Online Nutrition Degree

As more people want healthy lifestyles, many online schools now offer nutrition programs. Nutritionists use skills in science to help people with their eating habits. If you want to enter or further a career in this booming field, an online degree offers a flexible option.

What is an Online Nutrition Degree?

An online degree in nutrition studies the impact of food choice on human health and disease. Then applies these ideas to inform and promote well being. One may find this type of online degree at all levels. Bachelors, masters and PhDs. At each step, you may learn about the science of food and how humans digest it. Plus some practical topics to nurture skills in nutritional counseling and health education.

A bachelor’s degree is intro level. Grads may have the skills to meet state certification rules and launch a career. Master’s programs may help grads step other careers. Including management, food safety and clinical nutrition. While a PhD focuses on science and novel research to impact public awareness and policy.

When looking into online nutrition programs you might check for ACEND accreditation. ACEND is the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. 

Schools that meet their standards may enable grads to sit for licensure exams. One in particular is the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential. It is from the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). They are the credentialing agency of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition

An online bachelor of science in nutrition is an entry level degree. Most programs entail 120 credits and take four years to complete. Many online schools award a Bachelor of Science (BSc) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA). Of the two, a BSc is science focused (biology, chemistry, anatomy). A BA may shift some focus to public policy and be less technical.

Nutrition is about the food we eat and whether it nourishes us or makes us unwell. So, it is common to study genetics and how humans digest and process foods. Some programs also study the retail food industry. These may support business skills such as marketing, buying and budget. 

In checking out schools, you may notice tuition rates vary. Public tuition averaged $17,797 per year in 2017/18. While private schools are likely more expensive. These cost in the range of $46,014 (private nonprofit) or $26,261 (private for profit) per year according to NCES.

That said, you might qualify for financial aid. To start the process, make sure to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on time. Some schools also offer merit scholarships which likely assess more academic criteria.  

When ready to apply as a freshman applicant you need a high school diploma. As these are science focused programs, they may require HS math and lab sciences. Schools also set a minimum for GPA and ACT/SAT scores which vary from one to the next. 

Master’s Degree in Nutrition

An online master of science degree in nutrition is grad level. Most programs entail from 30 to 36 credits. And may take one to two years after a bachelor’s. While not broad like an undergrad degree, a master’s tends to go deep. Classes often center around sciences. Including genetics, metabolism, medical nutrition and biology. Then also explore practical ways to work with certain diseases such as obesity.

Many thus go for a master’s to refine clinical, research and managerial skills. And, to qualify for advanced credentials from the CDR. This may be a way to stay competitive in the job market as well as to shift into a niche area. Pediatric nutrition is one example.

Apart from transcripts applicants may need to submit references and a personal statement. Due the strong science focus, you might need a specific undergrad major. Schools may also set a minimum GPA of 3.0 and check your GRE scores. These standards do vary from one to the next.

Another feature that varies is the cost of grad school. At last check, tuition plus required fees at a public school was $11,617. Private nonprofits ($26,551) and for profits ($14,784) usually have higher average annual costs.

PhD in Nutrition

A PhD is a research degree. As such, it often entails an original final paper (dissertation). As the highest level award, a PhD may suit those who want to teach and conduct research.

In contrast, a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition is a practice doctorate. It often grows clinical reasoning skills. Because of this, most DCN programs include an in person residency. Also, a final research project and pilot study.

Science classes in both programs may overlap. But a DCN may cover the finer points of a nutrition based physical exam. How to measure vital signs, check fluids, heart sounds and for malnutrition. 

A PhD might cover a range of physiology, genetics and metabolism classes instead. Students may also work with faculty to tailor classes to an anchor point. 

Some students may gain entry into a PhD program after college. But a DCN program is different. For these, you tend to both a master’s degree and RDN credential. Applicants may also need work experience, resume, references and letter of intent. 

What can I do with an Online Nutrition Degree?

A degree in nutrition may be an entry point to current and up and coming roles. The need to teach people healthy habits and prevent disease is creating opportunity. As some careers are still evolving, there may be jobs for different levels of education. Many dietitians and nutritionists have a bachelor’s as well as advanced degree. The Commission on Dietetic Registration also offers certs. Having one may be a useful step to go for if you want to work in a niche. Like oncology nutrition, obesity and weight or sports dietetics.

