The 10 Best Nutrition Colleges in the US

Nutrition is more important than ever, used as a tool to prevent health issues. Many diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, are associated with obesity. Nutrition is a critical component to treating and preventing these illnesses.

Nutritionists are experts in food and nutrition that advise people on what food to eat. These professionals must evaluate the effects of meal plans and make changes as necessary.

Along with customized treatment plans, nutritionists take other actions to promote a healthy lifestyle. Some give presentations about diet, nutrition, and good eating habits. Other nutritionists perform research or work to change public policy.

Before practicing as a nutritionist, these professionals must pass a licensure exam and complete an internship. Degree programs in nutritional science provide the broad knowledge necessary as a nutritionist. Many nutritionists will go on to achieve advanced degrees.

Nutrition combines many subjects such as social sciences, biology, and chemistry to learn how nutrition affects health. 

Along with scientific knowledge, nutritionists must be able to communicate with clients to understand their goals properly. Nutritionists must have strong analytical thinking, compassion, listening, organizational, and problem-solving abilities.

After earning a degree, graduates receive hundreds of hours of supervised training through accredited internships. 

Didactic programs cover the necessary coursework but require students to find an internship after graduation. On the other hand, coordinated programs include the supervised work requirement.

There are 74,000 dietitians and nutritionists in the United States. 

Due to the role of nutrition in a healthy lifestyle and an aging population, the field is projected to grow 8% over the next decade. 

Here are 10 of the best nutrition schools nationwide, based on their educational and experiential learning opportunities.

Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH)

Case Western Reserve University
EurekaLott, Mather House, CWRU, CC BY 4.0

Case Western Reserve University’s nutrition program aims to lessen the gap between medicine and public health. The holistic approach combines research, education, and other hands-on opportunities. 

As a result of the course flexibility, students can choose to emphasize human nutrition or nutritional biochemistry.

The faculty in the nutrition department are dedicated to mentoring the students throughout their time at the university, preparing them for their professional careers. 

As a result, there are strong relationships formed between students and faculty. Professors have received many awards for excellence in teaching and advising.

The nutrition program at Case Western is primarily research-based. 

The Center for Proteomics and the Center for Synchrotron Biosciences house state-of-the-art facilities for students to perform research. 

Dietary carbohydrate quality, social influences on health, and disease pathways are just some of the current research projects.

Tulane University (New Orleans, LA)

Tulane University
EEJCC, Richardson Memorial, Tulane University, CC BY-SA 4.0

The nutrition program at Tulane emphasizes the social and environmental causes of issues and how to address them actively. 

As future public health nutritionists, students are prepared to shape policies and manage programs.

Students can participate in the Tulane Nutrition Leadership Training, combining practical training and academic excellence. 

Applied community, clinical, and local government experiences allow students to face real-world experiences. In addition, leadership development is essential to create the next generation of nutrition leaders to address chronic diseases.

Tulane students interested in food systems can complete a one-of-a-kind summer course in Italy. They study the dynamics of resilient food systems and how policies can affect food security. 

Along with the course, students can experience Italian meals and field trips to food organizations.

Baylor University (Waco, TX)

Baylor University
Michael Barera, Baylor University (Founders Mall and Pat Neff Hall), CC BY-SA 4.0

The didactic nutrition program at Baylor provides the education, skills, and abilities required to complete a supervised practice internship. 

80% of graduates who apply to an accredited dietetic internship are accepted. 

After completion, the vast majority of nutrition graduates will pass their certification exam on the first try.

In order to prepare students for their future careers, the curriculum covers a broad range of nutrition topics. Courses include food science, consumer sciences, food delivery systems, and life cycle nutrition. 

At Baylor, nutrition science students can work as peer nutrition advisors. They assist registered dietitians in advising students, faculty, and staff. 

Cooking classes, nutrition presentations, and 1-on-1 sessions provide valuable experience to peer nutrition advisors.

Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)

Michigan State University
Jeffness, MSU Law School 1, CC BY-SA 2.5

The MSU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition aims to solve food production, nutrient function, and chronic disease prevention problems. It is home to 40 faculty members and over 500 undergraduates.

Nutrition students can participate in a variety of research programs at Michigan State University. 

The Food Sensory Lab has state-of-the-art resources for nutrient analysis, nutrition facts labeling, and product sensory evaluation. Active teaching, product testing, professional workshops, and food development take place in the 1,600 square-foot Experimental Foods Laboratory.

As a result of the impressive nutrition program, the majority of recently graduated students are employed or furthering their education. 

After graduation, MSU graduates go on to work in areas from the government to healthcare. 

Some of the top employers of the nutrition program are FoodCorps, Hart Medical Group, and Henry Ford Health System.

