Best Online Bachelor's in Nutrition 2021

Best Online Bachelor's in Nutrition 2021

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Bachelor's degrees in nutritional science give students the skills and knowledge they need to help individuals and communities improve their health through nutritional choices.

Combining studies in food science, medicine, and mental health, these comprehensive programs qualify learners to take on a variety of roles. Graduates can pursue jobs as nutritionists, agricultural and food scientists, fitness trainers and instructors, and health educators. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects these roles to grow 7-11% between 2018 and 2028. These jobs offer median annual salaries ranging from $39,820 for fitness trainers to $64,020 for agricultural and food scientists.

Top 5 Online Bachelor's Degrees in Nutrition

#155399 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS
#100751 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
#483124 Arizona State University Tempe, AZ
#104179 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ
#169798 Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, MI

What Is Nutrition Science?

Nutrition science examines nutrition processes, the various chemical compounds found in foods, and how components like protein, energy, and vitamins affect human health and disease. Learners in a bachelor's in nutrition science program study multidisciplinary topics related to social and life sciences, including behavioral psychology, mental health, and physiology.

What Is a Bachelor's in Nutrition Science Degree?

Prospective nutrition science students can choose between an associate or a bachelor's program in nutrition science. While an associate degree qualifies graduates for some entry-level support roles, it does not qualify graduates for industry credentials. Graduates with a bachelor's degree qualify for more roles as well as industry licenses and certifications.

Bachelor's students can often specialize in specific areas of nutrition science to prepare for niche roles working in nutrition and fitness, nutrition and food safety, nutrition management, or agricultural food science.

Choosing an Online Nutrition Degree Program

Prospective students should consider several factors before selecting an online nutritionist degree, such as a program's cost, size, and type. Typically, in-state public schools cost less than private schools and out-of-state public schools. However, some programs allow all online students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of residency.

Prospective students should consider several factors before selecting an online nutritionist degree, such as a program's cost, size, and type.

Additionally, students should consider the size of a school and program. Some students may prefer the more individualized attention a smaller school provides, while learners looking to specialize in an area of nutrition science may prefer the larger variety of specializations and programs that bigger schools often offer.

Distance learners should also research whether a program is fully online or has some on-campus requirements. Students who don't live near their prospective schools should ensure that they can meet all on-campus requirements.

Accreditation for Online Nutrition Degree Programs

Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to faculty qualifications, student learning outcomes, and academic rigor. Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For instance, only students attending an accredited program qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept and recognize credits and degrees from regionally accredited institutions. Additionally, many employers prefer to hire candidates with accredited degrees.

Students can verify a school's accreditation status through the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Schools may receive regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Students can verify a school's accreditation status through the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Programs within a school may also receive accreditation. Nutrition science degree programs may receive accreditation through the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. Students may need to hold a degree from an accredited program to qualify for licensure or certification.

Nutritional Sciences Concentrations

Some nutritional science programs offer concentrations that allow students to tailor the degree to their interests and goals. We cover several common concentrations and their associated career paths below.

Dietetics and Nutrition

In this concentration, students learn how to adjust and manage diets to improve individual and community health. Students gain critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they pertain to clinical and community nutrition.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Registered dietitian, registered dietitian nutritionist, food scientist

Food Management

This online nutrition degree concentration emphasizes the principles of food preparation, nutrition, and management to prepare students for supervisory roles in schools, hospitals, and food agencies. The concentration combines scientific and business studies, offering courses in chemistry, accounting, and labor relations.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Food service administrator, director of food and service

Food Safety and Nutrition

This concentration includes courses in food science, nutrition, and microbiology. Learners study topics like sensory evaluation, microbial biology, fermentation science, and food safety with regard to production, processing, marketing, preparation, and consumption.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Food safety specialist, food safety/QA manager

Applied Nutrition

This concentration focuses on the regulation of food and dietary supplements and how to apply scientific findings to food production, healthy eating practices, and diverse population management. Students also learn how to apply nutritional principles and alternative practices to nutrition.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Holistic nutritionist, nutritional counselor, nutritional manager

Nutrition and Fitness

This concentration examines nutrition and exercise science. Students learn how to apply nutrition and physical fitness theories and practices to improve health. Courses include kinesiology, physiology of exercise, human anatomy, and sports nutrition.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Sports nutritionist, health and wellness director

Curriculum for an Online Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition

Online bachelor's in nutrition degrees include general education, elective, and major coursework. Learners typically take foundational classes in biology, chemistry, and physics before delving into nutrition-specific courses. Curricula vary by program, but the following list highlights several common courses found in nutrition science programs.

