The rapidly growing field of nutritional sciences has never been so critical as it is today, as the American population increasingly struggles with conditions like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Food choice is a contributing factor to all of these diseases, and the expertise provided by nutrition professionals can provide life-saving benefits to those who suffer from debilitating health issues. If you enjoy working with people and have an affinity for science and an interest in food and wellness, consider pursuing a degree in nutritional sciences.
Students in an online nutrition degree program study the effects that food composition has on human health, metabolism, and resistance to disease. Graduates gain the knowledge to effectively communicate vital health information with patients. The program prepares students to find employment in a variety of industries, including government agencies, non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, fitness facilities, spas, and private practices. With an associate degree, you’ll be qualified for entry-level positions; those with a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences land the more competitive and higher paying jobs available in hospitals, clinics, and wellness centers. Advancement in the field requires a master’s degree or license as a registered dietitian, and it all starts with a bachelor’s degree program.
The median salary for a nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree is just over $57,000, and within the next 10 years, the job outlook is projected to increase by 16%, which is much higher than average. There are many accredited schools offering affordable online nutrition degrees. Below, we’ve ranked the schools that offer quality programs and a high return on investment — meaning you’ll find a program that’s not only affordable, but valuable in the long run.
Arizona State University-Skysong
|Value Score 7.14||
U.S. News and World Report hails Arizona State University as the country's most innovative school. Coupled with this innovation, ASU prides itself on being one of the fastest-growing research enterprises in the country and is recognized as a Research I institution. This commitment to innovation and research has led ASU to hold a sizable dossier of notable faculty and alumni, including four MacArthur Fellows, five Nobel Laureates, and six Pulitzer Prize winners.
ASU's online bachelor of science in nutrition offers students coursework in the core areas of health and well-being, teamwork and leadership in health, health communication, and health informatics and problem solving, along with required and elective courses in one of three tracks. The food management track focuses on the different food industries and how they operate, allowing students to run their own retail kitchen. The nutrition communication track covers the research methods and communication skills needed to provide evidence-based information to consumers and health professionals. The food studies track consists of courses on food and food production.
The online nutrition degree is comprised of 120 credits, or 40 classes, whether completed in person or online. If completed online, remote students can access many of the same resources offered to traditional students, including the ASU Libraries resources and Library Guides, career services, online tutoring, the Pitch app, and the success center. ASU remains dedicated to student success by showing equal levels of commitment to online and traditional students. Learners have six different start dates throughout the year, which is one advantage to the online program.
To apply to ASU as a freshman, students must possess a high school diploma that includes four years of English, four years of math, three years of laboratory science, two years of social science, two years of a foreign language, and one year of fine arts. In addition, students must meet the other admission requirements.
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Texas Woman's University
|Value Score 7.13||
A member of the Women's College Coalition, Texas Woman's University stands out as the country's largest institution primarily for women. TWU prides itself on its research and affordability. The cost of an education at TWU remains 23% less than the national average of public universities. Students who attend TWU experience a spirited student body, who developed a special hand signal for the university and petitioned John Philip Sousa to compose their graduation march.
Students can pursue the bachelor of science in nutrition at the Denton campus. A vibrant, eclectic city in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Denton offers the advantages of a big city with the charm of a small college town.
TWU offers the nutrition bachelor's degree primarily at the Denton campus, with some online classes. The bachelor of science in nutrition science program consists of 120 credit hours. Most students complete the program in four years. While many other schools offer nutrition or food science programs that prepare students for immediate work in the field, TWU's program focuses on research and academia to prepare students for professional studies in several healthcare fields.
The program's curriculum includes general education classes and foundational classes in biology, chemistry, analysis and statistics, and physiology before starting nutrition classes. These cover topics including microbiology, nutrition throughout the lifecycle, culture and food, laboratories in nutrition and food science, genomics, micro- and macronutrients, and literature and research in nutrition and food science.
Students interested in an online nutrition degree who meet the admissions requirements can apply to TWU with a $50 application fee. While some programs, financial aid, and scholarships carry application deadlines, TWU offers rolling admissions and no application deadlines.
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Rutgers University-New Brunswick
|Value Score 5.78||
Rutgers School of Health Professionals (SHP) stands out as the country's largest health professions school and offers a unique program structure. Rutgers SHP programs remain ideal for students who complete general education classes at partner schools or other accredited institutions. These students can then earn a degree or certificate in their field of study from Rutgers SHP.
Rutgers' bachelor of science in nutrition and dietetics (BSND) exists as a second bachelor's program for registered dietetic technicians. Students can take bachelor in nutrition science classes completely online to complement 1,200 hours of locally supervised practice. Since the program remains ideal for students with some education behind them, the degree only requires 42-58 credits to complete. Students can usually complete the degree in 2-3 years.
