Online Nutrition Degree Colleges

Written by Chris Lombardo

Earning a nutrition or nutritional science degree appeals to many students who want to use their careers to promote public health and improve lives. Because entry-level nutritionist roles require only a bachelor's degree in nutrition, these programs are also popular with students who want a well-paid job without spending additional years in school.

On this page, prospective students can learn more about what a nutrition program includes, common academic paths for entering the field, and available jobs for graduates. You can also get answers to some of their most common questions regarding the field of nutrition. Keep reading to figure out whether a nutrition degree meets your academic and professional goals and needs.

Best Nutrition colleges in the U.S. for 2023

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has a few master’s programs that allow working adults the option to get a degree in nutrition online. This can allow parents and young professionals the chance to further their knowledge of nutrition and dietetics and pursue competitive roles after graduation. Graduates often receive post-graduation job placement assistance to further their chances of landing a job.

Iowa State University offers online nutrition degrees that prepare students to take the necessary licensure tests depending on their state. While program length may vary, students can enroll in courses like sports nutrition and kinesiology.

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The University of Nebraska Lincoln offers online nutrition and dietetics programs that provide virtual learning opportunities for high school graduates and working professionals. Students can explore how to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom in real-world roles as a registered dietitian or nutritionist. Programs prepare graduates to work in clinical settings, with the elderly, and in educational settings.

Montclair State University provides online options for those interested in pursuing a degree in nutrition and offers classes both in real-time and asynchronously. Online coursework provides added flexibility for working adults and can be an option for those looking for a career change without sacrificing their current income. Montclair offers a Master’s in Nutrition as well as a Graduate Certificate in Nutrition.

North Carolina State University at Raleigh offers 3 Nutrition degree programs. It's a very large, public, four-year university in a large city. In 2020, 115 Nutrition students graduated with students earning 95 Bachelor's degrees, 17 Master's degrees, and 3 Doctoral degrees.

California State University Los Angeles has programs for working professionals that provide an opportunity to pursue master’s level programs online. Students looking to increase their academic exposure and foundational knowledge of the nutrition sector can take advantage of smaller class sizes, time with professors, and research opportunities.

University of California Davis provides academic research opportunities for working adults looking to further their knowledge about nutrition and dietetic sciences. These courses allow prospective students to prioritize their education with the added flexibility of learning on their own time. With many options for online students interested in working as a registered dietitian or nutritionist, applying to a master’s proram at UC Davis could be the beginning of a promising career.

Texas Women’s University has online degree programs available for students interested in pursuing professional roles as a registered dietitian or nutritionist. These programs include classes like healthcare administration and early childhood nutrition.

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Florida International has a few online nutrition and dietitian programs that gives working professionals the ability to get a master’s degree on their own schedule. Students can graduate and enter the workforce in a variety of sectors, and can choose to work in clinical settings, schools and universities, or have a private practice.

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities offers 4 Nutrition degree programs. It's a very large, public, four-year university in a large city. In 2020, 95 Nutrition students graduated with students earning 80 Bachelor's degrees, 12 Master's degrees, and 3 Doctoral degrees.

What is Nutrition?

Nutrition is a key aspect of human health that impacts physical and mental fitness for people of all ages. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nutrition plays a vital role in both human development and continued health over time. Individuals with access to healthy food and beverages are shown to have more robust immune systems, lesser chances of getting non-communicable diseases, and longer lives. Not only that, individuals who eat nutritious foods have also been shown to be more productive, have better learning capacity, and are much more likely to break out of poverty and/or food scarcity. 

Children rely on nutrition to get key vitamins and minerals necessary for growth, and many adults require specific nutritional instruction that can change their diets and caloric intake. Those who maintain a healthy diet typically exhibit higher energy levels and benefit from longer, more active lifestyles. Mental health is directly tied to the food we eat, so it is no surprise that intellectual performance can be impacted by nutrition.

In addition to actual nutrients, the study of nutrition also encompasses the behavioral and social factors of community health related to the foods we choose to eat. To keep at a healthy weight and limit risk of disease, humans need a balanced blend of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats along with vitamins and minerals – but doing so is not always easy. Nutrition looks at the reasons some foods attract more than others and how to combat urges to live healthier lives.

