Many of us who pay zero attention to our bodies unless something isn’t working well. Alternatively, there are also those of us who spend a lot of time and mental space researching foods and diets, exercise, fitness, and tools for achieving greater health and wellness. In reality, a career in nutrition could be the right choice for both of these people. Regardless of what category you believe you fall in, understanding our bodies and the ways to sustain it is beneficial for all of us.
If you’d like to pursue a career in nutrition, some undergraduate degrees that will best set you up for both professional success and advanced education. The following list and discussion includes some of the most common undergraduate degrees, but it is not all-inclusive. As with most careers, there are a variety of trajectories and paths to get you where you’d like to be. However, if you have landed here at the beginning of your educational path, these options are worth heavily considering.
Choosing a Bachelor’s Degree
There are a few common bachelor’s degrees that are the beginning of one’s educational road in nutrition. Most of these should set a student up for (at least) an entry-level career in a nutrition related field. These degree programs are going to have significant overlap in courses, information studied, and detail. However, if a student has some indication of the direction they are interested in, then they can choose a BS that concentrates more heavily on their passions or interests.
BS in Nutritional Sciences: Typically, a BS in nutritional sciences, dietetics, or clinical nutrition is preparing students for a career as a dietitian. A BS in nutritional sciences takes an intimate look at the relationship between health and diet, examining habits, culture, nutritional needs, and life stage. Courses will include study of the chemistry, biology, and interaction of food and the body, as well as an emphasis on appropriate communication and education skills.
BS in Health Science: A BS in health science is going to cover information that would be helpful across a variety of careers and industries. These majors focus on human anatomy, medical terminology, wellness, medical ethics, and health delivery systems. This bachelor’s is excellent for a student who wants options for both career and post-secondary education. It is also not uncommon for students to specialize inside of this major (nutrition or dietetics would be an option).
BS in Food Science and Industry: Food science and industry studies provide excellent training in food chemistry, nutrition, basic bodily sciences, and food industry management and delivery. Most programs offer concentrations focused on either the business side of the food industry or the science side of the food industry, with coursework skewed to the chosen concentration.
BS in Health and Wellness: Health and wellness bachelor’s degrees are a large part of the push for professionals focused on prevention and healthy lifestyle management. Students will study a variety of approaches to health and wellness, focusing on nutrition, exercise science, culture and food, health psychology, stress management and complementary and alternative medicine options. There is a large emphasis on the use of gained knowledge to educate one’s community.
BS in Foodservice Systems Administration Management: Interested in leadership and management as it is related to health and wellness? This major is for you. Students will learn many different practices related to food service systems, including culinary arts, food preparation and handling, design and organization of systems, management skills, and basic nutrition. Similar to a BS in food science and industry, this BS should offer an excellent look at the business side of effective delivery of right nutrition and wellness options.
BS in Dietetics: A BS in dietetics should prepare students for work in both health maintenance and health rehabilitation. Physiological, biological, and behavioral science courses will set the foundation for a variety of careers in clinical, community, or private practice settings. Students who complete this BS will also develop relational skills and become experts in recognizing and addressing the nutritional needs of others.
BS in Clinical Nutrition: This major prepares its students for careers involved in the creation and maintenance of diets that are part of medical treatment programs. Typical places of work would be food service systems in hospital systems or related clinical settings. Courses will include a focus on anatomy and physiology as it relates to nutrition, human metabolism, disease prevention, diet planning, and health maintenance.
A Healthy Future
A career in nutrition is sure to be a good choice for your own life and the lives of those you get to impact. There is no question that this industry will continue to flourish as society continues to acknowledge the large relationship between the nutritional choices we are making, food delivery and choice, and our aging bodies. Regardless of what bachelor’s degree you chose to pursue, this first step towards a career in health and wellness should give you an excellent foundation to stand on as you make choices about your own body and assist others in making the right choices about theirs.
Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) | Sacred Heart University
Associate’s Degree of Nursing (ADN) | North Seattle Community College
Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.), Marketing, Sales | University of Washington (Seattle)
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