Online Schools for Clinical Dieticians
Read about bachelor's degree, master's degree and certificate programs in dietetics, which may include some online coursework or use a hybrid format that combines online and on-campus courses. Learn more about how these programs work, and get info on choosing an accredited school. Explore the courses you could take as an undergraduate or graduate dietetics student. Review the licensure and certification requirements for dieticians.
To become a dietetic, higher education is an important career requisite. Luckily, programs are offered at multiple degree levels, and many can be completed through distance learning. Continue reading to learn more about the programs and courses available to you, as well as the colleges and universities that offer them.
Is There A Clinical Dietitian Degree?
Working with doctors and the staff of a hospital, nursing home or long term care facility, a clinical dietitian is responsible for developing and applying dietary programs that are most advantageous to a patient's health.
There are a few schools that offer hybrid distance learning and on-campus programs, and others offering fully online classes in this field. Depending on the program, you can earn a bachelor's degree, master's degree or graduate certificate in the field of dietetics. The master's and graduate certificate programs are open to you if you are already a registered dietitian (RD). If you're interested in the undergraduate program, you'll have to have completed a number of prerequisite courses in the biological sciences. While didactic portions of the programs can be completed online, clinical and internship components must be completed at the university or an approved healthcare facility near your home.
How Should I Choose a School?
One way to select an accredited school is by accessing the website of the American Dietetic Association (ADA). The ADA is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. There you'll find a drop down menu of schools that offer online and on campus accredited programs (www.eatright.org).
Another way to search out appropriate programs is through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA). Great Plains IDEA presents a list of schools that offer online programs leading to a master's degree in dietetics (www.gpidea.org).
Which Schools Offer Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Dietetics?
Bachelor's degree programs in dietetics are commonly offered by colleges through online learning. Check out the following online programs:
- The University of Northern Colorado provides a Dietetics Bachelor of Science degree program online
- Kansas State University offers an online Dietetics Bachelor's Degree program
- The University of Alabama has a Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences, Food & Nutrition degree program online
Which Schools Offer Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Dietetics?
Multiple institutions host online programs in dietetics which lead to a graduate certificate, such as the following schools:
- Tufts University offers an online Nutrition Science for Health Professionals graduate certificate program
- The University of Kansas Medical Center has an online Dietetics and Integrative Medicine graduate certificate program
- San Diego State University houses an online Nutrition for Optimal Health and Wellness Certificate program
Which Schools Offer Online Master's Degree Programs in Dietetics?
Programs in dietetics at the master's degree level are also available through the internet. A few schools which provide them are:
- Colorado State University delivers a Master of Science in Food Science and Nutrition degree program through the internet
- Arizona State University has a Master of Science in Nutrition (Dietetics) degree program available online
- The University of Kansas Medical Center offers a Master of Science in Dietetics and Nutrition degree program through distance learning
What Courses Will I Take?
If you're going for a bachelor's degree, you'll be required to complete a certain number of general education courses, as well as a supervised internship as a prospective dietitian. Graduate degrees or certificates don't carry such requirements.
A basic clinical nutrition course will give you an overview of the principles of nutrition as they relate to health and disease. You'll learn how to develop a nutrition therapy plan by diagnosing and analyzing a patient's specific needs. A course dealing with nutrition issues may include new food products, malnutrition, food microbiology, safety and technological advances, as well as new trends in nutritional theories.
Informatics courses explore computer usage in dietetic research, education and practice. Courses in behavior management typically cover counseling methods and techniques when dealing with patients who have eating disorders. Class topics can include obesity, malnutrition, bulimia, anorexia, substance abuse or suffer mental disorders. Courses may also cover pediatric and geriatric diet, food science and chemistry.
Will I Need to be Registered or Licensed?
33 states require licensure, registration or both for clinical dietitians, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The ADA's Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) says that 46 states regulate dietetic practice through laws or licensure requirements (www.cdrnet.org).
Although not legally required, RD certification is usually necessary if you want to attend graduate school in dietetics, though this requirement is set by individual schools and not by the ADA or CDR. Registration also attests to your competence in the field. Graduation from an accredited undergraduate program qualifies you to sit for the certification examination administered by the CDR.
Prior to sitting for the registration examination, the CDR requires prospective RDs to complete at least 1200 hours of supervised, practical dietetic experience. The registration exam covers topics like food science, nutrition diagnosis, education, research, menu planning and management. The RD credential is renewable every five years upon completion of 75 hours of continuing education credits.
Regardless of your current level of experience in dietetics, online programs are available for you. Undergraduate programs will prepare you to begin your career and pass a certification exam, while graduate level programs will help you expand your career and require you to already be a registered dietician