Best Online Health and Nutrition Certificate Programs

by TBS Staff
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Online health and nutrition certificates prepare students for entry-level roles in the health field and prepare professionals for nutrition certification online programs.

A nutritious diet helps prevent illness, reduce health complications, and manage chronic conditions, but most children and adults fail to meet the daily nutrition recommendations set by the Center for Disease Control. Nutrition certificate-holders can work to reverse this trend and join a field projected to grow at a rate twice as fast as the rate for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

While many positions require bachelor's degrees or nutrition certification programs, nutrition certificates provide specialized training for students seeking a short career pathway, advancement opportunities for professionals, or complementary training for workers in related fields.

Read on for a ranking of the best online health and nutrition certificate programs and learn how these programs can help you start a meaningful career in the health field.

The Best Online Health and Nutrition Programs

Brandman University true View School Profile Irvine, CA Brandman University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

As a nonprofit institution founded in 1958, Brandman boasts a proud history of serving military students. With more than 25 locations and a flagship campus located in Irvine, California, the school now serves a diverse population of students seeking to maximize their career flexibility and potential.

Brandman offers an undergraduate certificate in nutrition and wellness tailored to teachers, coaches, and advisors in fields such as wellness, sports therapy, and nutritional advising. The certificate program provides training in nutrition and its relationship with factors like exercise, disease, and stress. The 15-credit health science certificate online prepares students to enroll in a registered dietician program.

The curriculum focuses on reduction of disparities in diet and exercise, nutrition and health influences, changing health behavior, and minimizing disease. Completion requirements for the certificate include three core courses: human nutrition, science of obesity, and nutritional basis of disease. Students also select two of three electives, including environmental topics in food science and the world food crisis. Distance learners complete all coursework through the Blackboard platform.

Admission requirements include at least 12 completed credits at the baccalaureate level with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Eligible applicants may receive up to 46 credits for prior military experience. Prospective applicants with academic records that do not reflect their current abilities may opt for Brandman’s "fresh start" option and request that the admission office disregard previous college credits.

Liberty University true View School Profile Lynchburg, VA Liberty University Online is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded in 1971 in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty boasts a distinguished history as an early entrant in distance education. As a nonprofit, evangelical Christian liberal arts school, Liberty began delivering its first correspondence courses in 1985. The school specializes in affordable higher education with a biblical perspective.

Students interested in taking the initial steps toward careers in medical coding, nursing, administration, or health technician roles can consider the undergraduate certificate in health sciences. The program provides a quick entry path into the healthcare field. Topics include wellness promotion, drugs, nutrition, and applied human anatomy and physiology.

The health science certificate online comprises 18 credits of eight-week courses delivered over six months of study. Students complete all courses online in asynchronous formats through the Blackboard platform. Core coursework includes human nutrition, drugs in society, and health promotion for aging populations. Support services for online students include a career center, a writing services center featuring tutorials, and an online library.

Eligible transfer students may receive college credit for industry certificates, professional experience, military training, and nationally recognized, standardized exams. The school also offers tuition discounts for military service members and civilian first responders.

Admission requirements include a minimum 1.5 GPA, and students choose from eight start dates per year. In keeping with Liberty’s commitment to uphold affordable tuition, the school maintains steady tuition rates and provides electronic textbooks at no additional cost.

Southern Arkansas University Tech true View School Profile Camden, AR Southern Arkansas University Tech is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The practical nursing program is accredited by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing and the Office of Long Term Care.

Established in 1968 and located in the heart of East Camden, SAU Tech is a small public, two-year community college affiliated with the Southern Arkansas University system. With a mission focused on technical and workforce education, the school boasts a strong reputation for diversity, innovation, and responsible stewardship of public resources.

SAU Tech offers an affordable and comprehensive 11-month, pre-nursing health science certificate online. The program provides general education for students interested in pre-nursing, and the health sciences technical certificate satisfies eligibility requirements for entry-level undergraduate nursing programs. Students complete 37-40 credits of coursework delivered through the Brightspace platform.

Core coursework includes medical terminology, general chemistry for nurses, developmental psychology, microbiology, and mathematics for healthcare professionals. Requirements for certificate completion also include a noncredit course in student success and a minimum 2.0 GPA.

