Masters in Nutrition Online Programs & Schools
Masters in nutrition online programs and food science programs, in a broad sense, focus on the life cycle of food. This may mean examining the agricultural principles used to grow food. It also could mean looking at its chemical composition, how food is developed and marketed, and how it impacts the people who eat it and the communities they live in.
Online nutrition masters programs and food science programs are scientific in nature. They concentrate primarily on the chemical, biological and engineering principles that impact food and its consumption. Being online, they’re also inherently flexible, accommodating the busy schedules of nutrition professionals and full time students alike. They may be available for a variety of experience levels, with a broad potential for concentration, helping you to find a masters in nutrition online program to meet your needs.
Types of Online Nutrition Degree Programs
Masters in nutrition online programs may come in two flavors: those designed to support experienced professionals who want to expand their skills or move into a new area, and those aimed toward students new to the field altogether. This essential difference could, in some cases, have a significant impact on the curriculum content and other requirements. For example, your program may spend more time covering the basics, or may prioritize the prerequisites for licensure. Regardless, most online masters in nutrition or food science award a Master of Science, or MS in Nutrition, upon completion, though this could vary on a case by case basis.
Depending on what you study, there may also be a variety of potential specialization options on the table. For example, you could choose to concentrate on things like food packaging or food safety, or the nutritional needs of a certain population. Another factor to consider is the objective of each program. Some masters in nutrition online programs may be designed with professional life in mind—meaning they emphasize using your nutrition expertise to help individuals and families stay healthy, such as in a clinical role. Others, meanwhile, could focus more on academic pursuits, performing and analyzing research and advancing the body of knowledge that informs those professions.
Individual online nutrition degree programs within each of these categories may vary, and may not in all cases match the descriptions above. Additionally, the approach, curriculum content, and other options may vary between programs. For more information about what options are available to you, reach out to the schools in question.
Food Science vs. Nutrition
Food science and nutrition, at first glance, seem to be quite similar. In fact, they do overlap in some ways. For example, in a broader sense, both programs examine food and its composition, and how that could impact people and communities. In fact, some programs may bring both topics together, looking at both food science and nutrition to build a more comprehensive expertise.
However, despite those similarities, food science and nutrition differ in a few key ways. Mainly, this has to do with where each topic sits in food’s metaphorical lifecycle. Food science looks at the product itself, covering food’s origins as an agricultural product, to its production and distribution to the general population to eat. Food science, in other words, looks at how food is made and what it’s composed of. Nutrition looks at the other part, picking up at food’s distribution and following through to its consumption by individuals. Nutrition is comparatively human-centric, focused more on the effect food and the lack thereof have on individuals and communities.
Masters in Nutrition Online Programs
Masters in nutrition online programs generally focus on the human system, its nutritional needs, and how those needs are impacted by the food a person consumes. This could be approached in a few different ways. Some programs may focus on what a healthy diet looks like for different kinds of people, and how to help people create and maintain healthy dietary habits. Others might look at disorders and health issues that impact nutritional intake or deficiencies, and how to help clients overcome those challenges. Still more might examine nutrition in a critical care setting as part of an overall medical treatment plan. Therefore, consider your interests and read program curriculum and descriptions carefully.
Example Online Nutrition Courses
The specific courses you take while pursuing your masters in nutrition online may vary. They could be impacted by the program you choose to attend, your elective choices, and especially your concentration, if you choose to pursue one. That said, you may come across some essential course topics in almost any program. Here are a few examples of online nutrition courses you might find yourself attending.
- Nutrition and Metabolism: This type of course examines the relationship between the human system and the food we consume. It involves looking at how fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals are used, how those materials are absorbed by the body, how the human system regulates itself, and more. This course topic could also touch on different health and developmental conditions that could impact nutritional needs.
- Medical Nutrition Therapy: Often, nutrition is a key component to medical treatment in care facilities. Medical nutrition therapy concerns nutrient intervention—that is, helping people get crucial nutrients they need to heal—as well as methods for feeding patients, like intravenous nutrients, tube feeding, etc. This type of course may also cover strategies to address behavior and health challenges and nutrient deficiencies.
- Nutrition Research: These kind of courses discuss research methodologies, design, analysis and presentation regarding nutrition topics. Not only might students have the chance to develop their fluency with nutrition research. They may also be able to get involved with real research projects to contribute to nutrition thought leadership.
- Food and Society: Courses like this would examine the relationship between food and the community, rather than looking at the individual person’s health. This includes food’s place in culture, economic factors and food availability in different communities, food trends, how it’s marketed to consumers, and more.
- Eating Disorders: Related to a variety of other course topics like medical nutrition therapy, many programs will dedicate time to discussing various eating disorders. This includes their identification and diagnosis; physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms; how those disorders are treated; social ramifications, and how those issues impact absorption of nutrients.
