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Online Nutrition Degrees: The Best Programs for 2018

Updated on: 12/26/2017

Nutritionists and dietitians use specialized knowledge about nutrition and food to help clients live better, more productive lives. With the declining health of many individuals and a sharp rise in health problems relating to poor eating habits, the need for additional nutritionists and dietitians is expected to rise well above the need for other occupations. To help meet this increased demand, a number of flexible online programs are available, but figuring out how to choose one can be tricky. That’s where this guide comes in.

What’s the Salary Like for Nutritionists?

Given the anticipated demand for nutritionists, dietitians and other nutrition-related professionals, it’s not surprising that individuals graduating with a nutrition degree can expect comfortable salaries with the potential for growth. To get a better understanding of what a prospective nutrition student can expect to make in a career in nutrition, check out the following chart.

Occupation Median Annual Salary: Entry-level Median Annual Salary: Mid-level Median Annual Salary: Late-career
Dietitian or Nutritionist $51,000 $53,000 $63,000
Clinical Dietician $46,000 $52,000 $61,000
Nutrition Services Manager $42,000 $42,000 $60,000
Health Coach $40,000 $47,000 $64,000
Registered Dietitian $50,000 $55,000 $62,000

Source: Payscale

Explore Associate’s Degree
Programs for Nutrition

What Kinds of Online Nutritionist Degree Are There?

To help others improve their health with better nutrition, individuals may only need an associate degree. However, their level of involvement with patients or clients and their potential for professional development will vary depending on their level of education. A bachelor’s degree can provide the greatest flexibility and growth potential and can further opportunities for specialization and responsibilities. At the bachelor’s level, there is the opportunity to specialize in areas such as dietetics, exercise science and food management. Earning a master’s degree will allow students to expand their level of knowledge with respect to data analysis, statistics and research. Students can explore all their degree options in more detail below.

Explore Bachelor’s Degree
Programs for Nutrition

How Do I Get a Nutrition Degree Online?

Serving as a nutritionist or dietitian can be an extremely rewarding profession, but it takes a number of important individual qualities to excel and enjoy the work. For instance, nutritionists and dietitians should have excellent communication skills as their primary job is to clearly advise and inform others about proper nutrition. Having critical thinking skills is also helpful because much of the nutrition and dietetics field involves research and analysis of data. An individual with these qualities who hopes to pursue a career in nutrition can explore some of the most significant steps to becoming a nutritionist, dietitian or similar professional below.

  1. Even entry level positions require a college degree, which depends on the student first completing high school or getting a GED. Time to complete: Four years

  2. With three notable degree options available, students need to decide what they hope to accomplish in the nutrition-related field. Time to complete: Varies

  3. Once a career goal has been identified, prospective students can figure out which degree is necessary. Time to complete: Varies

  4. Depending on where a student wants to work, they may need to have a clean criminal history. Time to complete: Up to three months

  5. This might include entrance exams, interviews and proof of prior work experience. Identify the requirements as soon as possible to have enough time to complete the application in a timely fashion. Time to complete: Varies

  6. Depending on the program degree level an applicant is applying for, the SAT, ACT or GRE exam may be needed for admission. Time to complete: Three to six months

  7. Higher degree level programs will require more than the lower level ones, but applicants should expect to provide academic transcripts, test scores, a resume, an essay and letters of recommendation.

  8. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, will be necessary for determining financial aid eligibility. Time to complete: Three to six months

  9. Once accepted into a program, students should start working hard to learn as much as they can and get the best grades possible, especially if they plan to continue their schooling. Time to complete: One to four years

  10. Some programs, especially at the graduate level, will have in-person coursework requirements that involve working under the supervision of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Time to complete: 100 or more hours

  11. Most state licensing boards require completion of a bachelor’s degree, obtaining a minimum number of pre-professional experience hours and passing an approved examination. Time to complete: 1,000 or more hours.

  12. Each state will have its own examination requirements concerning type of approved exam and passing score necessary for licensing. Time to complete: Three or more months

  13. Begin networking, sending out resumes and honing interview skills to find that first job. Time to complete: Varies

  14. Licensed nutritionists and dietitians have to maintain their license by staying up to date on new and developing nutrition research and training. Time to complete: Varies

  15. After several years of experience, individuals may want to obtain additional credentials, such as becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or Certified Nutrition Specialist. Time to complete: One or more years

Explore Online Degree
Programs to Become a Nutritionist

The 26 Best Programs for Online Nutrition Degrees

There are numerous online nutrition degrees available for students to choose from, but not all academic institutions and programs are created equally. Depending on a student’s personal preference, future goals, and financial and time resources, some schools will be more attractive than others. The following list of schools considers a number of factors, such as student-to-faculty ratio, cost of attendance and the type of student services available. This should it make easier for students to find the program that’s best for them.

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Methodology
  • Accredited public or private not-for-profit institution

  • At least 3 online associate degrees or certificate programs (2-year schools)

  • At least 3 online bachelor’s or master’s degrees (4-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $5,000 (2-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $25,000 (4-year schools)

Colleges receive a total score based on performance in the following categories:

  • Average in-state net price for first-time/full-time undergraduates

  • Count and breadth of online programs available

  • Student-teacher ratio

  • 6-year graduation rate (4-year schools only)

  • % of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college

  • Average $ of financial aid students receive directly from the college

  • Availability of academic/career counseling services

  • Availability of job placement services for students and graduates

  • 3-year loan default rate

  • AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*

  • *PBV is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.

