Online Master of
Science in Nutrition

Online Master of
Science in Nutrition

What are the program
start dates?

What are the program start dates?

Spring 2024

January 8

Summer 2024

May 6

Fall 2024

Late August

At a Glance

Learn How to Help Others Make Nutritional Changes That Last

The online Master of Science (MS) in Nutrition Education from American University provides you with the knowledge and skills you need to help others improve their health and well-being through more informed nutritional choices and a greater understanding of the connection between diet and disease.

This powerful program is unique in its dual focus.

  • Dive deep into the science of nutrition – macronutrients, vitamins & minerals, lifecycle nutrition, and more.
  • Use behavior change strategies and program design to support individuals and communities in making improved nutrition choices.

It’s the program you need that you didn’t know existed.

Our students are changemakers at heart. They’re passionate about nutrition and helping individuals, communities, and entire populations improve their lives using nutrition education. They come from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds and are at various stages in their career. Few come in with a background in nutrition, and many are interested in switching careers altogether. What they share is a desire to understand the science of nutrition and develop the skills they need to positively impact those around them.

By graduation, you’ll feel confident in your ability to serve as a trusted source of nutritional information and impact health for generations.

Note: Effective January 1, 2024, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics will require all registered dietitian candidates to have a master’s degree. Fulfill this requirement now with American University’s MS in Nutrition Education degree and learn how you can help your clients make the lasting changes you know they need.

Program Objectives

Be the Reason Nutritional Health Improves

Throughout the online MS in Nutrition Education, you’ll learn how to translate research into practice, develop effective nutrition education programs, and understand how to remove barriers to implement lasting change. By graduation you will be able to:

Apply Nutrition Knowledge

Understand how nutritional health intersects with other aspects of health such as physical activity, child development, aging, quality of life, and disease prevention, in order to analyze and demonstrate scientific knowledge in nutrition consistent with health recommendations for the human lifecycle.


Create Nutrition Programs

Design nutrition education programs and advance nutrition knowledge for diverse audiences in various settings, including schools, communities, public health departments, government organizations, and corporations, using select models and theories.


Interpret Nutrition Research

Understand where and how to find and interpret accurate, reliable, and evidence-based nutrition information and disease studies to integrate evidence-based findings with existing knowledge to achieve sound nutrition practices and improved health.


Evaluate and Improve Current Programs

Evaluate a nutrition education program in consideration of all steps of select models and theories and make recommendations for improvements. Examine the different types of evaluation and create a logic model.


Communicate Effectively

Communicate using strategies such as social marketing and consumer-friendly health writing to effectively promote healthier nutrition behaviors to individuals, organizations and communities.

Program Rankings

See How We Set the Standard


Become a CNS®

Some program coursework can be counted towards the Certified Nutritionist Specialist® credential, a formal recognition for nutrition professionals who have met rigorous and demanding eligibility requirements.


Use Dedicated Services

Faculty, students, and alumni help you reach your career goals through the Faculty Mentorship Program, nutrition-specific webinars, networking events, and social media groups.


Study Career-Based Topics

Choose electives that serve your specific career goals so you can work on the projects and assignments that build real-world experience in your area.

A Top-Ranked Online MS

AU was recognized by Princeton Review, Best Colleges 2022, with the title of College Gets High Marks. It also ranked:

Admission to American University’s online Master of Science in Nutrition Education program requires an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university.

Applicants will need to submit:

*The application fee is typically waived if the application file is complete within a three week period.

Online Merit Scholarships

$14,000 — No Separate Application Required

Prospective students who have a cumulative 3.0 GPA or above (on a 4.0 scale) in their undergraduate program can qualify for the Online Merit Scholarship of up to $14,000. As part of your application process, your academic history will be reviewed to see if the scholarship can be applied; there is no separate application to fill out.


You’ll be notified of the scholarship status when you’re admitted to the program, or shortly thereafter.


To receive the scholarship, which is applied equally to the fifth and sixth courses of the program, you must remain in good academic standing.

Curriculum Overview

When you graduate with the online Master of Science in Nutrition Education from AU, you’ll have the ability to develop and implement nutrition education programs in a variety of industries, interpret nutrition research to further understand the connection between diet and health, and communicate information regarding nutritional health to the general public.

At American University, you’ll learn from a diverse group of subject matter experts whose experience and education has made them leaders in the field. All of our courses are taught by experienced and committed faculty, many of whom are:

  • Members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Fellows in the American College of Nutrition
  • Conducting and publishing research on the impact of nutrition on chronic disease risk factors, length and quality of life, obesity prevention, and other topics
  • Published in the Journal of Nutrition and other leading journals
  • Experienced in working in public health, clinical, community and research settings
  • Regularly featured on top news outlets such as CBS News, C-Span, Washington Journal, and others
  • Building cross-sector relationships with national and local government agencies and non-governmental organizations
  • Experienced leaders in education, consulting, program development, research, advocacy, community work and more

Additionally, the department hosts relevant and timely webinars every semester on popular topics and trends such as the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, Food Addiction, Nutrition Policy, Entrepreneurship, and Nutrition Equity and Food Access. Webinars are free to students, and we encourage you to participate in as many as possible to expand your learning and build your professional network.

