A professional career in nutrition will generally require a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in nutrition, or a closely related bioscience. You could also opt to do postgraduate study in nutrition (e.g. MSc or PhD) on top of a nutrition degree or other appropriate undergraduate degree (generally a biosciences/life sciences degree).
Many employers now require nutritionists to be registered with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN)
. To be eligible for registration, you would usually need a BSc (Hons) or MSc in nutritional science. We have lists of accredited university courses
leading to direct entry onto the UKVRN.
If you are unsure which course to choose you may find our careers profile page
useful background reading.
What degree courses are there?
There are very many varied courses of study usually leading to Bachelors of Science with Honours degrees. Choose a course that you will enjoy if you don’t know what job or career you want. Choose a single or double subject course if you know you want a professional career in nutrition.
We have lists of undergraduate
courses that are currently accredited by the Association for Nutrition. These accredited courses meet our standards for the professional education of nutritionists. Graduates from these accredited courses can apply for direct entry onto the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists
at the Associate level.
Single subject courses in Nutritional Science or Public Health Nutrition only (single honours) can lead to professional careers in industry or government or health, depending on the subjects covered. Or you could go on to further study in, for example, dietetics or sport nutrition or research, or other jobs instead of nutrition-related careers.
Some courses combine nutrition with food science which could be right for you if are interested in working in food and technology or product development. For more information contact the Institute of Food Science and Technology at www.ifst.org or visit their careers site at www.foodtechcareers.org
You could also study nutrition with agriculture or animal sciences (joint or combined honours). These are most suitable for careers in agriculture, applied animal extension work or later veterinary studies. For more information, contact the British Society for Animal Sciences.
Other courses combine nutritional science with bio-medical sciences, like Sports Science (joint or combined honours) and could lead to careers in the services for athletes, the fitness industry, or in public health.
What are the entry requirements to study a degree in nutrition?
These will vary from course to course. This information is usually available on the university’s website, or from their admissions team.
Generally, most nutrition degrees will ask for two science subjects at A-Level – normally Biology, Chemistry or Mathematics, although other science subjects may be considered.
What if I didn’t study science at school?
If you did not study science at school, you may be able to enter a degree course after successfully completing a science access course or a foundation course. Course Leaders or Admissions tutors will advise you about their entry requirements so you should check with the institution. The University & College Admissions Service
website lists approved access courses.
Will a nutrition degree involve Maths?
Yes, you will be expected to use maths and statistics throughout the course.
How much lab work is there in a nutrition degree?
The amount and type of lab work varies with the type of course. You can expect some lab work in the following areas typical of nutritional science degrees: food science, food chemistry or technology, microbiology, biochemistry, physiology, immunology, sport nutrition, clinical nutrition, assessment of diet and nutritional status. You may also do a lab-based project.
How much fieldwork is involved?
Some courses include some fieldwork during work-experience placements, attachments or projects. It depends on the institution, but it can be useful to undertake a course offering professional placements to get relevant work experience and help you to get employment after graduation.
Does nutrition involve work with animals?
Some nutritionists do work with animals, for example developing feed products for livestock, or working with zoos. Animal nutritionists may study degree courses in, for example, Animal Science. Again, you would probably need to have studied science subjects at college to meet the entry requirements for these courses.
How can I choose which university to go to?
Each institution’s website will contain a mission statement that stresses their staff’s areas of expertise. National assessments of quality can be useful. For example to check your university’s rating in the UK against others, see the Times online guide
If you are interested in academic study, a high score in the last Research Assessment Exercise may be the right place to go. You can choose to learn at a university where staff have research interests you want to share. Alternatively, perhaps your interest is vocational, and you may choose to study where staff have relevant consultancies or professional links, and obtained a high (teaching) quality assessment score.
Last, but not least, think about the setting – choose a place where you can afford to live and where you will be happy and comfortable while you study. Try to find out more for admissions tutors and teaching staff - visit the department during an open day if possible.
How can get work experience/improve my chances of employment after graduation?
Please read our pages on finding work
and getting work experience
. You should talk to your personal tutor or university careers service. The links below may also help you.
For more information about study and careers in dietetics contact:
British Dietetic Association
5th Floor, Charles House
148/9 Great Charles St Queensway
Birmingham B3 3HT
The BDA’s Career Choices supplement lists jobs in dietetic departments and in industry some of which are open to professional registered nutritionists.
For information about studying food science and technology, contact:
Institute of Food Science and Technology
5 Cambridge Court
210 Shepherds Bush Rd
London W6 7NJ
also have a careers site: www.foodtechcareers.org
For information about study and careers in the biosciences contact:
Society of Biology
9 Red Lion Court
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7936 5900
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7936 5901
A website from Department of Biological Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, endorsed by the Biosciences Federation: www.biology4all.com
. This site has a wealth of information about biology and the biosciences at all levels; it also has hyperlinks to the National Grid for Learning.
For information about sports sciences contact:
British Society of Sport & Exercise Sciences
Leeds Metropolitan University
For information on working with animals contact:
The British Society of Animal Science
PO Box 3
Tel: +44 (0) 131 445 4508
Fax: +44 (0) 131 535 3120
The University and College Admission Service lists courses, method of study, entry requirements and how to get contents of individual undergraduate and postgraduate courses from colleges and universities. www.ucas.ac.uk
or for anyone wanting to apply for postgraduate courses visit UK Pass
contains profiles, CV and jobs information.
Careers services that have good information and links include: