2022 Best Online Nutrition Degrees

By the OnlineU team | Updated 6/14/2022

Students interested in promoting a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle can earn an online nutrition degree. A nutrition program aims to prepare future dietitians and nutritionists by exploring the impact of food on overall well-being, including how diet influences disease management. As of 2021, most dieticians and nutritionists work in general medical and surgical hospitals and earn an annual median wage of $61,650. 

Read on to explore the best accredited online degrees in nutrition currently available based on alumni salaries for each program. View our methodology for more details about our list or learn more about OnlineU.

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List Of Accredited Online Schools

School Online Enrollment Salary Score Median Starting Salary
American Public University System 45,249 45,249 NA NA NA NA
Arizona State University 44,253 58 $30,474
Purdue University Global 37,778 74 $33,198
University of Arizona 5,073 23 $24,800
University of Alabama 4,515 43 $28,146
Weber State University 3,139 NA NA
University of Alaska Anchorage 2,776 NA NA
Kansas State University 2,386 66 $31,837
Eastern Michigan University 2,141 100 $46,112
University of Northern Colorado 1,808 27 $25,409

Eastern Michigan University

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $46,112
  • Locations: Ypsilanti (MI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

East Michigan University (EMU) is a medium, public institution offering an online Dietetics Combined (BS + MS), which requires students to complete 144 credit hours. The program combines an undergraduate and graduate degree in Dietetics that can be completed in five years. Sample coursework includes Fundamentals in Nutrition Therapy, Nutrition Communication, Community Nutrition, and Research Writing.

At EMU, students complete online coursework through Canvas. Online student support includes a writing center, math lab, disability services, counseling, tutoring, etc. Program requirements include general admission into EMU and a minimum of 76 undergraduate credit hours completed.

Purdue University Global

  • Salary Score: 74
  • Median Starting Salary: $33,198
  • Locations: Indianapolis (IN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Purdue University Global (Purdue Global) is a large, public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. Totaling 180 credit hours, the program gives students real-world experiences in nutrition careers and prepares them for the registered dietitian credentialing exam. Core courses include Food Safety, Nutrition Planning and Management, Nutritional Counseling, and Nutrition for Special Populations.

Purdue Global’s online students complete coursework asynchronously through the platform, Blackboard. Purdue Global’s online resources for students include tutoring, academic success services, seminars, an online library, and much more. Purdue Global’s general admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED and completing orientation before starting classes.

Kansas State University

  • Salary Score: 66
  • Median Starting Salary: $31,837
  • Locations: Manhattan (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Kansas State University (K-State) is a large, public institution offering two online nutrition programs, totaling 120 credit hours each: a (1) Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and (2) Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Health. An online Bachelor of Science in Dietetics is ACEND-accredited, so graduates are eligible to sit for the registered dietitian credentialing exam. In addition, the online Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Health provides students with a foundation for nutrition careers.

At K-State, online students complete coursework asynchronously on Canvas. Online student support includes advising, coaching, tutoring, and test assistance. K-State’s admission requirements include a minimum 3.25 high school GPA, ACT or SAT scores, or a minimum 2.0 GPA on transferable college credits.

Arizona State University

  • Salary Score: 58
  • Median Starting Salary: $30,474
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Arizona State University (ASU) is a large, public institution offering an online Bachelor of Applied Science in Food and Nutrition Entrepreneurship, which requires students to finish 117-120 credit hours. This program is designed for students who aspire to become food and nutrition entrepreneurs. Sample coursework includes Nutrition in the Life Cycle, Development of Healthy Cuisines, Nutrition Communication, and Food Service Purchasing. Prospective job outlooks for graduates include registered sanitarians, certified dietary managers, and nutrition specialists.

At ASU, online students complete coursework on the platform Canvas. ASU’s online student support includes writing, tutoring, learning support, and test assistance. Prospective students must have an Associate of Applied Science degree before applying.

