Nutritionist holds up a scale

Nutritionist Degrees: Which One is Right for You?

Nutritionists are health professionals concerned with the nutrition and diet of individuals and groups.

Nutritionists often work for hospitals, gyms, nonprofits, or cafeterias. They can also work as public health professionals. If you’re interested in health and food sciences, you should consider a career as a nutritionist. Depending on the kind of occupation you want for you future, consider your education options and the kinds of degrees that would be best for your career potential.

Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree in nutrition or a related area of study can help you land an entry-level job working with nutrition and health organizations. Some organizations will hire people with an associate’s degree, but your job growth potential will be limited. It’s best to enter an associate’s program with future educational goals in mind. If you’re thinking long-term and are deciding whether an associate’s degree will suffice, consider going for your bachelor’s instead.

Bachelor’s Degree

Most organizations will require applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree in order to perform functions as a nutritionist. Majors vary depending on the school, but the most common majors relating to nutrition are food science, health and wellness, dietetics, and nutrition science. In order to be a nutritionist, you often have to go through a certification following graduation from your bachelor’s. These certification programs generally have prerequisite courses that you need to have taken through your bachelor’s program, so make sure to look into what courses you need for certifications regardless of what your major or collegiate program requires.

Master’s Degree

People who earn master’s degrees in nutrition have better salary prospects and are also eligible for upper-level positions within the field. Earning a master’s degree positions you for managerial, consulting, and research positions within public health organizations and bigger business enterprises. Earning a master’s helps you get better paying positions in bigger-scale organizations. If you’re particularly interested in the public health aspect of a nutrition rather than having an individual focus, you should consider going for you master’s.


Earning a PhD in Nutrition positions you for expert-level knowledge in your field. Individuals with PhD’s in nutrition or related fields are eligible to be registered as a Clinical Dieticians, and many people with PhD’s are nutrition researchers. In order to work for health think tanks like The National Institute of Health, you almost always need a PhD. If you’re interested in solving big issues and thinking about large-scale nutrition issues, earning a PhD will position you for some of the top positions in the field. You can also earn a PhD to become a professor of nutrition and do research at a college or university. 

Last Updated: July 24, 2017