#1 CLINICAL DIETICIAN 

A clinical dietitian may work in hospitals, care facilities, clinics, and private practice. Their role is to craft meal plans for specific medical conditions. Like diabetes, heart disease or digestive issues.

#2 NUTRITIONIST

A main concern of a nutritionist is that one’s diet promote health. For instance, if a client is at risk for stroke, they might plan food choices that limit fat and sugar. 

#3 HEALTH EDUCATOR 

A health educator teaches people how to adopt healthy habits. They do this by creating programs, materials, securing funding and advocacy. 

#4 FOOD SERVICE MANAGERS

A food service manager is in charge of daily operations at restaurants and other venues that serve food and beverages. Their duties revolve around staffing, schedules, quality control, budget and client care. 

#5 CHEFS / HEAD COOK

A chef is the person who oversees food prep. They are the creative minds behind recipes and ingredient selection. Executive chefs also handle some of the administrative tasks such as purchasing and pricing.

#6 FOOD SCIENTIST

A food scientist uses chemistry, biology, and other sciences to study the basic elements of food. From its nutritional content. To greener ways of packaging. Some also inspect food processing area and enforce government food safety rules. Depending on how research intensive, a graduate degree may be necessary.

#7 COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKER

A community health worker tends to know the needs of their local area in order to serve them. They may address barriers to care and services through outreach programs. 

#8 FOOD ENTREPRENEUR

A food entrepreneur is someone who wants to run a business. Often it begins with an innovative idea about food, take out or delivery. For example, turning a love of baking into a cup cake hey then pair their food skills with a robust business plan that aims to execute their vision and turn a profit.

Is an Online Degree in Nutrition worth it?

An online degree in nutrition may yield usable skills, prospects and above average earning potential. Jobs in health care (nutrition is one) are growing much faster than the norm. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for nutritionists should grow by 8% to 2029. That is above the average growth rate for all occupations which is 4%. 

One of the reasons cited by the BLS is the CDC statistic that over one third of Americans are obese. Obesity often goes hand in hand with heart disease, diabetes and diet. So, if you have skills in these areas it may help with a job search. If thinking about this field, nutrition professionals work full time. Many work in outpatient centers, hospitals, gov’t and nursing / residential care.  

Salaries for these career paths vary. The median annual wage for dietitians and nutritionists was $61,270 in May 2019. Those in the highest 10% earned more than $87,360. And those in the lowest 10% earned less than $38,890, also per the BLS.

Let’s say you want to use your skills to educate the public how to stay healthy. For instance, discussing the effect of smoking or sugar through a marketing initiative.These skills are also in demand. The BLS predicts a 13% to 15% rise in the number of jobs available to 2029. 

While salaries vary, the median annual wage for community workers was $40,360 in May 2019. The median annual wage was higher for health education specialists ($55,220) where the top 10% earned more than $98,680.

Online Nutrition Degree Jobs & Salary

Occupation Average Salary Jobs
Dietician $61,270 5,900
Health Educator $46,910 17,000
Food Service Manager $55,230 2,200
Chef and Head Cook $51,530 9,500

Top States for Jobs as a Nutrition

State Jobs Annual Mean Wage
CA 7,880 $77,040
AK 140 $72,640
MA 1,930 $72,610
HI 270 $71,230
NJ 2,150 $70,550

What classes will I take with an Online Nutrition Degree?

Nutritional science looks at the impact of food on health and disease through the life span. As a result, you might find classes in health sciences mixed with others. Biology, metabolism, food science, and therapeutic diets.

Each level of degree is likely to present this material to online students in unique ways. To give you an idea, here are a few kinds of classes you may find at the bachelor’s, master’s and PhD levels.

BACHELOR’S DEGREE CLASSES

A main goal of this level is to introduce the field of nutrition, the sciences it draws from and skill sets. So most course plans start with survey classes to lay a foundation. Then progress into more complex topics that may show you how to apply theory. For instance, how to build a meal plan around a health issue.

If not completed in an associate degree, there may be other credit hours to complete. These consist of general classes such as chemistry, biology, statistics and physics. Other requirements may include field work nearby and a capstone project. 

