Online Degrees In Nutrition

Do you wonder how what we eat affects our bodies? Do you worry that the latest fad diet actually sacrifices some vital nutrients? Or are you fascinated by how some foods can actually alter how people feel? If you’ve answered yes, then an online nutrition degree may cater to your tastes.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) quotes figures from the Centers for Disease Control that show that more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. Nutritionists and dieticians can help such individuals reduce the risk of disease by eating the right foods and reducing weight. Although nutritionists and dieticians are popularly associated with weight loss, they actually help people, with diverse illnesses, improve their health by eating the right kinds of foods. The best online nutrition degree programs can help you learn to aid people with different problems combat their illnesses, improve their diet and make better food choices in their daily lives.

Nutritionists work in diverse settings — from hospitals to schools to community centers — helping people choose the right foods for themselves and their families. While their workplaces may be diverse, their duties commonly include:

  • Assessing patients’ and clients’ health and dietary needs
  • Developing nutritional plans and meals for their clients
  • Ensuring meal plans cater to clients’ tastes and budgets
  • Educating clients on eating the right foods
  • Staying current with the latest research in food and nutrition
Growing focus on preventive care services and nutrition will strengthen demand

The BLS states that the interest in diet as preventive measure against disease has increased. This coupled with the fact that baby boomers are looking for ways to stay healthy means that demand for nutritionists and dieticians is expected to grow.

The table below uses data from the BLS to outline the occupations related to the field of nutrition along with their employment outlook, average wages and job openings in the decade leading up to 2026.

Career
Employment
Median Salary
Projected Job Growth
Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary201,920$121,62023.2%
Exercise Trainers and Group Fitness Instructors325,500$45,11012.8%
Dietitians and Nutritionists67,670$62,33011.2%
Food Service Managers235,470$59,82010.8%
Health Education Specialists58,590$60,50010.3%
Food Scientists and Technologists13,460$76,1905.3%

Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

The BLS reports that nutritionists need at least a bachelor’s degree to practice while many have more advanced degrees. However, a certificate in nutrition can help you get an introduction in the field. It can also help you expand your knowledge if you are working in closely related field like fitness, for example. Associate degrees may allow you to gain entry-level employment under the supervision of a nutritionist or set the base for further study.

What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program?

Certificate programs in nutrition can help students gain an introduction to nutrition, explore how the body processes different foods and learn to distinguish between nutritional fact and fiction.

Typical duration: Up to one year of part-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED

Typical coursework: Curricula include subjects that can help students understand the physiology behind the absorption of nutrition, how it changes with age and the effects of exercise on the body. Some courses you may take include:

  • Control of food intake and body weight
  • Health promotion and disease prevention
  • Nutrition and exercise: nutrition for health
  • Nutrition and the digestive system

What can I do after earning a certificate in nutrition?

A certificate in nutrition can help you work in entry-level roles in different healthcare roles. You may be able to work as a nutrition consultant or enhance an existing career as a fitness instructor. Another potential career is that of a home health aide helping senior citizens eat better.

More consumers are interested in healthy and ethical eating, boosting industry demand

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

Many online nutrition associate degrees are designed for transfer into a four-year degree program. However, you may also find programs that can give you the skills to enter the workforce on graduation.

Students can learn about various nutritional theories or learn about holistic, alternative practices in the field. They may also learn practical skills like nutritional counseling during the course of their online associate degree program in nutrition.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED

Typical coursework: Topics may allow students to explore various approaches to the management of health through nutrition and diet along with how to develop wellness plans for clients in non-clinical settings. Potential courses include:

  • Stress management and emotional health
  • Personal and community health
  • Understanding nutrition
  • Eating disorders and weight management

You may have to complete a supervised practicum for a particular number of hours in order to fulfill course requirements.

Possible electives: Sports nutrition; herbs and body systems; women’s special health concerns

What kind of jobs can I get after earning an associate degree in nutrition?

An associate degree in nutrition may allow you to work in supervised clinical settings or work in other industries closely related to health like fitness or food service. Potential job titles include:

  • Food science technician
  • Health and wellness coach
  • Lifestyle coach or consultant
  • Healthcare industry assistant

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?

Online nutrition bachelor’s degree programs can help you develop the critical thinking, analytical and decision-making skills needed to work in the healthcare industry. A good online bachelor’s in nutritional sciences programs may also take into account the business aspects of the healthcare industry. Students can explore the impact of the environment on food security; and learn how nutrition can be applied to promote good health.

