Best Online Master’s in Nutrition Programs of 2021

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August 13, 2021

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Earning a master's in nutrition can open the door to advanced careers in clinical settings, food safety, research, and education. On this page, you can find the answers to some of the most common questions about this degree. Covered topics include typical admission requirements, courses and concentration options, and potential careers to pursue after graduation.

Master's program graduates commonly pursue advanced careers as registered dieticians and nutritionists. These professionals work in hospitals, private practice clinics, and residential care facilities, providing dietary advice to patients to help individuals achieve a healthy lifestyle or specific health-related goal.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Nutrition Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:

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#1 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
#2 University of Georgia Athens, GA
#3 Auburn University Auburn, AL
#4 Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY
#5 American University Washington, DC
#6 Arizona State University Scottsdale, AZ
#7 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX
#8 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
#9 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE
#10 Samford University Birmingham, AL
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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

While a bachelor's degree satisfies entry-level requirements for dieticians, a graduate-level education provides advanced knowledge and skills that often correlate to increased opportunities and earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the highest-earning professionals in these positions take home a median salary of more than $87,000 a year.

How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Nutrition Programs

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North Carolina State University View School Profile Raleigh, NC

Located in Raleigh, NC State offers an online master's in nutrition. This nonthesis, applied program, requires 36 credits, six of which are dedicated to a directed practicum, an internship, or an approved and related individual project. Students may choose an emphasis on human nutrition or animal nutrition. A professional skills component enables students to qualify for a professional science master's designation.

Coursework centers around nutrition and other related sciences, depending on the student's area of emphasis. Due to the broad nature of both human and animal nutrition, the program includes classes from several departments within the university.

NC State is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Nutrition
School Status: Public
Tuition: $462 per credit (in-state); $1,311 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 4 semesters
Format: Online

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE required

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University of Georgia View School Profile Athens, GA

Located in Athens, UGA offers an online master of science in foods and nutrition. Program participants complete classes like nutrition and obesity across the lifespan, community nutrition, and childhood and adolescent nutrition. Students also take a research methods course and 8-9 credits of electives.

Most students use the program to prepare for careers in community nutrition. Many graduates qualify to become Georgia nutrition directors in the school system or become extension and outreach coordinators. Graduates may also fill other nutritional roles in various public sectors or for private companies offering similar positions.

UGA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Foods and Nutrition
School Status: Public
Tuition: Online- $629 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year
Format: Online

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE Required.

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Auburn University View School Profile Auburn, AL

Based in Alabama, Auburn offers an online master's in nutrition. Students may interact with faculty and peers through discussion boards, and the school offers proctored tests wherever the student resides.

The 33-credit program includes five credits of non-thesis research and various electives in the student's chosen area of emphasis. Available emphasis options include community nutrition, nutrition science, sports nutrition, and clinical nutrition. Students prepare for a variety of careers and may seek employment in the public or private sector — some graduates even start their own business.

Auburn is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Nutrition
School Status: Public
Tuition: $533 per credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 4 semesters
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum recommended
Standardized Tests: GRE required

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Stony Brook University View School Profile Stony Brook, NY

Located in New York, Stony Brook offers an online master's in nutrition. The program provides students with advanced training in nutrition, preparing graduates for careers in disease prevention and health optimization. Students can follow a general sequence or choose one of two concentrations: advanced nutrition therapy and critical care or integrative nutrition therapy.

Students take core courses like macronutrients and functional nutrition, advanced communication and counseling, and research methods in nutrition. However, this program does not provide licensed dietician certification.

Stony Brook is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Nutrition
School Status: Public
Tuition: $629 per credit (in-state); $1,121 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 4-6 semesters
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum recommended
Standardized Tests: Not required

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American University View School Profile Washington, DC

Located in Washington, D.C., AU offers an online master of science in nutrition education. The program not only focuses on nutrition, but on education that inspires positive change. Participants learn education strategies to impact individuals, their community, and the population at large.

Courses include lifecycle nutrition, health communication, sports nutrition, and nutrition program design. Students can sign up for a mentorship program, view student webinars covering topics like health literacy and food access, and attend networking events.

AU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Nutrition Education
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,708 per credit (summer courses); $1,759 per credit (fall and spring courses)
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 20 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum recommended
Standardized Tests: Not required

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Arizona State University View School Profile Scottsdale, AZ

Located in Scottsdale, ASU offers an online master of science in nutritional science and an online master of science in medical nutrition. The medical nutrition option focuses on the ways that nutrition and healthcare intersect. The program includes information on leveraging big data, research, and new nutrition discoveries and techniques.