Geography and financial stability often impact nutrition, and many nutrition programs examine these factors on a global scale. Abiding by the modern nutritional pyramid of needs involves consuming foods including carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, as well as products that contain the necessary vitamins and electrolytes needed to sustain life.

Nutrition Degree Overview

For those who are looking to further their knowledge of how food impacts human health and wellness, a degree in nutrition can provide a stepping stone toward this popular career. Most students apply to bachelor’s programs that provide the foundational skills needed to enter the workforce after graduation. 

This page will explore the unique characteristics of online nutrition degrees including majors, additional certification and licensure, and highlights of programs from multiple schools in the United States.

Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition

Degrees in nutrition are offered at the associate level all the way to the doctorate level, and depending on how much academic experience you’re interested in attaining before entering the workforce, there are a range of options to choose from.

Many high school graduates apply to online bachelor’s programs that typically take four years to complete. These programs prepare students to take the required licensure tests and enter the workplace as a dietitian. Courses in a typical nutrition program focus on human metabolism, chemistry, and healthy diets. While programs may vary, students should expect to complete approximately 120 credits and four years of full-time study. Students cover topics such as food science, statistical methods in nutrition, life cycle and community nutrition, and nutrition issues in physical activity. Aside from general education and core coursework, degree requirements usually include a semester-long internship to gain real-world skills prior to graduating. 

Individuals who complete the requirements associated with a bachelor's degree in nutrition can then apply for licensure or certification, or register with their state to start practicing as a registered dietitian.

Master's Degree in Nutrition

Those who seek senior-level positions after graduation may pursue online master’s programs that provide additional scholastic opportunities to collaborate with professors and further your understanding of nutrition and its application in the real world. 

Given the rigorous nature of a master’s program, students pursuing an online degree should be well-versed in virtual meetings and online workflows. Master’s programs can last from one to two years and typically require 30-45 credits, depending on whether students enroll on a part-time or full-time basis. These advanced degrees build on the foundational topics covered in bachelor's degrees and emphasize studies in areas such as nutritional biochemistry, wellness and healthy weight, health care, and medical nutrition therapy. Most programs conclude with a capstone project that allows learners to take all that they learned and apply it within a culminating assignment.

Some schools also offer concentrations in areas such as clinical nutrition, nutrition and human performance, and nutrition and policy for learners looking to focus their knowledge in a particular area of the discipline. Prospective students can anticipate holding research roles in their respective departments and collaborating with faculty members.


Doctoral Degree in Nutrition

Online doctoral programs in the field of nutrition can take up to five or six years to complete and often require high-level research that culminates in the defense of a thesis. Many doctorate candidates pursue roles in academia or private industry research. Nutrition remains a critical aspect of global health and provides ample job opportunities for those entering the field.

Certification and Licensure in Nutrition

Many entry-level roles in the field of nutrition require applicants to be licensed in their home state or have relevant certifications. Some common certifications that can be found online include CNS or Certified Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Nutritionist Coach, and FM Fitness Nutrition Specialist. Holding a certification may be mandated in the state where you practice nutrition, so it’s essential to understand the local requirements before applying to full-time jobs.

What Can I Do with a Degree in Nutrition?

Graduates with a degree in nutrition can pursue roles in healthcare, education, or research. Many students become dietitians, hold roles at hospitals, and work with athletes to ensure they are performing at their peak fitness potential. Graduates looking to work with children and newborns can seek roles at pediatric clinics to ensure their patients meet their nutritional goals and milestones.

Those who decide to pursue an online nutrition degree play pivotal roles in helping individuals and communities learn how to properly care for themselves and their families while also helping increase access to nutritious foods. Graduates of a nutritional science degree can pursue a career as a registered dietitian or nutritionist, or find employment in fields like public health or healthcare.

