Health comes from within. If you are inspired to help people eat better to improve, maintain, or optimize their health, a career in dietetics and nutrition may be for you. Nutrition science contributes evidence-based solutions to dietary imbalances that contribute to health problems. Many diseases and obesity are linked to our diets, so working in this field can help reverse the trends. Whether you are already involved in the nutrition profession, or are looking to change careers, getting a degree can allow you to help shape the health of your community through food and nutrition.
Earning a degree in nutrition sets you on a path to work in many different settings. These include hospitals, schools, holistic health clinics, government nutrition programs, long-term care facilities, educational positions, or in the nutrition industry. Whether you want to work with patients or athletes, children or the elderly, public policy or personal health transformation, nutrition science can get you there. Dietitians and nutritionists can provide customized plans for individuals or enforce food safety rules to help the whole community. With a growing need for trained professionals, this is a great time to get educated for a career in nutrition.
Careers in Nutrition
The demand for nutritionists and dietitians is expected to grow 15% between 2016 and 2026, much faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many states require nutritionists and dietitians to be certified or licensed. Most often, this involves obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nutrition, performing supervised field work, and taking an exam. A master’s degree can increase one’s chances of landing the best jobs and advancing in the field.
To become certified as a Registered Dietitian (RD) or a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited nutrition program or another bachelor’s degree (non-nutrition major) plus completion of a Didactic Program in Dietetics, and pass the exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The training will include 1200 hours of internship before students are allowed to take the test.
Another way to work in nutrition is to pursue the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential. The CNS is the standard of excellence for advanced nutrition professionals. This path requires a master’s degree in nutrition (or special training for MDs, RNs or DOs), plus 1,000 hours of supervised clinical experience and an exam. This rigorous education prepares health professionals to meet the challenges of providing science-based nutritional therapy, education, and research to an increasingly unwell population.
Online Nutrition Degrees
The convenience of studying online for a degree in dietetics or nutrition is great for working professionals. Most Bachelor of Science programs aren’t offered online. However, a few online programs allow you to complete most of your coursework online while doing your internship as a separate program.
To study for the CNS credential, you have many great online options for obtaining your master’s degree. At this advanced level, many programs allow you to pursue your own research or practice interests alongside standard coursework and electives. Many types of degrees are offered.
The Master of Science degree in nutrition is the most common degree. An MS can prepare graduates for a wide range of science-based practice in clinical or alternative settings. Degrees in Clinical Nutrition or Applied Nutrition usually focus on holistic integration of nutrition for health. Dietetics programs prepare students for practice in medical settings. Some programs focus on education of the community, counseling or sports and fitness nutrition.
For those who wish to work in policy and research, the Master of Public Health degree is a good option. An MPH will include coursework on epidemiology and broad population health through nutrition. The emphasis of the program you choose can help shape your future practice and the network of peers you will interact with during your training.
Each program has a unique focus. Some focus on the science of holistic health. Others concentrate on specific populations or nutritional problems. Some programs work for career-changers without a background in nutrition science. Others are reserved for RDs or other health professionals to further their knowledge. No matter where you are today, there is a nutrition degree program to suit your needs.
Top 5 Bachelor’s in Nutrition Online
1. Purdue University Global
The online Bachelor of Science in Nutrition at Purdue University Global is delivered in a flexible format, with 10-week long courses and start dates every month. With a core program of 33 credits, 60 credits in the major, and 87 credits of electives, this program offers many choices for electives. For those who know they want more education, a health science accelerated bachelor’s to master’s degree can get you both degrees quicker and cheaper. Courses generally require 10-15 hours a week of work.
2. Huntington University of Health Sciences
Huntington University of Health Sciences’ online Bachelor of Science in Nutrition prepares students for employment and certification in holistic, sports, or clinical nutrition areas. This program is a great starting point at a school specializing in nutrition science. With affordable tuition, just 126 credits required and a liberal transfer policy, this program is a great option. For students who are passionate about nutrition, this school has a diverse peer environment including homemakers, chiropractors, dentists, and more.
3. Eastern Michigan University
The online Bachelor of Science in Dietetics at Eastern Michigan University culminates in the registered dietitian certification. The degree can lead to employment options such as in hospitals, long-term care facilities and federal or state nutrition programs. This program has prerequisites in anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and nutrition before students apply. Total credits for the degree total 124, of which 58-75 may be in nutrition subjects including major courses. Transfer credits are allowed, and students must maintain a 2.0 GPA in courses at EMU to be eligible to graduate.
