This article talks about the Master of Science (M.S.) degree program in Natural Health and its education requirements, coursework, career options, job and wage outlook, licensure, and continuing education options.
Master of Science Degree Program in Natural Health
The focus of an MS program in Natural Health is on the impact of nutrition on the human body and how to maintain good health through nutrition. Students also learn the best food preparation methods that can help retain nutrients.
Theories on the impact of food on the environment on a global as well as local level are in some programs. Participation in clinical research, cooking labs, and practicums are also in the programs. To be able to practice their profession, nutritionists must typically obtain state licensure and certification from the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CBNS).
Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree regardless of the major. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated major may have to complete relevant prerequisite coursework including biochemistry, nutrition, organic chemistry, college-level algebra, and microbiology. Foundational courses may be available in some programs to students who lack those credits.
Coursework is devised to impart a holistic perspective about nutritional science. Students learn about the effect of food on people on an emotional, physical, and cultural level, and they learn about evaluating an individual’s nutritional health. They also learn research methods that are employed to develop a research project or thesis. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:
•Ecological and global issues
•Nutrition assessment and therapy
•Whole foods production
•Food and culture
A bachelor’s degree would be sufficient for entry-level nutrition-related positions; however, career enhancement can be accomplished by completing a master’s degree (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). A master’s degree can also enable the holder to pursue a career path in public health or research. Program graduates may choose from possible job positions such as:
•Community health educator
Job and Wage Outlook
Dietitians and nutritionists are expected to see a 14% job growth, over the 2016-2026 decade; in May 2016, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $58,920.
Licensure and Continuing Education Options
Individuals who seek training in specialized areas, such as women’s health or herbalism, can benefit from enrolling in graduate certificate programs. Varying by careers, licensure may be needed by some natural health professionals. Licensure, certification, and registration are compulsory in most states for nutritionists and dieticians. These requirements, which can vary by state, can typically be met via a bachelor’s degree, supervised experience and passage of an exam. The Certified Nutrition Specialist credential is available through the CBNS to those with a graduate degree, a passing exam score, and sufficient nutrition-related experience. 75 hours of continuing education credits must be completed every five years to maintain certification.