Graduate from the MS in Nutrition Education program ready to make an impact with your:

  • Knowledge of how to design nutrition education programs and advance nutrition education in various settings including schools, communities, public health departments, and the food industry.
  • Practiced experience interpreting nutrition research and an understanding of where to find accurate, reliable, and evidence-based nutrition information.
  • Understanding of how nutritional health intersects with many other health topics such as physical activity, child development, aging, quality of life, disease prevention, and health policy.
  • Understanding of how gender and cultural differences affect health and nutrition and an ability to be able to reach across cultures to educate people of all backgrounds.
  • Increased knowledge of cognitive behavioral techniques and other applications used to assist others in changing lifestyle behaviors to address health risk factors such as stress, obesity, smoking, poor diet, and limited physical activity.


We want to be clear, the online Master’s in Nutrition Education does not prepare you to be a clinical dietitian. The clinical aspects of nutrition, such as treating people with advanced cancer who need medical nutrition therapy, are not part of our program. Please read through our course descriptions and outcomes for a thorough understanding of the program.

We do, however, welcome students who already hold the Registered Dietitian (RD) title or bring other clinical expertise to the program. These students often join our program to pivot or advance their careers in nutrition and drive better outcomes for their clients.

American University’s online Masters of Nutrition Education prepares you to be the expert who can design nutrition education programs and share nutritional knowledge in a way that helps people feel empowered to make lasting, healthier food choices and improve their quality of life.

Our online nutrition education degree program serves as a stepping stone to the Certified Nutrition Specialist®™ credential. Additional coursework in biochemistry, anatomy & physiology, and clinical or life sciences, as well as 1,000 hours of supervised practice experience, are necessary for CNS® eligibility.

Enhance your skills in just one year with the 100% online Graduate Certificate in Nutrition Education. In this 18-credit program, you’ll complete six relevant courses for the next step in your career as a nutrition or public health professional. Topics include life cycle nutrition, education methods, nutrition for health, and more. You can also apply certificate credits toward American University’s online MS in Nutrition Education degree.

Course Descriptions

The Master’s curriculum is designed and taught by expert academic practitioner faculty who integrate their real-world evaluation experiences into their teaching. This 30-credit-hour program consists of 10 courses and can be completed in as few as 12 months.

Core Courses — 24 Credits

This course explores the role of nutrition throughout the entire life span. Beginning with conception, pregnancy, early childhood feeding, adolescence, adulthood, and the elderly, each lifecycle is discussed with an understanding of the physiological changes and their implications for nutritional factors. Special emphasis is placed on using this information in nutritional education programming. Prerequisite: HLTH 645

In Lifecycle Nutrition, students will:

  • Critically assess key nutrition concepts as they apply to everyday life.
  • Interact with and interview nutrition experts in the field who work with clients in various age groups.
  • Assess personal knowledge, skill, and abilities of nutrition information via exams and assignments.
  • Reflect, answer and evaluate case studies and information presented during online discussions.
  • Translate and restate scientific results presented in peer-reviewed journals to write a research paper pertaining to nutrition-related interventions.

Course objectives:

  • Identify major nutritional concerns at each stage of the human lifecycle.
  • Describe appropriate nutrition guidance for individuals throughout the lifecycle.
  • Discuss common disorders and diseases caused by poor nutrition at each stage of the lifecycle.
  • Analyze case studies to identify and prioritize nutritional concerns.
  • Design treatment plans and nutrition education messages in response to case studies of clients with different nutritional concerns and conditions.
  • Discuss knowledge gained by interviewing a nutrition practitioner who focuses on a particular lifecycle group.
  • Identify nutritional intervention strategies for the disease in a life stage and provide nutritional guidance for that age group using nutritional remedies.

Topics covered include:

  • Nutrition basics and preconception nutrition
  • Nutrition during pregnancy
  • Nutrition during lactation/infant nutrition
  • Toddler and preschooler nutrition
  • Child and preadolescent nutrition
  • Adolescent nutrition
  • Adult/older adult nutrition

Nutrition Epidemiology & Research Methods will provide you with a basic understanding of statistical methods and study designs used in nutrition research. The class will define nutrition epidemiology and discuss its role in nutrition education. Topics will include statistical methods, major study designs, methods of dietary assessment, interpretation of nutrition data, and critical assessment of the strengths and weakness of nutrition research. Current research studies will be discussed to enhance the understanding of the purpose of nutrition epidemiology as well as its contribution to nutrition education.