4. The University of Alabama
The University of Alabama’s online Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition is 120 credit hours long, and out-of-state students pay the same tuition as residents. The program prepares students to become Registered Dieticians, which will require a master’s degree after 2024, so it is best to start the program soon to complete in time to sit for the exam with just a BS. Students need to maintain a 3.0 GPA and finish all their coursework with no more than two retakes. At least 24 credits of the Food and Nutrition classes must be completed at the University of Alabama. The program allows transfer credits, including credit by exam or for military service.
5. American College of Healthcare Sciences
The online Bachelor of Science in Holistic Nutrition from American College of Healthcare Sciences integrates modern science with holistic nutrition. The 120 credit is divided into 30 credits each of English and general education, science, core courses, and electives. With a low tuition rate per credit hour, this military-friendly school offers a cost-effective program for those interested in practicing holistic nutrition in one of the many settings that support wellness. The only requirement for admission is a high school diploma or equivalent.
The 25 Best Online Master’s in Nutrition
1. Utah State University
Providing dietitians with in-depth training in management and leadership, the online Master of Dietetics Administration from Utah State University offers a unique program. Candidates must either work professionally as dietitians (30-33 credits) or have completed USU’s Distance Dietetics Internship within the past six years (15-18 credits). Additionally, candidates must have a 3.0 GPA on the last 60 credits of university coursework. For those who have taken the internship, the program can be completed in 3 semesters over one year. Students can opt to take the program over a longer period of time. Practical or research tracks are available, with all but the research defense completed without visiting campus.
2. Liberty University
The 100% online Master of Public Health / Nutrition from Liberty University offers 8-week classes. Some students complete the 42-credit program in 1.5 years. Online learning is combined with a hands-on practicum that students perform in their area of residence. 50% of credits towards the degree can be transferred in, and the program has eight start dates per year. Hefty discounts for military/veterans help those who serve, and additional discounts for veterans who serve as civilian Emergency Responders make it even more affordable.
3. Colorado State University
Colorado State University’s online Master of Science in Dietetics (Great Plains IDEA) is offered through a partnership between eight different universities to registered dietitians who want to upgrade their credentials. The master’s degree program is 37 credits long, 24 of which must be taken through CSU. The program is designed to offer flexibility for students to individualize their coursework and pursue their interests in the field. State residents will pay a lower tuition rate, but there are many resources for financial aid. GRE’s are required to apply.
4. Bowling Green State University
The online Master of Science in Food and Nutrition from Bowling Green State University is a distance learning program giving students the opportunity to work closely with faculty in a flexible format. 39-40 credits of coursework are required, including a project or thesis and 9 credits in a concentration of the student’s choice. GRE test scores are needed for application, as are prerequisite classes in biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, and nutrition. There are three start dates per year, and online courses are in convenient 7-week formats.
5. Central Michigan University
Central Michigan University’s online Master of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics boasts of high capstone project publication rates and highly qualified RD faculty who have PhD’s. With 100% online asynchronous classes, and the 31-37 credit program can be completed in about 2.5 years. Admission requires a 3.0 on the last 60 credits of work plus prerequisite classes in nutrition, biochemistry, anatomy/physiology, microbiology and organic chemistry. Applicants are not required to be registered dieticians or to take the GRE exam. Credit by exam is available, and there is a tuition discount for military members/veterans.
6. University of North Dakota
No GRE’s are required to apply for the University of North Dakota’s online Master of Science in Nutrition or in Nutrition & Education Counseling. In-state tuition is offered to all students, regardless of residence, and classes are synchronous online. Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in nutrition or a closely relatedly field with a 3.0 GPA. The 32-credit program takes over two years to complete and includes a one-week on-campus training, 180 hours of hands-on practicum and a comprehensive exam. Up to eight credits can be transferred in, and military members and their dependents receive a generous tuition discount.
7. Maryland University of Integrative Health
Maryland University of Integrative Health’s online Master of Science in Nutrition & Integrative Health offers flexible, asynchronous coursework that can be completed in 2-4 years fully online. The option to take on-campus courses is available as well. Designed for students entering the profession as first or second careers, the program operates on a trimester system. Applicants should have an undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5. The program includes a practicum in the community, and has areas of concentration including Human Clinical Nutrition, Community Nutrition Education, and Herbal Medicine.
