Online Bachelor's Programs in Nutritional Science

Rankings, Salaries & Courses

Updated on: 03/24/2020
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Individuals who want to help others meet their personal health goals and improve their well-being may consider pursuing an online bachelor's degree in nutritional science. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), entry-level positions in the field require a bachelor's degree. Dieticians and nutritionists earn a median annual salary of $60,370, and the BLS projects employment for these professions to increase 11% from 2028 to 2028, much faster than the national average for all occupations.

Top5 Best Colleges and Universities

Rank School Location
1 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ
2 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS
3 Arizona State University Scottsdale, AZ
4 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
5 Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, MI

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of nutritional science degree programs, including common courses and career prospects for graduates. This page also includes a ranking of the most affordable online nutritional science degrees, along with tips for financing your education and an interview with an industry expert.

Although earning a bachelor's degree requires a significant time commitment, online learning can make a college education more accessible for busy professionals. Many online degree programs deliver coursework asynchronously, allowing students to complete requirements at their convenience. Also, some schools offer in-state tuition rates for all online learners, regardless of residency status.

Best Online Bachelor's Programs in Nutritional Science for 2020

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Best Online Nutrition Programs

Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our 2020 college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factors

Data Sources: Eligibility Criteria:
  • Each college must be accredited
  • Each college must be a not-for-profit institution
  • Each college must be located in a state (US territories and Washington DC were excluded)
  • Each college must have at least one online program 1
Ranking Factors:
  • Affordability
  • Quality
  • Flexibility
  • Program

Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.

1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.

2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.

  • A dash in our Rankings Tool indicates IPEDS data was not available.
  • Tuition displayed in in-state and per year unless stated otherwise.
2-Year Schools

Online programs offer the same high-quality curricula as on-campus programs, and the same professors often teach both on-campus and online courses. Online learners should ensure that each prospective school holds accreditation, since many employers and graduate schools only recognize degrees from accredited institutions. The following sections explore the most affordable online bachelor's degree programs in nutritional science.

Rank Logo School Tuition # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit For Experience Placement Service Counseling Services Description & Additional Information Toggle
1 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ
$15,594 Tuition

Founded in 1885, UArizona grants degrees from its Tucson campus and through its online program. The school offers a bachelor's degree in nutritional sciences online through its nutritional sciences program. Curriculum offers an interdisciplinary focus to learning about food, nutritional therapies, and human wellness. The school's bachelor of science in nutritional sciences offers concentrations in dietetics or nutrition. In the dietetics option, learners prepare for the registered dietitian nutritionist exam. Coursework covers topics in community nutrition, medical nutrition therapy, nutrition counseling, and food service management. Online learners can also pursue an internship to gain hands-on experience. The nutrition option at UArizona lets online learners customize their degree with electives in allied health fields or food service management. Prospective UArizona students submit an online application and official transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities. The dietetics option at UArizona holds programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

2 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS
$18,002 Tuition

A public institution in Manhattan, Kansas State University dates back to 1863. At K-State, online learners can earn a bachelor's degree in nutrition and health. The program trains health nutritionists for roles in community programs. Graduates also learn to educate people on healthy dietary choices and conduct research related to nutrition and health. K-State reports a strong record for graduates pursuing graduate programs in public health or allied health fields. K-State's 120-credit online nutrition degree includes coursework in human nutrition, the science of food, and nutritional assessment. Learners also study public health nutrition and choose from electives, such as personal wellness, clinical nutrition, and administration of healthcare organizations. Prospective K-State students need a minimum 2.0 GPA to gain admission. Applicants with fewer than 24 transfer credits must provide ACT or SAT scores. The program does not meet the requirements for the registered dietician nutritionist title, but K-State also offers an online bachelor's in dietetics for students pursuing the credential. Kansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

3 Arizona State University Scottsdale, AZ
$14,166 Tuition

One of the nation's largest online colleges, ASU offers several online bachelor's degrees, including an online bachelor of science in nutrition for students pursuing careers in food production, service management, and other health and wellness careers. The program emphasizes strong communication and marketing skills in the health and nutrition field. At ASU, nutrition majors can choose a food entrepreneurship track to build their understanding of the food industry and learn to manage food. The program also trains degree-seekers in developing recipes and menus to meet nutritional needs and run food-related businesses. While the online nutrition program does not meet the guidelines to become a registered dietician or dietician nutritionist, ASU's on-campus dietetics degree offers a pathway to both credentials. Prospective students should hold a minimum 2.5 GPA for admission, or a 2.0 for Arizona residents with an associate degree. ASU offers a tuition discount for Arizona residents. Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