University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)

UT Austin
Guðsþegn, UT Tower – Main Building, CC BY-SA 3.0

At UT Austin, the nutrition department is dedicated to community outreach

Undergraduate students partner with community organizations to provide nutrition education free of charge. Health fairs, gardening events, faculty lectures, and summer camps help to raise awareness about healthy eating.

There are also a variety of student organizations to participate in to connect with other nutrition professionals. 

Texas Nutrition runs community events and hosts a variety of events for the campus. Along with enriching experiences, these clubs provide information about the nutrition program and valuable relationships with professors.

Study abroad opportunities provide additional education in new environments. 

Past nutrition students have visited South Africa, Singapore, and Sicily to integrate nutrition with cultural applications. 

In 2016, the students visiting South Africa completed projects on food availability and diet patterns in poverty.

Clemson University (Clemson, SC)

Clemson University
Nicobro1, Total View of the Lee III Hall, Clemson University, CC BY-SA 3.0

Along with nutrition education, students can further concentrate in food science and technology. All three specializations, food packaging, sustainable food, and culinology, are approved by the Institute of Food Technologies. Clemson is home to one of a few approved culinology programs due to its comprehensive education.

Clemson is home to state-of-the-art kitchen facilities where students can experience food safety and product formulation firsthand. The food science facilities include the Sensory Lab, Culinary Research Lab, and ‘55 Exchange Ice Cream MicroCreamery

Students can also perform research at packaging science facilities to explore the relationship between materials and food safety.

Clemson students compete nationally to put their nutrition knowledge to use in the Institute of Food Technologists College Bowl. 

In 2012, a team from Clemson was awarded first place in the DuPont Danisco Knowledge Award for their innovative product activity.

UC-Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)

UC Berkeley
Firstcultural, UC Berkeley, CC0 1.0

At UC Berkeley, the nutritional sciences program educates students to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. Participants can choose to specialize in physiology and metabolism or toxicology. In either track, students receive the necessary knowledge and skills to make a difference in the field.

In the Nutrition in the Community course, students complete a social marketing project to encourage behavior change for improved health outcomes. Nutrition students in the past have worked on more accessible food, eliminating waste, healthy eating, and proposed changes to food policies.

Nutrition students also have plenty of opportunities for outreach outside of the classroom. 

The Back to School Food Systems Field Day promotes hands-on food systems research and education. Students and faculty can actively participate in farm tours, learning gardens, and community mingling.

Tufts University (Medford, MA)

Tufts University
Daderot, Packard Hall – Tufts University, marked as public domain

While at Tufts, nutrition students learn from biologists, economists, nutritionists, physicians, epidemiologists, and psychologists at the top of their fields. 

The interdisciplinary education ensures that students have a comprehensive understanding of the role of nutrition in population development. Professors are dedicated to the education and professional development of their students.

Alongside their professors, Tufts nutrition students can participate in research at prestigious research centers. 

The Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center is one of a handful supported by the US Department of Agriculture. Students can work to make research contributions to public policy and clinical healthcare actively.

Nutrition students play an active role in their communities, with hundreds of student volunteer leaders on campus. In the 2020 season, the Tufts nutrition program was responsible for the delivery of an impressive 500 fresh food boxes per week.

Boston University (Boston, MA)

Boston University Sargent Choice Nutrition Center
John Phelan, Sargent College, Boston University, Boston MA, CC BY-SA 3.0

Boston University provides three curriculum tracks specifically about nutrition. These include nutrition science, nutrition and health, and dietetics.

Students have plenty of opportunities to advance their nutrition education at BU. 

At the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center, undergraduate and graduate nutrition students have access to clinical and public health learning opportunities. 

Alongside registered nutritionists, students provide evidence-based nutrition services to the BU community.

Nutrition students at BU can also study public health and nutrition around the world. They can immerse themselves in the Mediterranean diet of Italy or explore public health in Ghana. 

These study abroad programs include field trips, community interactions, guest lecturers, culinary experiences, and many other enhanced learning activities.

Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)

Cornell University
LBM1948, Cornell University Arts Quad view, Ithaca, NY, CC BY-SA 4.0

Established in 1974, the nutrition program at Cornell is known for its impact on human health in New York, nationally, and even globally. Students receive a broad education in physical, life, social, and behavioral sciences. The multidisciplinary nutrition program is administered by the colleges of agriculture and human ecology, both of which are required to address nutrition problems.

Cornell contributes to the field through human nutrition research at all levels, from molecules to entire populations. 

A professor of molecular nutrition, Shu-Bing Qian, recently received the NIH Director Pioneer’s Award. This $3.5 million award from the NIH recognizes high-impact research.

Nutrition students can participate in Cornell in Washington to fulfill their experiential learning requirements. 

Through this program, students use their classroom knowledge to drive change in a DC-based internship. Nutrition students will develop their skills in a public health setting and gain a deeper understanding of nutrition issues.