The bachelor of science in nutrition and dietetics curriculum consists of core classes, science classes, and professional series classes. Scientific inquiry and diversity and ethics in healthcare are the focus of the program. The foundational sciences classes include microbiology, chemistry, and physiology. The professional series classes cover preventive nutrition, vitamin and mineral metabolism, food service systems management, and current topics in nutrition. In addition to required classes, students must complete supervised practice in nine different discipline areas.
The BSND program at Rutgers SHP is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics through July 2022. Program completion grants graduates eligibility to take the CDR Credentialing Examination for Dietitian Nutritionists.
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Eastern Michigan University
|Value Score 5.25||
Eastern Michigan University sits in Ypsilanti, Michigan, just down the road from Ann Arbor. Ypsilanti shares Ann Arbor's modern, youthful, and eclectic nature with an added hometown feel. The area offers many attractions, including an exciting food and drink scene. As an added bonus, Ypsilanti is just a short drive from Detroit, where you can experience professional sporting events and large performances.
Eastern Michigan University offers a bachelor of science in dietetics on campus and online that holds accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The program's courses cover various field theories and concepts. Six courses require a total of 1,200 hours of supervised practice. Students who graduate from the program can sit for the Registration Examination for Dietitians through the Commission on Dietetics Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Passing the exam earns them the credential of registered dietician or registered dietician nutritionist.
To apply for a nutrition science degree online, students must complete three different sections of prerequisite classes: the pre-application phase, the pre-admission phase, and the pre-program course phase.
Students interested in the online dietetics program should know that they are only eligible to enroll at EMU if their home state exists as a State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement Participant. EMU offers in-state tuition to all online students, as an extra fee is built into online class tuition. Most online classes are conducted asynchronously.
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Kansas State University
|Value Score 5.16||
Kansas State University (K-State) boasts a rich history of distance learning. K-State founded the Kansas State University Global Campus in 1966. Initially, the Global Campus entailed K-State instructors traveling with their materials to various in-state locations. After that came an audio conference network with sites spread throughout Kansas so that no one was more than 30 minutes from a site. Lectures printed in newspapers or aired on public television sometimes supplemented this network. In the 1990s, K-State introduced videoconferencing, which became the basis of the school's current online distance-learning programs.
K-State's commitment to distance-learning students, including those seeking a bachelor's degree in nutrition science, remains unparalleled. The Global Campus boasts students in all 50 states and around the world. All programs hold accreditation, and students can enroll as nondegree seeking if they aren't sure of their major. The K-State Global Campus Student and Faculty Services office provides all types of support specifically to distance-learning students. Learners should not experience any hiccups or gaps in their education if they relocate while earning their degree online.
K-State's online bachelor's in dietetics program covers foundational concepts in food, nutrition, and the foodservice industry. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. K-State's dietetics program remains didactic, meaning that it covers the coursework portion required for eligibility to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians, but it does not include the 1,200 hours of supervised practice that is also required. However, the K-State program prepares students exceptionally well to apply and compete for dietetics internships.
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How to Choose an Affordable Online Nutrition Program
When selecting an affordable online nutrition degree, distance learners should thoroughly research programs and potential post-graduation jobs. Researching programs helps learners see how cost varies among schools, and some programs may meet your needs better than others.
Common courses in an online nutrition program include introductory nutrition, eating for health, nutrition throughout the life cycle, and food allergies. These classes give students the foundation upon which to advance into upper-level courses. In addition to core topics, colleges often allow online students to tailor their learning by completing a concentration or professional track. While these vary amongst schools, Arizona State University provides an example of what to expect. Students earning the nutrition bachelor degree online can choose specializations in health and wellbeing, health communication, food studies, nutrition communication, and food management.
As part of graduation requirements, learners more interested in research typically complete a thesis or culminating project, while those planning to work directly with clients take part in a semester-long practicum to gain hands-on skills.
What Else Can I Expect from an Online Bachelor’s in Nutritional Science Program?
Because the field of nutrition offers broad options for study, finding a school with the right combination of coursework for your goals is critical. Aside from reviewing the few sample courses highlighted in the following section, look at a variety of programs to get a sense of classes available.
Curriculum for an Online Bachelor’s in Nutritional Sciences
These classes represent available courses within a nutrition bachelor degree online. They can vary based on the school you choose, so make sure any program offers the mix of coursework needed to succeed.
- Cultural Aspects of Food This course considers cultural associations of food, emphasizing how humans use food (e.g,. celebration, relationship, and comfort) and how preferences and dietary habits differ amongst various cultures.