INTRO TO NUTRITION SCIENCE 

About healthy dietary patterns to lower risks of chronic disease. Including nutrients, energy balance, the digestive system and food systems.

NUTRITION IN THE LIFE CYCLE

Reviews nutritional needs and related conditions in different stages of life. Course topics may include pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence and older adulthood. May also cover the ways culture, environment and other factors impact nutritional status.

PUBLIC HEALTH NUTRITION

This class may frame the skills to set up community nutrition education programs. It often entails the study of a vulnerable group through a field experience. Side topics tend to include grant writing, public policy, screening and food assistance.

MANAGEMENT OF FOOD SERVICE SYSTEMS

About large scale food preparation. This class may also discuss how to use the equipment and plan meals for institutions. It may come with a lab where you create and prep menu items and manage all aspects of an operational kitchen.

GRADUATE PROGRAM CLASSES

These programs tend to focus on one aspect of nutrition to help you shape a career niche. Most course plans do include core nutrition topics. But also add a look at clinical uses, professional skills and electives.

The typical syllabus (especially for a PhD) also includes research. These classes may show you how to use findings to support practice, policy and service design. Side topics tend to also discuss related legal issues, informatics and leadership.

HUMAN ENERGY METABOLISM

This class focuses on the science of digestion. It also tends to cover eating disorders, obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes. These areas may help you understand the effects of fibre, sugar, fat and carbohydrates on body shape and energy.

NUTRIGENETICS 

About the genetic factors that impact the inter play between diet, health and disease risks. Including the effects of differences in our genetic makeup, gut health and dietary patterns.

ADVANCED NUTRITION ASSESSMENT

May discuss evolving methods and metrics used to assess malnutrition and deficiency. This class might help nutritionists make sense of physical exam and lab tests to equip them in diagnosis.

COUNSELING AND EDUCATION

About ways to counsel and teach people or groups in the field of nutrition dietetics. Topics may include client centered methods to shift eating patterns. For e.g., motivational interviewing.

How long does it take to get a Nutrition Degree online?

The time it takes to earn an online degree in nutrition varies by program level and course load. A bachelor’s degree is likely to take four years. Fewer if you have eligible transfer credits from an associate degree program. Once you’ve earned your degree, a master’s may take from one to four years depending on whether you study part time or full time. You should also note that if going for the RDN credential, you may need 1,200 supervised hours. Once a master’s prepared RDN, it may take four to five years extra to complete a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition degree. 

University Level of Degree # of Credits Required Starts Per Year Minimum Months to Complete
Arizona State University Bachelors 120 6 48
University of Alabama Bachelors 120 3 48
Purdue University Global Bachelors 180 Quarter Credits 4 48
University of Wisconsin Madison Masters 30 2 12
University of Michigan Masters 48 5 2
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Masters 32 3 48
Rutgers University Doctorate 50 1 48
University of North Florida Doctorate 54 1 48
Oregon State University PhD 108 1 48

15 Schools with Online Nutrition Degrees

Many online schools offer food and nutrition degree programs online. To help you narrow school search results, here are 15 schools with online degrees in nutrition at all levels.

  1. Arizona State University
  2. University of Arizona
  3. University of Alabama
  4. Purdue University Global 
  5. Kansas State University Online 
  6. U of Wisconsin Madison 
  7. University of Michigan
  8. University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
  9. Tufts University 
  10. University of Southern California 
  11. Rutgers University
  12. Saybrook University 
  13. University of North Florida
  14. Oregon State University
  15. Colorado State University

Let’s take a closer look at the online programs in nutrition these 15 schools have to offer.

FIND AN ONLINE NUTRITION DEGREE

1

Arizona State University

Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition Entrepreneurship

Fully Online


ASU’s program entails 120 credits. It aims to prep grads to find solutions to pressing issues. From inventory and labeling to banning plastics and eCommerce. As a result, the course plan blends nutrition science with business skills such as marketing. Along with online classes the college arranges practical experiences in your local community (farm, restaurant). The program does not prep for licensure, but ASU does offer an on campus dietetics degree which does.