  • Aging and Nutrition: This course examines the nutrition needs of the aging population. Learners study how physiological changes affect nutrition across the lifespan and learn about common community programs that serve older adults' nutritional needs. Learners may use case studies to understand how the dietary needs of this population differ from other life stages.
  • Principles of Foods: This foundational course introduces students to the tenets of food safety, preservation, and composition. Learners study common food systems, microbiological and biotechnological considerations in food systems, and food deterioration. The course emphasizes common methods of food preservation, including dehydration, heating and freezing, and pressurization.
  • Fundamental Microbiology: This course examines how microorganisms affect food processing and preservation methods. Learners examine how improper relationships between microorganisms and food can lead to issues around food quality, foodborne illnesses, and fermentation. Students also learn about common ways to control harmful microorganisms. Other course topics include gram-positive and gram-negative organisms, infections caused by non-living forms, natural origin food preservatives, and probiotics.
  • Human Nutrition: This course reviews how protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals contribute to health and disease. Learners study common dietary sources, reasonable intake levels, and major nutrient requirements. They also learn how specific nutrients contribute to health across the lifespan and how key nutrients can prevent chronic illnesses.
  • Nutrition Research: This survey course covers common nutrition research terms and methodologies. Learners study outcome-based, quantitative, and qualitative study design; appropriate uses for research findings; and common methods of disseminating findings. Students also review well-respected nutritional research and identify key factors that help those pieces stand out. Most of these courses require learners to submit a research project.

Nutritionist Degree Jobs

Graduates with an online nutrition degree can pursue diverse roles, depending on their interests and goals. Some graduates may want to work in an office setting, providing one-on-one or group counseling, while others may feel drawn to field-based roles, analyzing products for food safety. The following list outlines several common jobs for graduates with a nutrition science degree.

Nutritionist

Median Salary: $60,370 Projected Job Growth: 11%


Commonly known as certified nutritionists or certified nutrition consultants, these professionals can complete a nutrition certification program rather than a full degree to qualify for the profession. Many nutritionists work as freelancers, providing nutrition and wellness consultations for clients.

Nutritionists can provide guidance on diet choices, help clients address issues around weight loss, and support individuals adhering to specific diets based on their needs, such as diets for individuals with high blood pressure or celiac disease.

Dietitian

Median Salary: $60,370 Projected Job Growth: 11%


Often known as registered dieticians or registered dietitian nutritionists, these professionals take on more medically focused roles than nutritionists. They work with individuals experiencing illnesses affected by nutrition, like diabetes or heart disease, and create specialized meal plans that cater to individual needs.

Some dieticians conduct research on how nutrients affect human health and give presentations on their findings. Others may incorporate guidelines around fitness and exercise to create a holistic plan for better health. These professionals need a bachelor's degree and a license to practice.

Food Scientist

Median Salary: $64,020 Projected Job Growth: 7%


Food scientists work for food manufacturers, research groups, and government agencies to ensure food production meets safety and efficiency standards. They may look for new ways to improve and stabilize the sustainability of certain crops or find safer and healthier ways to produce existing foods.

Some food scientists test new and existing products to ensure they meet safety regulations. Food scientists must stay updated on crop diseases and harmful additives that can affect the nutritional benefits of food and crops.

Environmental Scientist

Median Salary: $71,130 Projected Job Growth: 8%


Environmental scientists study and apply the natural sciences to improve human health and natural environments by identifying materials in the environment that can cause harm. They may collect soil and water samples to identify, prevent, or repair issues affecting crops or analyze existing samples to identify harmful ingredients.