- Food Supply Networks Students in this class learn about where their food comes from. The first half of the course explores how natural foods are supplied through networks, while the second half considers how food is manufactured with preservatives and additives.
- Nutrition Throughout the Life Cycle This course examines different nutritional needs and issues across various ages, starting with birth and lactation and then transitioning to solid foods. Students also look at how allergies affect these needs and how socio-economics make it difficult to meet needs.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelor’s in Nutritional Sciences?
Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics online requires a significant commitment, so learners must be sure they pursue the right option. When studying on a full-time basis, most programs require four years of study and approximately 120 credits, although some factors can affect this length.
Several colleges and universities offer accelerated programs that make it possible to move from matriculation to graduation in three years by providing shorter classes than the traditional semester-long option. Part-time learners, conversely, usually require between five and six years, depending on how many courses they are able to take per term.
When looking at programs, pay close attention to whether the school offers the degree at an individual pace or as part of a cohort. While those studying independently can move through requirements at their own pace, cohorts must complete each class together.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor’s in Nutritional Science Degrees
While researching available courses and prospective schools, degree seekers should also make sure they look into accreditation. Failing to attend an accredited school can make it difficult for students to transfer to a different college, compete for jobs, and/or receive licensure or certification. Two types of accreditation exist: institutional and programmatic.
Institutional accreditation exists in regional and national forms. Regional accreditation, typically considered the more rigorous of the two, is typically pursued by four-year colleges, while trade schools and community colleges often apply for national accreditation. At the programmatic level, the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics certifies these programs.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) oversees the accrediting agencies responsible for validating programs, while the Council for Higher Education Accreditation serves as a membership organization for schools and accrediting bodies. Both intend to hold schools to the highest standards possible. Students unsure about the accreditation of a particular school should review the ED’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
What Can You Do with an Online Degree in Nutrition?
Whether you plan to work in a clinical setting (e.g., an inpatient eating disorder treatment facility), privately as a nutrition consultant, or in an education position that focuses on community health, plenty of professional roles suit this degree. Individuals who choose these paths typically enjoy studying the sciences, working with people, and solving problems. They frequently work standard 40-hour workweeks, although some clinical positions may require hours outside of a typical 9-5 job.
Nutritionists work with a variety of clients to help them meet health goals. Some may focus on those with food sensitivities or allergies while others may create healthy plans for weight loss/gain. They work in clinical settings and as independent consultants.
Projected Growth Rate 15%
Health educators work with communities and individuals to help them build healthier eating habits. They may take clients to grocery stores to teach them how to purchase food, lead workshops, or provide cooking classes.
Projected Growth Rate 16%
Eating Disorder Counselor
These professionals work in clinical settings and as independent nutritionists to advise patients dealing with eating disorders. In addition to providing counseling, they create meal plans, review food logs, and make recommendations to other health professionals.
Projected Growth Rate 23%
Director of Food and Nutrition Services
Whether working in a hospital, school, or inpatient facility, these individuals create weekly meal plans that meet dietary needs. They also oversee the staff, preparing meals, managing budgets, and procuring ingredients.
These individuals oversee the food and nutritional needs of inpatient facilities, creating specialized diets to meet patient needs and monitoring levels of sodium, sugar, cholesterol, and other problematic ingredients.
|Job Title||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years)||Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)|
|Eating Disorder Counselor||$38,000||$41,000||$44,000||$46,000|
|Director of Food and Nutrition Services||$51,000||$62,000||$67,000||$73,000|
Professional Organizations for Nutritionists
Though some students may feel as though professional organizations only cater to established practitioners, many offer student discounts, mentoring programs, education and training programs, and job boards. Consider the organizations below before looking up others in your city or region. Some schools may also provide student groups for nutrition majors.
- National Association of Nutrition Professionals NANP provides members with an annual conference, access to in-house publications, a members’ directory, webinars, a weekly newsletter, and the opportunity to receive board certification.
- American Nutrition Association The ANA offers members numerous continuing education programs, an active job board, events throughout the year, a newsletter, and help finding the perfect school for a nutrition degree.
- Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals Members of ANFP take advantage of continuing education, publications, a career center, discounts on affinity services, a number of events and community engagement programs, and position papers on relevant topics in the field.
Financing Your Online Bachelor’s in Nutritional Science Program
As the cost of an online holistic nutrition degree continues to rise, you may need to seek funding. First, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to receive scholarships, grants, work-study funds, and/or loans from the federal government. Also research scholarships and grants provided by private organizations and foundations, as well as institutional funding provided by the school you attend.
Scholarships for Online Nutrition Students
Many nutrition-specific and general scholarships exist to help degree-seekers cut costs and attain a degree without taking on significant student loan debt. Learners should review the options highlighted below and seek out other options that fit their needs.