Nutrition is not just a lifestyle choice – it's a science. The following 15 Best Master's Degrees in Nutrition examine the most advanced aspects of food's impact on the body.
Beyond the fad diets and superfoods du jour, nutritional practices affect the body on a cellular level. The science of nutrition is an intricate one, and a master's degree in nutrition equips graduates not only to understand these inner workings but, also, to benefit the community through this understanding. The following programs are largely research-based and built upon biological and chemical aspects of nutrition science. Students may be able to personalize their plan of study by selecting electives or conducting thesis research in areas of interest. Specialization areas can include animal nutrition, aging and nutrition, child and family nutrition, molecular nutrition, and public health.
These programs can prepare graduates for careers in nutrition from the individual to community-based to the clinical level. Many of these programs can also help prepare graduates for dietetic licensure. Generally speaking, dietitians and nutritionists apply their understanding of food and nutrition to promote healthy lifestyles, manage diseases, or address specific health needs and concerns in individuals or communities. They may work for the government or in hospitals or clinics. According to the most recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median pay for nutrition specialists and dietitians is $59,410. The field is experiencing a 15 percent growth rate, which is faster than average. This is in part because the use of food to aid in disease management and prevention is becoming more popular
The staff of Grad School Hub has compiled the following 15 Best Master's Degrees in Nutritional Science for the 2019-20 academic school year based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Data contributed from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Department of Labor plays a significant role in how graduate degree programs are ranked because institutional transparency is essential for deciding which career path is right for you. Based on this data, GSH organizes information into five weighted categories, which are:
- Alumni Feedback: 20%
- Continued Enrollment: 20%
- Degree Selectivity: 10%
- Graduate Expenses: 25%
- Projected Annual Salary: 25%
A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible through our Ranking Methodology page.
Here are the 15 Best Master's Degrees in Nutrition for 2019 – 2020!
#15 – Michigan State University
Master of Science in Human Nutrition
East Lansing, MI
Michigan State University's Master of Science in Human Nutrition program combines courses in the sciences, statistics, and advanced nutrition. Course requirements include Advanced Vitamins and Minerals, Human Nutrition and Chronic Disease, and Nutrition Policies and Programs. Students can choose to follow a "Plan A" or "Plan B" program. Plan A involves proposing, writing, and defending a master's research thesis. Plan B requires the student to complete a master's project and pass qualifying and final exams.
MSU was established as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan in 1855. It was one of the United States' first higher education institutions to teach scientific agriculture. The public research university is one of the biggest schools in the country in terms of student enrollment. U.S. News & World Report ranks MSU at No. 85 in the country and No. 35 among public schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,436 in-state ; $34,60 out-of-state
#14 – Purdue University
Master of Science in Nutrition Science
West Lafayette, IN
Purdue University offers a Master of Science in Nutrition Science through its Interdepartmental Nutrition program. The program is grounded in an understanding that nutrition and health research is interdisciplinary, incorporating fields such as biology, food science, genetics, psychology. Faculty from 10 departments at Purdue, Indiana University, and Indiana University-Purdue University contribute expertise. Students train under a faculty mentor within an emphasis group. Areas of emphasis include Animal Health, Growth and Development; Biomedical and Molecular Nutrition; Human and Clinical Nutrition; and Public Health and Education. Course offerings include Food Regulations, Mineral Metabolism, and Nutrition and Cancer Prevention. All students must pursue and defend a research master's thesis.
Purdue was founded in 1869 as a college of agriculture, science, and technology. It was named after its principal benefactor, businessman, and philanthropist John Purdue. Today, it is a public research university in West Lafayette, IN. It is a land-, sea-, and space-grant institution considered by the Carnegie Foundation to have "very high research activity." Purdue is noted for its engineering curricula, its contributions to the aviation field, and its Online Writing Lab resource. Notable alumni of Purdue also include Neil Armstrong, AKA the first man to walk on the moon. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University at No. 56 in the nation, No. 17 for public schools and No. 6 for innovation.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,208 in-state ; $28,010 out-of-state
#13 – University of Washington
Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences with the Graduate Coordinated Program in Dietetics
The University of Washington offers a Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences with the Graduate Coordinated Program in Diabetics. The MSNS is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The interdisciplinary curriculum trains students in both dietetics and nutritional sciences. Course requirements include Maternal and Pediatric Nutrition, Structural Racism and Public Health, and Biostatistical Reasoning for the Health Sciences. The degree requires a research master's thesis and 1,200 hours of supervised practical work. Students leave the program with the Master of Science Registered Dietitian credentials. The degree takes two to two and a half years to complete.
