Exercise Science + Nutrition Graduate Programs

Welcome to part two in a series of posts on graduate programs for dietitians and RD2B’s whose career goals involve working in sports nutrition or for those prospective students that want to study sports nutrition in graduate school. For the first post focused on sports nutrition-specific programs, click here. This post will cover exercise science programs with a concentration or specialty in nutrition or hybrid exercise science and nutrition programs.

A grad student riding a cycle ergometer in nutrition and exercise science lab

Master’s Degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition

I will start this post by saying that this is a very biased post as it is the path I took. For the most part, sports nutrition-specific programs didn’t exist when I was looking for a graduate program but the real reason why I went in this direction is that by the time I completed my bachelor’s degree and internship, I couldn’t imagine studying the same clinical nutrition concepts for two more years. I love working as a dietitian, but I just do not love the nuts and bolts of the biochemistry of nutrition. I never planned on getting my master’s in nutrition. In fact, I specifically looked at dietetic internships that did not have graduate credits involved so I could wait and study something different in grad school. 

I had always planned on studying exercise science or a related field in graduate school and thus had taken exercise-specific classes in a dual program for my undergraduate degree program. Since I knew I wanted to go into sports and physical activity, it made sense for me to understand exercise physiology.

I highly recommend this route, however, there are two downsides to this approach. First, a bachelor’s degree may not provide you with the eligibility requirements for a master’s degree in a different field so you may need to take additional prerequisite courses. For example, my program required calculus and physics, neither of which were required in my didactic coursework, which meant I had to take those classes in addition to the courses in my dietetics program. If you plan to complete a master’s program in exercise science, you may need to go back to take some prerequisite classes, or you may need to have the forethought as an undergrad to include those classes in your coursework. 

Second, if you are interested in teaching nutrition at the college level, most jobs require an advance degree or a certain amount of credit hours in the field of nutrition. While there are ways around this with provable job experience and the demonstration of coursework in related fields, it can be a process to get approved and makes the application process lengthier, which can be a deterrent from applying to job opportunities. But, on the other hand, you should be qualified to teach exercise science classes as well, if you feel comfortable with that subject area. 

US Programs in Exercise Science + Nutrition

There are numerous master’s and doctoral programs in exercise science, exercise physiology, or kinesiology and you can find these by looking at their respective societies. Below I have compiled a list of graduate schools that defer a master’s degree in exercise science (or related field) and include a specialization or focus on nutrition or offer advanced degrees in a combination of exercise science and nutrition. 

Arizona State University – Tempe, AZ
PhD, Exercise and Nutritional Sciences 

University of Arizona – Tucson, AZ
PhD with a minor in Nutrition

San Diego State University – San Diego, CA
Dual MS, Exercise Physiology and Nutritional Sciences

Cal State University Long Beach – Long Beach, CA
MS, Kinesiology Option in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition 

Concordia University – Chicago, IL 
*This is a 100% online program*
MS, Applied Exercise Science Sports Nutrition 

University of Illinois at Chicago – Chicago, IL
PhD, Kinesiology and Nutrition – Exercise Physiology Concentration

Iowa State – Ames, Iowa
Concurrent BS/MS, Diet and Exercise 

University of Tampa – Tampa, FL
MS, Exercise and Nutrition Science

University of Nebraska – Lincoln, NE
MS, Nutrition and Exercise 
PhD, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology 

Indiana University – Bloomington, IN
PhD Human Performance Major, Emphasis: Exercise Physiology (Minor in Nutrition Science available, 9 credits)

Southeast Missouri State University – Cape Girardeau, MO
MS, Nutrition and Exercise Science

University of Missouri – Colombia, MO
MS in Nutrition & Exercise Physiology – Emphasis in Exercise Physiology
MS in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology – Emphasis in Nutritional Sciences
PhD, Nutrition & Exercise Physiology

Montana State University – Bozeman, MT
MS, Exercise Physiology and Nutrition
PhD, Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

Queens College, CUNY – Queens, NY
MS, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences
MS, Nutrition and Exercise Science Specialization

Teachers College, Columbia University – New York, NY
MS, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology
*This is an MS/DI*
MS-RDN, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology

University at Buffalo, State University of New York – Buffalo, NY
Exercise Science BS/Nutrition MS

North Dakota State University – Fargo, ND
MS, Exercise/Nutrition Science
PhD, Exercise Science and Nutrition

Catawba University – Salisbury, North Carolina 
MS, Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

Marywood University – Scranton, PA
MS, Sports Nutrition & Exercise Science

Lipscomb University – Nashville, TN
MS, Exercise and Nutrition Science (is becoming Exercise and Human Performance)

Baylor University – Waco, TX
PhD, Kinesiology, Exercise Nutrition, and Health Promotion

Texas Christian University- Fort Worth, TX
While this is less sports nutrition in the traditional sense, it merits a spot on this list as the sports nutrition of the future includes high school, sports medicine clinics, etc where elite athletes aren’t the clientele and a focus on lifelong health is crucial.
MS, Nutrition, Physical Activity & Chronic Disease

Texas Woman’s University – Denton, TX
MS, Exercise and Sports Nutrition

James Madison University – Harrisonburg, VA
MS, Health Sciences: Nutrition and Physical Activity concentration

Washington State University – Spokane, WA
MS, Coordinated Program in Nutrition, Dietetics, & Exercise Physiology
MS, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology
PhD, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, MN
Graduate Minor in Nutrition
You can design your own interdisciplinary degree and get an MS in exercise science and then take 6 courses in nutrition to get a minor in Nutrition.
NUTR 5625 – Nutritional Biochemistry (Fall, 3 cr)
NUTR 5626 – Nutritional Physiology (Spring, 3 cr)

International Programs

Loughborough University – Leicestershire, UK
MSc, Sport and Exercise Nutrition

Atlantic Technological University – Ireland 
MSc, Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition 

Writtle University College – UK
MSc, Sport, Exercise and Nutrition 

What’s Next

Follow along for this entire series of posts to help you find post-graduate opportunities in sports nutrition. Topics that will be covered in the next few posts: education programs in sport science, graduate assistantships for hands-on experience in sports nutrition, and how to decide which graduate education program is right for you. 

This series of blog posts has been a labor of love. It is what I wish I had when I was looking at grad schools. I will aim to keep this post updated in the hope that it saves you time. If you see a program that is missing, please reach out to me so I can add it. If you found this post helpful, please consider supporting me by sharing the link to this post with classmates, colleagues, and friends, by joining my email list, or by checking out my RD2RD store

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