While most nutrition coaching certifications have no degree requirement, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree (at minimum) for most career paths in food science and nutrition. And if you’re interested in nutrition, earning your college degree is usually the best way to dive in.
Here we list the best schools with the best majors for your undergraduate studies. We’ll also answer questions about finding the best degree program for your needs.
- Baylor University: Nutrition Sciences
- Brigham Young University (BYU): Nutritional Science / Dietetics
- Cornell University: Food Science / Nutritional Sciences
- Florida State University: Food and Nutrition Science / Dietetics
- Michigan State University: Food Science / Nutritional Sciences / Dietetics
- New York University (NYU): Nutrition and Food Studies
- Texas A&M University: Nutrition and Food Science
- Virginia Tech: Science of Food, Nutrition, and Exercise
- Which major is best?
- How do I choose a good school?
- What can I do with a bachelor’s in nutrition?
- Next Steps
Here are some great choices. Listed in alphabetical order.
Baylor University: Nutrition Sciences
Baylor’s undergraduate programs in Nutrition Sciences are a good choice. You’ll explore how nutrients aid the body in growth and development and in maintaining health and wellness. You’ll have a chance to see how concepts from microbiology and chemistry impact food preparation and safety. Choose the Pre-Dietetics major for an ACEND-accredited program if you’re planning to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). Good placement rates for internships, good pass rate for RD exam (first attempt), and Baylor grads are highly-rated.
Brigham Young University (BYU): Nutritional Science / Dietetics
Brigham Young (BYU) offers a B.S. in Nutritional Science and a B.S. in Dietetics. Study food science, nutrition, metabolism, biology, research, and more. Program outcomes include: Explain the role of dietary choices and interventions for optimizing health and preventing or ameliorating chronic disease and malnutrition. Assess nutritional status of individuals or populations. Search, interpret, and summarize peer-reviewed scientific literature. Evaluate nutritional claims for accuracy. Design research for nutritional science that includes ethical considerations of using human and animal subjects.
The Dietetics program is limited enrollment. Only 40 students per year. This is where you get into dietetics, communication & professionalism, and internship preparation.
Cornell University: Food Science / Nutritional Sciences
Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is highly-regarded and respected. Their students are heavily recruited by large and small companies in a range of industry sectors – for the last several years, 97-100% of graduates have found a place in industry or graduate school within 6 months of completing their program.
The Food Science major begins with math and science and then moves to the application of these basic sciences and technology to the manufacturing, sensory evaluation, storage, distribution, and safety of foods and food ingredients. Students are also strongly encouraged to participate in undergraduate research supervised by a faculty member and/or complete an internship in a food company during their program of study. Most teaching faculty in the department also have active research programs and welcome participation by undergraduate students.
The Nutritional Sciences major allows you to study chemistry, biology, and the social sciences to understand complex relationships among human health and well-being, food and lifestyle patterns, food and agricultural systems and institutional environments. Field experience helps you put theory into practice and lets you explore different career opportunities. Seek employment in Dietetics including nutrition counseling, clinical nutrition, community nutrition, and management of food and nutrition services in business and the health industry.
Florida State University: Food and Nutrition Science / Dietetics
Florida State’s College of Human Sciences offers a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition Science as well as a B.S. in Dietetics.
The Food and Nutrition Science major gives students an in-depth understanding of various scientific aspects of nutrition and food. Students study nutrient functions and requirements, metabolism, food quality and safety, the composition and chemical properties of foods, and changes in foods caused by processing, storage and preparation. A superb choice if your interest lies in sports nutrition.
Students majoring in Dietetics may earn an ACEND-accredited verification statement which is required to apply for an internship and registered dietician exam.
Michigan State University: Food Science / Nutritional Sciences / Dietetics
Michigan State University’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition offers three relevant majors for undergraduate students.
Food science graduates of this IFT-approved program use cutting-edge technology to develop new food products, add value to raw food commodities, and improve the quality and safety of foods.
Nutritional sciences students choose one of three tracks depending on interest on health care occupations such as medicine or dentistry, or in public health nutrition, or in global food and health initiatives.
Dietetics undergraduates in this ACEND-accredited program can expect to gain knowledge in foods and nutrition and to develop expertise in nutritional assessment and care, as well as in food service management systems.
New York University (NYU): Nutrition and Food Studies
Earn a B.S. in Nutrition and Food Studies from NYU Steinhardt. The undergraduate program in Nutrition and Food Studies has two concentrations from which students can choose:
- Nutrition and Dietetics, preparing students for dietetic internships to become eligible for registered dietitian (RD) credentials
- Food Studies, for students who want to explore the cultural, historical, and sociological aspects of food, production and consumption
Texas A&M University: Nutrition and Food Science
The Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University offers two majors for undergraduates: Nutritional Sciences and Food Science & Technology.
The Nutritional Sciences major prepares students with a comprehensive knowledge of the biological and social sciences to understand the relationships between nutrients, food components and human health. Choose the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) track if you desire a dietetic practice in a clinical, therapeutic, community wellness, public health or food production/service setting.
Food Science majors apply the principles learned in the basic sciences such as food chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, microbiology, food engineering and nutrition to provide consumers with safe, wholesome and attractive food products that contribute to their health and well-being.
Virginia Tech: Science of Food, Nutrition, and Exercise
The Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise at Virginia Tech offers two undergraduate programs.
The Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) is an ACEND-accredited program which prepares graduates to become Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN).
The Science of Food, Nutrition, and Exercise program is more broad. It meets the pre-professional academic requirements for medical, dental, physical therapy, nursing, physician assistant, veterinary, and other professional programs. The degree may be tailored to individual needs through controlled electives, field studies, and internships.
Which major is best?
There are good nutrition majors to choose from. The typical majors are:
- Food Science
- Nutrition / Nutritional Sciences
Typically you earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree from any of these majors; the differences lie in the course selection and associated internship programs. Food Science and Nutritional Sciences are great all-around majors. Dietetics is a good choice if you plan to pursue a career as a Registered Dietitian.
In any of these programs, you’ll be exposed to a wide range of topics that can help you pick out an interesting, rewarding career path. There is so much within food science, technology, and production that you’ve probably never heard of. And so many areas of nutrition practice.
How do I choose a good school?
You can compare the statistics, and look for a campus with nice weather, but here’s what it comes down to – make sure you choose a school with a really good reputation.
Most schools offer good programs, but when it comes to getting a job, you want the school to have a well-known, respected name. If you’re at Cornell for instance, you might even get recruited before graduation.
Some undergrad programs even let you participate in research, which can provide valuable exposure to research methods, analysis, and interpretation. (Again, Cornell is a good example.)
And if you know you want to become an RD/RDN, be sure to choose a dietetics program with good internship opportunities. (There are limited opportunities for these; attending a good school helps set you apart.)
What can I do with a bachelor’s in nutrition?
You have many options, and a promising career outlook. Employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections program.
In recent years, interest in the role of food and nutrition in promoting health and wellness has increased, particularly as a part of preventative healthcare in medical settings.
The median annual wage for dietitians and nutritionists was $59,410 in May 2017.
Use this list as a starting point. Also consider Master’s Degree programs and see how that could fit into your chosen career path.
And compare nutrition coaching certifications which you can add to your resume to set yourself apart and potentially advance your career.