Alternatively, the nutritional science program provides registered dietitians an opportunity to pursue an advanced dietetics degree, with a focus on the scientific foundations of nutrition. Electives cover topics like evidence-based nutrition, sports nutrition, and pediatric nutrition.

ASU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Nutritional Science; Master of Science in Medical Nutrition
School Status: Public
Tuition: $842 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 4 semesters
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

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Texas Tech University View School Profile Lubbock, TX

Based in Lubbock, TTU offers an online master of science in nutrition and dietetics. Students choose one of three concentration areas: nutrition and healthy weight, nutrition and sports, or nutrition in the lifecycle.

No matter their concentration area, students complete classes like biostatistics in nutrition, vitamins and minerals, and nutrition research. Elective course options let participants study topics such as maternal and child nutrition, food security, and diabetes and nutrition management. There is no thesis requirement for this program.

TTU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics
School Status: Public
Tuition: $559 per credit (in-state); $968 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 4 semesters
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum recommended
Standardized Tests: GRE requirement waived through 2021

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East Carolina University View School Profile Greenville, NC

Located in Greenville, North Carolina, ECU offers an online master's in nutrition. The program teaches students the advanced information they need to succeed in the competitive field of nutrition and diet. In addition to the graduate program, the university offers one of the largest and most comprehensive dietetic internship programs accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The program provides a nonthesis option, as well as a thesis option. Graduates may pursue roles as dietitians, nutritionists, and dietetic technicians. ECU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Nutrition
School Status: Public
Tuition: $249 per credit (in-state); $894 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 4 semesters
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE required

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Request more information about this program.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln View School Profile Lincoln, NE

UNL offers a master of science in dietetics for online learners. To qualify for this program, applicants must be registered dietitians (RDs) or be qualified to sit for the national RD credentialing exam.

Participants complete a nine-credit core, 21-24 credits of electives, and an independent study project in dietetics. Core coursework covers topics like statistics and research methods, while elective options include food culture, international nutrition and world hunger, and public health nutrition.

This dietetics program is offered through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance. UNL is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Dietetics
School Status: Public
Tuition: $590 per credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 4 semesters
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum recommended
Standardized Tests: GRE required

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Request more information about this program.

Samford University View School Profile Birmingham, AL

Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Samford offers an online master's in nutrition. Participants gain important research and analytical skills. The program also emphasizes the importance of written and oral communication, preparing graduates for leadership and management positions.

Core courses investigate advanced nutrition and the metabolism, and students choose from two different concentrations: clinical nutrition or general nutrition. This program does not include a thesis requirement, although participants do complete a capstone project. Combined with a registered dietician certification, this degree can prepare students for long-term success in their chosen field.

Samford is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Nutrition
School Status: Private
Tuition: $888 per credit
Credit Requirements: 34 credits
Program Length: 3 semesters
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE, MCAT, or DAT requirement waived for the 2021 application cycle

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Colorado State University View School Profile Fort Collins, CO

Based in Fort Collins, CSU offers an online master's in food science and nutrition. The program teaches students how to design and lead effective, science-based food and nutrition programs. Coursework helps students develop research skills, and offers up-to-date knowledge on food and nutrition.

The curriculum benefits registered dietitians or those with verification from a didactic program in dietetics who want to earn a master's degree or improve their level of knowledge and understanding. The program stresses oral and written skills alongside independent research skills.

CSU is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Food Science and Nutrition
School Status: Public
Tuition Cost-per-credit: $580 per credit
Credit Requirements: 37 credits
Program Length: 4 semesters
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

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Kansas State University View School Profile Manhattan, KS

Located in Manhattan, K-State offers an online master of science in dietetics. The program benefits registered dietitians looking to advance their careers or enhance their knowledge/current practice.

The program teaches participants to use new research and theories related to public policy and healthcare delivery systems. Core courses include research in health sciences, statistical methods for the sciences, and environmental scanning and analysis of current issues in dietetics. Students also take 21 credits of electives, and they may pursue a thesis or nonthesis option.

K-State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Dietetics
School Status: Public
Tuition: $516 per credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 4 semesters
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum recommended
Standardized Tests: Not required

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West Chester University View School Profile West Chester, PA

WCU offers an online master of science in community nutrition. The program promotes nutritional health and disease prevention. Students focus on underserved communities and vulnerable populations. Research-focused core classes and electives teach learners independent thinking and research skills they can apply in a variety of careers.