UW's main campus is located in the University District of Seattle, WA, in the Puget Sound region. The Olympic Mountains and the Cascade Range can be seen from campus. The university has additional campuses in the Washington towns of Bothell and Tacoma. Know as a space and sea-grant university, UW is categorized in the Carnegie Foundation's top tier of research universities. The University is also a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and the flagship institution of the six public universities in Washington. U.S. News & World Report ranks UW at No. 59 in the nation, No. 37 for innovation, and No. 20 among public schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,207 in-state; $27,255 out-of-state
#12 – Texas A&M University
Master of Science in Nutrition
College Station, TX
Texas A&M University offers a 32-credit Master of Science in Nutrition program. The core curriculum includes course requirements in the areas of biochemistry, nutrition, physiology, and statistics. The curriculum is made up of lectures, seminars, and research courses. All students must also complete a defend a research-based master's thesis. The university's Department of Nutrition and Food Science has recently introduced a Food Diversity Innovation Program. The department also runs a dietetic internship program and didactic program in dietetics to prepare students for careers in the field.
Texas A&M was established in 1871 under the Morrill Act. It was originally named The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas – hence the âA&M' abbreviation and the student nickname âAggies.' Texas A&M is a public flagship university and the founding member of the Texas A&M University System. The university has the second largest student body in the United States. A&M is a land-, sea-, and space-grant research university and a member of the Association of American Universities. The school works on ongoing research projects funded by the likes of NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. U.S. News & World Report ranks A&M at No. 66 in the nation, No. 37 for innovation, and No. 24 among public schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,941 in-state; $16,461 out-of-state
#11 – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Master of Science in Nutritional Science
Urbana and Champaign, IL
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a customizable, interdisciplinary Master of Science in Nutritional Science program. Students can pursue a thesis option, or take additional courses. Course requirements for both options include classes in Biochemistry and Statistics and seminars in Nutritional Sciences, and Foods and Nutrition. Students are offered extensive research opportunities in specialty areas such as Animal Nutrition, Community Nutrition, and Dietary Bioactive Components. Students can also participate in an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics internship program, which involves a six-month clinical internship. All students culminate the program with an oral final exam.
The University was established in 1867 as a land-grant institution under the Morrill Act. Located in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign, IL, it is the flagship institution of the University of Illinois System. Now a land-, sea-, and space-grant university, U of I is a Carnegie-designated top-tier research university and a member of the Association of American Universities. It is also the site of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the fastest supercomputer on a university campus. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University at No. 46 in the nation and No. 13 among public schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,186 in-state; $28,773 out-of-state
#10 – University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Master of Science in Nutrition
Minneapolis and Saint Paul, MN
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities offers a Master of Science in Nutrition program. While attending UM, students can choose to pursue a master's thesis. Alternatively, they can complete a master's project, additional coursework, and an optional independent study. Core Nutrition courses include Nutritional Biochemistry, Nutrition and Genetics, and Vitamin and Mineral Biochemistry. Students must also take classes in presentation skills, research methods, and statistics. To culminate the program, students must present their master's thesis or project and pass a final oral exam. Students can also participate in a dietetic internship concentrating on eating disorders or medical nutrition therapy.
UMN was established in 1851 and is the oldest and largest campus in the University of Minnesota System. The university is one of the United States' "Public Ivy" universities, meaning it offers an educational quality equivalent to that of the Ivy League. It is also a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. A land- and space-grant university, UMN is categorized in the top tier of research universities by the Carnegie Foundation. Known for innovation and research, the university has made developments and discoveries relating to puffed rice, cosmic rays, bone marrow transplants, supercomputers, and more. U.S. News & World Report ranks UMN at No. 76 in the nation and No. 30 among public schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,728 in-state; $25,884 out-of-state
#9 – Howard University
Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences
Howard University's Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences emphasizes the needs of underserved and disadvantaged populations. Howard's MSNS is perfect for students who want to apply nutritional knowledge toward serving people without readily available resources. Applicants must have completed sufficient undergraduate courses in chemistry and nutrition. The graduate plan of study offers emphasis areas in Community Nutrition and Experimental Nutrition. Students can choose from electives such as Vitamins, Global Health and Nutrition, and Carbohydrate & Energy Metabolism.
