Frequently Asked Questions

Answered by Nutrition Majors

Are there any paying jobs on campus that will help you develop yourself as Nutrition major?

YES! One of the best jobs is working in Food Service on campus because there are many job openings and your manager will work around your class schedule to give you shifts. You have your choice of the DC´s, the Hatch and the Blue Wall. Food Service experience looks great on Dietetic Applications and on Resumes, because Nutritional Professionals like to know that we understand food and food preparation, and all the hard work that goes into meal planning and design.

Besides the core nutrition classes required, what other gen eds would you recommend that would be related to the major?

Kin 110 - Human Performance and Nutrition, or Microbio 160 - Bio of Cancer and AIDS are two GREAT courses to take not only for Nutrition majors, but also for anyone interested in the body and health. These classes explain complex bodily processes in layman´s terms are would be a great complement to your required courses.

Do I have to do my dietetic internship near Amherst, or can I do it anywhere? Do I get paid or do I have to pay for it?

You are able to go anywhere you would like and any place that accepts you – it is a competitive process to apply for the internship after the Bachelor’s degree. Just make sure that the program has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). There is a tuition that will vary based on the program. There are scholarships available through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association) and student loans can be deferred during this time. Some programs offer stipends to help support the intern. A list of possible DI’s and costs can be found at the Academy website.

Does it make sense to major in Nutrition and have a minor in Kinesiology or would it be better to have a double major?

It depends what you want to do after your Undergrad. If you want to go on to something like Med School, maybe a double major would be to your benefit. However, if you want to do a Dietetic Internship, maybe it would make more sense to get 2 minors along with the Nutrition Major, such as a foreign language or sociology, in order to make yourself a more well-rounded applicant and to show you are dedicated to helping people.

Entering into the nutrition major sophomore year, will it be difficult for me to graduate in four years?

The Nutrition major does require 8 semesters and a particular sequence of classes, but if you already have some Gen-Eds out of the way then you may be able to catch up. You are especially at an advantage if you have already taken some classes such as Chemistry or Biology which are a few of the prerequisites for some basic nutrition classes. You can also take summer courses to fit in your prerequisites. Although many students choose to take an extra semester to complete their degree for any number of reasons, a lot of students are able to graduate within the four year time frame.

How can I get experience that looks good on my resume?

Getting experience is all about self-initiative. Start by identifying the areas you are interested in, for example clinical versus community nutrition. Once you have a general idea of what you may like to do or what population you are interested in working with, research opportunities involving this population. The “getting involved” page of this website offers great tips and strategies for this step in the process. Once you have found a position that you enjoy, stick with it. Remember, companies and schools often look for commitment.

How important is math in relation to nutrition?

Math is important but you do not need to know calculus. Basic math will do.

I would like to take a course at another university. How do I make sure it meets UMass requirements?

Transfer Affairs and Undergraduate Admissions reviews transcripts to establish number of credits that will be transferred. They evaluate transcripts based on course material and whether or not it meets the University of Massachusetts requirement. Keep the course syllabus from all of your previous courses, so you can show the Transfer Affairs Office or your advisor.

Is it possible to be eligible to take the RD test and graduate in 4 years?

Yes, some schools offer programs which will start your rotations during your undergrad years, so that when you graduate you have completed your coursework and the required supervised hours, so your are eligible to take the RD exam. These programs are called Coordinated Undergraduate Programs (CUPs). UMass does not offer a CUP program. Most schools have programs like UMass, where you complete your B.S., first and then apply for a separate internship program.

Is nutrition as a major as difficult as everyone makes it out to be?

No, it is not a difficult major-it just has a lot of science courses that you need to take such as microbiology, biochemistry, biology and chemistry, before you start taking upper level nutrition courses. It is not a difficult major if you are interested in the classes you are taking, and also if you put in enough effort and study time (as with any other major). Some people may say Nutrition is too complicated to understand, but if you are really interested in the body, you WILL want to understand the mechanisms behind food and this interest to learn will make the major a lot easier for you to complete. Most nutrition courses teach concepts that are very applicable to everyday life. It is easy to see how concepts that are taught relate to the proper functioning of the body.

Is the UMass Nutrition Program a reputable one compared to other schools nationwide?

Yes, UMass Amherst has a great, accredited Nutrition Program that offers all of the coursework needed to continue on to a Dietetic Internship after your Bachelor´s Degree has been completed. UMass also offers a post-BS Dietetic Internship, showing its dedication to Nutrition and the continuing education the university believes necessary for this health field that has recently been growing in popularity. You can also get an M.S. in Nutrition at UMass, or an MPH in Nutrition or a PhD in public health – Nutrition option.

What are some of the unusual and uncommon jobs a degree in Nutrition can offer?

There are many possibilities. Please see our page titled Non-RD options to see what careers are possible for Nutrition Majors not wishing to enter into Dietetic Internships and/or Clinical Nutrition.

What are the differences between Nutrition and Food Science?

Although these two majors are similar in that they both center on food, their emphasis on its implications are very different. Nutrition studies the relationship between foods and its effect on an individual’s health. Nutrition considers topics such as obesity, malnutrition, food insecurity and nutritional deficiencies. In comparison, Food Science considers chemical, biological, and physical properties of food in relation to manufacturing, processing, and storage of food products.

What can one do to get an upper hand while applying for a dietetic internship?

n terms of coursework make sure you have taken all of the recommended classes and have done well in them. Some classes like Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) will be looked at more closely than others. Outside of class work, get involved in your community. Try to volunteer time at the local hospital or work alongside a professor on his or her current project. It’s important to get some sort of experience in the field of nutrition.

What do the upper-level nutrition courses cover for material? Do they reflect on the basic food service classes that I am currently taking?

Upper level nutrition courses focus on Community Nutrition and on diseases as a consequence of nutritional problems. Everything connects together, and food service classes WILL eventually tie in to what you learn later on. Especially with Nutritional Problems in the US and Medical Nutrition Therapy, you will need to have a solid understanding of the chemistry behind foods and what particular qualities certain foods possess that can potentially have implications for people with certain diseases and medicines.

What is the average salary of a nutritionist?

Average salary for a nutritionist located in MA is $59,000 in 2009. Salary can vary with location, years of experience, additional degrees, and responsibility.

What should I take if I’m not quite sure what I want to do?

If you think you have an interest in nutrition I would recommend taking Nutrition 101 and/or Nutrition 230. If you are interested in the life sciences in general, and you do not mind taking many science courses, I would recommend taking a biology, kinesiology, nutrition or public health course to see which academic area you are most fond of. Most of the introductory courses for these majors are prerequisites for other classes so it is time well spent. Also, if you have a strong interest in more than one of these areas, you can consider double majoring, or taking a minor.

Where do dietetic internships take place?

The programs can be run out of a university, foodservice company, or a hospital to name a few. The clinical, community and foodservice rotations may take you to different areas depending on where you are completing your internship.

Why is there so much chemistry?

The fundamentals of nutrition are based in chemistry. Taking courses in biochemistry, microbiology, chemistry and organic chemistry provide the foundation for learning about nutrition in the body. In order to understand how food affects one’s health, you need to understand the basic chemistry of food and physiology of the body. For example, to understand fat digestion and absorption, you need to know the chemical structure of fats, which is taught in organic chemistry and biochemistry. Also, the entire area of metabolism is based on chemistry.