In this course, students will:

  • Gain a foundation of the statistical methods used in nutrition research and a basic understanding of their appropriate use.
  • Develop an understanding of dietary assessment methods, collection, and use in estimating intakes.
  • Promote familiarity with biomarkers as assessment tools, and expand upon the important considerations when using biomarkers.
  • Encourage an understanding of anthropometric and physical assessment methods.
  • Learn to understand nutrition surveillance, and how nutrition research is translated into policy and practice.
  • Gain opportunities for collaboration and investigation in an online environment.

Course objectives:

  • Assess the use of appropriate study designs in nutrition research.
  • Justify the use of various food intake methods in specific studies.
  • Interpret complex data from studies of nutritional epidemiology.
  • Evaluate the major statistical methods used to analyze data sets.
  • Summarize a research paper, describing strengths and weaknesses and determining if conclusions are supported by the data.

Additional topics covered include an introduction to basic statistics, dietary assessment methods, biomarkers in nutrition epidemiology, translating epidemiology findings, and looking at the future of nutrition epidemiology research.

Nutrition Education Methods explores the current status of nutrition and nutrition education in the U.S., and identifies the factors that influence that nutrition status. You will learn to perform needs assessments for specific audiences to identify issues in that population, as well as potential barriers to nutrition-related behavior change. You will also develop and teach a theory-based nutrition education curriculum, including supporting materials that are accurate and appropriate for the target audience.

In this course, students will:

  • Gain an understanding of the numerous influences on food choice and the dietary practices to consider in nutrition education.
  • Describe the differences between action- and behavior-based nutrition education programming.
  • Identify the key theories involved in behavior change and discuss how these theories can be translated into effective nutrition education.
  • Present strategies for designing an effective, engaging nutrition education class with effective teaching methods.
  • Outline and detail a step-by-step procedure for designing nutrition education that applies theory to practice and considers personal psychosocial determinants and environmental factors that can mediate change.

Course objectives:

  • Conduct a needs assessment of a target audience, including the identification of potential barriers to nutrition-related behavior change.
  • Identify effective teaching practices and explain characteristics that make for effective instruction.
  • Develop a theory-based nutrition education curriculum, including supporting materials, with accurate and appropriate nutrition information.
  • Teach a nutrition education program to a target group and present the material appropriately and as designed.
  • Evaluate your overall teaching experience in terms of learning that occurred, presentation, quality of materials, effectiveness of evaluation, ability to connect with students, and appropriateness of information.

Sample topics covered include an introduction to nutrition education and designing and implementing a nutrition education plan.

Nutrition Program Design introduces students to advanced principles in program planning for nutrition education activities. Building on nutrition education methods, this course emphasizes the development, implementation, and evaluation of nutrition programs to effectively reduce the risk factors associated with chronic disease and improve health.

In this course, students will:

  • Creatively design nutrition programs for health improvement of individuals and groups.
  • Apply and synthesize lessons learned from a variety of courses throughout the program of study.
  • Collaborate and investigate in an online environment.

Course objectives:

  • Identify nutrition-related health issues and concerns and be able to develop appropriate nutrition-related interventions for such issues.
  • Apply theories of behavior change to program planning, marketing, implementation, participation, and evaluation.
  • Develop a plan for evaluating a program and provide a rationale for selected outcomes.
  • Demonstrate the differences between formative and summative evaluation and describe appropriate uses.
  • Create a logic model for a nutrition education program and identify the purpose for each step.
  • Examine process and impact evaluation in detail, defining when each is to be used and the purpose of use.
  • Develop program outcomes and align those outcomes with appropriate assessment methods.

Sample topics covered include:

  • Develop a Program Rational
  • Writing a Mission Statement, Goal, & Objective
  • Develop a Multi-Strategy Intervention
  • Create a Process Innovation Plan

The purpose of this course is to address three distinct forms of delivering health promotion messages to individual consumers, small groups, and larger populations. We will use the social-ecological perspective as a framework to address communication at individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and policy levels. No Prerequisites.

In this course, students will:

  • Describe the social-ecological model and its influence on health communication.
  • Describe the characteristics of an effective social marketing campaign.
  • Explain the concepts that define four theories of behavior change and describe how theory is used to influence health communication messaging.
  • Explain the factors that influence health literacy.
  • Explain the relationship between health policy and health communication.

Course objectives:

  • Apply foundational knowledge about effective health communication skills from the micro- to the macro-level.
  • Design effective health communication materials for diverse audiences.
  • Work collaboratively with a team to create an authentic and compelling social marketing campaign.
  • Test documents for readability to improve health literacy and apply results to the creation of health communication materials.
  • Advocate for a piece of legislation with a local, state, or US official.

Topics Covered Include:

  • Introduction to health communication
  • Health behavior theories
  • Social Marketing
  • Advocacy

As the first course in the program, Nutrition for Health will provide a foundation for the rest of the program, introducing students to the macro-and micronutrients, the concept of energy balance, and the relationship between various food choices and chronic disease. No Prerequisites.