While many environmental scientists spend much of their time in a laboratory, they also go out in the field to collect data and learn about emerging and existing concerns.

Health Educator

Median Salary: $55,420 Projected Job Growth: 11%


Health educators work in clinical and community settings, teaching people how to take better care of their bodies. They may develop training materials, lead community workshops, supervise staff, or develop and monitor program budgets.

Some health educators work in advocacy roles, where they bring awareness and understanding about health-related struggles affecting certain communities.

Nutrition Journalist

Median Salary: $57,530 Projected Job Growth: 4%


Nutrition journalists publish news and opinion pieces on nutrition. They may work as freelancers or for a single publication, such as a magazine, newspaper, or blog. They identify and pitch timely nutrition topics, research information, and draft and edit articles.

Nutrition journalists may also work with social media professionals to publicize new articles and content managers to develop new ideas for pieces.

Nutrition Science Membership Associations

Nutrition science students and professionals can take advantage of professional organizations to support their studies and advance their careers. The following professional organizations offer benefits like networking, professional development, and financial aid opportunities.

  • American College of Nutrition Established in 1959, ACN works to advance the field of nutrition science and better prevent and treat diseases. Membership includes clinicians, students, and researchers. Members have access to publishing opportunities, award eligibility, and professional discounts.
  • Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior SNEB represents the interests of nutrition educators worldwide through research, policy, and practice. The organization promotes effective nutrition education and better health outcomes. Members have access to public policy updates and networking, professional development, and continuing education opportunities.
  • National Association for Nutrition Professionals Founded in 1985, NANP is a professional business league that represents the holistic nutrition industry. It offers education standards for nutritional consultants and natural chefs. Members have access to a member directory, career center, certifications, and professional discounts.
  • American Society for Nutrition ASN was formed in 2005 from the merger of three organizations: the American Society for Nutritional Sciences, the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, and the Society for International Nutrition. Today, the society aims to foster and enhance nutrition-related research for humans and animals.
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Founded in 1917 to help the U.S. government conserve food and improve public health and nutrition during WWI, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics serves more than 100,000 members in the food and nutrition industry. The organization works to advance the profession through research, education, and advocacy.

Best Online Bachelor's in Nutrition Programs

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104179

University of Arizona 

Tucson, AZ Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1885, UArizona online offers students a competitive education without stepping onto campus.

The school offers an online bachelor of science in nutritional sciences. Students choose the dietetics or nutrition track and take courses in science and best practices for health. Dietetic-track students take courses such as lifecycle nutrition. Nutrition-track students choose options like sports nutrition.

Applicants do not need to submit standardized tests but must possess a minimum 3.0 GPA to qualify for admission.

Graduation Rate
64%
Percent Receiving Loans
37%
Online Enrollment
39%
169798

Eastern Michigan University 

Ypsilanti, MI Apply Now

About this school

EMU offers an online bachelor of science in dietetics and human nutrition. The program helps students build meaningful careers in nutrition or continue on to further research.

Students finish 120 credits solely online, taking courses such as nutrition therapy, community nutrition, and food services systems management. The degree can also lead to an additional online master's degree for motivated students.

Students must complete the application and send relevant academic transcripts to apply.

Graduation Rate
45%
Percent Receiving Loans
64%
Online Enrollment
34%
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End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology
Best Online Programs

Online Bachelor's in Nutrition Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can I Do With a Nutrition Science Degree?

Graduates with a nutrition degree qualify for a variety of jobs focused on nutrition, healthy living, fitness, and health education.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Nutritionist Degree?

A bachelor's degree typically takes four years of full-time study to complete.

What Is a BS in Nutrition Science?

A bachelor of science in nutrition includes general education, elective, and major-specific courses.

What Type of Science Is Nutrition?

Nutrition programs incorporate interdisciplinary studies in the social sciences, biology, and chemistry.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Nutritionist?

In addition to a bachelor's degree, some states require nutritionists to hold a license. Dieticians in all states need a license to practice.

Header Image Credit: SDI Productions | Getty Images

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