Online Masters in Food Science Programs
Online food science masters programs generally focus on the biological, chemical, and engineering aspects of the food industry. The aim often is to develop expertise about how food is made, what goes into that process, and the different types of challenges faced in the food industry. While courses may discuss the communities consuming the food in question, generally, the material has more to do with the product itself and the tools used in the process of creating it. Because this is such a broad topic, some programs may choose to narrow their focus. They might concentrate on a specific area or application of food science, like food packaging engineering or food safety. Specific concentration options like this may vary, depending on what online program you choose to attend.
Example Online Food Science Courses
Because online food science degree programs have such broad potential for specialization, the curriculum in each program may vary accordingly. However, here are some examples of the basic types of courses you may attend while studying food science online at the graduate level.
- Food Microbiology: Building on prior knowledge of basic microbiology, this type of course examines the relationship microorganisms have with food, both positive and negative. Courses may cover the application of microbiology in developing food and beverages, as well as food safety issues, sanitation, foodborne illnesses, preservation and spoilage.
- Food Chemistry: Like food microbiology looks at the relationship between the food industry and micro-organisms, food chemistry examines food at the molecular level. In addition to the molecular composition of different types of foods, courses may discuss chemical reactions that occur during food preparation, and how to use these reactions effectively for a variety of goals.
- Food Toxicology: This type of course builds expertise surrounding the types of toxic substances that might be found in different foods, including bacterial toxins, mycotoxins, naturally occurring substances as well as man-made ones. Courses may also touch on food safety, how to detect, prevent, or remediate toxic substances, and more.
- Food Technology: This broad topic may be covered in multiple courses—or even act as a concentration, in some cases. Programs may cover engineering and technology topics as related to different types of food—processing dairy, meat, vegetables and cereals, for example—food packaging, distribution, and more.
- Food Science Research: Food science research courses examine the research methodologies, existing thought leadership, and research practices currently used in food science. Students may also be able to pursue food science research projects themselves and present their findings. Some courses may also look at taking existing research and applying it in the field productively.
Why Earn Your Masters in Nutrition Online?
Earning a masters in nutrition degree online brings a crucial element of flexibility to graduate coursework. Online nutrition and food science programs are generally conducted through online course modules. These are digital classroom spaces that contain course materials, and areas for course activities, instruction, and discussion. Programs may also boast simulated digital lab experiences, face-to-face interactions through video streaming, and academic and technical support to make the experience a little smoother for you. Plus, as coursework is available anywhere, you might be able to attend your preferred program no matter your location, potentially making more options, and concentrations, available to you.
This degree of flexibility could make this format particularly appealing to those who already work in the field, or who need to balance their studies with other obligations like family. You could continue pursuing your career, helping your community stay healthy, and living your life, all while getting the education you may need to succeed.
What to Look For in Online Masters in Nutrition Programs
Online food science masters programs or nutrition masters programs could be designed in a few different ways. While many are designed to be flexible, enabling students to complete coursework on their own schedules, some may require students to log in at certain times each week. If flexibility of scheduling is your primary reason for choosing to apply to online programs, this could be of note in your choice.
Another thing to watch out for is offline components. Even if you’re looking exclusively at masters in nutrition programs online, some may still have requirements that you’d need to complete face to face. This could be field observations or internships, lab work required to be completed on campus, or presentations of one’s final research projects.
Finally, think about what you want to do with your degree. If you’re new to the field and want to pursue a career that requires a license or certification—such as a nutritionist or dietitian—you may want to look for programs that support your efforts to earn that certification. Specific requirements could vary, depending on what you want to do and the state you live in.
For more information about your selected program’s scheduling, offline requirements, potential licensure, and other concerns, reach out to the school in question.
Nutrition & Food Science Careers
Earning a masters degree in food science or nutrition online could support or help you to jumpstart a variety of exciting careers. Here are a few examples of the paths one might take.
- Dietitians and Nutritionists: $58,920 (2016 median annual salary)i
- Health Educators: $44,390 (2016 median annual salary)ii
- Agricultural and Food Scientists: $60,920 (2016 median annual salary)iii
- Food Scientists and Technologists: $63,950 (2016 median annual salary)iv
Education requirements for entry-level positions may vary by position, employer, and field. In most cases, one could enter the field with a relevant bachelor’s degree. However a graduate education may enhance one’s options. To learn more about what career paths you might pursue and how your chosen program might support you, reach out to your program.
Search for Nutrition and Food Science Masters Programs Online
If you’re ready to start your search to earn your food science degree or nutrition degree online, GradSchools.com can help. We’ve collected a variety of masters in nutrition online programs and online masters in food science programs to get you started. Review the sponsored listings below. Then click on the names of the ones you think might be good fit to read more and get in touch!
Johns Hopkins University
Liberty University Online
University of Western States
Maryland University of Integrative Health
California Baptist University
Pennsylvania State University
University of New England