4 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
$20,465 Tuition

A public institution in Tuscaloosa, UA dates back to 1820. The school offers an online bachelor's degree in food and nutrition, preparing students for registered dietician careers. The program blends science with training in health education and human nutrition. The curriculum emphasizes the relationship between nutrition and human health through a flexible online format. Designed for working adults, the 120-credit online nutrition degree includes 56 credits of major coursework, including classes in dietetics, food science, and community nutrition. The program's science focus trains majors in nutritional biochemistry and nutrition at the cellular level. Graduates with a nutrition degree work in medical centers, public health settings, and community agencies. Prospective students should hold a minimum 2.0 GPA to gain admission. Applicants with more than 24 transfer credits do not need to submit standardized test scores. UA's food and nutrition program holds programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). University of Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

5 Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, MI
$15,687 Tuition

A public institution in Ypsilanti, EMU dates back to 1849. EMU offers an online bachelor's degree in dietetics for students seeking a registered dietician credential. The online program teaches students how food and nutrition affect the body, while cultivating the skills necessary for helping future patients make healthy dietary choices. At EMU, dietetics majors can complete their coursework through an online learning format. The curriculum includes coursework in nutrition therapy, food service systems management, and nutrition of the life cycle. Degree-seekers also study community nutrition and integrative medicine. Graduates pursue careers in hospitals, specialized healthcare settings, and insurance companies. Government programs also hire professionals with a dietetics degree. EMU also offers an online master's degree in human nutrition. Out-of-state students taking online courses at EMU pay in-state tuition rates. The dietetics program holds programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Eastern Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

How Much Can You Make With a Nutritional Science Degree?

Positions for graduates of nutritional science programs include dietician, agricultural and food scientist, health educator, and fitness trainer. Some careers may require the completion of specific courses or supervised clinical hours.

Dieticians, agricultural and food scientists, and health educators promote holistic change and help individuals or communities create healthy habits. According to the BLS, dieticians and nutritionists earn a median annual salary of $60,370. Agricultural and food scientists earn a median of $64,020 per year, and the median salary of health educators is $46,080 per year.

Fitness trainers and instructors earn a median annual salary of $39,820, according to the BLS. These professionals help clients improve their fitness levels and physical appearance. Instructors teach clients to use gym equipment and often lead individual and group sessions. The table below details job requirements and the projected growth rate for positions in the nutritional science field.

Job Growth (2018-2028): 11%
Job Description

Dietitians and nutritionists help patients develop healthier lifestyles. These professionals often provide nutritional counseling, assess clients' health needs, and develop meal plans. Responsibilities may include evaluating patients' food diaries and optimizing meal plans. Nutritionists may also contribute to field research by publishing articles and case studies.

Job Growth (2018-2028): 7%
Job Description

These scientists specialize in improving agricultural products. Primarily, they work to improve food safety. These professionals may also focus on sustainability or the development of new food products or processing methods. The responsibilities of a food scientist may include tasks such as researching the effect of soil or plant composition on a crop. These scientists may travel between worksites to oversee production.

Job Growth (2018-2028): 11%
Job Description

Health educators work to improve the health of individuals and communities by providing education and access to resources. Health educators often develop and implement strategic programs to educate certain populations about healthy choices. These professionals also advocate for better community health resources.

Job Growth (2018-2028): 13%
Job Description

Fitness trainers and instructors help individuals of all ages and skill levels improve their cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility. A trainer may work in a fitness club or at a studio, leading classes or working with clients individually. A degree in nutritional science may lead to specialized career paths for trainers.

Sources: BLS

Find the Best Online Nutritional Science Program for You

Because of the large number of online programs in the field, researching options may seem daunting. This section explores important considerations for learners searching for the best and most affordable online degree for their needs. Prospective students should understand each school's course requirements and available specialties to choose a program that fits their career goals. Learners should also ensure that each school they consider holds accreditation.

Common Courses in an Online Nutritional Science Degree

The specific curriculum varies by online nutritional science degree program. However, most programs in the field feature some similar coursework. Learners gain comprehensive knowledge of core subject areas to prepare for careers in nutritional science. The courses below are common to many programs in the field.

Nutrition in the Life Cycle

This course examines the basic principles of nutrition as it relates to a human's life cycle. Topics include prenatal nutrition and how nutrition impacts the various life stages from infancy through adulthood. Coursework typically explores how an aging body and slowing metabolism impacts a person's health, along with methods for using nutrition to combat health issues.