University of Alabama

  • Salary Score: 43
  • Median Starting Salary: $28,146
  • Locations: Tuscaloosa (AL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Alabama (UA) is a large, public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition. Totaling 120 credit hours, the program provides students with the foundation needed for a dietitian career. Some of the courses include Food Science, Community Nutrition, Applied Nutrition, and Educational Statistics. Graduates' prospective work settings range from public health departments and hospitals to community centers.

UA students access online coursework through Blackboard in a mainly synchronous format. UA’s online support includes tutoring, mentoring, co-op education, and career services. UA’s admission requirements include submitting an application, high school transcripts, or a minimum 2.0 GPA for transfer students who’ve earned more than 24 college-level credit hours.

University of Northern Colorado

  • Salary Score: 27
  • Median Starting Salary: $25,409
  • Locations: Greeley (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

At the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), a medium-sized, public institution, students can pursue an online Bachelor of Science in Dietetics. Totaling 120 credit hours, the program takes five terms (or 18 months) to complete. Sample coursework from the program includes Nutrition in the Life Cycle, Introduction to Foods, Medical Nutrition Intervention, and Community Nutrition.

At UNC, online students complete coursework on the learning management system, Canvas. In addition, online student support includes career services, disability resources, and counseling. The program requires that students first complete prerequisite courses, have "junior" status at the time of the program’s start, earn a minimum 3.0 GPA, and meet general admission requirements for UNC.

University of Arizona

  • Salary Score: 23
  • Median Starting Salary: $24,800
  • Locations: Tucson (AZ)
  • Accreditation: HLC

At the University of Arizona (UArizona), which is a large, public institution, students can pursue an online Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences requiring 120 credit hours. The program offers two emphases: (1) Nutrition and (2) Dietetics, with the latter allowing students to apply for dietetic internships and take the registered dietitian exams. Students explore food science and safety, nutrition, and dietetics.

Online students at UArizona access coursework in an asynchronous format through D2L. Online student support includes tutoring, academic success services, librarian consultations, launchpad, and coaching. Admission requirements at UArizona include submitting an online application and official high school or college transcripts.

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Can You Get a Nutrition Degree Online?

Yes, a number of accredited colleges offer bachelor's degrees in nutrition online. Online nutrition programs require 120 credits to graduate and take an average of four years of full-time study to complete. Students interested in nutritional science can enroll in online master's programs that cover advanced topics in the field as well as online certificate programs that provide expertise in specific topics.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Nutrition

Online bachelor's degrees in nutritional science combine coursework in medical nutrition, communication, public health, and food management. In addition to general education requirements, basic science courses cover topics, such as physiology, anatomy, chemistry, and biology. This foundation helps students understand how the body works and processes food at biological and chemical levels. Other courses may include food writing, clinical nutrition, and nutrient metabolism.



The foundational courses help students understand how the body works and processes food at biological and chemical levels.

Nutrition programs may have concentrations in nutrition science or dietetics. Alternatively, they may be under the title of health sciences degrees with a nutrition or health and wellness specialization. Some programs may include research into diseases, environmental effects on food, and utilizing technology for treating patients. A bachelor's degree in nutrition is the minimum requirement to begin a career as a nutrition consultant, nutrition educator, or dietitian. Earning this degree helps prepare students for pursuing an advanced nutrition program in graduate school or a master's degree in related fields, such as nursing and biology.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements depend on the school, but in general, applicants need a high school diploma or GED. They will need to submit these transcripts alongside their SAT or ACT scores. Some schools also require particular prerequisite courses and/or minimum GPAs.

Accreditation

Accreditation is a term used to describe the process by which schools are evaluated for their quality and their ability to provide students with a valuable education. Independent regional and national agencies evaluate institutions of higher education based on a variety of factors and determine whether to grant them accreditation. Legitimate accrediting agencies should always be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Accreditation helps ensure that online students receive a high quality education and meet eligibility requirements for federal financial aid. In addition, for students who decide to transfer credits to another school or pursue an advanced degree, it will be important to have attended an accredited school or program.