To be admitted into the program, students must submit standardized or placement test scores like the SAT, ACT, Compass, or Accuplacer. Applicants may need to complete up to five additional developmental courses in math, writing composition, and language arts. The school provides disability support services and career coaching for online students.

All coursework for the certificate transfers seamlessly to public higher education institutions in Arkansas. SAU Tech also participates in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement initiative, which facilitates national and interstate recognition of comparable educational programs and coursework.

Central Arizona College true View School Profile Coolidge, AZ Central Arizona College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The nutrition and foodservice professional training program is accredited by the Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals.

With five campuses and three centers in Pinal County, Central Arizona College in Coolidge ranks among the most affordable educational options in the state. Founded in 1969, the school maintains its values of accountability, trust, accessibility, and engaged communities. As a premier institution promoting career excellence, CAC boasts small class sizes and an enduring commitment to continuous quality improvement and innovation.

The CAC nutrition and foodservice professional training program certificate comprises 16 credits. The program caters to workers and supervisors in the food service industry seeking management positions in healthcare facilities. The program also includes core coursework in clinical nutrition, food service management, medical terminology, and food-drug interaction. Each segment of the program includes classroom hours delivered through the Blackboard platform and corresponding field experience hours.

Students pursuing the health science certificate online also complete a four-credit internship in dietary management. The program prepares students to sit for the national certification exam for the certified food protection professional and certified dietary manager credentials.

No coursework or GPA prerequisites are required for admission. However, the school recommends a high school diploma or GED, and prospective applicants may need to submit SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students must complete a minimum of one-third of the required coursework for the certificate through CAC.

Best Online Certificate

Online Health and Nutrition Programs Ranking Guidelines

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

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Online Health and Nutrition Programs

What Is an Online Health and Nutrition Certificate?

Nutrition certificate programs vary by school, but most consist of 12-30 credits and take less than one year to complete. These programs explore many areas of nutritional science, including recommended food intake, the role of nutrients in the body, and how diet contributes to healthy living and disease control.

Many states require that nutritionists possess certification and licensure to practice. Some states limit the use of the nutritionist title to those who hold the appropriate credentials. To qualify for most nutritionist certification programs and positions, a candidate typically must possess at least a bachelor's degree.

While some employers hire nutrition certificate-holders for entry-level positions, many candidates pursue these programs to complement related degrees. Associate and bachelor's degree-holders can use this specialized training to enter the nutrition field. Similarly, professionals like personal trainers and community health educators can use certificates to develop complementary skill sets.

A nutrition certificate can also lead to employment opportunities on its own. Graduates can pursue careers as wellness coaches, recreation workers, and, in some states, nutrition specialists. In addition, entrepreneurial-minded professionals can launch their own businesses and offer different nutrition-related services.

What's the Difference Between a Nutrition Certificate, Nutrition Certification Program, and Health and Nutrition Degree?

Nutrition certificates and nutrition certification programs differ considerably. Certificates on a specialized subject are usually offered by schools in a condensed format, whereas organizations offer certifications to measure professionals' knowledge and skills against industry standards.

A health and nutrition degree provides more comprehensive training than a nutrition certificate. In addition to specialized training in nutrition, degrees offer general education and elective courses.

true Nutrition Certificate

Who Might Consider Pursuing This?

Nutrition certificates may appeal to individuals seeking quick pathways to nutrition-related careers or to professionals looking to expand their qualifications. These credentials complement food service, fitness, and health training jobs.

Length 2-12 months
Examples
  • Nutrition and wellness
  • Nutrition and food service professional
Exam Required? Yes
Prerequisite Education and Experience
  • High school diploma
  • Graduate certificates may require an undergraduate degree
Nutrition Certification Program

Who Might Consider Pursuing This?

In some states, individuals must complete nutrition certification programs to be licensed or to use the nutritionist title. Some professionals pursue these credentials to showcase their expertise in specific areas and advance their careers.

Length 1-2 months
Examples
  • Registered dietitian nutritionist
  • Certified nutrition specialist
Exam Required? Yes
Prerequisite Education and Experience
  • Associate degree or bachelor's degree
  • May require 1-5 years of professional experience
Health and Nutrition Degree

Who Might Consider Pursuing This?