Typical duration: Up to four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED

Typical coursework: Topics cover nutrition, pharmacology along with the physiology behind diseases related to poor diets and how to assess patients. Examples of courses you may take include:

  • Food safety and microbiology
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Environmental challenges and solutions
  • Nutritional analysis and assessment
  • Nutrition for special populations

You may have to complete an internship as a part of your degree program.

Possible electives: Exercise physiology; pregnancy, pediatric and adolescent nutrition; clinical nutrition

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a bachelor’s degree in nutrition?

Graduates of an online nutrition bachelor’s degree program may find themselves eligible for jobs outside the realms of healthcare and fitness working in the food service industry, in the marketing departments of businesses (like those making health foods, for example), social services organizations, among others. Potential job titles include:

  • Community health worker
  • Food scientist
  • Food service manager
  • Health educator
  • Marketing associate
  • Nutritionist

What can I expect to learn in an online master’s degree program?

Online master’s degree programs in nutrition can help students explore advanced topics in the field of nutrition integrating human behavior, biomedical sciences, evidence-based practice and leadership in the healthcare field.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a related field of healthcare

Typical coursework: Topics cover research methodologies, the diagnosis of nutritional disorders and case studies among others. Some courses you may take include:

  • Advanced nutrient metabolism
  • Advanced nutrition and health program planning
  • Biostatistics in nutrition
  • Introduction to nutrition research
  • Leadership in the nutrition profession

You may have to complete a capstone project or a master’s thesis as a part of your online nutrition degree program.

Possible electives: Ethics and policy of American diets; nutrition and geriatrics; food security

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a master’s in nutrition?

A master’s degree in nutrition may improve your opportunities for advancement into managerial positions. Potential job titles include:

  • Dietitians and nutritionists
  • Health specialties teacher, postsecondary
  • Medical and health services manager
Over the past five years, the Nutritionists & Dietitians industry has grown by 0.8% to reach revenue of $11bn in 2018

What can I expect to learn in an online Graduate certificates program?

Online graduate certificates can help professionals in a field, closely related to nutrition, build their knowledge and skills to provide sound nutrition-based information that can help prevent disease and dietary-related disorders. Professionals like nurses, doctors, and fitness and wellness trainers may benefit from such certificates. They may also serve to enhance the skills and knowledge of those individuals who are looking for some graduate-level education but do not have the finances or time to commit to earning a master’s degree.

Typical duration: Up to one year of part-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a related field of healthcare

Typical coursework: Topics help students understand how the science and principles of nutrition can be applied to maintaining good health. Courses you may take include:

  • Food-borne illness prevention
  • Introduction to dietetics and integrative medicine
  • Nutrition and chronic disease
  • Performance nutrition for the physically active
  • Principles of nutrition

What can I expect to learn in an online doctoral degree program?

Online doctoral degree programs in nutrition may allow you to align your studies to areas of your interest within the field. Students of doctoral degree programs can learn to enhance their research skills, explore the latest trends in the industry and build their expertise.

Typical duration: Three to seven years of full-time study

General prerequisites: A master’s degree in nutrition or a related field

Typical coursework: Curricula can include advanced topics in integrative medicine and nutrition along with research methodologies. Potential courses include:

  • Nutritional assessment through the life cycle
  • Methods of nutrition research
  • Metabolic nutrition
  • Integrative approaches to chronic disease

Dissertation: The latter part of an online doctoral degree program in nutrition involves constructing a thesis based on original research and defend it successfully before a panel of experts.

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a doctorate in nutrition?

A doctorate in nutrition may qualify you as an expert in the field and can give you access to high-level career opportunities in a number of healthcare, private and public agencies. Many doctoral degree holders enter into the field of research and academia. Potential job titles include:

  • Community health program developer
  • Nutrition director
  • Researcher
  • University professor

Accreditation

Accreditation is a voluntary process that schools undergo to show that their educational offers meet or exceed the standards necessary to enter the workforce. Enrolling in an accredited degree program can be a requirement for receiving federal financial aid or transferring educational credits. Graduating from an accredited program can also be a prerequisite for being eligible for professional licensures and certifications. Schools may be nationally, regionally or programatically accredited. Additionally, the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) accredits programs offering degrees in nutrition.