In this course, students will:

  • Gain foundational knowledge about the science of nutrition and the application of that science to healthy food choices.
  • Improve understanding of the macronutrients and their relationship to energy, health, and chronic disease.
  • Expand familiarity with the research literature about nutrition and healthy eating.
  • Further explore nutrition education issues that are of particular interest to them.
  • Have opportunities for collaboration and investigation in an online environment.

Course Objectives

  • Describe the science of nutrition and critically evaluate the federal guidelines that offer consumers advice on sound nutrition.
  • Define, describe, and compare the three nutrition guidelines including the food guide pyramid, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the Dietary Reference Intakes.
  • Examine the digestion, absorption, metabolism, and use of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to develop general recommendations to consumers and understand the role each plays in diet and disease.
  • Describe the process of energy metabolism of macronutrients, understanding the kreb cycle, basal metabolic rate, and ATP.
  • Explore the concepts and components of energy balance to explain why the problem is prevalent in the United States and understand what can be done to manage this risk factor.
  • Recognize the basic elements of a sound nutrition program for athletes and the special nutrient needs such as water, protein, or carbohydrates, and any nutritional myths associated.

Changing Health Behavior provides students with an overview of the theory and application needed for assisting individuals and groups to change lifestyle behaviors related to health promotion. It includes cognitive behavior techniques to change lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, obesity, stress, or diet for the reduction of chronic disease risk. Students deepen their understanding of select theories and practices necessary for effective health behavior change.

This course was developed by Dr. Liz Cotter, whose work focuses on the evaluation of culturally tailored health promotion interventions and whose research has been published in journals such as Eating Behaviors.

Course Objectives

  • Identify health concerns relevant to nutrition and eating behaviors, distinguish between health enhancing and health-compromising behaviors, and recommend the correct action(s) needed for treatment.
  • Construct a comprehensive plan for intervention/prevention programming focused on behavior change both for themselves and for a group of their choosing.
  • Recognize the nature of the stress response in the etiology and course of many health problems and recommend strategies to reduce stress.
  • Demonstrate the ability to track and monitor a behavior of your choice, as well as reflect thoughtfully upon your experience engaging in a behavior change and create a plan for sustainable lifelong change
What I believe sets health coaching apart from more traditional methods of providing guidance or education is that health coaching encourages the individual to explore and eventually resolve their own ambivalence to change.”
Dr. Liz Cotter

Topics covered include:

  • Introduction to health behavior change and health psychology
  • The link between stress and health
  • Health-enhancing and health-compromising behaviors
  • Cognitive-behavioral approaches to health interventions
  • Chronic disease management and prevention
  • Dynamics of patient/provider communication and interaction
  • In-depth practice of health coaching skills

This course explores the role of vitamins and minerals in maintaining cellular health through biochemical and physiological mechanisms. Topics provide an in-depth view of specific vitamins and minerals as well as effective ways to translate this information toward efforts for the prevention of chronic disease. Students will also learn through hands-on projects that include the creation of a video case study about the symptoms of vitamin deficiencies or toxicities.

In this course, students will:

  • Gain an in-depth understanding of micronutrient metabolism.
  • Expand upon previous knowledge to allow for well-informed micronutrient recommendations.
  • Learn the tools to interpret new micronutrient literature.
  • Understand digestion, absorption, and transport of each micronutrient, as well as the interplay between micronutrients.
  • Develop the ability to identify both deficiency and toxicity symptoms of each micronutrient, and determine how these may occur.

Course Objectives

  • Explain the mechanism of digestion and absorption for each micronutrient.
  • Assess the primary roles of each micronutrient and their respective metabolic pathway.
  • Recognize and describe deficiency and toxicity symptoms associated with each micronutrient.
  • Recommend dietary changes to sufficiently meet micronutrient requirements.
  • Critically evaluate research to inform micronutrient understanding.

Topics covered include:

  • Introduction to vitamins and minerals: Water-soluble vitamins
  • Water-soluble vitamins folate, B12, and B6
  • Fat-soluble vitamins A and D
  • Fat-soluble vitamins E and K
  • Major minerals
  • Water and electrolytes
  • Essential trace and ultra-trace minerals
  • Non-essential trace and ultra-trace minerals

Elective Courses – 6 Credits (choose two)

Health in the School Environment explores childhood obesity and the overall health status of children from early childhood through higher education. Building on work completed in Lifecycle Nutrition, Health Communication, Nutrition Epidemiology, and Nutrition Education Methods I and II, it will apply the science of nutrition to environments where students learn. It will discuss educational programs to nutrition and health policies that are targeted to improve the overall health and well-being of students. Students learn through real-world projects that include writing a paper on how a school menu’s nutrition could be improved, creating a plan for a nutrition education program, and creating an infographic with key facts on an age group’s nutrient and psychological needs.

This course was developed by Dr. Stacey Snelling, who frequently talks with the media on this topic, and is an expert on the Healthy Schools Act and a researcher on its effects.

