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Best Online Associate Degree Programs in Nutrition

Explore the top schools that offer online nutrition associate's degree programs. Learn what classes are included, how long programs take, and what careers these programs can prepare you for.

Top Schools for Nutrition Associate's Degree Programs

When deciding on the top schools for an online associate's degree in nutrition, you should consider factors such as cost, program length, accreditation and flexibility. Below you will find information about some of the best schools for online associate's degree in nutrition programs throughout the United States.

1. The New School

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
New York, NY $50,994 87%

The New School boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1, meaning students may receive more individualized attention from instructors. The school offers an Associate of Applied Science in Food Studies that consists of 60 credit hours of coursework, 15 of which consist of hands-on practice or a capstone project. Students can complete many of the courses online and select a concentration in health, science and environment, which includes courses in human body and nutrition, food systems and gastronomy. This program allows students to choose many of their courses from a list of electives and has a tuition rate of $1,700 per credit or $25,230 per semester (12 to 18 credit hours).

2. Pennsylvania State University - World Campus

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
University Park, PA $13,988 72%

Pennsylvania State University's World Campus has more than 8,000 online undergraduate students and has a tuition rate of $576 to $617 per credit hour. The school offers an Associate in Science in Human Development and Family Studies with two concentration options: children, youth and family as well as adult development and aging services. The program provides a broad overview of human development topics, including family studies, human body characteristics and development. Students can choose 15 credit hours of elective classes, including nutrition foundations, nutrition trends and community nutrition.

3. Barton County Community College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Great Bend, KS $3,424 91%

Barton County Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and has more than 2,000 online undergraduate students. The school offers several online associate's degree programs related to nutrition, which all have a tuition rate of $150 per credit hour.

  • Associate of Science in Dietary Management - This program prepares students for licensure as dietary managers and related professionals.
  • Associate of Science in Pre-Dietetics - This program includes coursework similar to dietary management, but is meant for students who plan to transfer their courses into a bachelor's program.
  • Associate of Science in Nutrition and Health - Students in this program can use multiple electives and focus more of their studies on well-being and nutrition topics.

4. Gaston College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Dallas, NC $2,704 72%

Gaston College has a retention rate of 70% for full-time students and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The school has tuition rates of $76 (in-state) and $268 (out-of-state) and offers an Associate of Applied Science in Nutrition and Dietetics Technician program. Students can complete all required coursework online and complete a supervised practice each semester (4 total) either on campus or at geographically-appropriate qualifying sites. The program includes courses in nutrition counseling, nutrition assessment, food science and dietetics.

5. Northland Community and Technical College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Thief River Falls, MN $5,715 87%

Northland Community and Technical College has nearly 1,000 students enrolled in completely online programs and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school offers an online Associate of Applied Science in Dietetic Technician program that consists of 67 credit hours. Students complete all classes online, including those in food preparation, developmental nutrition and community health. During the program, students also complete 480 hands-on practicum hours at locations that are geographically near them, preparing them for dietetic technician certification.

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Finger Lakes Community College Canandaigua, NY $5,296 87%
7 Central Arizona College Coolidge, AZ $2,580 66%
8 Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland, OH $3,436 85%

Table data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition represents the 2019-2020 school year
Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Nutrition Associate's Degree Programs

Online nutrition associate's degree programs consist of online classes and, in some cases, in-person practicum experiences. Online classes involve students logging in to one or more websites to access lectures, reading assignments, homework, tests and course communications. Many online courses are asynchronous, meaning that students can log in at any time during the week to complete required items. However, some classes do have synchronous components that may include live class discussions, lectures and scheduled exams.

Program Length

Online nutrition associate's degree programs typically take two years to complete. For students who have already completed some college credits, they may be able to transfer some of those into the nutrition program to shorten the total completion time. Although the specific number of courses varies by school, many programs include around 60 credit hours. Traditionally, students take around 30 credits per year and finish their program in two years, but students can take as many or as few classes per semester as they want at some schools, enabling them to finish sooner or take their time completing their program.

Common Courses

The specific courses included in online nutrition programs vary by school and program, as some programs are focused more on community nutrition and wellness while others are focused on dietetics, nutrition and certification preparation. Each type of nutrition program typically includes general education courses, such as English and mathematics, as well as program-specific classes. Some of the courses commonly included in online nutrition associate's degree programs are highlighted below.

  • Food Studies - Students explore the relationship between society, food and culture as well as food politics, food tendencies of communities and international trends.
  • Nutrition Fundamentals - This course provides an overview of basic nutrition topics, such as physiological functions of nutrients, current issues and nutrient food sources.
  • Community Nutrition - Students learn about nutrition trends and behaviors of communities and various policies and programs that can be implemented to improve community nutrition activities.
  • Medical Nutrition - Students learn how to address the nutritional needs of clients with specific medical issues, such as diabetes, liver disease and metabolic problems.

How Much Does an Online Nutrition Associate's Degree Cost?

Online nutrition associate's degree costs vary by school, but usually are made up of tuition and other applicable fees. Tuition can range from around $100 to more than $500 per credit hour; two-year colleges typically have lower tuition rates while 4-year schools are more likely to be more expensive. Associate's degrees in nutrition usually require around 60 credit hours within the curriculum; based on the estimated range for tuition costs, total program tuition could range from $6,000 to $30,000.

While some schools offer flat rates that include tuition and other fees, most institutions separate tuition from other fees. These additional costs can include things such as registration fees, course materials fees and distance learning fees. The total of these fees varies significantly by school, student and program length, but may add up to $1,000 or more over the course of a program.

