Online Master’s Programs in Nutrition

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Careers & Salaries with a Graduate Degree in Nutrition

The field of nutrition is growing in popularity. Grass roots movements in holistic wellness that encourage people to take responsibility for their own health are partially responsible for the demand for knowledgeable nutritionists. Although a master’s degree in nutrition is not required for all careers in the field of diet and nutrition, acquiring an advanced degree provides a competitive edge in this fast-growing field and opens up new opportunities for career advancement.

Best Online Master’s in Nutrition

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Best Online Master’s in Nutrition


  • METHODOLOGY

    Best Online Master’s in Nutrition

    Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our 2018 college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factorsData Sources:

    Eligibility Criteria:

    • Each college must be accredited
    • Each college must be a not-for-profit institution
    • Each college must be located in a state (US territories and Washington DC were excluded)
    • Each college must have at least one online program 1
    • Each college must have a maximum four-year tuition of $25,000 or a maximum two-year tuition of $5,000

    Ranking Factors:

    • Affordability
    • Quality
    • Flexibility
    • Program

    Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.

    1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.

    2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.Notes:

    • A dash in our Rankings Tool indicates IPEDS data was not available.
    • Tuition displayed in in-state and per year unless stated otherwise.


A good master’s in nutrition online program will thoroughly prepare students for career advancement in this field. Prospective graduate students should weigh the options carefully on which online master’s in nutrition program to choose, as not all degree plans are alike. We culled information from the Department of Education, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and information from the universities themselves to create our list of the best nutrition graduate programs. All schools have been accredited.

  1. North Dakota State University
    Location

    Fargo, ND

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    North Dakota State University offers distance learners a Master of Science in Health, Nutrition and Exercise Science: Leadership in Physical Education and Sport Option. The program is designed for professionals who work in physical education and other teaching-related positions who wish to expand their skill set and offer more comprehensive instruction. Through the online Blackboard learning system, students engage with their fellow classmates and professors in chat room sessions, discussion boards and collaborative assignments. Students can complete tasks on their own timeline and work around their current employment schedules, provided they keep up with the necessary scheduled deadlines. Courses in the curriculum closely examine health-related case studies and the best modern practices for physical education instruction in K -12 and university settings. At NDSU, master's students take required courses such as Sport in American Society, Supervision and Management, Governance in Sports and Legal Liability in HPER. Prospective students should have a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. NDSU prefers that incoming students have a degree in a kinesiology-related field such as physical education, coaching or sports management.

  2. Texas Tech University
    Location

    Lubbock, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Texas Tech University has an online Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics program. This degree is for students who are currently registered dietitians or nutritionists, are in the middle of a dietetic internship or working toward a Didactic Programs in Dietetics (DPD) verification. Texas Tech prides itself on practice-based learning with specialized elective courses such as eating disorders, geriatric nutrition and maternal health. Graduates typically move on to careers that focus on pediatrics, obesity management, diabetes and patient nutrition support. While the GRE is not required for admission, students should have an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Prospective students should also have a DPD verification statement, proof of acceptance into a dietetic internship program or have registered dietitian credentials. Applications should also include a professional resume and 2 letters of recommendation. Students in this program can apply for a variety of graduate scholarships through the Graduate School with a separate application. Scholarships range from $3,000-$5,000 a year.

  3. University of Southern Mississippi
    Location

    Hattiesburg, MS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Southern Mississippi offers a hybrid Master of Science in Nutrition and Food Systems. The majority of this degree can be completed online, but distance learners at USM enroll in an on-site dietetic internship while concurrently completing required courses. Students can choose between an emphasis in Dietetic Practice or Management of Child Nutrition Programs. For graduation, students need to finish 33-36 credit hours, including courses such as Biostatistics and Community Health, in addition to the internship and a final project or thesis. Applications must include 3 letters of recommendation, official transcripts from all universities attended, GRE scores, application fee and immunization records. Competitive applicants for USM have a 3.0 GPA or higher in their undergraduate coursework. At USM, all students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of their location, at $479.12 per credit hour. Master's students can apply for financial assistance and dietetic scholarships through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation and the USM Foundation.

  4. Central Michigan University
    Location

    Mount Pleasant, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Online students can pursue a Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics online through the Global Campus at Central Michigan University. Students choose from three coursework options: thesis, internship or coursework. For graduation, distance learners complete 31-37 credits, at $596 per credit, in about 2 years. Required courses for this program, regardless of track, include Research Methods and Biostatistics, Macronutrients, Micronutrients and the Seminar in Nutrition. Incoming students should have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of coursework. Competitive applications include 3 letters of recommendation from former professors or professionals in the nutrition and dietetics field. Additionally, prospective students must submit a 2-3 page essay outlining their career goals and qualifications for the program at CMU. Incoming students may be eligible to transfer up to 15 credit hours by way of Credit by Examination or for previously earned credits at accredited colleges or universities. Distance learners in the CMU Global Campus have access to counseling services, Career Development Center resources, financial aid assistance and academic advising.

  5. Bowling Green State University
    Location

    Bowling Green, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Bowling Green State University offers a Master of Food and Nutrition program for distance learners. Students acquire the skills necessary to be competent health consultants in their communities and provide nutrition-based counseling and therapy for clients. The core curriculum consists of the courses Family and Community Nutrition, Micronutrients, Macronutrients and Advanced Clinical Nutrition. Degree seekers must also choose a minor concentration, with the help of their advisers, that supports their career goals. Master's students choose between completing a final project or writing a traditional thesis at the end of the program for graduation. Courses are 7 weeks in duration. In most cases, students take 1 or 2 classes at a time and complete the degree in 2 years. BGSU offers a flexible schedule with 6 starting dates per calendar year. Applications must include official transcripts, GRE scores and 3 letters of recommendation. Distance learners at BGSU have access to counseling services, resume and job support, tech support and online library access. Graduate students can also find additional networking and career planning resources through BGSU's Multicultural Initiatives for Graduate Student Success program.

  6. University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Location

    Lincoln, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers a Master of Science in Nutrition and Health Sciences for distance learners. Students choose between specialty areas in Community Nutrition and Health Promotion, Dietetics and Nutrition and Exercise. Nebraska students choose between 3 curriculum tracks: thesis, non-thesis and a course-heavy non-thesis, non-minor track. Degree seekers take a diverse set of practical nutrition courses including Multimedia Applications for Education and Training, Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention, Nutritional Anthropology and Clinical Exercise Physiology. Applications should include GRE scores, 3 letters of recommendation, a personal statement of goals and a professional resume. Transfer credits may be applied toward the degree provided they are less than 10 years old. Distance students complete 30-36 credit hours, depending on the concentration, and an oral comprehensive examination for graduation. Distance learners have access to academic advising, career counseling, library resources and technical support. Nebraska subscribes to a rolling admissions policy, but students should apply by March 15 for Fall and Oct. 15 for Spring to be considered for internal funding and financial assistance.

  7. Texas Woman's University
    Location

    Denton, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Texas Woman's University is a coeducational institution that offers a Master of Science in Nutrition. Full-time distance learners can complete this degree in as few as 18 months. Courses are offered in both fully online and hybrid formats. Students taking courses on-campus can do so in Denton or Houston. For graduation, students need to complete 36 credit hours of coursework. While no thesis is required, coursework is aligned with the same curriculum that on-campus students complete in the classroom. TWU offers an internship/master's program track for those who wish to pursue the Registered Dietician credential. Upon graduation, students are prepared to sit for the Registration Examination for Dietitians and apply for licensure in Texas. Incoming graduate students should have a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students who are interested in pursuing an internship while in this program must submit a separate application for either the Master's Dietetic Internship or School Nutrition Specialist Internship, both of which take place in Denton and Houston. TWU graduates often become researchers and developers in the food industry, educators and nutrition consultants for both private practices and marketing companies.

  8. North Carolina State University at Raleigh
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    North Carolina State University at Raleigh offers an online Master of Nutrition degree. Located in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, this is a non-thesis, applied degree program with available concentrations in Human Nutrition and Feed Science. This program helps young professionals pursue careers in nutrition science and related areas. Students must complete 36 credit hours of coursework, including 6 credits of a practicum, internship or approved final project. Students have a significant level of flexibility when choosing their courses in this curriculum, including both core courses and electives. Available elective courses span a wide range of topics including Exercise Nutrition; Vitamin Metabolism; Life Cycle Nutrition; Lactation, Milk, and Nutrition and Advanced Feed Formula. Prospective students should have a Bachelor of Science degree, with a minimum 3.0 GPA, in a science-related area, preferably biology or organic chemistry. Competitive applicants score at or above the 30th percentile in all categories on the GRE.

  9. South Dakota State University
    Location

    Brookings, SD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Online students can take advantage of the Master of Science in Dietetics program at South Dakota State University. As part of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA), this 36-credit master's degree pools resources from 9 participating universities in the group. Students prepare for research- and clinical-based careers as nutritionists, researchers, instructors and dietitians. The program is designed for individuals who already hold the registered dietitian credential. Students may choose a thesis track, research paper track or written comprehensive exam track. All students regardless of track must complete 12 core courses and an oral defense with their supervisory committee. Graduate applications should include a resume, GRE scores, personal statement, official transcripts, contact information for references and an application fee. Incoming students should have a 3.0 GPA or higher. To be considered for scholarships through the College of Education and Human Sciences, distance leaners need to submit a scholarship application through the MyState site.

