Online Master's Degree Programs in Nutrition

Turn on the television, open a popular streaming platform or any of the numerous social media sites and apps, and you will likely be confronted with food images and videos. There is probably nothing as universal to the human experience as eating and drinking. Regardless of who you are and your lifestyle, you must ingest nutrients at some point in the day and drink water. In a sense, food is what makes us human.

Aside from furnishing us with the basic elements needed to keep our bodies and minds functioning, nutrition has strong and noticeable effects on our health. Anyone that has spent a week eating fast food, or done the opposite and made the effort to eat fruits, vegetables, and other fresh foods will be able to testify to the effects that the right—and wrong—foods can have on our moods, energy levels and general sense of well-being. Beyond that, long-term habits of healthy and unhealthy eating can permanently affect the health of an individual’s entire body, and contribute to or prevent the development of diseases.

For much of human history, however, the effects of diet and nutrition were barely studied, if at all. Misconceptions about the benefits and detrimental effects of specific foods or diets abound and still color many people’s perceptions of this field. However, in recent decades there has been a concerted effort to bring more scientific inquiry and information to this vital aspect of human health, culminating in the development of the field of nutrition.

Nutritionists are experts in foods—the nutrients, elements, and minerals—and how they interact with the human body and its myriad functions. They may work in research capacities, studying specific foods or parts of the body, or they may work in advisory roles, educating people about what and how they should be eating to achieve the health outcomes they seek.

The field of nutrition is growing steadily, and today most people know that the foods and drinks they consume will impact their health and well-being. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022), the occupational category of “Dieticians and Nutritionists” is growing at a healthy pace of 7 percent, making this a promising field for individuals who are passionate about food, health, and the areas in which these two aspects influence and affect each other.

For individuals who are already well on their way to becoming nutritionists, a master’s program can be the ideal capstone or waypoint on their career path. For people looking to integrate a master’s program into their ongoing career or who prefer a remote learning environment to in-person classes, an online program can be the perfect addition.

This guide is intended to help orient and inform people who have already completed their bachelor’s degree and are now looking to take the next step in their education through a master’s program.

Purdue Global
Arizona State University
Winthrop University
American University

Admissions Requirements for Online Master’s Degree Programs in Nutrition

Not every program is alike, so there are no hard and fast rules about which requirements exist for a master’s degree program in nutrition. However, a completed bachelor’s degree is a universal requirement for all master’s programs, regardless of which major is chosen.

Additionally, a GRE is often required of US grad school applicants, although there has been some movement away from this prerequisite in recent years. Other basic requirements for an online master’s degree program in nutrition may include the following:

  • Complete undergraduate transcripts
  • Application fee
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Minimum GPA
  • Letter of intent or introduction
  • Letter or letters of recommendation

What is the Curriculum of an Online Master’s Degree Program in Nutrition?

Nutrition is a fairly new academic discipline and is still evolving rapidly. As such, there is quite a bit of variance between different degree programs, and some of the degrees discussed in this article will specifically emphasize one aspect of nutrition or another. One common aspect between serious and credentialled master’s in nutrition programs will be a heavy emphasis on the scientific basis of this discipline. Students should expect to become very familiar with the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that form the basic building blocks of any diet.

As many nutritionists end up in client or patient-facing roles, many degree programs will contain segments on counseling and other aspects of human interaction. In these positions, nutritionists are expected to communicate with various individuals from any number of backgrounds and explain to them how their nutrition and health interact.

Additionally, some programs will allow their students to emphasize a particular aspect of their future work, such as eating disorders or sports nutrition. In this capacity, individuals will have the opportunity to prepare for work in clinical settings or in working with high-level athletes for whom proper nutritional guidance is absolutely paramount to their health and performance.

A good general overview of subjects and sections that may be covered in a modern and accredited master’s program in nutrition may be offered by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas:

  • Geriatrics
  • Nutrition Support
  • Diabetes
  • Pediatrics
  • Nutrition, Exercise, and Sport
  • Obesity Management
  • Eating Disorders
  • Maternal health

Featured Online Master’s Degree Programs in Nutrition

For individuals who already have their bachelor’s degree and are now looking for a fitting master’s degree in nutrition that can be taken online, quite a few options are available. The following list is by no means exhaustive. Still, it should provide a good variety of programs from across the country, emphasizing various aspects of nutrition and diet.

University of North Dakota

The University of North Dakota is located in Grand Forks, North Dakota, but offers its online degree programs to students nationwide. UND’s master of science in nutrition offers two tracks: nutrition science track and nutrition education and counseling.

In the former, students focus on lab work and the underlying science behind nutrition, while the latter emphasizes client and patient-facing work aimed at helping individuals live healthier lives.

An added bonus to the University of North Dakota is the fact that this university offers students from everywhere the opportunity to study at in-state tuition.

  • Location: Grand Forks, ND
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years or more
  • Estimated Tuition: $780,80 per credit

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University offers a master of science degree in nutrition and dietetics designed for students interested in obtaining their Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) verification statement.

Texas Tech’s program specifically addresses the fact that the Commission on Dietetic Registration is moving its minimum educational requirement from a bachelor’s to a master’s degree.

  • Location: Lubbock, Texas
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years or more
  • Estimated Tuition: $11,852 per year for residents, $24,122 for non-residents

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University is located in the state capital of Raleigh and offers students the choice between online and in-person education. Among several unique aspects of the master of science in nutrition program that NCSU offers is that there are multiple specializations to choose from, including human and animal nutrition.

As such, prospective students at North Carolina State University with a strong interest in animal nutrition and veterinary science can emphasize the field of feed science here. According to the program’s website, the current basic requirements for eligibility are the following:

  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • TOEFL score of 80 or higher and/or IELTS of 6.5 or higher (for international students only)
  • BS degree in a science-related area, including coursework in biology and organic chemistry

Students can choose between one of three tracks: master of nutrition, professional science master of nutrition-human nutrition emphasis, and professional science master of nutrition-feed science emphasis

  • Location: Raleigh, NC
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years or more
  • Estimated Tuition: $9,131 per year for residents, $29,916 for non-residents

University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky offers a fast track to students hoping to complete their master’s in nutrition and food systems. With a projected study time of only 12 months, UK’s program offers one of the fastest ways to achieve a master’s degree for those in nutrition and dietetics. According to its website, the program does not need prospective students to complete the GRE but requires a minimum GPA of 3.0.

To be eligible to enter the program and study nutrition and food systems at the University of Kentucky, its students must also hold a bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields:

  • Nutrition science/dietetics
  • Exercise science
  • Public health
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Nursing
  • Other health science-related field

Additionally, online master’s students of nutrition at the University of Kentucky can complete a fully online graduate certificate program in applied nutrition and culinary medicine, for which they may use their available elective hours.

  • Location: Lexington, Kentucky
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years or more
  • Estimated Tuition: $12,610 per year for residents, $31,608 for non-residents

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University is a Christian university that offers interested students the opportunity to complete a fully online master’s of science degree in nutrition and dietetics. GCU’s master’s program heavily emphasizes readying its students for credentialing to become registered dietitians and nutritionists.

Some key emphases are medical nutrition therapy, food and nutrition management, community nutrition, leadership, and behavioral science and counseling.

Prospective students at Grand Canyon University must have completed a bachelor’s of science degree in a science or health-related field before applying.

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years or more
  • Estimated Tuition: $16,500 per academic year
Johannes Stitz
Johannes Stitz Writer

Johannes Stitz is a freelance writer and researcher based in the Southwest. He’s written about various topics in medical technology careers. Before turning to freelance writing, he spent nearly a decade in the arts as a booker and event manager.