Some courses may include:

  • Food Manufacturing
  • School Nutrition
  • Purchasing

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $11,338 / $29,428
Grad $11,270 / $26,160
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$10,651

Average Net Price:
$13,764

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

2

University of Arizona

Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences

Fully Online


This program offers a choice of dietetics or nutrition tracks. The dietetics track may enable you to apply for dietetic internships. Then to take registration exams with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The nutrition track may suit those who want to go onto a grad program in the field or one related. Each comes with a detailed set of classes.

Some courses may include:

  • Sports Nutrition
  • Human Nutrition 
  • Medical Nutrition Therapy

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $12,711 / $12,691 / $36,718
Grad $13,271 / $33,398
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$10,475

Average Net Price:
$16,580

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
HLC, ACEND

3

University of Alabama

Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition  

Fully Online


This 120 credit program aims to ready grads to go for the Registered Dietitian credential. As a result the course work has two parts. One devoted to core sciences classes like microbiology, and chemistry. Added to this are a range of classes in the major. These cover skills such as counseling while introducing the area of food service mgmt.

Some courses may include:

  • Food Production
  • Intro Psychology
  • Applied Nutrition

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $10,780 / $30,250
Grad $10,780 / $30,250
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$15,160

Average Net Price:
$20,623

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), ACEND

4

Purdue University Global

Bachelor of Science in Nutrition  

Fully Online


Purdue’s program consists of 180 quarter credits. It has as its aim to provide basic skills and knowledge related to nutrition and health care. That includes how dietary choices impact a healthy lifestyle. And a broad look at the science of how humans digest, absorb and process foods during the lifespan. Once a grad, you may be ready to pursue certification in holistic nutrition and other credentials.

Some courses may include:

  • Counseling
  • Special Populations
  • Nutrition Planning 

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $8,037 / $14,358
Grad $8,791 / $9,768
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,289

Average Net Price:
N/A

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, student veteran org., & member of SOC. 

Accredited:
HLC, National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP)

5

Kansas State University Online

Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Health  

Fully Online


K-State Online’s program entails 120 credits and is science based. You study the human body, biology and chemistry as well as a set of integrative health topics. These are called “Well-Being” and relate to social, financial, career and community health. There are also a set of classes in the science of food and life cycle nutrition.

Some courses may include:

  • Clinical Nutrition 
  • Food and Health
  • Nutrient Metabolism 

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $10,440 / $26,316
Grad $11,277 / $24,115
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$6,765

Average Net Price:
$18,103

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, student veteran org., & member of SOC. 

Accredited:
HLC

6

University of Wisconsin Madison

Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition  

Fully Online


This program entails 30 credits and focuses on clinical and core nutrition, professional skills and electives. The curriculum also aims to ready students to translate research, lead and manage teams to design nutrition related services.

Some courses may include:

  • Personalized Nutrition
  • Nutrition Informatics
  • Advanced Counseling

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $10,725 / $37,785
Grad $12,180 / $25,506
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$10,508

Average Net Price:
$16,103

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, student veteran org., & member of SOC. 

Accredited:
HLC, ACEND

7

University of Michigan

Master of Public Health – Dietetics Concentration  

Online / Summer Residency


This program entails 48 classes. Its main focus is on public health. So the core classes cover health education, policy, and epidemiology. While dietetics classes aim to prep grads to take the Registered Dietician exam. Students may also apply for a Dietetic Internship through U-M.

Some courses may include:

  • Sustainable Food Systems
  • Food Literacy 
  • Lifespan Nutrition

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $15,558 / $51,200
Grad $24,218 / $48,532
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$21,174

Average Net Price:
$17,357

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, student veteran org., & member of SOC. 

Accredited:
HLC, ACEND

8

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Master of Science in Food Science

Fully Online


This program is part time and geared to at work professionals. It offers 1 – 3 courses each semester for a total of 32 credit hours and caps with an oral exam. The classes are science focused. So, first topics include biochemistry, genetics, food and industrial biology. Other ones may offer an opportunity to study nano tech and conduct research.

Some courses may include:

  • Food Chemistry
  • Beverage Science
  • Process Engineering

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $15,122 / $32,264
Grad $18,083 / $31,490
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$13,946

Average Net Price:
$14,660

Military Programs:
Credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, student veteran org., & member of SOC. 

