PhD and Master's Degrees in Nutrition & Food Science Online

Online nutrition and food science graduate programs discuss the food industry and what it means to be healthy. What differentiates the programs is exactly how they choose to do that. Online food science programs look at the food industry in itself. This could include how food is produced, how it’s marketed to consumers, and related issues.

 PhD and Master's Degrees in Nutrition & Food Science Online infographic

Earning a nutrition degree online, meanwhile, would mean looking at the other end of the spectrum. They focus on the people who consume food. This incorporates how diets impact their health, and what healthy dietary choices look like for different types of people. Earning a graduate nutrition degree online or a food science degree online could enable students to study on the go. That way, even busy working professionals could earn the degree they want.

Earning a Graduate Nutrition Degree Online

Earning a graduate nutrition degree online could fit a variety of schedules and learning styles. Courses are delivered to students via the internet. You could access them from home, the office, or somewhere else, as long as you have a stable internet connection and a compatible device. That could be a convenient option, especially if you work full time or have family or personal commitments. In fact, many online nutrition degrees and online food science programs are designed with professionals in mind. Some programs may even lean on that experience in the field to inform learning.

One thing to think about when choosing an nutrition degree online or food science program is whether any elements must be completed in person. While many programs may be fully online, that might not always be the case. Some things students might need to complete in person include field experience, lab work, or oral examinations or thesis presentations.

For more information about these and other requirements, get in touch with your selected

online nutrition programs.

Basics of Graduate Nutrition Degree Online Programs

While both nutrition and food science focus on what people eat, earning a nutrition degree online tends to be more person-oriented. That means they look at how food affects individuals and their health. They also may discuss how health and lifestyle impact nutrition requirements. Many nutrition programs are oriented toward healthcare. Others may look toward nutrition education, fitness, or business.

Some examples of the topics you might cover while earning a nutrition degree online include the following.

  • Nutrition Therapy: These classes might discuss nutrition in a therapeutic setting. This could include treating and preventing diseases. It might also touch on how different medical conditions may affect nutritional needs.
  • Nutrition Research Methods: This looks at how to conduct nutritional research. Courses may discuss methods and theory, as well as how to understand and analyze related literature.
  • Nutrition and Metabolism: This concerns physiological aspect of nutrition. It might cover how different types of nutrients impact health, and how different types of bodies break down and process food.
  • Nutrition Education: Classes like this focus on how to teach consumers, professionals, and students about nutrition. Courses might talk about how to evaluate materials for educational value. Students may also practice designing nutrition education programs. Classes may also talk about how to communicate complex health and nutrition topics to students.
  • Pediatric Nutrition: This is only one example of demographic-specific nutrition courses. Pediatric nutrition might cover the specific nutritional needs of infants, adolescents, and teenagers. Programs might also offer other courses focused on different groups.
  • Wellness and Nutrition: This topic covers the cultural and social constructions of wellness as they relate to food and nutrition. It might further examine how these ideas impact nutrition habits and trends.
  • Eating Disorders: These courses survey the different types of eating disorders. They may also discuss the prevalence in different demographics within society. It might cover identification, treatment, and related medical and nutritional complications.
  • Nutrition in Society: This class may discuss the sociological component of nutrition and food trends both current and historical. It may also discuss how to apply this knowledge in a professional or clinical setting.

Food Science Graduate Programs Online Essentials

Food science is the other end of the food and nutrition spectrum. These programs look at the food itself and the industry that produces it and delivers it to consumers. As such, some students might opt to pursue a concentration in a certain area of food science. Examples may include food technology, food chemistry, or food processing to name just a few. Some programs may focus on one of these areas, or offer concentrations, while others might survey food science more broadly.

Here are some example course topics you might find in an online food science graduate program.

  • Food Chemistry: This type of course looks at the chemical makeup of different types of food, both naturally occurring and in additives.
  • Food Processing: Many programs spend time looking at food processing from start to finish. Courses might discuss operational principles, safety concerns, and how processing impacts food quality. Some related courses might also touch on engineering principles as they relate to processing food products.
  • Beverage Science: This could involve the creation, processing, management, and packaging of beverage products. It could touch on other areas like food chemistry, food safety, and microbiology.
  • Food Packaging Engineering: These courses look at how food packaging is designed and developed. It could entail food safety, quality, and the unique packaging concerns related to distribution.
  • Microbiology: Microbiology in itself is the study of microorganisms in our environment, and how they interact with other living things. Within food science, this may specifically concern food preparation and food safety.
  • Food Safety: This course topic may cover not only the food safety concerns related to food preparation, packaging, storage, and distribution. It may also cover the legal aspect of food safety, and various processes as they relate to different environments.
  • Food Enzymology: This type of course looks at enzymic reactions as they relate to the production and storage of food. It might also cover how different environmental factors may impact this.

Types of Graduate Nutrition Degree Online Programs

Online graduate programs in nutrition and food safety may be offered at several levels. The specific requirements for each program may vary, not just based on the degree type, but also on the way the program is designed. For example, some programs designed for those already working in the field may lean on professional experience. More academically inclined programs may look at education and research backgrounds.

At the graduate level, programs may fall into these categories.

  • Nutrition Masters Programs: At this level, nutrition and food science programs tend to focus on professional roles. This could either be in health and nutrition settings or in the food industry. However, that’s not always the case. Some programs may talk about how to perform effective research in nutrition and food science. They may aim to establish a foundation for further study at the doctoral level. One of the more common masters degree types in this area is a Master of Science (MS) in nutrition or food safety. But some programs may offer different degree types (for example an MBA) depending on the nature and goal of that program.
  • Food Science and Nutrition Graduate Certificate Programs: These are typically shorter than degree programs. Because of this, certificates in food science or nutrition may have a narrower focus on specific topics within the field. That could enable professionals to seek additional expertise in a certain knowledge or skill area. Some certificate programs may be transferable toward a degree at a later time. Programs might offer certificates at the masters, post-masters, or doctorate level.

Popular Online Nutrition and Food Science Graduate Programs

ProgramInstitutionDegree Awarded
Management of Child Nutrition ProgramsThe University of Southern MississippiN/A
MS in Nutrition and DieteticsCentral Michigan UniversityMS
M.S. in Human NutritionUniversity of AlabamaMS
Food Safety Program (ProMS)Michigan State UniversityMS
Certified Nutritionist, Master's Degree in Nutrition ScienceAmerican Health Science UniversityMS
DieteticsIowa State UniversityN/A
Food Science and NutritionIllinois Institute of TechnologyN/A
Master of Arts - Health and WellnessUnion Institute and UniversityMA
Master of Science in Nutrition EducationAmerican UniversityMS
Master of Science in Nutrition for Human PerformanceLasell UniversityMS
Master of Science in Food Safety RegulationJohns Hopkins UniversityMS
MS: Human Performance: NutritionLiberty University OnlineN/A
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Nutrition and Food Science Career Info

A graduate education in nutrition or food science could support a variety of career paths. This could depend on the professional experience and the specific education of the individual. For example, somebody who focused on food chemistry might have a somewhat different path than somebody who graduated from a dietitian program.

Some example careers in this vein are listed below.

  • 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

Entry level employment in these and similar areas typically requires a relevant bachelors degree. However, some employers may prioritize candidates with graduate education. Graduate degrees may also be influential in advancing beyond entry level, or in moving into academic or research roles.

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Dietitians and Nutritionists
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
Salinas, CA$83,31050
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$81,980370
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA$81,09080
Modesto, CA$80,50080
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$80,2701,230

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Sources:[i], [ii], [iii], [iv]

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