Howard University was established shortly after the American Civil War as a theological seminary to educate African-American clergymen. Today, the private, historically black university continues its mission to prioritize racial equality. It produces more black doctorate recipients than any other university in the country. Howard is categorized by the Carnegie Foundation as a research university with higher research activity. The university's campus features historical landmarks including the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel, the Founders Library, and the Frederick Douglass Memorial Hall. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison are among its alumni. U.S. News & World Report ranks Howard No. 89 in the nation and No. 73 for best value.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $31,309
#8 – University of Connecticut
Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences
The University of Connecticut offers an interdisciplinary Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences, involving collaborations with other departments and institutions. The department has particular expertise in emphasis areas of Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition, Human Nutrition and Metabolism, and Community Nutrition. Students can choose between two-degree plans. Plan A requires 15-course credits, a written exam, and a research thesis. Plan B is a non-thesis option, available only for students who already have work experience in the Nutritional Sciences field. In lieu of a thesis, Plan B students must complete and present a review paper.
UConn was founded in 1881 as the Storrs Agricultural School. Today, it is a public flagship university categorized in the top tier of research universities by the Carnegie Foundation. It is a land-, sea-, and space-grant university. The selective university is recognized as a "Public Ivy" for its Ivy League-standard educational quality. Located in Storrs, CT, the school's campus includes the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, and the Connecticut Repertory Theatre. U.S. News & World Report ranks UConn at No. 63 in the nation and No. 22 among public schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,500 in-state ; $35,812 out-of-state
#7 – Ohio State University
Master of Science in Human Nutrition
Ohio State University's Master of Science in Human Nutrition is a research-based program. Its curriculum focuses on the roles of nutrients in the body and current issues in nutritional health. Core course requirements include Macronutrient Metabolism, Nutrition Research Design, and Vitamin and Mineral Metabolism. Students must also complete research methods courses and a master's thesis. Program research topics include food security, bioactive dietary compounds, and behavioral nutrition. Students can also participate in a research symposium and the university's Food Innovation Center.
OSU was founded in 1870 as a land-grant university under the Morrill Act. Originally named the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, the school was located in a farming community. Today, Ohio State's campus is about 2.5 miles north of downtown Columbus, OH. It is the third-largest university campus in the United States. OSU operates additional regional campuses across Ohio. The land-, sea-, and space-grant university is categorized in the highest tier of research universities by the Carnegie Foundation. U.S. News & World Report ranks OSU at No. 56 nationally, at No. 18 for innovation, and No. 17 among public schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,560 in-state; $33,032 out-of-state
#6 – Cornell University
Master of Science in Nutritional Science
Cornell University offers a multidisciplinary Master of Science in Nutritional Science. The program offers four specialization tracks: Dietetics, Global Food Systems for Health, Human Nutrition Evidence for Policy Making, and Individualized. Students can choose from courses in areas such as chronic disease, maternal and child nutrition, nutritional genomics, and obesity. Seminar offerings cover topics including Community Nutrition, International Nutrition, and Nutritional Toxicology. All students must complete a research-based thesis.
The university was founded in 1865 as New York's land-grant university on the farm of Senator Ezra Cornell. The university has since evolved into a private Ivy League research university. Its main campus is in Ithaca, NY, and it also has satellite medical campuses in New York City and Education City, Qatar. The university also operates the Cornell Tech graduate program, which combines, business, technology, and creative thinking. Notable alumni include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bill Nye "the Science Guy." U.S. News & World Report ranks Cornell at No. 16 nationally.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $29,500
#5 – Rutgers University
Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences
New Brunswick, NJ
Rutgers University offers a Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences. Students can choose from three program options: community and applied nutrition, dietetics, and nutritional biochemistry and physiology. The dietetics option is designed to prepare students for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist examination. All students must complete three core courses: Nutrition: A Biochemical and Physiological Basis; Nutrition Seminar; and Statistics. All students conduct original supervised research and produce and defend a master's thesis. The degree program is typically completed in two years.
