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Arkansas State University

What Can I Do With an M.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics?

Nutrition and dietetics is a growing field, and those who want to pursue the career will likely have a demand for their services. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that the employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow 7% from 2021 to 2031, with about 5,600 job openings each year over the next decade.

Graduates of an online Master of Science (M.S.) in Nutrition and Dietetics program — like that from Arkansas State University (A-State) — learn a breadth of skills to pursue various career pathways depending on their interests. Students are ready to assist diverse populations with food and nutrition challenges, conduct nutrition research and consider supervisory roles.

What Career Options Do Graduates of a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics Have?

Generally, nutrition and dietetics graduates work for hospitals, long-term care facilities, government or public health agencies, food manufacturers, schools and prisons. Some nutrition professionals are self-employed and work as consultants or in private practice. A master’s degree allows graduates to choose from several different pathways.

Registered dietitian. As food and human nutrition experts, registered dietitians help people lead healthier lives and recover from illness, injury or surgery by making better food choices. They also create meal plans and counsel patients on day-to-day behavioral changes that will allow them to meet their goals and improve their overall well-being. Registered dietitians earn about $67,824 annually on average, according to (March 2023).

Food nutrition services director. In this role, nutrition professionals plan and oversee an organization’s food service program. They develop nutrition guidelines aligned with federal regulations and ensure meals are balanced and meet the health needs of the population served. Food nutrition services directors often manage food inventory, purchase necessary supplies and may assist in defining the institution’s budget. On average, food nutrition services directors earn $100,887 each year, according to Zippia (April 2023).

Public health nutrition services. Nutrition best practices are constantly evolving, especially as new research emerges. Public health nutritionists ensure the public knows these updated guidelines and has the information to make healthy food choices. These health professionals may also conduct research to identify food challenges within communities and develop programs to improve nutritional habits and access to quality foods. Public health nutritionists earn an average annual salary of $64,214, according to ZipRecruiter (April 2023).

Nutrition researcher. Nutrition researchers investigate the qualities of food items, such as caloric density and vitamin and mineral content, and their recommendations inform public policy and institutions’ nutrition practices. Nutrition researchers earn an average annual salary of $70,043, according to ZipRecruiter (April 2023).

What Degree Do Nutritionists and Dieticians Need?

To function at the top of their scope and have the most career flexibility, nutritionists and dieticians typically require a master’s degree. The online M.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics program at A-State builds on students’ undergraduate coursework and credentials by offering two tracks: Registered Dietitian (RD) and Transitional.

The RD track is ideal for students with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from an ACEND-accredited undergraduate program and 1,000 supervised practice hours. Graduates of this track can sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration’s RD exam.

The Transitional track is ideal for practicing RDs interested in a graduate degree for career advancement. In addition, RDs who are new to the field or have already completed a stand-alone dietetic internship may choose this track to further enhance their food and nutrition knowledge.

A career in nutrition and dietetics can be a rewarding option for individuals passionate about healthy eating and lifestyles. Graduate-level coursework can expand job opportunities and position nutrition professionals to help people of all ages and backgrounds improve their diet and well-being.

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s M.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics online program.

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