Course Objectives

  • Analyze and demonstrate scientific knowledge in nutrition, consistent with health recommendations, throughout the lifecycle.
  • Identify and describe the relationship between dietary patterns and chronic disease.
  • Plan a nutrition education program by using all steps of select models and theories and cultural competence.
  • Demonstrate the process of translating research and theoretical nutrition concepts into practice through an applied project.

Topics covered include:

  • Introduction to school-age health
  • Nutrition-related health issues
  • School-based nutrition and health standards
  • School health policies
  • School health programs and initiatives
  • School food services
  • Social determinants and the school health environment
  • Completion of a nutrition-needs infographic
  • Planning of a nutrition education program
  • Completion of a paper that analyzes a lunch menu’s food choices and nutrition.

Sports Nutrition allows students to translate theory into practice and to relate content to fitness and sports. Included are topics on weight and body composition, eating disorders, and guidelines through proper nutrition. The material covered gives students comprehensive knowledge of nutrition for use in complementary fields focusing on sport and exercise. Projects include following a social media personality to analyze their communication strategy, evaluating a supplement company, creating a real-life weight loss and performance enhancement plan for an athlete, and providing research-based nutrition advice to an athlete based on an assessment of their needs.

Course Objectives

  • Define and describe the three main energy pathways, their usage in various sports and exercise conditions, and the substrates utilized in each.
  • Explain the metabolic and physiological requirements for each macronutrient and fluids for exercise performance.
  • Identify and explain the role of key vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes for athletic performance and recovery.
  • Research and debate current controversial topics in the field of nutrition and fitness as related to athletic performance.
  • Assess an athlete’s needs to provide research-based advice in improving nutrition and performance.
  • Analyze intervention strategies for both eating disorders and sports that involve weight control requirements for participants.

Topics covered include:

  • Introduction to sports nutrition
  • Metabolism and energy balance
  • Energy systems
  • Carbohydrates and fat for energy production and sport performance
  • Protein in the athlete’s diet
  • Vitamins, minerals, and supplements for sports performance
  • Fluid and electrolyte requirements during exercise
  • Intervention strategies for athletes with weight management concerns and disordered eating
  • Beyond competition: How to create a diet and exercise program for life

Strategies in Weight Control addresses the strategies used to assist in reversing the obesity epidemic. Students gain an understanding of the trends of obesity, risk factors associated with being overweight, and chronic disease patterns. Further, strategies of proper weight management are explored on an individual and societal level, looking at current diet trends and evaluating their health implications.

In this course, students will:

  • Gain an understanding of the role of energy metabolism in weight maintenance.
  • Learn how the brain, gut, fat cells, and genetics interact to regulate weight.
  • Expand upon the importance of and recommendations for diet and physical activity in weight management, evaluating the role of each independently.
  • Develop the ability to identify both fad diets and supplements to understand the physiologic reasons these diets should be avoided.
  • Identify the role of both weight loss drugs and surgeries.
  • Develop an understanding of why weight management is important through exploration of the dangers at both ends of the weight spectrum, and how to institute weight management in a meaningful fashion.

Course objectives:

  • Describe overweight/obesity trends in the United States and assessment approaches in weight management.
  • Explain metabolic and physiological aspects of weight management and the role of energy nutrients in body weight.
  • Assess dieting trends and strategies for regulating eating behavior and effectiveness of strategies used.
  • Develop weight management programs appropriate for specific audiences.
  • Analyze intervention strategies for both eating disorders and sports that involve weight control requirements for participants.

Topics covered include:

  • Introduction to weight management and assessment methods
  • Energy metabolism and weight management
  • Regulators of eating behavior and body weight
  • The role of physical activity in weight management
  • A healthy diet for weight management
  • Beyond diet and exercise: Fads, surgery, drugs, and supplements
  • Eating disorders and disordered eating
  • Encouraging lifestyle modifications

The Critical Need for Nutrition Educators

The USDA reports that in America:

Each step closer to eating a more nutritional diet lowers the risk and occurrence of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, and hip fractures.1 Having the ability to understand nutrition information and communicate that knowledge to others can have a profound effect on almost every aspect of a person’s life that can span generations.

Deaths from Chronic Disease

Every year, 32.4 million people die from just four chronic conditions. NCBI reports the role of nutrition in chronic disease management is particularly crucial, as diet is a modifiable risk factor for most chronic conditions.

Disease Annual Deaths
17.9 Million
9 Million
Chronic Respiratory Disease
3.9 Million
1.6 Million

Snapshot of Careers in Nutrition

What Can You Do With a Master’s in Nutrition Education?

AU’s MS in Nutrition Education provides you with the knowledge and skills you need to help empower people in your community and beyond to make healthier food choices and improve their quality of life.