For those who want to go a step further, a dietetic internship program offers additional opportunities. This program requires nine additional credits plus 1,200 clinical hours divided between inpatient and outpatient community service.

WCU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Community Nutrition
School Status: Public
Tuition: $526 per credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 4 semesters
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.8 minimum required
Standardized Tests: GMAT or GRE required

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Bowling Green State University View School Profile Bowling Green, OH

Located in Ohio, BGSU offers an online master's in food and nutrition. The program features comprehensive, research, and practice-based coursework. Learners choose from several areas of emphasis, including public health, microbiology, psychology, and exercise physiology.

Core courses cover topics like macronutrients for human nutrition, advanced clinical nutrition, and family and community nutrition. Students must also choose to complete a master's project, readings for a comprehensive exam, or thesis research in food and nutrition. Faculty deliver online courses through seven-week sessions.

BGSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Food and Nutrition
School Status: Public
Tuition: $4,779 per semester (in-state); $4,889 per semester (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 39-40 credits
Program Length: 4 semesters
Format: Online, with a one-day visit to campus for those pursuing the thesis option
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum recommended
Standardized Tests: GRE required

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Central Michigan University View School Profile Mount Pleasant, MI

Located in Mount Pleasant, CMU offers an online master's in nutrition and dietetics. The program teaches participants advanced skills and knowledge in the field of nutrition and clinical dietetics. Students develop the knowledge needed to interpret scientific literature and carry out research independently.

Learners choose from three program options — thesis, internship, or all-coursework — according to their career goals. No matter their degree track, participants complete classes that cover micronutrients and macronutrients, nutritional epidemiology, and research methods and biostatistics.

CMU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics
School Status: Public
Tuition: $637 per credit
Credit Requirements: 31-37 credits
Program Length: 4 semesters
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

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Online Master's in Nutrition Program Overview

One of the most exciting aspects of choosing a graduate program in nutrition is the diversity of your education options. While bachelor's degrees in a particular field may cover the same course content regardless of school selection, master's programs offer students the opportunity to focus on narrower professional goals.

Your online master's in nutrition may focus on preparing you for clinical practice, nutrition education and consulting, health program evaluation and management, research and experimental design, or careers in food development and safety. In most programs, you can expect to cover several common subjects, including nutritional health of different populations, nutrients and human metabolism, and research methods.

Program objectives may include securing certification as a registered dietician or simply expanding knowledge and skills for use in professional pursuits. While a master's degree satisfies the academic requirements for many advanced careers, some graduates choose to continue on to a Ph.D. program for further study.

Common Master's in Nutrition Degree Courses

Lifecycle Nutrition

This common master's-level course teaches students about changing nutritional requirements across the human lifecycle. Pregnancy, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and geriatrics are all examined. Coursework explores how nutritional needs, food consumption, and diet quality are impacted by physiological changes and psychosocial and environmental influences.

Nutrition Research

This course explores research and development practices as each applies to the field of nutrition. Covered concepts include effective use of literature in practice, research designs, methodology in survey and controlled experiments, and analysis and reporting of results. Coursework may be introductory/review-based in nature or involve a capstone project, depending on the program.

Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism

Students pursuing an online master's in nutrition can expect to take one or more courses focused on advanced concepts in nutrition and metabolism. Coursework may cover digestion, storage, and functions of nutrients in growth and development. An emphasis is typically placed on essential macro- and micronutrients, which may appear as two separate courses.

Advanced Clinical Nutrition

Advanced clinical nutrition courses are common in programs with a clinical or dietetic focus. Typically offered as a block of several required classes, each course focuses on a different area of advanced study, including pediatric issues, counseling and education, critical care, and nutrition support.

Biostatistics

Courses in biostatistics typically focus on applying statistical methods to health sciences and nutrition. Concepts explored may include types, organization, and display of data; elementary probability; confidence limits; and simple linear regression. Students develop the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to conduct statistical analyses.

Related Master's in Nutrition Degree Concentrations

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

This concentration provides a comprehensive study of theory, research, and methodology related to health promotion and disease prevention. Coursework typically examines theories of nutrition behavior, nutrition needs throughout the lifecycle, and prevalent diseases like obesity. Graduates are prepared for doctoral study or careers in research, education, and health.

