Those who adhere to Hippocrates' quote "let food be thy medicine" often consider pursuing a master's degree in nutrition. Understanding the elements of good nutrition is one of the most important gifts a person can give themselves, their families and their communities. Although nutritional knowledge is available, modern societies have been side tracked by conventional medicine's propensity for surgeries and pharmaceutical drugs as well as the marketing schemes associated with trendy diet programs promising ultra quick results. Grass roots movements in holistic wellness that encourage people to take responsibility for their own health are partially responsible for the demand for knowledgeable nutritionists. A popular spring board for aspiring nutritionists is the graduate degree in nutrition.
Nutrition Degree Curriculum and Concentrations
Two popular types of graduate level nutritional degree programs are dietetics and holistic nutrition. Dietetics is the study of the scientific application of food and its impact on the health of people who are at various stages of wellness. This type of nutrition degree most easily satisfies the educational requirements for those who want to become registered dietitians (RD). Many schools offer two academic tracks for dietetic graduate degrees that include one leading to the RD credential and the other that is only concerned with mastering the concepts in the graduate level coursework. The Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition degree program focuses on applying both conventional and holistic medicinal research information regarding diet to the specific health needs of patients. The degree trains nutritionist candidates to assess their patient's unique health profiles and create a plan to help them reach vibrant health primarily through food, supplementation and physical fitness.
Requirements for Entering Graduate Level Nutritional Degree Programs
Most graduate level degree programs in nutrition require candidates to have a four-year undergraduate degree prior to admittance into their program. This is also one of the educational requirements to take the exam to become a RD. Although most graduate nutrition programs do not require that students have a certain degree in a related subject, the requirements to sit for the national registered dietitians' examination specifically include a Bachelor of Science degree. Some degree programs require students to take the GRE while others do not. More rigorous graduate level nutrition programs require a myriad of prerequisite courses pertaining to written and oral communication, natural sciences, mathematics and psychology.
Career Benefits for Nutritional Degree Graduates
There are many career paths available for skilled nutritionists, and even more job opportunities are open to those who gain the RD credential. The available careers fall into categories like public health, private practice consulting, research, teaching and clinical dietetic practices for RDs. These nutritionists work with ordinary people in need of nutritional advice as well as consult with entertainers, sports figures and other celebrity clients whose very careers depend upon optimal physical performance and healthy good looks.
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Medical research studies continue to show that many modern diseases are caused by consistently poor diets, according to Nutritionist Sheeren Jegtvig, MS, and the study of nutrition educates people on what foods optimize health, prevent disease and correct certain physical imbalances. The principles and techniques learned in graduate level nutrition and food science degree programs are applicable to one's personal and professional development. Not many degree programs provide the outstanding return on investment realized by those who acquire a master's degree in nutrition.