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Online Master of Science in Nutrition Education

Program Length: 12-20 Months
Credit Hours: 30
Total Classes: 10
Cost per Credit: $2,000
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What are the program start dates?

Spring 2024

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

Program Rankings

See How We Set the Standard


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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


Ranked number 15

Best Online Masters in Nutrition -, 2020

Admission Requirement
Curriculum Description
Careers and Outcomes
Student Experience

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 following:

*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.

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.

Details can be found on our Program Curriculum page.

The Critical Need for Nutrition Educators

The USDA reports that in America:

74 percent of adults are overweight or obese

60 percent Adults live with one or more diet-related chronic diseases

Our Healthy Eating Index is a 59 out of 100

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.

  • Cardiovascular - 17.9 Million Annual Deaths
  • Cancers - 9 Million Annual Deaths
  • Chronic Respitory Disease - 3.9 Million Annual Deaths
  • Diabetes - 1.6 Million Annual Deaths

Snapshot of Careers in Nutrition

  • Wellness & Worklife Director: $146,6342
  • Wellness Program Consultant: $81,9403

  • Employee Health and Wellness Manager: $99,3004

  • Nutrition Director: $103,7445

  • Nutrition Educator: $60,6006

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.

Advocacy and Policy: Research and Information

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

Health Education Agencies

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

Food Banks

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

Nutrition Careers in Government

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)

The Department of Health and Human Services

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.

Department of Veteran Affairs

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

Public Health Departments

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 Systems

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

Nutrition Careers in Corporations and Private Industry

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

Food Production Companies

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

Gyms, Health Clubs, and Spas

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.

Independent Consultants/Entrepreneurs

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

Nutrition Networking Associations

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

We’re especially proud of our faculty—prominent scholars and real-world professionals at the top of their fields who value mentoring students as much as they value excellence in the classroom. Through their teaching, scholarly achievements and first-hand experience, you’ll gain a special entry point to nutrition education.

Visit our Program Faculty page to learn more about our faculty. 

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 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 professor questions and turn in assignments.


The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Military Education Benefits

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

As an online student of 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:

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB)
  • Tuition Assistance (TA)
  • Yellow Ribbon Program

Additionally, if you’ve served in any branch of the U.S. military on active duty within the past three years, you’re eligible for an application fee waiver. 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.