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Most schools have rolling admissions and financial help so you can start your degree in a few weeks!

Students who are enthusiastic about living a healthy life and want to help others do the same can use an online nutrition degree program to work as a dietician, nutritionist, health education specialist, or chef. Whether pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree, you can find a gratifying career where you improve others’ health through your knowledge and advice.The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth of 7% (which is average) for dieticians and nutritionists from 2021 to 2031, with a median annual salary of $61,650. This data also shows the field of community health education specialists growing at 12% during these years, with a median yearly salary in 2021 of about $48,860.

Students seeking a bachelor’s degree in nutrition must earn 120 credits, which takes about four years of full-time study. Meanwhile, graduate programs usually require 30-45 total credits and can be completed in one to two years of full-time study.  Tuition costs will vary by school and degree level. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition for undergraduate programs was $7,869 at public universities and $37,095 at private schools in the 2021-22 academic year. Meanwhile, graduate students paid an average of $12,394 at public schools and $26,621 at private institutions.

How to Choose an Online Nutrition Degree Program

Choose your area of study

The first step in choosing an online nutrition degree program is deciding on goals. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in nutrition to obtain a state license or certification as a clinical nutritionist, clinical nutrition specialist, or registered dietician. Some people in this field pursue specialties such as pediatric nutrition, pediatric critical care nutrition, oncology nutrition, renal nutrition, gerontological nutrition, sports dietetics, and obesity and weight management. Others prefer to concentrate on holistic nutrition.

Research schools and programs

Once you begin the research process, confirm that recognized agencies accredit any schools and programs you’re considering. Not only can this affect your eligibility for financial aid, but it can also impact your ability to get the necessary certifications and licenses to practice as a nutritionist or dietitian. The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics accredits nutrition education programs, while the U.S. Department of Education oversees agencies that accredit institutions.

For answers to additional questions about becoming a registered dietician or a registered nutrition and dietetics technician, consult the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a well-respected organization of more than 100,000 credentialed practitioners.

Other information to seek when researching schools and programs includes:

  • How are the courses delivered (asynchronously, synchronously, or hybrid)?
  • Are there any in-person requirements such as labs, internships, or clinical rotations?
  • Who are the faculty, and what are their qualifications?
  • What support services are available to online students?
  • Are there networking opportunities for online students?

Students can gather this information by visiting the school’s website, following the school and program on social media, requesting print or digital marketing materials, and participating in virtual open houses and information sessions.

Prepare for tests and applications

Collecting information about each program’s application requirements and deadlines is another step in the college search process. Every program has its own processes and requirements, but in general, students applying to a bachelor’s degree program will need to submit the following:

  • Completed application and fees
  • Official high school transcript or GED
  • ACT or SAT test scores
  • An essay or personal statement about your goals
  • Letter(s) of recommendation

Depending on the program focus you’re applying to, there might be other prerequisites, such as a particular grade point average.

Most online master’s degree programs in nutrition require:

  • A bachelor’s degree or higher with transcripts from previous colleges
  • Letter(s) of recommendation from professional and personal references
  • GRE scores
  • Resume or details of your employment history
  • A personal statement or essay outlining your goals

Select your program

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information on the various schools you’re considering, take some time to decide which schools you’ll apply to. Some students focus on one or two schools based on their needs and interests, while others apply to multiple programs to increase their odds of acceptance. There’s no right or wrong approach, but students applying to a high volume of schools should remember that most schools charge an application fee. To help offset this cost, students can contact the school’s admissions office about fee waivers.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Before selecting a school, confirm the total cost of its online nutrition program (including fees) and what kind of financial aid resources are available. This aid can include scholarships, grants, fellowships, assistantships, and military discounts.

It’s also essential for students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Schools use this information to determine students’ eligibility for need-based institutional aid and federal student loans. Many scholarships are also available for nutrition students from external organizations and agencies.

Students planning on working while earning an online nutrition degree should find out if their employer offers tuition assistance benefits. Talk with the school’s financial aid office if you have additional questions about how to pay for your degree to ensure you don’t miss out on any possible assistance.