Dieticians and nutritionists need a bachelor's degree, with most states also requiring licensure, certification, or state registration. These professionals work with clients to assess their nutritional needs, develop meal plans, and educate individuals on healthy lifestyle choices. In 2020, they received annual median wages of $63,090. Registered dietitian nutritionists must hold a bachelor of science in nutrition from an ACEND accredited institution.

Social and community service managers also need a bachelor's degree and commonly work in nonprofit or governmental settings. Those with an interest in nutrition may develop community programming that teaches communities how to make healthier food choices and understand more about the foods they eat. These professionals earned median annual wages of $69,600 as of 2020.

Earning an Online Nutrition Degree

There are many options for students interested in enrolling in an online degree program in the field of nutrition. Varying formats including real-time and asynchronous lectures can provide flexibility for those working full-time or just graduating from high school. Pursuing an online program can also offer students more choices than what is offered locally, and the chance to specialize in a particular aspect of nutrition like dietary restrictions or eating disorders.

Nutrition FAQ

  • Is a Nutrition degree worth it?

    • A nutrition degree is certainly worth it for students who want to help others live healthier, longer lives by making good food decisions. These programs teach students about topics such as nutritional physiology, food production and service, nutritional aspects of disease, and community nutrition, among other important subjects.
  • What can a nutrition degree do?

    • Anyone hoping to work as a nutritionist or dietician must complete at minimum a bachelor's degree in nutrition or dietetics. These programs provide the foundational and advanced knowledge needed to work with clients, develop educational programs, consult with food production companies, and fulfill many other important roles.
  • What is the best nutrition degree to get?

    • The best nutrition degree to obtain is one that matches with students' academic, professional, and financial needs. Learners should also look for programs accredited through the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, as this demonstrates to prospective employers that they completed a well-regarded plan of study.
  • What do nutritionists do?

    • Nutrition is all about what we eat and what we need to lead a healthy lifestyle. Nutritionists and dietitians work with patients to guide their food choices and influence how they structure their meals and snacks on a daily basis.
  • Is nutrition hard to study?

    • The answer to this question will vary from student to student, as each has different perceptions about the level of difficulty when studying. That said, nutrition degrees do include a fair amount of science-based courses, so learners should be prepared to take courses focused on physiological, biological, chemical, and cellular topics in nutrition.
  • What is poor nutrition?

    • Poor nutrition can lead to high rates of mortality and can cause debilitating health conditions like obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Overconsumption can be just as unhealthy as not eating the right foods.
  • What organizations support nutrition?

    • The USDA provides publicly accessible educational materials for those interested in nutrition. Many schools and public services rely on the USDA’s guidance to inform their meal plans, which in turn educates young people about the importance of a healthy diet.

Expert Testimonials

Jesse Feder is a Certified Personal Trainer and Registered Dietitian with StrengthWarehouse USA .

What does a nutritionist do?

A nutritionist works with an individual or group of people to help them achieve their health goals through their diet.

What's the difference between a dietician and a nutritionist?

A dietitian is someone who has gotten a minimum of a bachelor's degree in nutrition/dietetics and has gone through intense training through an accredited internship program. They then take a board exam to become certified. They can also apply to be licensed by their state. A dietitian is trained to treat people with medical issues such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and much more, through what they eat. A nutritionist does not need to have a degree or a certification. They are not regulated and technically anyone can claim to be a nutritionist. Most states require you to have a dietitians license to legally be able to practice and provide nutrition consulting. 

How do I start a career in nutrition?

In order to start a career as a dietitian, make sure to first complete a dietetics or nutrition degree, either at the bachelor's or master's level. If you would like to become a nutritionist, check with your state to make sure you do not need a license to provide nutritional consulting. Then, obtain a nutrition-related degree or certification.

List of all Nutrition colleges in the U.S.

School Average Tuition Student Teacher Ratio Enrolled Students
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Logo Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA
18 : 1 37,024
Iowa State University Logo Iowa State University Ames, IA
21 : 1 31,822
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Logo University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE
19 : 1 25,108
Montclair State University Logo Montclair State University Montclair, NJ
34 : 1 21,005
North Carolina State University at Raleigh Logo North Carolina State University at Raleigh Raleigh, NC
20 : 1 36,042