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Best Online Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition

Study food and health in an online bachelor's program in nutrition. Learn about common coursework and accreditation information for these programs as well as possible careers and which schools have the best online bachelor's in nutrition programs.

Best Online Bachelor Degree Programs in Nutrition

To aid your search for the best online undergraduate degree programs in nutrition, we've put together the following list of schools and programs. Our list takes into account the type of degree available, online support services offered, affordability, and the robustness of the online program's curriculum.

1. Kansas State University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Manhattan, KS $10,383 89%

Kansas State University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Health degree program, which requires 120 total credits and is designed for pre-nursing, pre-dental, or pre-physician assistant students. In this online program, you take a range of courses in such subjects as human nutrition, chemistry, wellness, and public health among others. Kansas State University offers exclusive scholarships for their online students so that you can afford your nutrition degree, and you also get access to an advisor, an IT desk, and the bookstore.

2. University of Arizona

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Tucson, AZ $12,467 92%

The University of Arizona's online Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences is 1 of 4 online undergraduate dietetics programs that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). This program features two different emphasis areas, one in nutrition and one in dietetics. The dietetics options allow you to pursue a career as a registered dietitian as it awards an ACEND-accredited bachelor's degree and helps you complete an ACEND-accredited internship. The University of Arizona has a wealth of support services for online students that include coaches and tutors, alumni mentors, and a disability resource center.

3. The New School

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
New York, NY $49,064 87%

The New School offers two bachelor's degrees in the nutrition field, including a Bachelor of Arts in Food Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Food Studies. These online programs are for adult learners or non-traditional students and can be completed full- or part-time. The BA/BS in Food Studies features an interdisciplinary curriculum that focuses on food security, cultural issues, and food deserts. The New School offers all applicants to these online food studies program exclusive opportunities for merit-based scholarships as well as other financial aid help.

4. Arizona State University-Skysong

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Scottsdale, AZ $10,317 82%

At Arizona State University-Skysong, you can earn an online Bachelor of Science in Nutrition degree with 120 credits. This online program features 7.5-week courses that center on food-related diseases, community health, and food policy. Arizona State University-Skysong makes sure that, as an online student, you have everything you need to succeed, including online tutoring services, a success center, career services, library access, and military support.

5. Purdue University Global

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Urbandale, IA $14,343 100%

Purdue University Global has a 180-credit online Bachelor of Science in Nutrition degree program that features 10-week long terms and 4 different start dates throughout the year. This online program is also accredited by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) and prepares you for certification exams in specific industries. During your online nutrition degree program, you will be guided by a dedicated advisor who is with you from enrollment to graduation. Purdue University Global also offers you library and career services.

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 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 Bachelor's Degree Programs in Nutrition

There is a variety of online undergraduate degrees in the field of nutrition, including:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nutrition
  • Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences
  • Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Health
  • Bachelor of Science in Food Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition

Despite different names, these nutrition-focused degrees all have a similar focus, have similar coursework, and typically require about 120 credits. Online bachelor's degrees in nutrition generally feature coursework in food, nutrition, health, and the biological sciences as well as general education classes, and there are often no real-world requirements for these programs. Some programs offer coursework asynchronously (students complete coursework at their leisure) while others ask students to log in at particular times to 'attend' classes, lectures and seminars.

It's important to note that not every bachelor's degree program in nutrition will help you meet the requirements for becoming a registered dietitian, which includes earning a Verification Statement from a didactic program in dietetics and an accredited bachelor's degree. Most online programs will state whether the degree offered helps you meet the requirements for dietitian licensure or not.

What You Learn in an Online Bachelor's Degree Program in Nutrition

The curriculum of any online bachelor's degree program in nutrition will depend on the program and university you choose. However, there are some common subjects and topics that you could study throughout your specific nutrition program, some of which we will explore in-depth below.

  • Lifespan Nutrition - a course that focuses on the nutritional needs and concerns of humans through the span of their lives from infancy to old age. Might also cover the role nutrition plays in human development, psychological growth, and aging.
  • Food Science - examines the fundamentals of food preparation and preservation with a focus on ingredient interactions. Some courses may feature a lab element where you prepare recipes. Could also study governmental regulations regarding food safety, production, and processing.
  • Nutritional Food Counseling - centers on the theories and applications of counseling within the context of nutrition. Could include the study of client evaluation, interviewing, documentation, data gathering, and assessment of progress.
  • Human Nutrition - a course that gives an overview of all aspects and principles of human nutrition, including metabolism, absorption, digestion, transport, minerals, and vitamins. May also cover nutrients in relation to diseases and health.
  • Sports Nutrition - explores the intersection of sports, exercise, and nutrition. You might study weight control, athletic performance, and how to build muscles as well as how to develop exercise and hydration plans.

Choosing the Right Online Nutrition Bachelor's Degree Program

If you've decided that pursuing an online bachelor's degree in nutrition is right for you, then there are several factors you should take into consideration when deciding which program to attend, including degree cost and whether you will be a successful online student.

Affordability

Many universities offer specific scholarships for online students that you can take advantage of. Usually, there are also merit-based and other types of scholarships that are available. By filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you can also discover which state and federal loans are available to you.

Online Learning

Next, you want to make sure that you are prepared for an online learning environment. Many online degree programs require that you have the right technology, including minimum computer requirements and specific software. You will also need to be able to use streaming video, teleconferences, and message boards among other applications, which makes high-speed internet is a requirement as well.