Students aiming for careers as nutritionists and dietitians typically pursue these degrees. Some states require that nutrition certification applicants have an undergraduate degree.

Length 3-4 years
Examples
  • Nutrition and food science
  • Dietetics
Exam Required? No
Prerequisite Education and Experience
  • High school diploma
  • Bachelor's degree required for graduate degree

What to Expect From a Health and Nutrition Certificate

In a health and nutrition certificate program, students may take classes in macro and micronutrients, nutrition counseling, and eating disorders. Some certificates offer specializations, such as sports nutrition, public health nutrition, and nutrition education, which feature more focused courses in these areas.

Health and Nutrition Curriculum

Every health and nutrition certificate features a distinct curriculum and structure. Students take three to eight courses, depending on the program and the level of the training. Some schools may require prerequisites for admission, which means learners may have to take additional classes.

Generally, specialized nutrition certificates feature fewer courses than the more comprehensive programs. While training can vary considerably, the following list highlights some of the topics students can expect to cover.

  • Science of exercise and weight loss
  • Nutrition and the digestive system
  • Nutritional basis of disease
  • Applied human anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology

Choosing an Online Program

To choose the best school and most suitable program, prospective students need to consider their personal and professional aspirations. These goals will determine if they should pursue a nutrition certificate, degree, or nutrition certification online. They also need to verify their state's employment requirements.

Choosing an online school requires some additional considerations. Learners need to think about the residency requirements and the best class format for their schedule and lifestyle, such as asynchronous or synchronous classes.

Accreditation for Health and Nutrition Programs

Prospective students need to verify that their school and program hold the appropriate accreditation, as it can affect their transfer credits, licensure, employment opportunities, and access to financial aid.

Regional accreditation applies to an entire school, while programmatic accreditation applies to specific academic departments within institutions. Some organizations that accredit nutrition certificate and nutrition certification programs include the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, the Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals, and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

What Can You Do With a Health and Nutrition Certificate?

Professionals with certificates possess the training necessary to incorporate nutritional and dietary science into their careers. In many states, the amount of nutritional counseling and advice certificate-holders can provide depends on their level of training. Though most careers in this field require a nutrition certification or degree, a nutrition certificate can still lead to employment by itself.

Students with a nutrition certificate can find roles in the following careers:

  • Fitness trainers
  • Recreation workers
  • Community health workers

Health and Nutrition Careers

Nutritionist and nutrition consultant careers typically require a bachelor's degree in nutritional sciences or a master's degree in nutrition, along with a nutrition certification online. However, nutrition certificate graduates can still enter related fields that draw on nutritional science or start their own nutrition-related businesses.

While certain titles and pathways may be restricted, this career path accommodates professionals of different training and experience levels. In addition the common career paths listed below, nutrition certificate-holders can pursue careers as:

  • Health coaches
  • Nutrition writers
  • Food service associates
  • Nutritional aides
  • Food labeling specialists
Health and Nutrition Careers Salary and Education
Career Median Salary (2020) Typical Minimum Education Required
Dieticians and Nutritionists $63,090 Bachelor's degree + internship/residency
Health Education Specialists $56,500 Bachelor's degree + certification
Health Educators and Community Health Workers $48,140 High school diploma, associate degree, or health certificate
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Health and Nutrition Organizations

Health and nutrition organizations offer their members valuable services and resources. Students can receive access to scholarship opportunities, mentor programs, and job boards, while experienced professionals may benefit from networking, career development, and continuing education opportunities.

While many organizations host national memberships, some limit participation to more localized or specialized groups. Some of the biggest organizations in this field include:

Frequently Asked Questions

true How Do I Become a Certified Nutritionist?

A certified nutritionist must complete an accredited nutrition certification online program and examination, such as registered dietitian nutritionist or certified nutrition specialist programs.

true Can I Be a Nutritionist Without a Degree?

According to the BLS, a nutritionist needs at least a bachelor's degree in order to practice professionally. Some states require nutritionists to complete nutrition certifications as well.

true What Can I Do With a Certificate in Nutrition?

A certificate in nutrition can lead to entry-level jobs in the field. Learners studying related fields who pursue nutrition certificates can focus their training, and professionals can use certificates to advance their careers.

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