Nutrition at the Cellular Level

Learners in this course explore the relationships among biology, physiology, genetics, and nutrition. Students develop an understanding of how nutrition impacts the body at the cellular level. Students learn to develop plans addressing specific health issues, which help patients attain health goals or combat the symptoms of illnesses.

History of Human Nutrition

This course provides a broad overview of human nutrition over time. The curriculum explores the evolution of the human diet and how technology and lifestyles impact nutritional changes over time. Students develop an understanding of how various needs dictate the diets of unique populations.

Food and Health: Safety, Allergies, and Intolerances

Learners in this class explore the basic principles of food health safety practices and policies. Students learn to identify the symptoms of food allergies and intolerances. Students prepare to diagnose and train patients to deal with food allergies and sensitivities so they can avoid life-threatening situations.

Clinical Nutrition

Students learn the basic principles of diagnosing patients and creating nutritional plans. Coursework explores medical terminology, eating disorders, and enteral and parenteral nutrition. This course may be a prerequisite to a lab course or a supervised clinical experience.

Specialties and Fields of Study in Nutritional Science

Online bachelor's in nutritional science programs help learners gain foundational knowledge of key concepts related to nutrition, the human body, and clinical practices. Graduates often pursue positions as sports nutritionists, clinical dieticians, corporate wellness consultants, oncology nutritionists, public health nutritionists, and nutrition educators.

As you research programs, consider career goals that align with your passions and natural strengths. For example, learners who prefer working with organizations and promoting healthy habits within communities may become corporate wellness consultants or public health nutritionists. However, those who prefer working individually with patients may pursue roles as sports nutritionists or clinical dieticians.

Some online nutritional science degree programs offer concentration areas. Students can narrow down their options by looking for programs with concentrations that align with their professional ambitions. Also, professionals in some specializations need certification. Learners planning to study these areas should choose a program that meets certification requirements.

Before choosing a school, learners should review each program's requirements and course offerings. Students should select a program that offers courses that are relevant to their interests and goals.

Attending Online vs. On Campus

When selecting a bachelor's degree in nutritional science, learners should consider their career goals, degree costs, and program format. Many schools offer both on-campus and affordable online degree programs.

Online and on-campus programs typically follow the same curriculum and are taught by the same professors. However, only programs are often more convenient and affordable. Many online programs deliver coursework asynchronously, so students do not need to log in at set times. Distance learners typically save money on transportation and housing. Additionally, some schools charge all online learners in-state tuition rates or low flat fees.

Prospective distance learners should understand how online programs work. Schools may deliver online coursework in an asynchronous or synchronous format. Asynchronous programs offer the most flexibility, allowing students to access course materials and complete assignments at their convenience. Although learners in synchronous classes must log in at set times, they still enjoy the flexibility to study from any location.

Some online nutritional science degree programs require students to complete an internship in person, generally at an approved facility in their community. Prospective students should verify all program requirements before enrolling.


Accreditation demonstrates that an institution meets stringent academic requirements set by a governing body. To earn accreditation, schools submit voluntarily to an evaluation process and undergo periodic review. The two main types of institutional accreditation in the U.S. are regional and national accreditation, with regional being the most prestigious. Individual programs can earn field-specific accreditation.

Many employers and graduate programs only recognize degrees earned from accredited institutions. The following sections explore various types of accreditation for online bachelor's degree programs in nutritional science.

School Accreditation

Learners researching program options should understand the difference between regional and national accreditation. Six regional accrediting agencies evaluate U.S. institutions, based on geographic location. For example, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education accredits schools in the mid-Atlantic region.

Career and religious schools often receive national accreditation. Considered more prestigious, regional accreditation often leads to more financial aid, graduate school, and employment opportunities. Additionally, credits earned from nationally accredited schools do not typically transfer to regionally accredited institutions.

Students should also consider their career goals when evaluating the accreditation status of a school or program. A degree from an accredited school may be necessary to qualify for certification or graduate studies necessary to pursue a certain career.

Program Accreditation

In addition to institutional accreditation, students can look for programmatic accreditation. The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) awards accreditation to degree programs in nutritional science. ACEND works to promote excellence in the field of nutrition and dietetics by evaluating programs for academic quality. ACEND-accredited programs undergo review every seven years.

Subject-specific accreditation shows that the program's curriculum meets industry standards. Although a degree from an ACEND-accredited program is not a requirement to obtain employment in the field, it may provide a competitive advantage in the job market. The Council for Higher Education oversees U.S. accrediting agencies and maintains a listing of all ACEND-accredited programs.

