Earning your Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS®) certification just got easier

A Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) sits with a clientIt can sometimes feel challenging to figure out which credentials you’ll need to demonstrate your commitment and expertise to employers and patients and successfully lead in the field of nutrition. If you’re dedicated to gaining industry skills and best practice techniques, but feel unsure about which credential best suits your career interests, earning your Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS®) certification tells peers, clients, and your community that you’re qualified as an advanced nutrition professional–and it’s often included in state licensure laws.

The Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS®) Credential

The Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS®) is regarded as a high standard for advanced nutrition professionals and remains the only non-dietetics credential widely named in state nutrition licensure laws. As consumer interest in healthier living and nutrition used for disease management and prevention continues to rise, states and officials have a vested interest in ensuring consumers receive nutritional therapy from qualified professionals. Although licensure requirements vary by state, the intent remains on providing communities with educated, knowledgeable, and competent experts in the market.

State Licensure

There are currently twelve states in the U.S. that offer nutrition professionals the freedom to practice without licensure of practice or title. While this may appear to be an immediate and therefore more attractive way to step into the field, those with advanced degrees and recognized certifications distinguish themselves as stronger candidates for more lucrative positions. Practicing without a license in less restrictive states also impacts your ability to provide medical nutrition therapy, earn government recognition of your expertise, or receive opportunities for reimbursement through insurance. Those that do not qualify for state licensure may be perceived as lacking accredited education, experience, or proficiency to practice. As the public increasingly recognizes the effects of good nutrition, many individuals who previously lacked formal education and training are looking to capitalize on this emerging market.

What are the licensure requirements in your state? Find out here.

Protecting the Client

You may have been inspired to break into the field of nutrition by your passion for leading a healthy life and showing others how to effectively use food science principles to do the same. You’re likely motivated to transform health through the power of food and encourage consumers to adopt healthier behaviors.

State licensure helps protect these efforts and identifies those who are qualified and trained to offer guidance and service in a specialized area. It also safeguards consumers by preventing poor or inaccurate nutrition advice, prohibiting solicitation of unnecessary products, and stopping nutrition guidance that could lead to client harm. Licensure regulations also support the efforts of health insurance companies, as well as state and federal government, to provide reimbursement to those who are legally recognized to deliver nutrition care services.

State licensure laws remain rooted in consumer protection and offer easier access for consumers to discover knowledgeable experts in their search for advanced nutrition care and disease prevention.

An Easier Way to Licensure

The Registered Dietitian (RD®) credential is only offered to students who earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nutrition. While many nutrition professionals may follow this pathway to practice, UNE Online recognizes that you may not have discovered your passion for leading communities to healthier living until after completing your bachelor’s degree in a separate field. We provide education and learning that equips you with industry-leading, fundamental nutrition knowledge and prepares you to lead. You’ll work with innovative experts currently serving in the field and develop your understanding through research-based techniques alongside classmates and faculty. Regardless of their educational background, all of our students are united in their passion to transform health through food science.


Earning your M.S. in Applied Nutrition positions you to earn the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS®) credential and advances you one step closer towards state licensure to begin practicing.

The Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS®) credential remains the only advanced non-dietetic nutrition credential widely named in state nutrition licensure laws. This credential helps students who may not have earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and who want to practice nutrition therapy in their community achieve their career goals.

Required Courses

In our M.S. in Applied Nutrition program, students begin with required coursework that teaches a foundational understanding of nutritional concepts from which they can later build on. By covering a variety of academic fields like biochemistry and clinical science, you’re able to start your education strong whether you’re currently serving in the field or looking to break into it.

Focus Area Courses

A unique feature of the M.S. in Applied Nutrition program is the option for you to select a specialized learning track that supports your individual career ambitions and ensures you can confidently apply what you learn.

When following the path towards earning your CNS®, you’ll select electives from two of our most popular focus areas to develop a broader understanding of the role life sciences play in achieving better quality and standard of life. Similar to the curriculum provided in the required courses, these electives aim to expose you to a range of academic fields to round out your learning.

Foundational Courses

The science of nutrition remains crucial to effective and sustainable consumer care. Having a stable understanding of basic human anatomy and nutritional chemistry adds to your ability to become an expert in the field. The courses offered in our post-master’s section educate you on the role science plays in nutrition, health, and healing. These courses reinforce and complement the work you’ve achieved through the program and enhance your career potential to practice.

Licensed to Lead

Showcase your commitment to advanced learning, passion for healthier living through nutrition, and dedication to inspiring others to lead healthier lifestyles by earning the only non-dietetic credential widely recognized in state licensure laws. A CNS® will also distinguish you from others in this increasingly competitive field. UNE Online prepares you with the tools, resources, and connections you will need as you continue on your journey towards success.


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