8. East Carolina University
The online Master of Science in Nutrition from East Carolina University is 33 credits of coursework and offers a thesis or non-thesis option. All of the courses are online, but there may be some on-campus activities required for the thesis students. Admission requires either an undergraduate degree in nutrition with a 3.0 GPA, or an undergraduate degree in a different major plus 32 credits of nutrition degree foundation requirements with a 4.0 GPA. Continuous enrollment is required once admitted, and students have up to six years to complete the program. The university cannot accept students residing in Alabama, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maryland or Ohio.
9. University of Central Missouri
University of Central Missouri’s online Master of Science in Nutrition has a concentration in clinical nutrition. There is also a new MS hybrid program in sports nutrition. The MS programs focus on evidence-based nutrition solutions across the lifespan. These programs can be completed in 30 credits for a thesis option, or 33 credits for the non-thesis option. Admission requires an appropriate undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA (2.75 for conditional acceptance) and GRE scores. With very affordable tuition for these online/hybrid programs, UCM is an attractive option for the science-minded student.
10. The University of Alabama
Nutrition professionals can obtain advanced training from the University of Alabama’s fully online Master of Science in Human Nutrition. Thesis or non-thesis options are available. Students may choose a concentration in Clinical Nutrition or Community Nutrition. The program focuses on research skills, independent thought, and up-to-date food and nutrition knowledge. Open to registered dietitians/nutritionists or interested students with a different undergraduate degree, distance learning tuition is the same for all students, and quite reasonable. The program suggests nutrition foundation courses for those who do not have a background in the field. Applicants should have a minimum 3.0 GPA on undergraduate coursework and submit GRE’s if their GPA is less than 3.4.
11. Appalachian State University
Tuition for Appalachian State University’s online Master of Science in Nutrition is a great deal for in-state residents, with distinguished faculty and flexible scheduling to accommodate working professionals. The program has a concentration in Public Health Nutrition, and the 39 credits can be completed in two years of mostly asynchronous learning. Prerequisite courses in nutrition and medical terminology may be required for some students. Students can begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer semesters. Possible careers for graduates include: director of food and nutrition services, WIC or SNAP director, nutritional epidemiologist, public health department manager, or worksite wellness director.
12. University of Massachusetts-Amherst
University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s School of Public Health & Health Sciences offers the online Master of Public Health in Nutrition. The program is designed for health and nutrition professionals with advanced degrees to develop their skills for career advancement. This 44-credit program can be completed full time in three semesters plus a 10-week practice experience. The program culminates in a capstone or final project. Applicants should have an advanced degree in a health-related subject, be a Registered Dietitian, or have two years of relevant experience and have completed two nutrition courses.
13. Logan University
Three concentrations are available for Logan University’s online Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance: Sports & Fitness Nutrition, Nutritional Wellness, or Health Education & Promotion. Tuition is very reasonable for this fully online program. It is offered in three 15-week trimesters, and there are internship or thesis options to complete the program. Logan’s holistic health focus along with rigorous scientific study make this program a great choice for serious students who want to make a difference in the nutrition field.
14. New York Chiropractic College
The online Master of Science in Applied Clinical Nutrition and the new online MS in Sports Nutrition from New York Chiropractic College takes two years to complete. The focus is on using whole-food nutrition as the primary means of attaining optimal health. Coursework includes micro- and macronutrients, exercise physiology, using herbs, therapeutic nutrition, dietary supplements, and the effect of human behavior and drugs on nutritional depletion. Applicants must have completed at least 90 undergraduate credits with a 2.5 GPA. A science or health background is recommended to benefit most from of the programs.
15. Pennsylvania State University
Pennsylvania State University’s online Master of Professional Studies in Nutritional Sciences is usually completed in two years with three start dates per year. The program is 30 credits long, or 39 credits for students who add the experiential option. The Experiential Track can lead to the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential, starts in the summer semester of the first year, and requires a residential portion near Penn State. The program emphasizes evidence-based solutions, incorporating the latest research and best practices. Applicants should hold a related undergraduate degree, and have completed prerequisites in biochemistry, organic chemistry, physiology, and nutrition.
16. Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
The online Master of Science in Nutrition Education at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science is a flexible program. It allows completion in two to five years, dependent on student preference and schedule. Innovative teaching and curriculum combine with faculty guidance for individualized projects to create a strong program for health and dietetics professionals. To apply, students should have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a related field with a 2.75 GPA. Prerequisites courses include biology, biochemistry, organic chemistry and physiology. There are four start dates per year and tuition is very reasonable.