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Nutritional Science

Even learners attending the most affordable online colleges typically need assistance funding their education. When determining how to afford college, students can consider grants and scholarships.

Grants and scholarships are ideal forms of funding, since they do not require repayment. Learners typically qualify for grants by demonstrating financial need, while most scholarships are awarded based on merit.

Students can apply for scholarships from their state government, their institution, and private organizations. The College Learning and Resource Center provides information about scholarships available to learners from various backgrounds. The scholarships below are available to students pursuing a nutritional science degree.

Amaze Yourself 2020 Scholarship

This scholarship from Landau awards up to $2,500 to students pursuing a degree in healthcare or science. Applicants must submit a brief video detailing their career goals, their life experiences, and how the scholarship can help them achieve their dreams.

CGCS-Bernard Harris Scholarship

The Council of the Great City Schools awards this scholarship to four minority students each year. Recipients can apply the $5,000 scholarship toward a college degree in science, technology, engineering, or math. Candidates must be African American or Hispanic and must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit proof of academic achievements in high school and leadership skills or community service in a STEM field.

EmPOWERED to Serve Scholarship

The American Heart Association awards $10,000 to 10 undergraduate students each year. The scholarship supports learners who demonstrate a commitment to community health and wellness. Applicants must be pursuing a degree in an eligible subject, such as public health, dietetics, public affairs, or political science. Applicants must submit information about their volunteer work or fundraising efforts.

The Brown Medical and Educational Foundation Healthcare Scholarship

This $1,000 scholarship supports undergraduate and graduate students who identify as African American, Native American, Hispanic, or Asian. Applicants must have a minimum 2.5 GPA and must submit a three-page essay, official transcripts, and three letters of recommendation.

The Vegetarian Resource Group College Scholarship

The Vegetarian Resource Group awards two $5,000 scholarships and one $10,000 scholarship each year to graduating high school students. Applicants must prove that they have worked to promote vegetarianism in their school or community. Applicants must submit an essay detailing their commitment to vegetarianism, along with transcripts and at least three recommendations.

After Graduation: Options for Nutritional Science Graduates

Individuals with a bachelor's degree in nutritional science can pursue a variety of entry-level positions in the field. Graduates can also enroll in a graduate program or earn certification or licensure.

While many positions in nutritional science go to bachelor's degree-holders, earning a graduate degree can lead to career advancement opportunities or higher earning potential. The following section details the steps graduates can take to pursue further education or credentials.

Advancing Your Nutritional Science Degree

After earning a bachelor's degree in nutritional science, graduates can apply to master's programs. Earning a graduate degree can lead to higher earning potential. According to data from the BLS, master's degree-holders earn a median salary of $1,401 per week, compared to a median of $1,173 per week for bachelor's degree-holders.

Additionally, professionals with higher levels of education typically enjoy lower unemployment rates. According to the BLS, the unemployment rate for workers with a master's degree is 2.2%, while the unemployment rate for bachelor's degree-holders is 2.5%.

A master's degree in nutritional science typically requires 30-40 credits, which most full-time students complete in two years. Curricula vary by school, but programs in the field often include coursework in advanced nutrition and metabolism, medical nutrition therapy, food and society, and nutrition in practice. Students develop an in-depth understanding of the latest industry research, policies, and practices.

Some master's degree programs in nutritional science offer concentration options in areas such as nutrition dietetics, community nutrition, and clinical nutrition. Selecting a concentration allows students to tailor their education to their specific career goals.

Some graduate programs in the field require students to obtain a license before enrolling. Most master's programs include a capstone requirement, which may involve presenting an original research project, grant proposal, or nutritional program.

Applicants to master's in nutritional science programs must typically possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additional application materials often include letters of recommendation, a resume, official transcripts, and a statement of purpose.

Certifications and Licensure

Some positions in the nutritional science field require certification or licensure. Learners should understand the specific requirements for their career goals. To earn the registered dietician nutritionist credential, candidates must pass the national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. To qualify to sit for the exam, candidates must have completed a bachelor's program and an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program.

The Clinical Nutrition Certification Board confers the certified clinical nutritionist credential, another common certification for professionals in the field. Candidates must submit a credential review application to the board, complete four required online courses, and pass an examination.

Some states require practicing nutritional science professionals to hold a specific certification. Learners should research the requirements in their state to ensure that they qualify for the necessary credentials.

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