Studying nutrition in Australia

The food that we eat is becoming the focus of more and more attention, so now is a great time to get involved in the field of nutrition.

Australia is a multicultural and politically stable country. The vast majority of the Australian people live along the coast, which is made up of endless white sandy beaches. The higher education institutions welcome international students from around the world to our shores.

Nutrition courses in Australia are extremely popular and many institutions offer them at undergraduate (bachelor) and/or postgraduate (master’s) level. Courses in nutrition specialisation vary in terminology between institutions and they are not all called a Bachelor of Nutrition. However, they are all of a high quality and are generally recognised across the world.

The study of nutrition includes core areas of study such as chemistry, biochemistry, physiology and nutritional metabolism and often also includes introductory coverage of related areas such as food science and public health. Entry into the nutrition courses varies from institution to institution and hence it is advisable to check the entry criteria relevant to the institution to which you wish to apply.

Undergraduate courses are generally three to four years in duration and postgraduate courses are generally one to two years in duration. In addition to these coursework degrees, students with appropriate coursework training may be eligible to enrol for a research degree (e.g. PhD) in nutrition.

Studying nutrition in australia

“The higher education institutions welcome international students from around the world to our shores”

Career options after a basic coursework degree (without further study):

  • Potential employment includes research assistant, graduate positions in government departments, project officer and junior health promotion officer

Career options with further study:

  • Research: the first step is to complete a one-year honours programme (or equivalent, e.g. master’s honours), which is devoted to research. This is usually taken as a fourth year of an appropriate bachelor degree, but some universities have somewhat different degree structures. Potential employment includes research assistant in a research laboratory, working for a government agency or the food industry
  • To qualify as an independent researcher, successful completion of a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), which usually takes at least three years, is required. In certain circumstances, alternative paths to a PhD may be possible. Potential employment includes research fellow, research programme director and university academics who plan, conduct and manage research
  • High school teacher: nutrition graduates wishing to become a science teacher at high school can apply to do a teaching qualification, such as a Diploma of Education
  • Health promotion: nutrition graduates wishing to pursue a career in health promotion usually need to complete a master’s of public health degree, or a degree in health promotion. Potential employment includes government health departments, community public health centres and non-government organisations like the Cancer Council of Australia
  • Dietetics: some universities offer a degree in dietetics, which allows you to qualify for that profession. It is wise to check on this, as the names of some degrees can be a little confusing. In addition to nutrition training similar to nutrition degrees, they include dietetic subjects and practicum clinical placements in hospital and community health settings 

It is sometimes possible to transfer from a nutrition degree to a dietetic degree mid-way through the nutrition degree. Another option is to complete your nutrition degree and then enrol in a postgraduate dietetic programme (usually one and a half to two years duration).

Potential employers include hospitals, government health departments, private practice, community settings like fitness centres and the food industry. Qualified graduates are eligible to apply for membership and accredited practising dietitian status from the Dietitians Association of Australia.

Examples of professional associationsNutrition Society of Australia (NSA): Nutrition graduates are eligible to apply for membership with the NSA. NSA is a member of the International Union of Nutrition Societies (IUNS) and members of NSA automatically become members of IUNS. NSA holds an annual scientific meeting (ASM) where everything from basic animal and human nutrition science through to clinical trial evidence and public health nutrition is vigorously discussed. The ASM is an ideal opportunity for networking in the field of nutrition. 

NSA has a Registration Scheme which is modelled on the system in the United Kingdom (UK). The NSA has established a voluntary Register of Nutritionists and the quote taken from the Code of Ethics of the Nutrition Society of the UK explains its purpose: “The purpose of the register is to establish a list of appropriately qualified persons, and in doing so, to distinguish individuals who have received an approved level of training and experience from others who have not.” It is expected that registered nutritionists engage in continuing professional development. The NSA has four categories: Registered Nutritionists (RNutr), Registered Public Health Nutritionists (RPHNutr), Registered Animal Nutritionists (RAnNutr) and Associate Nutritionists (ANutr). For further details visit -

The Public Health Association of Australia is a public health advocacy group, of which graduates can become a member. Graduates can also become members of the Australian Health Promotion Association.

Written by Associate Professor Barbara Meyer
President Elect
Nutrition Society of Australia