Specializations in Nutrition

The diverse applications of nutrition in healthcare and fitness as both a preventative measure against disease and a palliative one has led to a number of different specializations within the field. You may be able to choose a specialization that interests you right from the associate degree level. Some specializations you may be able to choose from are:

  • Clinical nutrition
  • Food science and human nutrition
  • Medical nutrition
  • Nutrition and dietetics
  • Nutrition science and exercise
  • Pediatric nutrition
  • Sports nutrition

Licensures and Certifications in Nutrition

Licensure requirements vary from state to state. The BLS reports that while many states require nutritionists and dieticians to be licensed, a few have no such regulations and some other only require nutritionists to hold professional certifications or be registered with the state to use certain titles.

Professional certifications may not be mandatory but the BLS states that some employers may prefer hiring candidates with such credentials. Many dietitian nutritionists choose to earn the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Other certifications you may earn can depend on the field of nutrition you specialize in. Some of them are:

You may find there are scholarships and grants available for eligible students enrolled in online nutrition degree programs which can help reduce the burden of paying for college. These scholarships and grants may be offered by universities, medical associations, and professional bodies among others. Some scholarships to help you get started on your search are:

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation has a publication with a number of financial aid resources you may find helpful.

Other resources for nutritionists

Employment Statistics

Dietitians and Nutritionists

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Outpatient Care Centres
  • Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals
  • Special Food Services
  • Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Florida
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Amarillo, TX
  • Modesto, CA
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, CA
  • Salinas, CA
  • Waco, TX

Food Scientists and Technologists

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Grain and Oilseed Milling
  • Other Food Manufacturing
  • Dairy Product Manufacturing
  • Animal Food Manufacturing
  • Sugar and Confectionery Product Manufacturing
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • New Jersey
  • Illinois
  • Ohio
  • Georgia
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  • Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH
  • Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Sources:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Health and Wellness, American College of Healthcare Sciences, https://achs.edu/program/associate-applied-science-health-and-wellness, accessed June 2019
  • Associate of Science in Applied Nutrition, Huntington University of Health Sciences, https://www.huhs.edu/course/associate-of-science-in-applied-nutrition/, accessed June 2019
  • Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, Huntington University of Health Sciences, https://www.huhs.edu/course/bachelor-of-science-in-nutrition/, accessed June 2019
  • Dietetics And Integrative Medicine Graduate Certificate, University of Kansas Medical Center, https://www.kumc.edu/school-of-health-professions/dietetics-and-nutrition/dietetics-and-integrative-medicine-graduate-certificate/, accessed June 2019
  • Dietitians and Nutritionists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm, accessed June 2019
  • Doctor of Clinical Nutrition, Maryland University of Integrative Health, https://www.muih.edu/academics/doctoral-degrees/doctor-clinical-nutrition, accessed June 2019
  • Graduate Certificate in Nutrition, Liberty University, https://www.liberty.edu/online/health-sciences/masters/certificate/nutrition/, accessed June 2019
  • Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home-health-aides-and-personal-care-aides.htm, accessed June 2019
  • Master of Professional Studies in Nutritional Sciences, Penn State World Campus, https://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/degrees-and-certificates/penn-state-online-nutritional-sciences-masters-degree/overview, accessed June 2019
  • Nutrition and Healthy Living: Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, https://www.ecornell.com/certificates/nutrition/nutrition-and-healthy-living/, accessed June 2019
  • Nutrition Sciences Graduate Certificate, Colorado State University Online, https://www.online.colostate.edu/certificates/nutrition-sciences/, accessed June 2019
  • Nutrition: Undergraduate Certificate, Indiana University, https://online.iu.edu/program/indiana-nutrition-undergraduate-1515523342879, accessed June 2019
  • Nutritionists & Dietitians Industry in the US, IBISWorld, 2018, https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-trends/specialized-market-research-reports/life-sciences/wellness-services/nutritionists-dietitians/
  • Online Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutrition, Purdue Global University, https://www.purdueglobal.edu/degree-programs/health-sciences/nutrition-bachelors-degree-online/, accessed June 2019
  • Online Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, Arizona State University, https://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/undergraduate/bachelor-science-nutrition/, accessed June 2019
  • Online Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, Texas Tech University, http://www.depts.ttu.edu/hs/ns/masters/online_masters_details.php, accessed June 2019
  • Online Master of Science in Nutritional Science (Dietetics), Arizona State University, https://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/graduate/master-science-nutritional-science-dietetics/, accessed June 2019
  • PHD in Nutrition Sciences, Drexel University, https://drexel.edu/cnhp/academics/doctoral/PHD-Nutrition-Sciences/, accessed June 2019
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