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Nutrition
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Nutrition
In the Department of Health and Behavior Studies

Transition to a Career in Nutrition

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Transition to a Career in Nutrition

Are you thinking about nutrition as a field of study and as a possible career? Terrific! Are you concerned because your previous academic degree and current occupation are not nutrition-related? Don't worry. There is a defined, well-worn path at Teachers College that has been traveled by many others like you towards rewarding careers in nutrition. The faculty and staff within the Program in Nutrition are here to guide you through the process.

In order to be a well-qualified marketable dietitian-nutritionist, we recommend completion of one of our master's degrees in nutrition, in addition to completion of our Dietetic Internship Program. Please note that your existing bachelor's degree does not need to be in nutrition to complete a master's degree in nutrition.

Let's begin with the master's degree.

The Program in Nutrition at Teachers College offers three master-of-science (M.S.) degrees in nutrition. The three M.S. degrees are in nutrition and education, nutrition and public health, and nutrition and exercise physiology. Basically, the three M.S. degrees consist of similar core courses with added courses allowing for specialization in the respective areas. The M.S. degrees in nutrition and education and in nutrition and public health consist of roughly 45 credits, whereas the M.S. degree in nutrition and exercise physiology consists of roughly 55 credits.

To be eligible to apply to and complete one of the three M.S. degrees, prerequisite courses are necessary. Successful completion of the prerequisite courses will enable you to attend graduate courses in nutrition and to glean all that is necessary from these courses. For a list of prerequisite courses for the M.S. degrees in nutrition at Teachers College, please refer to Master's Program Prerequisites.

In addition to completing a master's degree in nutrition, becoming a registered dietitian-nutritionist (RD or RDN) is highly recommended. Having the RD/RDN credential alongside the M.S. degree enables you to be highly marketable in the nutrition field. Becoming an RD/RDN requires completion of a Dietetic Internship Program (DI) and successful completion of an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics-administered exam. The Program in Nutrition at Teachers College administers a Dietetic Internship Program. However, to be eligible to apply to and complete the DI, specific prerequisite courses [called the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD)] are required. Most of the DPD courses are fulfilled by the M.S. prerequisite courses and many of the M.S. degree courses. However, four DPD courses are not included among the M.S. prerequisites nor the M.S. degree courses. Three of these four additional DPD courses will need to be completed at Lehman College while the fourth can be completed at any accredited college or university. For the complete list of DPD courses, please refer to Didactic Program in Dietetics courses.

To review, if you wish to become a nutritionist and registered dietitian, you will need to complete M.S. prerequisite courses, one of our M.S. degrees in nutrition, all DPD courses, a DI, and the national registration exam in dietetics and nutrition. This may sound overwhelming, but the process isn't. With proper advisement and a commitment on your part, you can complete the whole process (excluding completion of the M.S. prerequisite courses) in roughly three years of full-time study. However, you are always welcome to complete the process on a part-time basis. Please join Dr. Lora Sporny during an audio (telephone) information session. Click here to learn more.