Combining exercise and diet principles, sports nutrition is a specialized area within the health and fitness sectors. This rapidly growing field applies scientific knowledge in nutrition and exercise to equip athletes and others with the information and skills needed for optimal health and sports performance. College students at varying points in their academic careers may choose to specialize in this field, studying diverse curriculum related to sports nutrition.
Types of Degrees
Sports nutrition programs are available for virtually all college students, from those straight out of high school seeking a certificate or bachelor’s degree to graduate students seeking a master’s degree. Certificate programs are often structured as short, fast-paced programs that deliver the basics of sports nutrition. Four-year bachelor’s programs usually offer a concentrated area of study within a larger nutrition program, and graduate programs resulting in a master’s degree are more specifically focused on sports nutrition. Depending on the school, graduate programs may be available only to students with a degree or academic background in nutrition or a related area.
Courses associated with sports nutrition college programs are varied and may include everything from kinesiology to biochemistry. For the certificate program, students complete foundation classes in nutrition, weight management, sports performance and wellness education. A bachelor’s program, however, requires much more, including general education classes in areas like math and English. Science courses will also play a big role, as will classes in nutrition and food science. Health and exercise endocrinology, sports fitness testing, and metabolic responses to exercise are often studied in master’s programs.
Depending on the school and program you choose, there may be other requirements for a degree or certificate in sports nutrition. For example, a master’s program may require a thesis on a topic of your choice, and you may have to defend your thesis in front of a panel. Other curriculum components may include practical experience working in real-world settings, such as fitness centers or team facilities, observing, assisting and teaching athletes and others.
There are a number of career options for graduates holding a sports nutrition degree or certificate. Some of these include work in health care, the food industry, public health, education or even in the corporate world. Regardless of the career specifics, sports nutrition professionals share one goal -- to work with people to improve their nutrition and fitness.
- National Stength and Conditioning Association: Sports Nutrition Education
- Western Carolina University: Sports Nutrition and Performance
- Penn Foster Career School: Sports Nutrition Certificate Overview
- Mansfield University: Nutrition Degree (Sports Nutrition Concentration)
- Florida State University: Sports Nutrition
- UCCS: Master of Science in Sport Nutrition
- Penn State: Career Opportunities with a Nutritional Sciences Degree
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