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Overview of Graduate Degree Programs Related to Diet and Health

Higher Education Articles July 31, 2017

This article talks about graduate degree programs related to diet and health and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, along with job and wage outlook.

Diet and Health Graduate Degree Programs

Registered dietitians seeking career advancement into management positions in their field would benefit from enrolling in a Master of Science (M.S.) in Dietetics. Students with bachelor’s degrees in any area seeking careers as nutritionists would be best advised to enroll in a Master of Science (M.S.) in Nutrition. Master’s level programs comprise research and coursework and possibly include an internship and a thesis. Those seeking careers in academia and research would benefit from pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nutrition and Dietetics. Research involves the impact of diet on human health. Students may tailor their study plan by opting for an area of concentration, such as a particular population’s diet.

Master of Science (M.S.) Programs in Dietetics

The focus of a Master of Science (M.S.) in Dietetics is on the advanced study of theories, models, and methods oriented toward improvement of healthcare. In this degree plan, concepts such as the development of healthcare teams and the improvement of healthcare processes are covered. An internship or a thesis is usually a requirement. Students may need about three years to complete the program.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree. Some schools do not admit students who are not registered dietitians or are not eligible to be registered. Students seeking admission to schools that do not require applicants to be registered dietitians may have to complete prerequisite courses in science and nutrition.


Advanced coursework in diet and health includes courses that cover the policy and management aspects of the healthcare field. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Statistics in social sciences
•Research methods in dietetics
•Current issues in dietetics
•Community health
•Health systems management
•Nutritional epidemiology
•Health care performance management

Job and Wage Outlook

Dietitians and nutritionists are expected to see a job growth of 16% over the 2014 – 2024 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2016, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $58,920.

Master of Science (M.S.) Programs in Nutrition

The focus of a Master of Science (M.S.) in Nutrition is on the effects of food on the human body, and the composition of food. Several aspects of nutrition are in the program; these include physiological, sociological, behavioral, agricultural, and biochemical, along with the application of the nutrition discipline to policy and public health. The emphasis of coursework is on correlations between nutrition, food habits, and disease.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to submit undergraduate transcripts including coursework in physiology, anatomy, chemistry, and basic nutrition. A statement of intent and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are also required to be submitted, along with a resume outlining relevant volunteer experience or work.


Master’s level students are often allowed to choose a non-thesis or thesis option. Program coursework may cover core topic areas such as:

•Developmental Nutrition
•Disease and human nutrition
•Vitamins and minerals
•Biochemistry of Nutrition
•Nutritional assessment
•Nutritional Therapeutics
•Advanced Nutrition

Career Options

Program graduates may seek career advancement with community health centers, clubs and gyms, sports teams, medical centers, community colleges, newspaper publishers, and universities. They may choose from possible job positions such as:

•Clinical nutritionist
•Nutritional consultant
•Nutrition marketing specialist

Ph.D. Programs in Nutrition and Dietetics

Students seeking research and advanced learning opportunities in human health can benefit from enrolling in a doctoral degree program in nutrition and dietetics. This program seek to help students to specialize in a research approach aimed at solving human diet and health issues.

Students learn methods of promoting improvements in health and diet among international and national populations. Students enrolled in some programs are allowed to select a concentration compatible with their research interests or specialize in clinical nutrition or population nutrition, among other designated concentrations.

Education requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to some Ph.D. in Nutrition and Dietetics programs to hold a relevant master’s degree. Admission to most schools depends on submission of letters of recommendation and GRE scores, apart from a copy of their master’s thesis or project and a personal essay.


Program coursework is devised to impart knowledge on how nutrients, toxins, and other factors impact human health. The coursework typically combines topics in nutrition and health and science courses; the topic areas include:

•Nutrition of populations
•Cell and molecular biology
•Clinical nutrition
•Issues in food and nutrition
•Preventive nutrition
•Nutritional assessment

Career Options

Career options may include areas such as academics, public health, and government. Graduates may choose from available job positions such as:

•Health Director

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