Doctorate in Nutrition

Some Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), Certified Nutrition Specialists (CNS), or other credentialed nutrition professionals decide to return to school to pursue a doctoral degree in nutrition. This can occur for many reasons – to further knowledge in the field, to concentrate on a specialized area of nutrition, to pursue advanced careers in nutrition, or to conduct research in nutrition.

A woman studying her Doctoral degree in Nutrition

Others who already hold professional medical credentials, such as Medical Doctor (MD), Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), Nurse Practitioner (NP), and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), may decide to pursue a doctorate degree in nutrition to further their knowledge of foods and dietetics. This can help them to better serve their patient/client base.

If you are on track for an advanced career in nutrition, particularly in research, education, management, or leadership, you should consider getting a doctorate in nutrition. A doctoral degree in nutrition is the ultimate advanced degree in nutrition available. Some doctoral degrees in nutrition are clinically-focused, while others are research- and or education-focused. The type of doctoral degree in nutrition that you decide upon will depend upon your career goals. 

Admission requirements for doctoral degree in nutrition programs generally include holding a master’s degree in nutrition (some schools require this degree to be from an ACEND-accredited program), completion of science and math prerequisites, a minimum GPA of 3.0 in your prior college work, two letters of recommendation, and sometimes, GRE scores. Here, we will explore what you can do with a doctoral degree in nutrition and list some of the schools that currently offer these types of graduate degrees. 

What Nutrition Jobs Can I Get with a Doctoral Degree?

There are many and varied career options for those holding a doctoral degree in nutrition. Keep in mind that some careers require that you already hold nutrition credentials such as RDN, CNS, MD or DVM, while others may not. Jobs that may typically be held by doctors in nutrition include, but are not limited to: 

Accreditation for Doctoral Degree Programs in Nutrition

There are two types of accreditation that students who decide to pursue a doctoral degree in nutrition should look for when choosing a graduate nutrition program: institutional accreditation and programmatic accreditation. 

Institutional Accreditation

Would-be doctoral students already know that institutional accreditation is vital before committing to any program in nutrition. The program that you choose must be housed in an institution that is regionally or nationally accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. For further explanation of these agencies, see our Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition or Master’s Degree in Nutrition pages. 

Programmatic Accreditation

Programmatic accreditation is not given to all doctoral programs in nutrition. When it comes to doctoral programs in nutrition, some have received programmatic accreditation, such as: 

  • Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)
  • American Nutrition Association (ANA)
  • Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)

Having programmatic accreditation does not make-or-break a doctoral degree program in nutrition. Choosing a program with programmatic accreditation can be a good addition to your curriculum vitae when you are seeking jobs after graduation. 

Courses and Duration of a Doctoral Degree Program in Nutrition

The curriculum of the doctoral degree program in nutrition that you choose will vary depending upon any specialization or concentration incorporated into the program, whether you are entering the program with nutritionist or dietitian credentials, as well as the intent of the program (i.e., clinical, research, education). Examples of courses typically found in a nutrition doctoral degree program are:

  • Food systems seminar
  • Food and society
  • Sustainable foods for populations
  • Macronutrients and Micronutrients
  • Nutrition and metabolism
  • Nutrition and chronic disease
  • Ethics in nutrition
  • Dissertation seminar

You can expect to spend four to five years in a doctoral degree program in nutrition. Depending upon the program, you may have to pass a comprehensive examination before being admitted to full candidacy for a Ph.D. degree, and then complete dissertation research before graduating with your doctoral nutrition degree. 

Concentrations and Tracks in Doctoral Degree Programs in Nutrition 

As you can see from the list below, there are many different types of doctoral degrees in nutrition that are available. Some are from a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) standpoint, while others are Doctor in Nutrition or similarly-titled. Concentrations vary, from public health to epidemiology to nutrition sciences to biochemistry. The great thing about PhD and doctoral programs in nutrition is that they are often research-focused, meaning that you can tailor your doctoral degree program in nutrition to the concentration or specialization which interests you. 

List of Doctoral Degrees in Nutrition

The following list of doctoral degrees in nutrition is not comprehensive, and includes programs that are ACEND-accredited as well as those accredited by other programmatic accreditation bodies listed above. Programmatic accreditation, if any, follows each degree program’s title. This list is current as of January 2024.


University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL


Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ


Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA

Saybrook University, Pasadena, CA


Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT


University of Delaware, Newark, DE

District of Columbia

George Washington University, Washington, DC


Florida International University, Miami, FL


University of Georgia, Athens, GA

Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA

Emory University, Atlanta, GA


University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago, IL


Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN

Indiana University at Bloomington, Bloomington, IN


University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS

Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS


University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY


University of Maine, Orono, ME


Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Maryland University of Integrative Health, Laurel, MD

University of Maryland, College Park, MD


Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA

Harvard University, Boston, MA

Tufts University, Boston, MA

University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA


University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI


University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN


Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS

New Jersey

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, NJ

New York

Columbia University, New York, NY

North Carolina

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 

University of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, NC


Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH

The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH


University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK


Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR


Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Rhode Island

University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI


University of Texas Medical Branch, TX

Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX

Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX


University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT


University of Vermont, Burlington, VT


University of Washington, Seattle, WA


University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI

Salaries for Jobs Requiring a Doctorate in Nutrition

According to, the following are examples of salaries for jobs requiring a doctorate in nutrition in the United States as of January 2024:

  • Research Nutritionist, US Agricultural Research Service, Burlington, VT: $88,562 to $190,293/year
  • Assistant Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC: $72,000/year
  • Nutrition Program Compliance Specialist, State of Maryland, Baltimore, MD: $64,480 to $77,854/year
  • Regulatory and Nutritional Science Manager, NuFarm, West Sacramento, CA: $115,000 to $165,000/year
  • Research and Evidence Generation Director in Food Assistance and Nutrition, American Institutes for Research, Remote: $160,000 to $195,000/year
  • Food Services Specialist, U.S. Department of Justice, Philadelphia, PA: $79,839 to $103,787/year
  • Animal Nutrition and Management Consultant, Nobris Agri Science, Inc., Lansing, MI: $100,000 to $150,000/year
  • Crop Nutrition Lead, The Mosaic Company, Remote: $95,000 to $157,000/year
  • Technical Nutrition Agronomist, Wilbur-Ellis Company LLC, Columbia Basin, WA: $59,400 to $79,200/year
  • Sensory Research Scientist, Nutrition, Abbott Laboratories, Columbus, OH: $95,000 to $190,000/year
  • Project Manager, Nutrition, Abbott Laboratories, Columbus, OH: $83,000 to $166,000/year