What Is ACEND Accreditation?

Many schools seek accreditation from professional organizations for individual programs within the school. For nutrition degree programs, the preferred programmatic accreditation comes from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Accreditation by this industry-recognized agency helps ensure that a program meets national standards of excellence and prepares students for many industry certifications.


Most schools indicate whether the nutrition program is ACEND-accredited on their website, or prospective students can check the ACEND directory.


Online Nutrition Classes

Students enrolled in online nutrition bachelor's programs typically complete a mix of science-based courses that aim to cover nutrition's effect on the human body, skills courses that help prepare students to assess and guide patients, and management courses that generally cover how to lead food service operations. Programs may also require an internship and are usually designed to prepare graduates for the Registered Dietitian exam.

The following are some examples of classes typically found in an online nutrition degree program.

Anatomy and Physiology

This course aims to cover the essential terms and concepts describing the human body's structure and function. Students may also gain an understanding of various diseases, organ systems, digestion, metabolism, and changing nutritional needs throughout the typical human life cycle. With some online programs, this course may include applications-oriented lab work, which may be conducted at home or virtually.

Food Service Management

This business management course is designed to provide students with the administrative knowledge and professional skills needed to lead a food service operation. Key topics in the course typically include organizational structure, food preparation, institutional equipment, menu planning, budgeting, marketing, and human resource management. Professional ethics in management is woven throughout the course's content.

Medical Assessment

Students in this course focus on learning practical skills related to assessing patients from the perspective of a nutrition consultant. Specific health indicators explained in the course generally include blood pressure, height and weight, body mass index, and body composition analysis. Additional coursework may include developing recommendations and plans for patients.

Microbiology

Typically requiring lab work, students in a microbiology course study nutrition at the cellular level. Students learn the basic types of microorganisms — viruses, bacteria, algae, fungi, and protozoa — and discover how they affect health, ecology, and related fields. To complete the hands-on lab requirements, online students may be asked to conduct experiments virtually or at home, using common household items or kits delivered by the school.

Nutrition Science

This introductory science course focuses on the relationship between nutrients and the human body. Students may learn about internal food systems and how the body processes food on a chemical level. Additional topics covered in the course may include allergies and intolerances, healthy dietary habits and patterns, energy balance, and the availability and presentation of nutrition information.

Optimal Health and Performance

A companion to the medical assessment course, this class typically covers how to work with patients to help them adopt useful dietary changes into their lifestyles and enhance their health through physical activity. Students study to gain practical knowledge regarding concepts, attitudes, and strategies for effectively coaching patients.

Resource Production and Allocation

Nutritionists should have a basic understanding of economics as it relates to the food industry. Topics in this course often include agricultural production, food safety, government regulation, property rights, and natural resources.

Nutrition Degree Concentrations

Concentrations help students customize their degrees to specialize in an area of interest. Specialization may be helpful in careers that require specific expertise, such as working with particular populations in unique environments.

There are several concentrations to choose from when pursuing an online nutrition degree program:

  • Dietetics takes a science-heavy approach to nutrition that involves studying medical nutrition therapy and diagnosing eating disorders.
  • Food Safety and Nutrition focuses on healthy eating habits and food safety and how both can impact health.
  • Food Service Administration concentrates on providing food and nutrition in institutional environments, such as schools, hospitals, and prisons.
  • Nutrition and Fitness explores the mind-body connection and the interplay between body mechanics, physiology, and food.
  • Public Health Nutrition integrates nutrition with public health principles into the design of programs focused on maintaining or improving the health of communities and targeted populations.

Interested in learning about similar degrees? Explore online bachelor's degrees in health education, counseling, and exercise science.

Certification and Licensing Requirements for Nutritionists

After completing a nutrition or dietitian degree, many graduates choose to become certified or registered as a nutritionist or dietitian. Some states allow graduates to practice as nutritionists without licensure, but because the requirements vary from state to state, aspiring nutritionists and dietitians should verify their state's regulations before taking any major steps. The following is a general overview of some commonly accepted certifications in the nutrition profession.