Our college rankings are backed by data collected and analyzed from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a program managed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Surveying over 7,500 colleges annually, it is among the most longstanding and trusted providers of U.S. postsecondary information.

  • Most recent “Final Release” data available as of October 2017

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, MI 99.72 $8,888 3 90% 3:137%Yes Yes Yes
2 Canisius College Buffalo, NY 94.99 $33,282 1 99% 4:168%No Yes Yes
3 University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, MS 94.57 $7,224 1 74% 3:150%No Yes Yes
4 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 94.42 $10,170 1 53% 2:167%Yes Yes Yes
5 University of Bridgeport Bridgeport, CT 94.03 $28,800 1 95% 3:132%Yes Yes Yes
6 University of Saint Joseph West Hartford, CT 93.26 $34,530 1 100% 4:158%Yes Yes Yes
7 Auburn University Auburn, AL 92.73 $8,808 1 65% 3:168%No Yes Yes
8 North Carolina State University at Raleigh Raleigh, NC 92.58 $6,220 1 50% 3:171%No Yes Yes
9 Adelphi University Garden City, NY 92.54 $32,380 1 90% 4:166%Yes Yes Yes
10 University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO 92.25 $6,372 1 79% 3:145%No Yes Yes
11 Benedictine University Lisle, IL 92.18 $26,479 1 95% 3:153%Yes Yes Yes
12 Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ 92.06 $11,217 2 47% 3:179%No Yes Yes
13 University of Kansas Lawrence, KS 92.01 $9,123 1 60% 3:164%No Yes Yes
14 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE 91.68 $6,593 1 69% 2:165%No Yes Yes
15 Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI 91.37 $11,455 1 69% 2:157%Yes Yes Yes
16 Colorado State University-Fort Collins Fort Collins, CO 90.88 $8,301 1 48% 3:163%No Yes Yes
17 New York Institute of Technology Old Westbury, NY 90.84 $32,300 1 90% 3:146%Yes Yes Yes
18 University of North Florida Jacksonville, FL 90.74 $3,853 1 54% 2:148%No Yes Yes
19 East Carolina University Greenville, NC 90.73 $4,157 1 50% 3:158%No Yes Yes
20 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS 90.71 $8,517 1 65% 2:158%No Yes Yes
21 South Dakota State University Brookings, SD 90.55 $4,341 1 53% 3:156%Yes Yes Yes
22 SUNY Oneonta Oneonta, NY 90.48 $6,470 1 60% 2:167%Yes Yes Yes
23 Framingham State University Framingham, MA 90.17 $970 1 52% 3:152%Yes Yes Yes
24 Texas Woman's University Denton, TX 89.26 $4,760 1 36% 2:147%No Yes Yes
25 Indiana University of Pennsylvania Indiana, PA 87.20 $7,060 1 15% 2:150%Yes Yes Yes
26 Logan University Chesterfield, MO 86.73 $6,600 1 N/A 4:1N/ANo Yes Yes

2-Year Best College Rankings

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Barton County Community College Great Bend, KS 99.78 $2,176 3 71% 1:130%Yes Yes Yes
2 Gaston College Dallas, NC 93.61 $2,290 3 1% 2:124%Yes Yes Yes
3 Truckee Meadows Community College Reno, NV 92.07 $2,640 1 22% 2:121%Yes Yes Yes
4 Cuyahoga Community College Cleveland, OH 89.10 $3,953 2 2% 2:14%Yes Yes Yes
5 San Antonio College San Antonio, TX 86.73 $5,470 1 9% 2:17%No Yes Yes

How Do I Find Accredited Online Nutrition Programs?

Just as there are a number of factors that determine what accredited nutrition program will be best, there are many things students should consider when finding the right program for them. Besides some of the school traits discussed above, students should consider a few other characteristics when picking an online nutrition program.

Students should begin by looking at the online course format. Some programs have in-person curriculum requirements to provide ample experience for those who intend to become licensed or certified. But students needing maximum flexibility should look for an online program that offers primarily asynchronous learning. This allows students, within certain deadlines, to take a class and complete its assignments whenever and wherever possible.

It’s important for students to also look at the program resources available to each student. One specific resource students should look at is the career placement services. While students need to do their own legwork to find post-graduate employment, a good career services office can offer career counseling advice and put soon-to-be-graduating students in touch with alumni already working in nutrition positions.

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What Scholarships and Grants Are There for Nutritionists?

Schooling can be expensive, so financial aid is a necessity for most students. The most desired forms of financial aid are scholarships and grants, which do not need to be paid back. Scholarships are usually awarded based on individual merit while grants are based on financial need. Luckily for nutritionists and those in related careers, a number of scholarships and grants are available.

Students studying in a nutrition program can apply for a vast number of scholarships that are also available to other students. However, some scholarships that are intended to go to students studying in specific fields, such as nutrition. Here are resources to help find these scholarships:

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

    This organization provides a number of scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students studying nutrition, dietetics and related areas.

  • Collegescholarships.org

    One of the biggest lists of college scholarships online is available here, and it includes scholarships for dietitian students.

Because grants are generally awarded based on financial need, there will be a greater challenge finding those specifically earmarked for students enrolled in nutrition programs. However, there are still a number of grants available to students studying to become nutritionists or work in a similar profession. Below are some resources to help students find and apply for these grants, including those for research.