Accredited:
HLC, ACEND

9

Tufts University

Master of Nutrition Science and Policy  

Online / On Campus


This 30 credit program is for health professionals, career switchers and recent grads. It draws from several areas of advanced study in nutrition science. All while digging into global and US food policy and nutrition programs, and applied research skills.  Apart from these core topics, a variety of electives enable one to tailor a course plan to career goals.

Some courses may include:

  • Obesity and Energy
  • Nutrition and Aging
  • Medical Nutrition Therapy

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $58,578
Grad $53,658
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$42,924

Average Net Price:
$26,280

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, dedicated point of contact

Accredited:
New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

10

University of Southern California 

Master of Science in Nutrition, Healthspan and Longevity  

Fully Online


This 42 credit program studies the skills and knowledge to enable grads to take the CDR exam. It looks at nutrients, genes, clinical screening and other key areas. Then caps with a directed research project, field work and class in research methods.

Some courses may include:

  • Food Production
  • Therapeutic Nutrition
  • Communicating Nutrition

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $58,195
Grad $47,107
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$39,516

Average Net Price:
$37,521

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, student veteran org., & member of SOC. 

Accredited:
WASC Senior College and University Commission, ACEND

11

Rutgers University

Doctor of Clinical Nutrition  

Online / In Person


This is a 50 credit clinical nutrition doctoral program for master’s prepared RDNs. It is available on a part time basis which may take 4 to 5 years. The focus is on advanced clinical nutrition practice. And, to ensure RDNs have the skills to take part in a health care team in any practice setting. Students complete both a pilot study and a practice based research project as well as a 350 hour residency.

Some courses may include:

  • Physical Examination
  • Metabolism
  • Scientific Writing

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $14,826 / $31,608
Grad $19,967 / $32,375
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$12,772

Average Net Price:
$11,981

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, student veteran org., & member of SOC. 

Accredited:
Middle States Commission on Higher Education, ACEND

12

Saybrook University

PhD in Integrative and Functional Nutrition  

Online / Residency 


This 62 credit program studies body systems. And, how they function and interact with their environment. It also covers a variety of topics in nutrition, health and wellness. The approach is evidence based. So it makes use of science to understand patient centered, integrative care. Learners also look into the causes of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. All with an eye on how to prevent and manage them.

Some courses may include:

  • Systems Biology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Contemporary Issues

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad N/A
Grad $23,589
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
N/A

Average Net Price:
N/A

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program

Accredited:
WASC Senior College and University Commission

13

University of North Florida

Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition  

Online / Residency


This program entail 54 credits and a practice residency. It focuses on leadership and critical thinking. Also applied research, grant writing and teaching. At the same time, other classes look into chronic diseases. How to intervene, prevent and treat them. Both with individuals and at community levels.

Some courses may include:

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Policy
  • Nutrition Counseling  

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $6,389 / $20,793
Grad $10,857 / $22,396
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$7,569

Average Net Price:
$9,857

Military Programs:
Credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, student veteran org., & member of SOC.

Accredited:
SACSCOC, ACEND

14

Oregon State University 

PhD in Nutrition

Online / In Person


This program entails at least 108 credits beyond the BSc. The courses thus go wide and deep to help learners grow skills, knowledge and research skills. Some of the core classes center on biochemistry and physiology. There are also ones that support the dissertation. Like health data analysis and statistics. Apart from core areas, one may focus on molecular or human nutrition.

Some courses may include:

  • Health Benefits of Foods
  • Nutrition and Exercise
  • Proteins

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $6,389 / $20,793
Grad $10,857 / $22,396
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$6,483

Average Net Price:
$17,837

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, student veteran org., & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

15

Colorado State University 

PhD in Nutrition and Food Science  

Some Online / In Person


This PhD offers a choice of two tracks. The food science track covers food systems, microbiology, and food chemistry. And the nutrition track covers molecular, clinical, and community nutrition. It also studies the link between nutrition and health as well as how to express that to the public. Each includes research and entails about 42 credits beyond the master’s.

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $11,901 / $30,622
Grad $12,871 / $28,142
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$9,456

Average Net Price:
$16,793

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, student veteran org., & member of SOC.

Accredited:
HLC, ACEND

*Unemployment Earnings.  Sources for school stats and data include the NCES and IPEDS.