Whether the discussion centers on nutrition insecurity, hunger, food equity and access, nutrition labels, or our nation’s obesity epidemic, your career in nutrition centers on being the trusted source people want and need to provide consumer-friendly, accurate information about nutritional health and the food we eat.

Career Opportunities in Nutrition Education

Take a closer look at the following sectors to see how you can use your Master’s in Nutrition Education to help others achieve improved health and well-being.

There are a number of non-profit organizations that serve the local, national and international needs for nutrition, health, and hunger prevention such as Share our Strength, Feeding America and the Food Research and Action Center. From working for a county food council to lobbying for better nutrition in our public schools, you can pursue a career nutritional advocacy and policy such as these:

  • Communications Director
  • Director of Nutrition
  • Grant Manager
  • Nutrition Expert
  • Nutrition Policy Associate
  • Research Associate


  • Alliance for a Healthier Generation
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)
  • Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
  • Share our Strength
  • Feeding America
  • Food Research and Action Center

The goal of a health education agency has a more specific focus, which is to educate the educators with the latest news, research, and advances. Professionals often work in schools and their surrounding communities to teach, encourage, challenge, and award awareness of nutrition and health.

Career Titles

  • Advocacy Coordinator
  • Communications Manager
  • Nutrition Educator


  • American Health Association
  • The American School Health Association
  • Let’s Move
  • Cooking Matters
  • American College Health Foundation

A single food bank is a place where nutrition ideas really take hold directly with a community that needs help in making every meal count. Collectively, they provide an outlet for businesses and individuals to make a difference locally. Food banks have become one of the most critical links in the nutrition chain; people most in need depend on them to supply or supplement the food on their table

Career Titles

  • Community Partnerships Coordinator
  • Fundraiser
  • Grant Writer
  • Marketing and Communications Manager
  • Nutrition Educator


  • Feeding America
  • Food Bank of the Rockies
  • Capital Area Food Bank

It doesn’t take long for people in the nutrition field to understand how gardening is intimately connected to better nutrition for all. Jobs in this field are dedicated to bridging the gap between the local food system and healthy eating by planting and encouraging the creation of gardens.

Career Titles

  • Education Director
  • Farm-to-School Director
  • Food Education Fellow
  • Garden Specialist
  • Outreach Specialist


  • The American Community Gardens Association
  • The Center for Nutrition in Schools
  • Nutrition to Grow On
  • D.C. Greens
  • America in Bloom, TheGrantHelpers, and the Whole Kids Foundation

There are a number of government-run organizations dedicated to nutrition at local, state, and federal governments levels. They occur within the public health system, agriculture, and the community.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) +

The USDA is responsible for research, development, and execution of aspects of federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food. They deal with efforts as diverse as climate solutions, farming, forest management, dietary guidelines, food safety/animal and plant inspection, economic research, and marketing and promotions.

Career Titles

  • Communications Specialist
  • International Program Specialist
  • Nutritionist
  • Research Associate


The USDA is comprised of three dozen agencies and offices including:

  • Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
  • Farm Service Agency (FSA)
  • Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)
  • National Agricultural Library
  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Opportunities with the USDA reach far and wide as they oversee a number of programs and services including:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • Child Nutrition Programs
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program
  • National School Lunch Program
  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
  • Food Distribution Programs
  • Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

Shaping nutritional policy is the central focus within the HHS.

Career Titles

  • Consumer Safety Officer
  • International Policy Analyst
  • Public Health Nutritionist


  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Social Services (Head Start)
  • Nutrition and Fitness
  • Affordable Care Act
  • National Institutes of Health
  • It also presents directives and information to the public on such topics as the flu, food safety, bullying, HIV/AIDS, and mental health.

The Depart of Veteran Affairs provides benefits programs, healthcare, and other programs and services for the nation’s nearly 22 million veterans.

The VA’s Nutrition and Food Services department focuses on nutrition education, and nutritional services designed specifically to ensure high-quality food services in VA healthcare facilities across the country. Jobs with this department can be regional or national.

Career Titles

  • Assistant Chief in Nutrition and Food Service
  • Food Service Systems Manager
  • Nutrition Support Program Coordinator

States are divided not only into counties but also into public health regions and jobs that deal with nutrition and health at all levels.

Career Titles

  • Health Program Coordinator
  • Nutritionist
  • Nutrition Program Coordinator — Public Health Programs.
  • Program Director–Consumer Rights and Advocacy

School nutrition managers work in single schools and report to that school’s nutrition director, who in turn reports to the district-level director. In elementary and high schools garden specialists focus on bridging the gap between what we grow and what we eat. In culinary magnet schools, that bridge can be extended one more step — into the kitchen with the chef/instructor.

Career Titles

  • District-Level School Nutrition Director
  • School Nutrition Manager
  • Garden Specialist
  • Director, Nutrition and Wellness
  • Campus Nutrition Program Director
  • University Program Director, Professor


  • Kindercare

In 2019, 84% of large employers (200 or more workers) offering health benefits offered a workplace wellness program, such as those to help people lose weight, stop smoking, or provide lifestyle and behavioral coaching.7 The CDC finds that well-implemented workplace health programs can lead to 25% savings on absenteeism, healthcare costs, and workers’ compensation and disability management claims costs.

