to the 1,000 hours of supervised experience needed to become a Certified Nutrition Specialist. While the required certification can differ from state to state, this program provides the necessary training students need to succeed in their preferred licensing process.
Students who complete an online master’s in nutrition can go on to pursue further education and earn a Ph.D. or D.H.Sc (Doctor of Health Science). Alternatively, they are able to seek licensing and certification in order to pursue a career in nutrition counseling or clinical nutrition. Nutritionists who hold an MS degree can also teach at the community college level, should education be of interest to them. With an MS, nutritionists can also conduct clinical research and submit their findings to scientific papers for publishing. Additionally, nutritionists who have completed their master’s degree will be able to provide more expansive wellness services to their patients.
Whether you’re a working nutritionist seeking to bolster your existing skills or you’re a health professional interested in entering a new field, pursuing an online master’s in nutrition is the perfect solution. With a master’s degree in nutrition, you’ll be a tremendous resource for your patients, providing them with both preventative and ameliorative care, and you’ll have access to more career opportunities than you would with just a bachelor’s degree.
Contact the Admissions Office at University of Bridgeport to find out more about our online Master’s in Nutrition program!