Online Degrees in Dietetics

Learn how an online bachelor's or master's degree program in dietetics can prepare you for work as a dietitian or nutritionist. Find out what you'll learn in these programs and average salaries for careers in the field. Schools offering Nutrition degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Programs Are Offered Online in Dietetics?

You can earn a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or a Master of Science (M.S.) in Dietetics online. Both programs teach you how to promote better nutrition and general health practices among patients and clients. There are some key differences, however, between the bachelor's and master's degree programs.

A bachelor's degree program is the one you'll likely wish to pursue if you do not hold any work experience in dietetics. The program fits well with those who are looking to transfer into a professionally-oriented bachelor's degree program, since you must often fulfill your general education requirements before applying to the program. Schools also usually require applicants to pass prerequisite courses in organic chemistry, psychology, nutrition, human anatomy and medical terminology before beginning upper-level B.S. nutrition and dietetics courses.

Master's degree programs typically attract students who have prior experience as dietitians, since many programs require applicants to become registered dietitians before applying. M.S. programs emphasize current research and modern developments in dietetics, and they also include coursework on public healthcare policies as they pertain to dietitians.

Degree Levels Bachelor's and Master's programs available online
Online Options A clinical component of the course must be completed at a laboratory or local academic institution; the remaining coursework is all completed online
Common Bachelor's Courses Metabolic processes, nutrition therapy, food production, physical properties of food
Common Master's Courses Thesis research, research writing, advanced nutrition therapy, organizational management
Average Salary (2015) Dietitians and nutritionists: $58,410; food service managers: $53,640*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Does the Online Program Work?

Courses for bachelor's and master's degree programs in dietetics can be conducted online, but you usually must complete the clinical portion of the program at a laboratory or academic institution near your home. The outside fieldwork often is comprised of chemistry labs and food experimentations.

You can communicate with faculty members and students through e-mail and discussion boards. Lectures are often presented through visual presentations, DVD viewings, slide shows and graphs. Some programs offer video conferencing so that you can communicate with your classmates in real time. To participate in the online program, you often must have an Ethernet or wireless high-speed Internet connection, sound cards, a speaker and a DVD player.

What Will I Learn?

Dietetics courses primarily revolve around nutrition. You'll explore food's chemical processes, along with the physiological and psychological responses these processes produce in humans. Courses for the bachelor's degree program consist of laboratory exercises that test your understanding of lecture material. Typical dietetics topics you might study include:

  • Metabolic processes
  • Nutrition therapy
  • Culture and food
  • Food production
  • Physical properties of food
  • Nutrition and public health

Master's degree coursework involves more advanced studies of nutrition. The program culminates in a thesis paper or a research project based on an original dietetics topic. Strong writing and leadership skills are emphasized in order to prepare you for managerial or administrative career opportunities. Common dietetics subjects featured in an M.S. program include:

  • Thesis research
  • Research writing
  • Advanced nutrition therapy
  • Organizational management

What Can I Do After I Graduate?

With your bachelor's degree in dietetics, you can work as a dietitian at a hospital, health clinic, insurance company, fitness center or private company. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that dietitians and nutritionists earned an average of $58,410 per year as of 2015 (www.bls.gov).

According to the BLS, you might want to consider earning your Registered Dietician (RD) credential from the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The BLS reported that the credential usually requires you to hold a bachelor's degree, participate in a professional internship, pass an examination and pursue continuing education classes.

If you earn your master's degree in dietetics, you can become a food service manager or work as a director for a nutrition and diet program. According to the BLS, food service managers made a mean wage of $53,640 in 2015. PayScale.com stated that most food and nutrition services directors earn an approximate salary range of $39,960- $91,098 as of January 2016.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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