Differences in Educational Requirements: CCN, CNS, and RD

Individuals hoping to earn CCN, CNS, and Registered Dietician (RD) credentials must meet different educational requirements before they take the certification exams.

The CCN is open to individuals with a range of academic backgrounds, from individuals with associate degrees in nursing to medical and naturopathic doctors. However, to take the CCN exam, individuals who don't have a graduate degree must show they have fulfilled all CNCB academic requirements and take the PGSCN intensive course offered by CNCB. To earn the CNS, individuals must hold a qualifying graduate or medical degree. CNS applicants don't need to take a pre-qualifier intensive course before they register for the CNS exam. An RD is a food and dietary professional with a bachelor's degree in nutrition or a qualifying field. RDs also complete a 900-1,200 hour internship and pass a dietetics registration exam.

What Can You Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition

Graduates of online nutrition degree programs have the opportunity to enter a variety of professional roles, depending on their experience. For example, graduates may become nutritionists to help clients manage chronic diseases through their diet. Others may become management dietitians who work to meet the nutritional needs of large institutions. The annual median salaries for dieticians and nutritionists can range from $39,840 — for the lowest 10% of workers in the field — to the highest earners at more than $90,000.

The following are some examples of common careers for graduates of nutritional science, along with salary and job growth data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The first two career options are specific types of nutritionists, as outlined above, with salary data based on the industries where they are employed.

Clinical Dietitian
Median Annual Salary: $60,330-$63,380
Job Outlook: 11%

Institutions like hospitals and nursing care facilities typically employ clinical dietitians. After assessing and analyzing a patient's health status and goals, clinical dietitians then prepare personalized nutrition programs, monitor patient progress, provide counsel as needed, and report the results.

Public Health or Community Dietitian
Median Annual Salary: $64,010
Job Outlook: 11%

Community dietitians are often employed by the government and work in groups to develop nutritional practices that promote health and prevent disease. Some specialize in educating specific groups, such as adolescents or older adults.

Agricultural and Food Scientist
Median Annual Salary: $68,830
Job Outlook: 9%

An important part of the food supply chain, food scientists study the nutritional qualities of food and help make processed and packaged foods safer and healthier. Some are responsible for inspecting food processing plants and enforcing regulations.

Health Education Specialist and Community Health Worker
Median Annual Salary: $48,140
Job Outlook: 17%

Health education specialists work at non-profits, hospitals, and government agencies teaching health issues and promoting wellness in communities. They also advocate for community members during doctor's appointments and social worker's visits.

Professional Nutrition Organizations

Members of professional nutrition organizations belong to communities of peers who advocate for research and improved access to nutrition services and affordable, healthy food. These associations provide networking opportunities, opportunities to share best practices, continuing education courses, and academic journals.

Several organizations in the U.S. encourage nutrition professionals to congregate and learn from members' shared experiences:

The American Society for Nutrition (ASN)
This organization's mission is to create a healthier world through the science of nutrition. Members can access ASN academic journals, research topics of interest, join councils to promote nutrition research, and prepare for career advancement.

The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN)
This interdisciplinary organization's mission is to improve patient care through science and diet. Members can access research toolkits and academic journals, attend conferences and webinars, and participate in professional development programs.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
The Academy's mission is to influence and shape consumer food choices. Membership benefits include access to academic journals, conferences, educational opportunities, and scholarships.

Scholarships for Nutrition Students

Students interested in online bachelor's degree programs can apply for financial assistance just like their on-campus peers. Completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can determine a person's eligibility for federal aid. This includes scholarships and grants that don't require repayment and low-interest student loans with flexible repayment options. Undergraduates studying nutrition can also apply for private scholarships to help pay for online school, such as those listed below:

Students accepted into ACEND-accredited programs are eligible to apply. Award amounts may vary based on funding but generally range from $500 to $25,000. Students must be enrolled in school for a minimum of four months within an academic year to qualify.