Career Titles

  • Assistant Director of Worksite Health
  • Nutrition Consultant
  • Nutrition Health and Wellness Manager
  • Worksite Health Promotion Specialist


  • Citi
  • Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Gap Inc.
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • CVS Health

Every product in your kitchen comes from a company that employs nutrition-related experts who advance ingredients, research new ingredients, track food sources and strategize compliance with state and federal standards.

Career Titles

  • Global Customer and Brand Manager
  • Nutrition Analyst
  • Nutrition Assistant Manager
  • Nutrition Educator
  • Store Nutritionist


  • Isagenix
  • Purina
  • GU Energy Labs
  • Clif Bar & Company

It has become more and more common for fitness centers, gyms, health clubs, and spas to employ resident nutrition educators whose job responsibilities include consulting with clients and designing nutritious food offerings for members and employees alike.

Career Titles

  • Nutritionist
  • Nutrition Coach
  • Nutrition Educator
  • Nutrition Program Coordinator
  • Personal Trainer
  • Weight Management Consultant

One large national chain, Lifetime Fitness, has nutritionists, nutrition coaches, and nutrition program coordinators on staff and offers a free 70-page online nutrition manual (chapters include vegetables and fruits, protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, supplements, and a 30-day healthy-eating challenge) written and edited by staff members.

Though health/nutrition coaches and consultants work across all areas in many different venues, some nutrition educators start their own businesses, allowing them to focus on the specific issues they’re passionate about.

Career Titles

  • Health Coach
  • Health Educator
  • Nutritionist
  • Nutrition Coach
  • Nutrition Consultant
  • Owner

Learning from other nutrition professionals and educators can strengthen your base of knowledge and provide you with a network of like-minded individuals with whom you share a common interest as well as notice of other career opportunities. Nutrition education graduates encounter so many different situations and people that learning from their peers is a real opportunity.

The following is a list of networking organizations you might want to check out.

Career Services

American University’s Career Center offers its services to online and on-campus students as well as to all alumni, so you’ll continue to receive support for as long as you need it.

This means you’ll have access to resources for your job search, career advising, internships, and scholarships. You can also network, look for jobs, and apply for positions by making an account at AU Career Web, our online career search tool.

The Master of Science in Nutrition Education Program Also Provides:

Faculty Mentorship Program

Halfway through your program, you will be matched with a faculty mentor who will be available to work with you on resume development, job search navigation, and making connections based on your location and professional interests. Faculty mentors also serve as a valuable resource for any program or course-related items.

Networking Events

Both virtual and in-person networking events are offered each semester. Alumni panels offer an opportunity to connect with peers, faculty, and industry experts.

Social Media

Students, alumni, and faculty share open dialogue about the program as well as provide information about jobs and industry trends on dedicated Facebook and LinkedIn groups.

Student Webinars

Webinars are hosted every semester on popular topics and trends such as White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, Food Addiction, Nutrition Policy, Entrepreneurship, and Nutrition Equity and Food Access. Webinars are free to students, and we encourage you to participate in as many as possible to expand your learning and build your professional network.

Alumni Employers

As passionate change-makers, our alumni are employed in various settings all over the country. You can find some of them working at these outstanding organizations:

  • Alliance for a Healthier Generation
  • American Liver Foundation
  • Beyond Hunger
  • Beyond Type I
  • Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
  • Compassion in World Farming
  • Fairfax County Public Schools – Florida Department of Health
  • Hinge Health
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Kinship Milk Tea
  • Levi Strauss & Col
  • Leah’s Pantry
  • McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center
  • MedStar Health
  • Merrill Lynch
  • Montgomery County Food Council
  • Noom, Inc.
  • NOVA Physician Wellness Center
  • NY State Education Department
  • Share Our Strength
  • Texas A&M AgriLife
  • The Food Group Minnesota
  • The Wellness Center at Ballard Health
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Trident
  • TriHealth
  • USDA
  • Wellness Workdays

Learning Online

American University welcomes its online students as a part of its community. As an online student, you’ll learn from the same outstanding faculty and be held to the same learning standards as students who attend courses on campus. On-campus and online programs deliver the same outcomes, and important support systems, like career resources, are set up for online learners as well. The only difference is you’re allowed to learn when and where it’s best for you so you can earn your degree and advance your career without putting the rest of your career and life on hold.

We Bring AU to You

Our digital campus was intentionally designed based on extensive research behind what makes online learning successful. We combine advanced technology, hands-on experiences, and full access to the American University community. Here, you’re not an online student, you’re an AU student.

Rigorous Courses

Online courses are as challenging as their on-campus counterparts and taught by the same connected faculty members, influential guest speakers and prominent lecturers.