Financial Aid for Online Nutrition Associate's Degrees

Students of online nutrition associate's degree programs can obtain several types of financial aid from different sources. Students should first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), meant to show them what types of aid they qualify for. Students can also find financial aid through sources including their selected schools and other organizations. Several types of financial aid available to online nutrition associate's degree students are discussed below.

Work Study

Through these programs, students are able to earn part (or all) of their program costs by working part-time while in school, in roles that are relevant to their field of study. Although most work studies are completed on-campus, nutrition students may be able to work in community and other health settings providing assistance to health and nutrition professionals.

Student Loans

Student loans can be obtained from private and government lenders, but private loans should only be used as a last resort. Government loans, especially those offered at the federal level, offer affordable, flexible repayment options and well-regulated interest rates.

Scholarships

There are countless scholarships available to online nutrition students that are offered by various public and private organizations. Students can qualify for scholarships based on various factors, such as demographics and residency, academic performance, community engagement and field of study. Some of the scholarships available to students of online nutrition associate's degree programs are listed below.

  • Gladys Carol Scholarship - $5,000 is awarded to qualifying students who are pursuing a degree program in the STEM fields at an accredited institution.
  • GRCF Virginia Valk Fehsenfeld Scholarship - Available to Kent County, Virginia residents pursuing a program in nutrition, dietetics or a related field with a GPA of at least 3.4.
  • Les Dames d'Escoffier Colorado Chapter Scholarship - This $1,000 scholarship is available to female students pursuing a program in food-related subjects, such as nutrition and dietetics.
  • The Primary Health Network Health Professionals Scholarships - Students enrolled in medical and related health programs (such as dietetics) may qualify for this variable scholarship.
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Scholarships and Awards- This organization offers several different awards to students of nutrition and related programs, which range from $250 to $10,000 per student.

Accreditation for Online Nutrition Associate's Degree Programs

Depending on their career interests, students may need to look for two types of accreditation held by their online nutrition associate's degree programs: programmatic and institutional. Both types of accreditation reflect quality, such as specific curriculum standards and graduate outcomes.

  • Programmatic Accreditation - Nutrition and dietetics programs can be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Students interested in becoming licensed dietitians and nutritionists may be required to graduate from a program accredited by ACEND, depending on their state.
  • Institutional Accreditation - This type of accreditation applies to an entire school and can be awarded by several different organizations, typically by region. Institutional accreditation is required for several types of financial aid and increases the chance of students receiving a quality education. In addition, students planning to pursue a 4-year program will have a better chance of transferring their credits if they were earned at an accredited school.

How to Choose a School for an Online Nutrition Program

In addition to accreditation credentials, there are several considerations that you should keep in mind as you review different schools for your online nutrition associate's degree program.

Programs Offered

Not all nutrition programs are the same, as some are focused on preparing for licensed roles and others are focused on community care. Make sure that the school you select has the right program to match your career objectives or your aspirations to continue on to a bachelor's degree program.

Flexibility

Online nutrition associate's degree programs are often flexible, but the degree of flexibility varies by school. Ask your admissions representatives about the flexibility of course load (how many classes you can take) as well as if there are any scheduled weekly requirements, and whether courses are asynchronous or synchronous.

Cost

Consider the cost of programs as you compare possible schools for your program. Remember that typically in-state schools are cheaper than if you choose to complete your program through an out-of-state school, although some offer the same tuition rates for all of their online students. In addition to considering basic tuition rates and fees, ask your school choices if they offer any cost-saving options, such as flat rates or in-house financial aid. Cost is an important factor in choosing your school, but don't forget that financial aid is typically available.

What Can You Do with an Associate's Degree in Nutrition?

Students interested in becoming regular nutritionists and dietitians will need to continue their education to complete a bachelor's degree program, but there are some related positions available to graduates of online associate's degree programs in nutrition. The following are just two of the careers readily available to those with an associate's in this field.

  • Dietetic Technicians - Dietetic technicians often need certification (such as Certified Dietary Manager) and work under the supervision of licensed dietitians. Their duties can include planning meals, supervising the production of food, reviewing recipes and menus and observing patients. Dietetic technicians had a median annual salary of $28,400 in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • Community Health Workers - Community health workers can obtain certification, which is optional in some states. Their duties can include educating clients, advocating for communities, discussing health concerns with community members and collaborating with other health professionals. According to BLS, the median annual salary for community health workers was $40,360 in 2019.

Certification for Online Nutrition Graduates

Certification requirements for graduates of online nutrition associate's degrees vary by career and state. Graduates who pursue roles as dietetic technicians typically need to obtain certification. There are multiple types of certification available to dietetic technicians, including Certified Dietary Manager and Dietetic Technician, Registered. In order to obtain certification, students may need to complete some practicum hours and pass an exam.

Community health workers, on the other hand, aren't usually required to obtain certification but can benefit from voluntary certification. Certification for community health workers is available through state boards of health and human services and can also involve completing practicum hours and passing an exam.

Professional Organizations for Nutrition Graduates

There are several professional organizations available to graduates of online nutrition associate's degree programs, some of which are listed below.

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics - This organization has more than 100,000 members, including dietitians, nutritionists, dietetic technicians and similar professionals. Benefits of membership include career resources, continuing education, discounts, networking and access to publications.
  • American Public Health Association (APHA) - APHA has more than 25,000 members working in various roles who all are interested in promoting and improving public health. Membership benefits include webinars, annual meetings, access to publications, discounts and networking.
  • Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) - SOPHE is an organization for head education professionals interested in advancing health education. Members have access to discounts, scholarships, career resources, advocacy, subscriptions and networking.