Founded in 1766, Rutgers is one of the oldest colleges in the country. It is among the nine colonial institutions chartered before the American Revolution. Originally named Queen's College, the university was renamed in 1825 in honor of Revolutionary War hero Henry Rutgers, who donated money to the school. Rutgers evolved from its former private liberal arts college status into a public research university. It is the largest university in the state of New Jersey, and was designated "The State University of New Jersey." It is also a "Public Ivy" and a member of the Association of American Universities. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University at No. 56 in the nation and No. 17 among public schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,848 in-state; $28,656 out-of-state
#4 – Case Western Reserve University
Master of Science in Nutrition
Case Western Reserve University offers a flexible Master of Science in Nutrition program. Admission to the program does not require an undergraduate degree in nutrition. There is no standardized curriculum, just two required courses: Advanced Human Nutrition I and II. The remainder of the students' plan of study can be determined on an individual basis depending on interests and goals. Students have the option to either pursue a master's thesis or take a comprehensive exam. They may also choose to complete a dietetic internship while working on the degree.
Case Western was created in 1967 through the Federation of Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology. Today, it is a private research university five miles east of downtown Cleveland, OH. Its neighborhood is known as University Circle, which contains the greatest one-square-mile concentration of cultural, educational, and medical institutions in the country. The university has several community partnerships, with the likes of the Cleveland Playhouse, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center. U.S. News & World Report ranks CWRU at No. 42 in, both, National Universities and Best Value Schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $43,854
#3 – Tufts University
Master of Nutrition Science and Policy
Medford and Somerville, MA
Tufts University offers a Master of Nutrition Science and Policy program. The program blends online and on-campus learning. It is the only nutrition program in the country that uses this format. Students and faculty interact through online learning tools and gather one week per semester in Boston. The interdisciplinary curriculum covers advanced topics in applied research global nutrition and food policy, and nutrition science. Elective offerings include Nutrition, Brain and Behavior; Theories of Behavior Change; and Nutrition and Aging. All students must complete a master's thesis. The degree can be completed in one to two full-time years, or two to three part-time years.
Tufts opened in 1852 with the help of Christian universalists as a nonsectarian institution. It was named after businessman Charles Tufts, who donated land to the church. The university was historically a small liberal arts college but grew into a research university in the 1970s. Located primarily in Medford and Somerville, MA, Tufts also operates four campuses in Boston and the French Alps. With notable study abroad programs and an international focus, the university also offers joint undergraduate programs with universities in England and Paris. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University at No. 27 in the nation and No. 26 for best value.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $49,892
#2 – University of Florida
Master of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition
The University of Florida offers a Master of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition. Students can follow a Food Science or Nutritional Sciences track. The Food Science track emphasizes food chemistry, microbiology, processing, and technology. Course requirements include Food Science and Technology Seminar, Research Planning, and Statistical Methods in Research. The Nutritional Sciences track emphasizes human nutrition and molecular and cellular nutrition and metabolomics. Required Nutritional Sciences courses include Advanced Metabolism, Nutritional Sciences Seminar and Colloquium, and Statistical Methods in Research.
Founded in 1853, UF has operated continuously in Gainesville, FL, since 1906. It is a senior member of the State University System of Florida. The land-, sea-, and space-grant university has a "very high research activity," according to its Carnegie Foundation designation. It is also a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. In terms of student life, UF hosts an annual Gator Growl each Homecoming weekend, which has been called the nation's largest student-run pep rally. The school's football team, the Florida Gators, is the namesake of the sports drink Gatorade. U.S. News & World Report ranks UF at No. 35 in the nation and No. 8 among public schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,770 in-state ; $27,335 out-of-state
#1 – University of Wisconsin – Madison
Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition
And the winner is: University of Wisconsin – Madison's Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition. The University's MSCN is offered entirely online to accommodate full-time work schedules. It is ideal for individuals who already have a background in clinical nutrition and want to become leaders in the field. It is also a coursework-only program, with no required field experiences, examinations, or theses. The curriculum emphasizes research, new developments in nutrition, and leadership and management skills. Required courses include Advanced Community and Nutrition; Micronutrients: Human Physiology and Disease, and Personalized Nutrition: Genetics, Genomics, and Metagenomics. Students can choose from elective offerings such as Managing Digital Information, Leading Teams, and Writing for Professionals.
It is fitting that UW – Madison is home to an excellent nutrition program, considering the advances the university has made in the field. Nutrition was first studied as a science after the results of the UW – Madison "single-grain experiment," when university researchers studied whether cows could survive on a diet of just one type of grain. A land- and sea-grant university, UW is categorized in the highest tier of research universities by the Carnegie Foundation. It is also a "Public Ivy" university and a member of the Association of American Universities. Established in 1848, it is the oldest and largest public university in the state of Wisconsin. It is also the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin System. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University at No. 49 in the nation and No. 15 among public schools.