100% Support

New-student orientation, 24×7 help desk for technical issues, a student services coordinator, financial aid advisers and more are all available to ensure your success.

Expert Faculty

Home to some of the most acclaimed scholars and thought leaders in the world, you’ll learn from award-winning scholars and policymakers, diplomats, authors, artists, attorneys, scientists, journalists and more.

Collaborative Learning

Use virtual tools to talk about your coursework, work in teams with classmates, build strong connections, network with others and ask your instructor questions and turn in assignments.

Military Education Benefits

American University is dedicated to supporting military service members, veterans, and their families.

As an online student in the Master’s in Nutrition Education program, you can transform your military experience and leadership skills into new career possibilities as you earn your degree regardless of where you live or are stationed.

We support a full range of military education benefits such as:

Additionally, if you’ve served in any branch of the U.S. military on active duty within the past three years, you’re eligible to waive the application fee. We accept transfer credits from military coursework, have a dedicated Office of Veterans Services to help connect you to benefits, and maintain an active Veterans Services Support Network.

We welcome you to learn more about our military benefits and how to apply for them.

Take Your First Step Today

Become an American University student. A passion for public service, an emphasis on active leadership, and a global outlook are the hallmarks of the American University learning experience. We create graduates who stand out from their peers as active, socially aware, and compassionate leaders who work toward creating meaningful change in our world.

Join Us.

To learn more about American University’s Master in Nutrition Education program, request more information, request an appointment, or call us toll-free at 855-725-7614.

Program FAQs

The American University MS in Nutrition Education program is unique in ensuring that its graduates have nutrition science coupled with behavior change theories. This approach is necessary for the implementation of innovative healthy eating campaigns and programs in the community that lead to healthy consumers. Ultimately, graduates will have sound nutrition knowledge and will be successful educators at the individual, organizational, and societal levels.

Admission requirements for the Master’s in Nutrition Education include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.

Applicants will need to submit the following:

International students must also submit a TOEFL score of 600 (or 100 on the Internet-based test), a minimum score of 68 on the Pearson Test of English, or a minimum IELTS score of seven (7) is required. Additionally, applicants with international transcripts must have them evaluated course-by-course. For a list of acceptable evaluators, go to

Students with a weak academic background may be admitted with provisional status. Students who are admitted provisionally must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 after the completion of the first nine credit hours of graduate study at American University or they will be academically dismissed.

American University is pleased to offer the Online Merit Scholarship to students who demonstrate undergraduate excellence and continue on to graduate studies. Scholarships are available to students who meet the GPA requirements of a cumulative 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale, and you do not need to fill out a form to receive it.

The Master of Science in Nutrition Education can be completed in as little as 12 months.

No, a GRE test is not required.

We may accept up to six hours of graduate work from another institution that applies directly to the MS in Nutrition Education degree. Transfer credits from another institution must be approved by the admissions team.

Our application deadline will change depending on which semester you are applying for. Please contact our online admissions staff for a specific timeline your application file needs to be fully submitted. Application decisions are given about two weeks following submission.

Our fall semester starts in August. Spring semester begins in January. Summer session begins in May.

Yes, graduate students enrolled at least half-time in a master’s program may be eligible for federal loans. To apply, students must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). American University’s FAFSA code is 001434.

Graduates with a MS in Nutrition Education have the credentials needed work in a variety of fields including public health, nonprofits, schools, government, health clubs, and food companies. Learn more about our graduates’ success and their testimonials about the nutrition education program.

Faculty, students and alumni in the online Master’s in Nutrition Education are dedicated to helping you reach your career goals. Resources available to you include a dedicated faculty mentor to provide career assistance, networking events, industry webinars, social media groups, and access to American University’s career center.

This program provides a stepping stone to the Certified Nutrition Specialist® ™ credential. Additional coursework in clinical nutrition, bio/life sciences, and biochemistry, beyond what is included in this program, as well as supervised practice experience, are necessary for CNS® eligibility.

No, this does not prepare you to be a registered dietitian. However, there are currently registered dietitians in this program for professional development and career advancement.

Effective January 1, 2024 the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics will require all registered dietitian candidates to have a Master’s degree.

Yes. The 18-credit Graduate Certificate in Nutrition Education includes six online courses and can be completed in one year. The curriculum includes coursework in lifecycle nutrition, vitamins and minerals, nutrition education methods, and more. If you choose to pursue the graduate certificate, and decide to apply to the MS in Nutrition Education program in the future, you may be able to share some of the credits.

Students who decide to pursue the Master’s program before they’ve completed 12 credits of certificate coursework can transfer all certificate credits toward their MS degree. Those who decide to pursue the MSNE after completing 12 credits or more of certificate coursework can transfer six credits. Contact an admissions adviser for complete details.

Yes, online students can easily request a Student ID online to take advantage of all the same resources as our on-campus students