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.
|#1||University of Arizona||Tucson, AZ|
|#2||The University of Alabama||Tuscaloosa, AL|
|#3||Kansas State University||Manhattan, KS|
|#4||Eastern Michigan University||Ypsilanti, MI|
|#5||Arizona State University-Skysong||Scottsdale, AZ|
Table of Contents
This guide ranks the best online bachelor's in nutritional science degree programs to help students find the right programs for their needs. We also cover important information such as common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.
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.
Best Online Bachelor's in Nutrition Science Programs
University of Arizona
About this school
A public research institution founded in 1885, the University of Arizona emphasizes entrepreneurial partnerships and interdisciplinary research.
UArizona's online BS in nutritional sciences explores nutritional therapies, food, and wellness from an interdisciplinary perspective. The curriculum includes courses like diet, genes, and disease; foundations in medical nutrition therapy; and experiential learning in the nutritional sciences. Graduates qualify for nutrition science careers or graduate programs in dietetics, pharmacy, nursing, and other medical fields.
The online nutrition degree offers two emphases: dietetics and nutrition. Both concentrations include courses in science foundations and a variety of nutrition-focused topics.
The dietetics track prepares students to become registered dietician nutritionists (RDNs). The curriculum explores issues like community health, disease prevention, and the food industry. Dietetics students qualify for accredited dietetic internships, which are necessary to become an RDN. UArizona also offers a nationally accredited, competitive, didactic program in dietetics that students can apply to after earning the nutritionist degree.
Students who select the nutrition emphasis have a broader curriculum, with the opportunity to personalize the degree by focusing on math, science, or food service courses. The nutrition emphasis prepares students for careers in the health or food industries or graduate study. The nutrition option does not meet requirements for a dietetic internship.
Application requirements include a completed online application, an application fee, and official transcripts from all previously attended postsecondary institutions. Admitted students may qualify for financial aid, including federal and state grants and loans, scholarships, payment plans, and reduced military tuition assistance.
The University of Alabama
About this school
The state's flagship university, the University of Alabama opened in 1831 as the first public college in Alabama. The school's Bama By Distance initiative offers online programs for undergraduate and graduate students. Designed for working adults, the completely online BS in food and nutrition prepares students to educate others about the role of nutrition in human health.
Students interested in becoming a registered dietitian must apply to the didactic program in dietetics after completing 60 undergraduate credits. The 120-credit degree includes 56 major, 20 science, and 44 general education credits. Food and nutrition majors take online nutrition courses, including nutrition at the cellular level, introduction to food service management, and medical nutrition therapy. The nutritionist degree leads to careers in food service management, health care facilities, and community health programs.
The program accepts applications year-round and charges the same tuition rate for all distance learners. Admissions requirements include a high school diploma with a minimum 2.0 GPA. The program also requires ACT or SAT scores. Applicants with 24 or more college credits apply as transfer students and must hold minimum 2.0 GPAs. Transfer students must submit official transcripts from all previously attended universities.
Kansas State University
About this school
The first public, postsecondary institution in Kansas, Kansas State University has offered distance education for working professionals for more than 50 years. K-State's global campus offers dozens of undergraduate and graduate online programs annually.
The university's affordable, online bachelor's degree in nutrition and health emphasizes chronic disease prevention, health promotion, and human nutrition. The program prepares students for a variety of nutrition-related health care careers working in community wellness programs, city health departments, and the food industry. The nutrition program also prepares students to apply to selective, accredited healthcare programs to become physician assistants, nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists.
The 120-credit, online nutrition degree includes general education, professional studies, and elective requirements. The curriculum includes online nutrition courses like nutritional assessment, public health nutrition, research methods, and scientific communication in health sciences. Students can also personalize their degrees by adding courses in allergies, personal wellness, or nutrition for athletes.
All K-State distance learners pursuing the nutrition and health bachelor's pay the same per-credit rate regardless of residency. Admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED. Applicants 21 or younger must earn a 21 on the ACT or a 1060 on the SAT, or rank in the top third of their graduating high school class. Admitted students can begin the program in fall, spring, or summer.
Eastern Michigan University
About this school
Founded in 1849, Eastern Michigan University offers more than 200 undergraduate and 150 graduate programs, many available completely online. EMU's college of health and human services offers four undergraduate and graduate programs in dietetics, including an online bachelor's nutrition degree that focuses on nutrition science and research.
The accredited bachelor's in dietetics prepares students to work as entry-level dietitians in community, clinical, and food service dietetics. The 124-credit degree includes 58 major credits. Students take classes like food service systems management, nutrition therapy, and community nutrition. After completing the bachelor's degree, students qualify to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians.
EMU practices rolling admissions. The university evaluates students based on a combination of their high school GPAs and ACT or SAT scores. Applicants 21 and older do not need to submit ACT or SAT scores.
Once accepted to EMU as an undergraduate, prospective dietetics majors must complete 20-21 prerequisite credits with a minimum 3.0 GPA, 14-15 pre-admissions credits, and a two-credit, pre-program course before receiving official program admission. Prerequisite courses include human physiology, survey of organic chemistry, and careers in nutrition and dietetics. Applicants must also submit professional or academic recommendations and a completed program application.
Arizona State University-Skysong
About this school
A public research university, Arizona State University enrolls more than 38,000 students. ASU boasts an extensive distance education program with more than 300 online degrees and certificates through its online campus, ASU Skysong.
ASU's online nutritional science degree prepares students for careers in service management, food and wellness marketing, and food production. The 120-credit degree requires 40 seven-and-a-half week classes. Students learn to use nutrition principles in food-related organizations, the food industry, and other settings. The nutritionist degree curriculum includes courses in eating for lifestyle health, nutrition across the life cycle, and development of healthy cuisines.
The program offers an industry-focused food entrepreneurship track for nutrition majors who want to start a food-related business. Students learn how to apply nutrition knowledge, market and manage food, and develop menus that meet specific guidelines for special groups. The online nutrition BS does not meet the requirements for becoming a registered dietitian nutritionist or a registered dietitian.
Admission requirements for the bachelor of science in nutrition include a high school diploma. Applicants must rank in the top 25% of their graduating high school class, hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, or earn a 22 on the ACT or 1120 on the SAT.
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Online Bachelor's in Nutrition Science Programs Ranking Guidelines
We selected the following 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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 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.
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.
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
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
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 MBA Degree in Healthcare Management
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.