Sustainable Food Systems

A concentration in sustainable food systems provides study and exploration of the systems and policies affecting food access, quality, and sustainability. Suitable for individuals interested in community health, food justice, or program and policy evaluation, this track provides an academic background applicable to various careers.

Clinical Nutrition

A concentration track in clinical nutrition covers advanced concepts and practices relevant to nutrition services in clinical settings. Typically designed with registered dieticians in mind, courses cover several types of patient populations, including the critically ill, chronically ill, older adults, and children.

Obesity and Eating Disorders

Utilizing theory, epidemiology, research, and methodology, this concentration explores obesity and eating disorders. Common study areas include health program development, presentation of eating disorders, and critical evaluation of obesity treatment options. Registered dieticians can use this education to pursue specialized practice, but graduates are also prepared for careers in leadership, management, and administration.

Dietetics Professional Studies

Combining coursework with hands-on projects, independent study, and/or field experiences, a concentration in dietetics professional studies is suitable for aspiring and currently registered dieticians interested in advancing their knowledge and practice capabilities. Courses cover issues like public health biostatistics, advanced nutrition concepts, and special topics in dietetics.

Online Master's in Nutrition Admission Requirements

Prospective master's students — regardless of their field — must have previously completed sufficient undergraduate education. For nutrition programs, schools may prefer or require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in a science-related subject, such as nutrition science, dietetics, food science, health and wellness, or biology.

Many online master's in nutrition programs require completion of prerequisite courses to ensure applicants are prepared for graduate study. These requirements vary by school but often include coursework in biology, organic chemistry, physiology, and/or nutrition. Prospective students who majored in a non-science field can complete these prerequisites through post-baccalaureate study.

Applicants to a master's program may need to submit scores from one or more graduate admission tests. These standardized exams help demonstrate a candidate's suitability for the rigor of graduate school by assessing reasoning skills, analytical abilities, and subject-specific competencies. Nutrition programs commonly require applicants to submit GRE scores.

While many schools do not list this as a firm requirement, some programs prefer applicants with relevant employment or volunteer history. Demonstrating prior experience in health, food science, nutrition, and/or a related field can give you a competitive edge in the admissions process.

For select master's programs in nutrition — especially those focused on dietetics — applicants may need to hold the registered dietitian professional credential. Schools with this requirement may also accept non-credentialed applicants who can verify their current eligibility to sit for the national exam.


Online Master's in Nutrition Career Paths

Graduates of an online master's in nutrition program commonly pursue careers as registered dietitians; nutrition specialists (often working in a specific area such as sports dietetics, obesity and weight management, or pediatric nutrition); and health or nutrition educators working with schools, community health programs, and/or corporate wellness clients.

Although a bachelor's degree often satisfies the minimum education requirements for entry-level opportunities, advanced degrees are increasingly necessary to compete in the field. Completing a graduate degree also tends to increase your earning potential.

To become a registered dietician, professionals must satisfy education, examination, and practice experience requirements. The Commission on Dietetic Registration offers additional specialty certifications.


Related Careers

Sports Medicine Careers Gerontology Careers Health Services Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with a master's in nutrition?

While many individuals who earn an online master's in nutrition pursue employment as registered dieticians, your options are not strictly limited to clinical pursuits. Depending on the program, this degree can also lead to positions in management, research, administrative, education, and consulting. All nutrition graduates are prepared to help improve the lives of others.

How long does it take to get a master's in nutrition?

Completion time for a master's degree in nutrition largely depends upon your preferred pace and the requirements of the program you select. Most students graduate in 1-3 years. Programs with clinical components may take longer than programs without in-person requirements.

How much can you make with a master's in nutrition?

According to BLS data, the median annual earnings of dieticians and nutritionists sit at $61,270, while the highest earners bring in almost $85,000 a year. Additionally, nutritional educators and food scientists earn median salaries of about $37,000 and $64,000, respectively. A worker's experience, geographic location, and type of employer can also impact individual earnings.

Can you get a master's in nutrition without a bachelor's in nutrition?

It is possible to pursue a master's in nutrition without holding a bachelor's degree in nutrition. Prospective students with a bachelor's in an unrelated field can take advantage of post-baccalaureate education to complete necessary prerequisites. Some schools offer prerequisite courses specifically for students who need this option.

What does a master's in nutrition consist of?

The curriculum and learning outcomes of an online master's in nutrition depend largely on the type of careers for which the program strives to prepare graduates, e.g., clinical nutrition, nutrition education, or food science. Some degree plans require completion of coursework only, while others feature internship and/or clinical practicum hours.

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