  10. Framingham State University
    Location

    Framingham, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Framingham State University offers a Master of Science with a Concentration in Food and Nutrition and Specialization in Food Science and Nutrition Science. Online students in this program study the technical aspects of the food industry, related engineering fields, biotechnologies and relevant health and medical concepts. Distance learners at FSU need to complete a minimum of 10 courses. Incoming students must have the proper undergraduate prerequisite courses including experience in microbiology, biology and biochemistry. Prospective students should have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applications should include 2 letters of recommendation, a personal statement and official GRE scores. Competitive students have minimum GRE scores of 150 in verbal, 150 in math and a 4.0 in writing. Applications are accepted on a rolling admission basis, but students should plan on beginning their coursework in the fall term. Applications are due earlier than usual, by Jan. 1 of the starting year.

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

A master’s in nutrition program provides students with the skills they need to advance their careers in the field of nutrition and diet. A master’s in nutrition can lead to a variety of careers outside of the traditional nutritionist box. A master’s degree provides options for starting a career in public health, food science, nutrition therapy or as a health educator. Some of the skills students will learn during their master’s program include:

  • Insight into how the body uses food for metabolic function
  • An in-depth understanding of the latest scientific research in health and nutrition
  • Insight into how food can be used to prevent disease and illness
  • Detailed knowledge of food therapy and how food can be used as a therapy resource

What common courses are offered in a master’s in nutrition program?

Here is a list of the courses that are commonly offered in an online master’s program:

Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism

This course explores the physiological connections and relationships between the body and nutrients.

Medical Nutrition Therapy

This course examines the medical field and how it relates to the application of nutritional principles.

Health Promotion/Disease Prevention

This course examines the methods by which a person can enhance his or her lifestyle through nutrition.

Food and Society

This course examines food trends and products and how they can effect change in the lives of people.

Health Care and Nutrition Communication

This course covers the current methods of health and nutrition communication, as it applies to the public health sector.

Nutrition in Practice

This course employs a real-life internship or practicum experience with a focus on using nutritional theory into practice.

What exams or projects should I expect?

Most graduates from a master’s in nutrition program must earn their licensure with The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) if they have not already done so when earning their bachelor’s degree. The AND is a national licensing program, but states may also require graduates sit for state licensing exams in addition to the AND exam.

In addition to licensure, most nutrition graduate programs require a culminating capstone project meant to demonstrate the knowledge acquired throughout the degree program. This project may be presented in the form of original research, a grant proposal, a new nutritional program or even a nutrition-related business plan. Each school will specify the type of capstone project required, which could vary based on a student’s specialization.

What specializations are available in a master’s in nutrition program?

There are several areas of specialty in the nutrition field, particularly for students seeking an online master’s degree in the field. A partial listing of specialized areas includes:

Nutrition Dietetics

This area is based on the scientific principles of nutrition and focuses on basic skills relating to project management, interpretation of research literature, critical inquiry and problem-solving.

Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine

This is a scientifically-based, functional approach to staying in good health. It addresses the causes of disease instead of trying to suppress its symptoms. Functional medicine employs natural methods of maintaining patient health with diet and nutrition. It deeply explores the biochemical and genetic individuality of each patient.

Community Nutrition

A focus in this area can specialize in school nutrition, extension service, community outreach and the food industry, among other specializations. There are programs available that do not require a thesis.

Clinical Nutrition

This area focuses on biomedical and nutritional therapy and examines how different nutritional issues affect various segments of the population. Clinical nutritionists often go on to work in either a clinical setting, or in public health or research.

What Can I do with a Master’s in Nutrition Degree?

Graduates of nutrition master’s programs are ready to study nutrition and provide advice on diets at the professional level. Many high-level positions in the nutrition industry require a graduate degree. Some of the common career paths for master’s degree-holders in nutrition include the following roles:

Dietitians and Nutritionists

These professionals help patients to adopt healthy eating practices and manage diseases that result from having an incomplete diet. Some of them meet with patients at clinics and other healthcare facilities to discuss diets and other health objectives. Others work with schools, adult care facilities and other institutions to promote nutrition in their local communities. Most states required dietitians and nutritionists to carry a license.

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

These professionals work with individuals and groups to promote healthy living in their local communities. Projects usually focus on specific elements of nutrition and diet. Health educators can usually find a job with just a bachelor’s degree, although a master’s credential will help them compete in the job market. A Certified Health Education Specialist certificate is also required for some positions.

