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Why Registered Dietitians Should Get Their M.S. in Nutrition

Nutrition and dietetics is booming. From 2020-2030, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects there will be an average of 5,900 job openings each year for nutritionists and dietitians. This projection marks an 11% growth rate of the field in the next decade, far outpacing the average occupation growth rate of 8% growth rate. Plus, in 2021, the average yearly salary was $61,650. There’s never been a better time to become a nutritionist or dietician!

Interested in this profession? Some pretty big changes are happening. Last year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics announced that, beginning in 2024, anyone seeking to become a registered dietitian (RD) must have a minimum of a master’s degree to take the dietetic registration exam.  However, this requirement does not apply to already established RDs; they can continue practicing without a master’s—though there are considerable advantages for current registered dietitians to earn an advanced degree, particularly one in their field. Read on to learn why both current and future registered dietitians should consider getting their M.S. in Nutrition!

Is a Master’s Worth It?

One of the most notable benefits to having an M.S. in Nutrition is how a graduate degree improves your earning potential. According to a 2021 BLS study, a master’s can increase your earnings by 20 percent. Even more importantly, the unemployment rate is a mere two percent. Clearly, a master’s pays for itself.

And the professional benefits aren’t confined to just salary. As stated above, nutritionist and dietetics careers are growing at a rapid 11%. Careers in health education and community health are growing even faster: at a staggering 17% in the next ten years (that’s over double the growth rate for the average American occupation!). Health educators and community health workers, especially if associated with universities or research centers, are typically required to have an advanced degree. By earning an M.S. in Nutrition, you’re gaining access to a rapidly growing field enriching communities in need.

After 2024, every new registered dietician will have at least a master’s. The field will quickly grow more competitive, especially for RDs without graduate education. In light of all this, earning a master’s in nutrition improves your overall salary potential, broadens your career outlook, and sets you up to pursue more advanced study.

How Long Does an Online Master’s in Nutrition Take?

ACU offers two degrees in an M.S in Nutrition: a standard master’s in Nutrition and one with a dietetic internship. Both of these programs are offered fully online. Those who have earned their bachelor’s or became a registered dietitian residentially should consider the benefits of an entirely virtual degree.

An online graduate program is the perfect choice for a flexible way to earn a master’s degree. ACU’s online Master’s in Nutrition includes 36 hours of coursework, and can be finished in as few as 12 months. But, as many of our students work full-time, this degree generally takes 2 years. ACU Online prides itself on its post-traditional student body, many of whom are working full-time and earning their degree alongside their career. Our entire university—from the professors to the academic advisors to other classmates—is dedicated to helping students effectively manage their classwork alongside their job, community, and personal commitments.

Plus, at ACU Online, students become connected to a vibrant, virtual, Christ-centered community. We excel at offering quality, affordable education for full-time professionals with an emphasis, rooted in our Christian values, on service and community transformation. This aspect of our master’s in Nutrition programs is very evident in the curriculum nutrition students take.

What Does an Online Master’s in Nutrition Look Like?

Both of ACU’s online Master of Science in Nutrition programs, with or without the dietetic internship, offer a distinctive focus on community development, socioeconomic factors, and its intersection with nutrition.

In the M.S. in Nutrition, students will take classes like Nutrition and Diabetes and Nutrition and Poverty, which deal with the effects of diet on lifelong health as well as the complicated connection of poverty on food access and health. Also, in Nutritional Genomics, they’ll explore the impact of familial genetics on bodies and nutrition. Finally, in Nutrition Education and Counseling, students will be equipped to teach better food preparation and diet tactics to their clients, effecting positive change in themselves, their families, and their communities.

Similarly, the M.S. in Nutrition/Dietetic Internship focuses on questions of justice and community in connection to health and diet. Faculty will help students find residential internships in the area where they live. During their residency, interns in the program will focus their time on four key issues:

  • Hunger: Interns will work in a variety of clinical rotations exploring the extensive impact that nutritional deficits have on individuals and communities.
  • Health: An outpatient counseling rotation will then apply the knowledge gained in the clinical rotations to address the health of the clientele.
  • Hope: Interns will help teach basic culinary and food service skills to a wide variety of people.
  • Housing: Interns will teach basic selection, procurement, and preparation of healthy meals for home use.

This strong emphasis on communal engagement and justice demonstrates the mission of ACU’s online nutrition program: to prepare registered dietitians who model Christian values by leading and empowering individuals, especially those in economic need, to achieve better nutrition and healthier lifestyles. We want to change and impact the nutrition of our communities for the better, rooted in our dedication to faith in Christ.

A master’s in Nutrition can prepare you for an exciting career with endless potential. However, graduate study need not come at the expense of your other responsibilities. Whether you’re a busy professional looking to change careers or you’re preparing for future doctoral programs, an online master’s degree in Nutrition can get you where you want to go. Learn more about our Master of Science in Nutrition and Master of Science in Nutrition/Dietetic Internship or call (855) 219-7300 for more information. 

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