17. Benedictine University
Taking one class at a time, you can complete the online Master of Science in Nutrition & Wellness at Benedictine University in two to 2.5 years. The combination of nutrition science and wellness curriculum make this an innovative 52-credit program. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA and have completed prerequisites in physiology and nutrition. No GRE exam is required. On-campus work is not necessary, but students can elect to perform an internship at a site to be arranged.
18. University of Saint Joseph
The online Master of Science in Nutrition at University of Saint Joseph is designed to enhance and update professional knowledge in dietetics. Individualized plans are tailored to the student’s interests. The 30-credit program can work for those with a non-dietetics science background, but this requires prerequisites in nutrition, biochemistry, and physiology. All applicants should have a 3.0 GPA on their undergraduate degree. Flexible for working adults, the program includes an internship and a student-designed curriculum in consultation with the program director.
19. American University
American University’s online Master of Science in Nutrition Education focuses on the science of nutrition and educational strategies to elicit behavioral change. This education-focused program provides a stepping-stone to the Certified Nutrition Specialist credential. It includes mentorship, special monthly webinars, and networking. Ideal for those looking to change careers, an undergraduate degree in nutrition science is not required. Applicants should have a 3.0 GPA on their undergraduate work and GRE scores, though waivers of the GRE are possible. Scholarships and financial aid are available and 95% of graduates are either working in the field or in graduate school after they finish the program.
20. Northeastern University
The online Master of Science in Applied Nutrition at Northeastern University is part time program. It can be completed from anywhere and includes a choice of four specialties: Obesity and Nutritional Health, Nutrition Education, Nutrition and Fitness, or Business and Entrepreneurship in Nutrition. Most students complete this degree within two years. An experiential learning component tailored to the area of concentration is part of the program. There are three start dates per year, and applicants should have completed prerequisite coursework in chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology, and nutrition.
21. University of Southern California
University of Southern California’s online Master of Science in Nutrition, Healthspan & Longevity can be completed in three years. It includes 28 credits of didactic coursework, 12 credits of supervised practice, and 6 credits of research. The capstone project culminates in publication or presentation of work at a professional conference. Applicants should have a 3.0 GPA, completed prerequisite courses, and performed 40 hours of work under a registered dietitian. This premium program starts in the fall and offers some scholarships and tuition assistance.
22. Andrews University
The 42-credit online Master of Public Health / Nutrition & Wellness program from Andrews University has a unique emphasis on vegetarian nutrition. No on-campus time and generous tuition assistance make this a great choice. The culminating activities include a capstone project, field practicum, portfolio, and a comprehensive exam. Admission requires a 3.0 GPA and there are corequisite courses in nutrition, and biology or physiology. This engaging and inspiring public health degree has affordable tuition, and there is assistance available for veterans to access educational benefits.
23. University of Bridgeport
The online Master of Science in Human Nutrition from University of Bridgeport is taught from a functional medicine perspective. With scientifically-grounded study of nutrition, the program focuses on bio-individuality and customized nutritional approaches. The program is offered completely online or on-campus one weekend per month. The capstone program is an online supervised practice experience that can count towards certain credentials. The program is 50 credits long and offers very affordable tuition rates. Applicants should have a 3.0 GPA.
24. University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of Wisconsin-Madison’s online Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition is designed for those with a strong background in clinical nutrition. It focuses on core nutrition, clinical nutrition, professional skills and electives. Reasonable tuition is available to all students, regardless of residence. The program can be completed in as little as one year or on a part time schedule to suit the student’s needs. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA and completed prerequisites in sciences and nutrition.
25. University of Kansas
Offering the 36 credit hour online Master of Science in Dietetics (Great Plains IDEA), University of Kansas includes thesis and non-thesis options for graduation. The program provides a broad range of course options to registered dietitians to advance their knowledge and credentials. Start dates are in the spring and fall. Applicants should have a 3.0 GPA on undergraduate coursework from a program in dietetics. The program has reciprocity with the dietetics associations of Canada, Ireland, the Philippines, and the Netherlands.
Start Today by Contacting Nutrition School Online
Science is showing us every day that what we eat directly influences our health. With a growing need for nutritionists and dietitians, you can earn a good living in the field. Modern science-based interventions help improve nutrition and health for all. If you are inspired to change health outcomes for individuals and whole populations with healthy food, studying dietetics and nutrition can get you a job that will make a big impact.