Flexibility

You also want to make sure that you can fit online learning into your life and that you have the time and means to complete your coursework and assignments. Online degrees are not any easier than on-campus degrees, so it takes the same amount of dedication to earn an online degree as an on-campus degree.

Associations & Organizations for Nutrition Programs, Dietitians, and Nutritionists

There are two main associations within the field of nutrition and dietetics, both of which we will discuss in-depth below.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

First, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the largest and most important organization in the field, representing over 100,00 credentialed registered dietitians, nutritionists, dietetic technicians, and students. The main goal of this organization is to promote healthy nutrition habits and good health for the public. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics often lobbies the US government on health and nutrition issues, provides testimony at congressional hearings, and adds to state and federal regulations.

Through two organizations under their management, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is also responsible for accrediting nutrition educational programs and regulating and administrating the registration of dietitians.

  • Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) - the organization that is responsible for accrediting programs and internships.
  • Commission on Dietetic Registration - the organization responsible for enforcing the standards of dietician registration and administrating and renewing the credentials of registered dieticians.

American Nutrition Association

The American Nutrition Association (ANA) champions the field of personalized nutrition, advocating for the understanding and promotion of the idea that nutrition and science go hand in hand. As a member of the ANA, you have access to educational webinars and resources, get discounts on conferences and training programs, are eligible for awards and scholarships, and can post on the ANA's job board. Through an independent organization, the ANA also offers certification for nutritionists.

  • Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists - the organization that offers the Certified Nutrition Specialists (CNS) credential. The goal of the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists is to promote high standards amongst the nutrition profession and among nutrition practitioners.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Nutrition

As stated above, the main accreditation credential for online bachelor's degrees in nutrition is awarded by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)

The mission of this organization is to assure all nutrition and dietitian educational programs, including bachelor's and master's degree programs, meet a high educational standard. In addition to accrediting programs that only offer a degree, the ACEND also accredits Coordinated Programs in Dietetics (CP), which are programs that include dietetics coursework and a supervised internship.

Why Accreditation Matters

To achieve accreditation, a program in nutrition must prepare a self-study report, must submit a self-analysis, and must pass an on-site evaluation visit. When a program achieves accreditation, that means it has met its educational objectives and has met the standards of the ACEND. Attending an ACEND-accredited program is especially important if you have a career goal of becoming a licensed dietitian, as this is a requirement for licensure.

Career Options with a Bachelor's in Nutrition

With a bachelor's degree in nutrition, you could pursue a variety of food-, health-, or nutrition-related careers. Read below to learn about specific careers and salary information.

Food Scientist

A food scientist generally researches how to make food processing safer and healthier, analyzes the nutritional content of food, and works to discover new food sources. Food scientists can work on the regulatory side of food as well, such as inspecting food or enforcing government regulations. They could also work with nanotechnology to discover food contaminants.

The median salary for food scientists in 2018 was $65,300, and the profession has a job outlook of 5% from 2018-2028.

Health Educator

A health educator can work in a variety of settings, including in colleges, non-profits, public health departments, and healthcare facilitates. While their exact duties depend on their work setting, generally, health educators help others understand health issues, treatments, and insurance, and they guide patients to resources. They might also promote good health and healthy habits by creating materials and programs to inform the public about health-related topics, such as immunizations, nutrition, and smoking.

Some employers may require health educators to achieve the optional Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential from National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc., which requires an exam and that you hold a bachelor's degree.

Health educators earned a median salary of $54,220, and the job outlook is 10% from 2018-2028.

Dietitian or Nutritionist

As experts in nutrition and food, dietitians and nutritionists help patients understand nutrition and help them manage diseases. Typical job duties of dietitians and nutritionists include assessing patient's health and nutritional needs, informing patients about healthy eating, creating nutrition and meal plans for patients, and generally promoting good health. Dietitians and nutritionists can work in private practice, own their own business, work in a non-profit or government agency, or as a clinical dietitian or clinical nutritionist, they can work in a hospital or clinical setting.

Dietitians and nutritionists earned a median salary of $60,370 in 2018 with a job outlook number of 11% from 2018-2028.

Salary information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

License and Certification Requirements for Dietitians and Nutritionists

Licensing and certification requirements vary widely by state with only New Jersey, Michigan, and Arizona having no requirement at all. Some states might require licensure or certification for both dietitians and nutritionists while others only require licensure for dietitians. The Commission on Dietetic Registration has information about each state and its licensing or certification requirements.

Also, while achieving the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential from the Commission on Dietetic Registration is not required for licensure, many employers prefer you earn the credential and the qualifications for the RDN match many states' licensing requirements.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Credential

The Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential requires that you hold a bachelor's degree from a program that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), and you must complete an ACEND-accredited internship, which requires 1,200 supervised hours. After you meet those requirements, you then must take the registration exam. To maintain your registration, you must complete 75 hours of continuing education every 5 years.

Board Certification as a Specialist

The Commission on Dietetic Registration also offers optional certification in specific specialties, including pediatrics, renal, sports, pediatric critical care, obesity and weight management, oncology, and gerontological. To earn a specialty certification, you must have documented practical experience and pass an exam.

Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) Credential

Nutritionists can earn the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential from the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists. This credential can be used to obtain a state license. The requirements for the CNS credential include holding an advanced degree, completing supervised 1,000 hours of experience, and passing an exam. To maintain your CNS credential, you must complete 75 hours of continuing education every 5 years.