Agricultural and Food Scientists

These professionals study the agricultural origins of food to improve efficiency, sustainability and overall food safety. Agricultural and food scientists work with farmers, food distributors and consumers, as well as public health agencies, nonprofit organizations and private companies.

Exercise Physiologists

These healthcare professionals help patients with chronic injuries by teaching them to use positive exercise and fitness routines. They start by studying a patient’s medical history, and then monitor their vital signs during the treatment process to ensure they remain healthy and safe.

There are also a few professional associations for those with an online master’s degree in nutrition-related fields. A list of these includes:

The American Nutrition Association

This is a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the cause of nutrition. It is famous for the nutrition educational programs that it puts on and provides a venue where professionals, individuals and organizations can interact with each other.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

The largest organization of food and nutrition specialists in the world. It was founded in 1917 by a group of women who wanted to help the government to conserve food and improve health and nutrition for the general public. The academy now has over 100,000 credentialed practitioners and is dedicated to advancing the cause of nutrition through research, education and advocacy.

The National Association of Nutrition Professionals

This group is completely dedicated to advancing the cause, education and standards of the holistic nutrition industry. They have developed rigorous educational standards for nutrition consultants and natural chefs. Schools can apply for membership in order to be listed on their website as accredited schools.

The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition

ASPEN emphasizes good nutrition as a vital part of caring for patients. It offers a plethora of resources designed to promote good nutrition among patients, and it also provides continuing education credits for its members.

The American Council on Science and Health

This popular organization provides resources for job hunters in the nutrition field. It also offers access to student information and publishes a regular newsletter. The organization is known for staying on the cutting edge in the nutrition field.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Nutrition?

There are a variety of careers in the nutrition field that may be of interest to those with a master’s degree in nutrition. Job seekers should keep in mind, however, that additional certifications and licensure may be required in addition to a master’s degree.

CAREERLOWEST 10% EARNED ANNUALLYMEDIAN ANNUAL SALARYHIGHEST 10% EARNED ANNUALLYJOB GROWTH 2016-2026
NutritionistLess than $29,000$59,410More than $72,000+15%
DietitianLess than $41,000$59,410More than $69,000+15%
Community Health WorkerLess than $27,000$38,370More than $49,000+16%
Health EducatorLess than $32,000$45,360More than $60,000+16%
Food ScientistLess than $44,000$62,910More than $84,000+7%
Exercise PhysiologistLess than $30,000$49,090More than $69,000+13%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the field of nutrition is growing at a much faster rate than average, with most nutrition careers growing at a rate of 15 percent a year. While many nutrition careers only require a bachelor’s degree to start, there are two reasons why a nutritionist may choose to pursue a master’s degree in nutrition.

Of course, those who have a master’s degree can generally expect to make more than someone with a bachelor’s degree. According to the Center on Education and the Workforce, those with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition sciences make a median annual salary of $52,000, while those with a master’s make $70,000.

In addition to the chance of a higher salary, individuals with master’s degrees in nutrition may also find greater career opportunities. Certain organizations require nutritionists and health educators to have more than a bachelor’s degree, and earning an advanced degree helps provide an edge in a rapidly-growing field.

Online Master’s in Nutrition Program Accreditation

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics stands as the premier accrediting agency in the nutrition field. It ensures the quality of nutrition and dietetics education in order to further the profession and is valued for advancing the excellence of education that is available. ACEND assures the quality of nutrition and dietetics education through a peer review process and effectively communicates the accreditation process to educational institutions.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Nutrition Degree

The cost of obtaining a master’s degree is cost-prohibitive for many students. Luckily, many schools and organizations offer scholarships, grants and other forms of aid to make it easier for students to earn their master’s in nutrition degree.

  • Scholarships from Professional OrganizationsProfessional organizations, associations and non-profit groups offer a variety of scholarships for nutrition students.
    • CANFIT offers graduate students in California who are of an ethnic minority the chance to earn a master’s degree in nutrition.
    • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a variety of scholarships and awards available for students. The amount of the scholarship ranges from $500 to $3,000, with many of them in the amount of $1,000. They are available for both undergraduate and graduate students.
    • The American Mushroom Association (AMI) also has scholarships for graduate students.
    • The American Scandinavian Foundation offers fellowships of up to $23,000 and grants of up to $5,000 for American students to go to Scandinavia for a year and pursue advanced studies, including those related to nutrition.
  • Program ScholarshipsSpecific graduation programs may offer scholarships based on undergraduate performance for incoming nutrition master’s students, such as:
  • Student LoansStandard options such as student or personal loans can be used to pay tuition expenses. Students interested in federal financial aid can fill out a FAFSA form to determine eligibility.

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