Best 50 Accredited Online Nutrition Degree Programs

Best Nutrition Degree Programs 2023

Arizona State University

University of Alabama

Weber State University

University of Alaska Anchorage

Kansas State University

Appalachian State University

University of Arizona

Texas Woman’s University

University of Northern Colorado

Liberty University

Parker University

Eastern Michigan University

University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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How We Rank Schools

This list features some of the best online nutrition degree programs at top colleges nationwide. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. The programs on our list have been accredited by reputable organizations, such as the Higher Learning Commission and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, that assess the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of colleges and universities.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, reputation, and the student resources provided for online students. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online nutrition degree programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect From an Online Nutrition Degree Program?

Online nutrition degree programs vary based on the school. Still, students can expect a core curriculum centered on public health, food science, food laws and regulations, and understanding nutrition at a macro level. Students also study how culture and psychology influence our eating and how dietary choices contribute to one’s health. In addition, a nutrition degree also examines how we digest, absorb, and metabolize foods and how nutritional needs vary at different life stages.

Because this degree provides a foundation for several health-based careers, there might also be classes that relate to diagnosing food-related issues in a clinical setting, the relationship between diet and athleticism, and holistic approaches such as herbal medicine. Some programs also delve into the administrative, professional, and ethical skills required for a leadership role in this field.

Your school also might require an internship or several hours of fieldwork outside the classroom. If this presents a challenge because of your current employment or other circumstances, talk with an admissions counselor at the school.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online nutrition degree program

  • Community Nutrition. Students analyze a specific population, screening and assessing nutritional needs and looking at related issues such as nutritional epidemiology, food assistance programs, nutrition monitoring, nutrition marketing, and nutrition interventions. Expect to design a nutrition education program.
  • Human Nutrition. Learn what comprises a healthy diet according to evidence-based practices and guidelines. A course of this type also involves exploring micronutrients and macronutrients in food, how the body uses these nutrients, and their overall effect on health. Other topics include food sustainability, safety, eating patterns, and body weight.
  • Perspectives on the Western Diet. This course drills down into the food system in the United States, looking at its inherent political, social, cultural, and ethical issues. Students learn about the history of food and farm policy, along with how the food system impacts the health of humans, the environment, and society.
  • Nutrition Throughout the Life Cycle. A course like this examines dietary characteristics related to infancy, childhood, adolescence, pregnancy, lactation, and older adulthood.

Online Nutrition Degree Programs Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online nutrition degree program?

The first step is to confirm the application requirements, deadlines, and process for any schools you consider applying to. Most schools accept online applications and digital submissions for other required materials. Students applying to bachelor’s degree programs may also be able to use the Common Application to apply to multiple programs.

Some schools accept applications on a rolling basis, while others have hard deadlines for specific start terms. Prepare early to ensure all your application materials are submitted on time.

How much does an online nutrition degree program cost?

Costs vary based on institutional and individual factors. For the most accurate information on how much tuition and fees are, contact the school directly. For undergraduate students, average tuition ranges from $7,869 at public schools to $37,095 at private universities. Meanwhile, for graduate programs, the average tuition for graduate programs is $12,394 at public institutions and $26,621 at private colleges.

Students should also factor in other expenses like fees assessed by their college for technology, academic resources, technical support, and books. However, attending school online can save students money because they don’t have to pay for transportation costs and have the option to live in a more affordable area than where their school is located.

How long does it take to earn an online nutrition degree?

The program length primarily depends on how many credits students need to earn for the degree. For example, a 120-credit bachelor’s program typically takes a full-time student four years to complete, while part-time students may require five to six years. For master’s degrees, credit requirements can range from 30-45 credits, which can be completed in one to two years of full-time or three years of part-time study. Students who want to complete their degrees faster can investigate accelerated programs, which condense required coursework into a shortened time frame, or degree completion programs, which allow students to transfer in previously earned college credits.

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