At the Maryland University of Integrative Health, our Doctor of Clinical Nutrition (DCN) program is one of the only two doctoral programs in the country offering advanced training and education in integrative and functional nutrition. We encourage any registered dietitians, nutritionists, and other clinicians who are interested in advancing their nutrition-related skills and knowledge to apply for a DCN. You’ll be inspired by what this advanced degree can do for your career and the communities you serve.
What is a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition?
A doctorate is an advanced degree that signifies a person has developed mastery in their given field of study. As a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition, graduates of the MUIH DCN program achieve the highest possible degree available in their field. Successful graduates are recognized as topic experts with enhanced credibility.
How can a doctorate advance my career?
A DCN is an advanced clinical degree, which provides a professional with applied skills and cutting-edge knowledge that can be used in clinical settings, academic settings, and research settings, specifically as they relate to integrative and functional nutrition. This is a great way for RDs, RDNs, and other clinicians to contribute to the growing body of scientific literature related to nutrition, advance the field of nutrition as a whole, and help patients, organizations, and communities within the clinical practice setting.
Professionals who have earned a DCN are able to:
- Conduct nutrition assessments and care plans for individuals and groups
- Serve as educators in higher education
- Serve as nutrition consultants for organizations, including government agencies and nonprofits
- Deliver clinical care in conventional and functional medicine practices
- Conduct clinical research
- Publish original research in peer-reviewed journals
Job Opportunities for Doctor of Clinical Nutrition
Earning a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition degree allows someone who is already working as a RN or RDN to make a major shift or advance in their career. As a certified expert within the field of integrative and functional nutrition, DCN professionals can find themselves making a contribution in a variety of settings, including:
- Schools and universities
- Health care systems, including hospitals and community clinics
- Private practices
- State, local, national, and international health departments
- School systems
- Athletic and recreational organizations, including professional sports teams
Because a DCN provides a professional with such a breadth of knowledge, many graduates are also able to offer their skills and expertise in a variety of positions and professions, instead of remaining within one full-time position. This provides individuals with greater flexibility and enhanced networking opportunities.
Doctor of Clinical Nutrition Salary
Given that a DCN provides such expansive career flexibility, the possible earning potential of a DCN is expansive, as well.
RDs typically earn around $55,000 annually, and RDNs typically earn between $65,000 and $75,000. As an educator with a DCN degree, this salary can jump to $80,000 or more. In private practice, nutritionists with doctoral degrees can earn upwards of $100,000 to $200,000 a year.
The Path to Becoming a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition
The path to becoming a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition varies depending on where you begin your journey. At MUIH, we make it easy to help you get started and fulfill your admission and degree requirements.
Master’s Degree Pathway:
Master’s degree applicants must hold one of the following two credentials: Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) by the Board of Certification of Nutrition Specialists (BCNS) or Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN) by the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCB).
Alternatively, Individuals with a Master’s degree in a clinical field nutrition who have fulfilled all required prerequisites are permitted to apply to DCN programs. Prerequisites at MUIH include:
- Nutrition (9 graduate level credits including macronutrients, micronutrients, and life cycle nutrition )
- Biochemistry (6 graduate level credits)
- Physiology or Anatomy and Physiology (3 credits at graduate or undergraduate level acceptable)
- Clinical, Life or Physical Sciences (12 credits – graduate or undergraduate level acceptable, including biology, botany, micro-biology, nutrition science, and organic or inorganic chemistry; in addition, three credits of statistics/research literacy may be applied towards the 12-credit requirement)
Registered Dietitians (RDs) Pathway
In addition to fulfilling basic application requirements, Registered Dietitians who wish to pursue a DCN must also:
- Hold a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited program from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA or passing grade (in pass/fail systems)
- Provide verification of completion of a post-bachelor’s internship experience accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
Upon successfully completing the DCN, RDs may also earn eligibility to sit for the Registration Exam for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.
Doctor of Clinical Nutrition Courses
MUIH offers a range of evidence-based, up-to-date courses that invite students to learn, research, and hone their clinical skills in functional and integrative nutrition. Expect to develop mastery in innovative topics such as:
- Immune, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, endocrine, metabolic, and neurological systems as they relate to nutrition and lifestyle
- How to conduct a nutrition focused physical exam
- Epigenetics and bioethics as it relates to nutrition
- Designing research and participating in academic journal writing
Never before has the role of nutrition been more important in improving both individual and community health. As leaders in their field, Doctors of Clinical Nutrition are able to help people identify the root causes of their disease symptoms, understand how their environment and lifestyle influences their well-being, and learn how a holistic and personalized approach to nutrition can optimize their quality of life. Successful DCN candidates are also able to advance the field of nutrition as a whole, both as researchers and as educational leaders who can guide future professionals into an exciting and growing career.