Bachelors Degree In Nutrition
Dietitians and nutritionists guide clients through the process of building a healthy diet. They create meal plans for individuals and organizations, and also counsel clients on how to optimize their health through dietary changes.
Bachelor's degree programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics can fulfill the academic requirement for working and receiving licensure as a registered dietitian (RD) or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). Accredited bachelor's degree programs in nutrition and dietetics generally give students a solid understanding of the essential principles of human nutrition, as well as social and cultural issues surrounding food and human health.
Bachelor's Degree Programs in Nutrition: Potential Coursework
Bachelor's degree programs in nutrition may include but are not limited to the following courses:
- Human Anatomy and Physiology -- human body systems and their functions, including the cardiovascular, pulmonary, digestive and endocrine systems. Study topics may also cover common disorders and diseases associated with each system and the study of environmental factors in the development of certain diseases and disorders.
- Biochemistry -- the fundamentals of chemistry, including stoichiometry, chemical bonds and reactions at the atomic and molecular levels and thermochemistry. Coursework is likely to address chemical reactions within the human body and how they relate to the function of various body systems.
- Nutrition and Food Science -- the science of different foods and how their nutrients interact with the human body. Students may examine the structure and function of macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates and protein) and micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
- Psychology -- human thought and emotion and how it develops from infancy to adulthood. Coursework may also address how cognition and emotion relate to human behavior and relationships.
- Nutrition and Human Metabolism -- how the human body metabolizes fats, carbohydrates and protein. Students are likely to look at what determines the different metabolic rates of different people.
- Nutrition as Therapy -- using nutrition as therapy for certain diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes.
- Food Preparation, Production and Service -- food preparation, production and service best practices, such as menu planning, food budgeting, food preparation methods and proper sanitation.
- Food Culture -- different cultural cuisines and their nutritional merits; for example, how the meals and dietary habits of French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Indian cultures differ from the traditional Western diet.
- Disordered Eating -- the definition and development of different eating disorders, ranging from bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). Coursework on this topic may also address how to treat eating disorders from a nutritional standpoint.
Careers with a Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition
Individuals with an accredited bachelor's degree in nutrition and, depending on their state, a license, can qualify for registered dietitian (RD) or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) jobs. These professionals advise patients on healthy diets and can work in a variety of settings -- hospitals, clinics, and schools, to name a few. They also create meal plans and may counsel adolescents, the elderly, or other groups of people on nutrition and good eating habits.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dietitians and nutritionists earned a mean annual wage of $56,300 in 2013.
Students who do not want to start a career right after college can use their bachelor's degree in nutrition as a starting point to pursue graduate coursework or research in nutrition, nutrition science, or a related field.
Accredited Dietetics Education Programs, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, http://www.eatright.org/ACEND/content.aspx?id=73
Accredited Education Programs, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, http://www.eatright.org/BecomeanRDorDTR/content.aspx?id=8156
Dietitians and Nutritionists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm
Dietitians and Nutritionists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291031.htm