By Published On: September 13, 2022

For those interested in health and wellness, it can be hard to decide which type of master’s program to pursue. A master’s degree in exercise science and a master’s degree in nutrition can both prepare you for careers in health, but there are several key differences to consider. While both are within the health sciences field, these two areas of study will prepare you for different career outcomes. 

Master’s in Exercise Science vs. Master’s in Nutrition Program Curriculum

While it varies program to program, curricula for master’s in exercise science programs and master’s in nutrition programs feature different areas of focus. 

What’s the Main Difference between an MS in Exercise Science and an MS in Nutrition?

The main difference in the curriculum between a master’s in exercise science and a master’s in nutrition is the scope of study. Those studying exercise science typically pick from a variety of concentration areas including strength and conditioning, human movement, exercise physiology, sports performance training, or sports nutrition. While nutrition is an area of study within exercise science, it typically focuses on nutrition as it relates to athletic or tactical performance, and nutrition knowledge is supplemented with general exercise science knowledge. Those studying nutrition specifically will learn broad nutritional knowledge that they can apply to both general populations and to populations with specific conditions. 

What Will I Learn in a Master’s in Exercise Science vs. a Master’s in Nutrition Program?

While curriculums can vary from program, exercise science programs will typically include courses such as kinesiology, biomechanics, exercise physiology, research design, nutrition, anatomy, physiology, exercise prescription, and more. The focus is to prepare you to work with clients to improve athletic performance, health, and wellness. Nutrition programs will typically include courses such as nutrition and fitness, biochemistry, health promotion and disease prevention, research methods, nutrition education, and more. The focus is to prepare you to provide nutritional counseling for general populations

How Long Does It Take to Earn These Degrees?

While program length varies by the specific program, on average it takes around two years to earn a master’s degree. Concordia University Chicago’s Master’s in Applied Exercise Science program takes between 12-18 months to complete. Time spent in a master’s program will depend on transfer credits and the course load the student is willing to take on. 

Careers and Salaries for Master’s in Exercise Science vs. Master’s in Nutrition Graduates 

While there is some overlap, a master’s in exercise science and a master’s in nutrition will prepare you for different career outcomes.

What Can You Do with a Master’s in Exercise Science?

There are several career opportunities for those with a master’s in exercise science, depending on what concentration area you chose to focus on. Students with a master’s in exercise science can go on to become sports coaches, exercise physiologists, kinesiologists, sports nutritionists, wellness coaches, athletic directors, cardiac rehabilitation specialists, and more. 

Exercise Physiologist 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual pay for exercise physiologists is $47,940, with jobs for exercise physiologists growing faster than the average. 

Athletic Director

According to the BLS, the median annual pay for a post-secondary level athletic director is $96,910, with jobs growing as fast as average.

Sports Nutritionist 

According to the BLS, the median annual pay for dietitians and nutritionists is $61,650, with jobs in the field growing faster than average.

Kinesiologist

According to Payscale, the average salary for kinesiologists is $51,473, with salaries as high as $75,000. 

What Can You Do with a Master’s in Nutrition?

There are a number of careers students can pursue with a master’s in nutrition, though some may require additional certifications or education. Typically students can pursue careers as dietitians, nutritionists, food scientists, chefs, and more.

Dietitian or Nutritionist

According to the BLS, the median annual pay for dietitians and nutritionists is $61,650, with jobs in the field growing faster than average.

Food Scientists

According to the BLS, the median annual pay for food scientists is $74,160, with jobs in the field growing as fast as average.

Chefs

According to the BLS, the median annual pay for chefs is $50,160, with jobs in the field growing much faster than average.

Get Started on Earning your Degree Today

Interested in earning your degree in exercise science? Concordia University Chicago’s Master of Science in Applied Exercise Science offers five different concentrations to prepare you to pursue the career of your dreams. Learn more about our Exercise Physiology, Human Movement Science, Sports Nutrition, Sports Performance Training, or Strength and Conditioning concentrations.

 

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