Feeding Tomorrow offers several scholarships to students pursuing undergraduate degrees in food sciences. Full- and part-time students with a minimum 3.0 GPA who are attending accredited four-year universities are eligible to apply. Award amounts range from $1,000 to $2,000.

The Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) awards $2,500 scholarships to eligible students in their third year of undergraduate study. Applicants must demonstrate leadership abilities and have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Is an Online Nutrition Degree Worth It?

Nutrition may be a worthwhile degree if you have a desire to use your knowledge to help others and you're interested in science, anatomy, health, and food. Earning a degree in this field could yield a high return on your investment. However, enrolling in school takes time and money that may put a strain on your personal life and budget. When determining a nutrition degree's worth, it may be helpful to not only consider your unique circumstances — such as your finances, professional goals, and the time you're willing to commit — but also some of the following advantages and disadvantages.

Potential Benefits:

Nutrition is a diverse field that could lead to several career options. Students can use the skills gained through an online bachelor's degree in nutrition for many occupations that aim to keep people healthy.

The demand for skilled nutritionists is expected to grow over the next decade. More and more people need trained professionals to help them manage their health through dietary choices. In fact, experts project 5,900 job openings for nutritionists each year through 2030.

Potential Drawbacks:

A graduate degree may be required to achieve certain careers in the field. In order to achieve certification as a nutrition specialist or be hired by some employers, aspiring dietitians may need to pursue a master's degree, which is an additional commitment of time and money.

Becoming a nutritionist can be expensive, even beyond tuition costs. You may have to budget for other expenses, such as certification and licensure fees, exam fees, and continuing education courses. You may also have to pay for annual membership to organizations, such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to keep abreast of the latest nutrition and science news.

Dietitians report experiencing lower-than-average job satisfaction, according to CareerExplorer. Survey respondents rate 2.9 overall job satisfaction out of 5, placing dietitians at the bottom 26% of all careers.

Is Becoming a Registered Dietitian Worth It?

Whether becoming an RD is worth it depends on your career goals. In addition to earning a bachelor's in nutrition — or a master's degree as of 2024 — you'll need to fulfill the following requirements: complete a supervised practice program, pass the Registered Examination for Dietitians, and engage in continuing education to maintain your certification.

RD certification helps prepare you to assume management positions in hospitals, government agencies, and other healthcare facilities. However, earning certification requires a significant investment of time, money, and effort in education that may not be worth the slight increase in salary compared to a nutritionist. A 2019 survey from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a secondary source from the BLS, shows that full-time RDs make approximately $68,600 per year, which is only about $5,000 more than the median salary for nutritionists. Ultimately, the choice to become an RD may depend on where you'd like to work, your job's earning potential, and your educational goals.



RD certification helps prepare you to assume management positions in hospitals, government agencies, and other healthcare facilities.

It's also important to note that some states allow you to practice as an unlicensed nutritionist, performing many of the same functions as an RD. You may want to check your state's regulations before choosing your career path so you can make an informed decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Can You Make With a Nutrition Degree?

As of 2020, BLS data shows that the median annual salary for all nutritionists and dietitians is $63,090. However, professionals in the top 10% of the salary range earn more than $90,000. Nutritionists employed by outpatient care centers tend to earn slightly higher wages than those used by government agencies, hospitals, or nursing and residential care facilities.

Can Dietitians Work From Home?

The trend towards remote work is increasing across industries, including healthcare. Work-from-home positions for RDs and nutritionists are becoming more common. Employers hiring virtual dietitians and nutritionists can include health care facilities, private practices, insurance companies, educational institutions, and other companies that provide nutrition and dieting guidance. Completing an online degree can help prepare for work in this new remote environment.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nutritionist Online?

It can take a full-time online student approximately five years to become a nutritionist. Traditional bachelor's programs require about 120 credit hours of coursework and an internship to graduate. Students in accelerated BS to MS nutrition degree programs may need to complete up to 143 credit hours. It may take part-time students longer to graduate from these online nutrition degree programs.

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