Best Online Health and Nutrition Certificate Programs
| TBS Staff
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A healthy diet forms the foundation of healthy living. Making the right food choices can improve weight, manage chronic illnesses, and protect against disease. Individuals earning a nutrition health science certificate online can learn the basics of nutrition science, vitamins and minerals, macronutrients, and how to develop effective meal plans to meet a variety of needs. Almost 40% of American adults qualify as obese, increasing their risk of developing diabetes or heart disease. Preventative healthcare, including counseling clients to make good food choices and being physically active, remains a focus of healthcare providers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15% growth in employment for dietitians and nutritionists through 2026. While these careers often require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, a certificate in health science online program prepares students for entry-level employment. Many programs offer transfer credits that can shorten the time you need to complete an undergraduate degree.
Your certificate may also complement other education and careers, such as personal trainers or wellness coaches. Much of the knowledge gained through a nutrition certificate program may apply to related healthcare careers, as well, including nursing, health education, and nutrition counseling. This guide offers a look at the courses you will take, the careers you can launch, and the professional resources you can utilize.
Featured Online Programs
Health and Nutrition Degree Program Ranking Methodology
We selected the health and nutrition programs based on the quality of the program, the types of available online classes, the faculty, rankings, awards, and prestige, including the school’s reputation for effectively providing quality online programs.
The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:
The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.
To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):
1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]
- Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
- Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
- Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
- Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
- Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
- Considers range of electives within that discipline
- Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline
2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]
- Considers education background of the faculty
- Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
- Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
- Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
- Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources
3. Reputation [weight = 20%]
- Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
- “Freshness” of academic knowledge
- Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
- Suitability of graduates for the workplace
4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]
- Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
- Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants
5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]
- Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
- Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business
6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]
Considers the following of the online classes:
- Types of online technology used to deliver content
- Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
- Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
- Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
Considers the following of instructors:
- Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
- Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
- Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
- Ratio to number of students in a class
- Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees
Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.
To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:
- Public or private status
- Acceptance rate
- Retention rate
- Graduation rate
- ACT/SAT requirements
- Cost in-state / out of state
- Undergrad, grad, or both offered
Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!
If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.
Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!
The Best Online Health and Nutrition Certificate Programs
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Advantages of a Health and Nutrition Education
Your health science certificate opens many career options and may complement other certifications, such as athletic training or health coaching. The certificate may also serve as your first step toward a degree in nutrition or health science. Career changers often enjoy the shorter certificate programs, which allow them to begin working in their new field quickly. Individuals with a complementary degree, such as nursing, may find that a certificate prepares them for new professional credentials. Many accredited schools award college credit that transfers toward degree requirements.
However, many entry-level nutrition careers require at least an associate degree. These two-year programs require 60 credits with a combination of general education, science, and nutrition courses. Graduates can gain a broader understanding of how nutrition impacts overall health and wellbeing and research methods for nutrition science. An individual hoping to become a registered dietician must complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.Return to the top
Health and Nutrition Certificate Salary Information
Nutrition holds the key to good health and wellbeing for everyone. Professionals earning a nutrition or health science certificate online can gain an understanding of how food powers bodies and how people can improve their diets, activity, and lifestyles. This knowledge can enhance the practice of wellness coaches, personal trainers, or fitness writers. It also prepares individuals for entry-level nutrition careers, such as dietetic technicians or nutrition assistants. Some professions may require additional education, such as a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to become a dietician.
- Dietetic Technician
- Technicians carry out the instructions of nutritionists or dieticians. They often gather data from medical providers on client conditions and perform evaluations and surveys of patients. They may work in nursing homes, schools, or public health agencies. Some technicians work in food manufacturing facilities and ensure the production process meets established safety guidelines.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $30,300
- Mid-Career: $31,170
- Experienced: $34,280
- Late Career: $37,360
- Wellness Coach
- These coaches help clients address various aspects of healthy living and improved wellness. Some of them commonly work as independent contractors. Others work through hospitals, nursing homes, or schools to provide a holistic view of personal health. They need knowledge of food, health concepts, and exercise. Some facilities may require an associate or bachelor’s degree.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $28,030
- Mid-Career: $33,760
- Experienced: $41,870
- Late Career: $46,560
- Nutrition Specialist
- Specialists perform screening and assessment of nutritional needs, dietary restrictions, and current health plans for clients or patients. They may work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, or community health organizations. They provide education on healthy eating habits, monitor food service operations, and consult with healthcare staff on patient needs.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $30,200
- Mid-Career: $27,520
- Experienced: $31,200
- Late Career: $29,120
- Personal Trainer
- Personal trainers work with individual clients to help them meet fitness and athletic goals. They often evaluate client needs and develop personal workouts and fitness plans, tracking progress and encouraging their clients. These trainers may also advise clients on nutrition to achieve their goals, such as weight loss or optimal athletic performance. They may work in health clubs or as independent contractors.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $32,400
- Mid-Career: $38,060
- Experienced: $46,800
- Late Career: $77,230
- Weight Loss Counselor
- Weight loss counselors help clients evaluate their eating habits and activity to make healthy lifestyle changes. They provide support and encouragement, usually working one-on-one with clients but may lead group sessions, as well. In medically assisted weight loss clinics, counselors may also check vital signs and administer medication.
Source: PayScaleReturn to the top
Choosing an Online Health and Nutrition Program
Earning your certificate in health science online opens exciting new career opportunities, but students should carefully evaluate each program’s requirements, costs, and curriculum to ensure they see a return on their investment. Think about the program components most important to you and your future success.
The items below offer a starting point for evaluating schools. Talk to admissions representatives, faculty members, and current students, when possible, to help determine if the program represents a good match for your overall education and career goals. Many schools offer high-quality nutrition and health science certificate programs. By researching schools now, you can find the school that best meets your needs.
- Program Cost
- Program costs will vary significantly from school to school. Public, in-state institutions often offer the lowest price for college-level courses, but many schools now provide tuition discounts to online students regardless of their state of residence. Private schools or for-profit organizations offering health science certificates online often charge the most for their programs.
- Transfer Policies
- Your certificate may represent the first step in a long educational journey. Ensuring your school offers transfer agreements with other colleges can ease the transition from one program to the next. Transferring credits also lowers the cost of future degrees by reducing the number of credits needed for an associate or bachelor’s degree.
- School Size and Type
- While large public universities often serve thousands of students each year, individual programs often seek to maintain smaller classes. Small classes allow more student participation and increased interaction between faculty and students. Consider the class size offered at each school and the learning environment that best serves your needs.
- Program Length
- Most certificate programs require one year or less to complete. The credit requirements may be 12 to 24 credits, depending on the certificate sought. Schools offering accelerated class formats, such as eight-week semesters, often allow students to earn more credits over a year while reducing the number of classes enrolled in each term.
- On-Campus Requirements
- While online programs allow students to complete most certificate requirements remotely, some schools require attendance at some on-campus events. These may include an orientation before starting classes, in-person academic advising, or hands-on learning opportunities. Schools may offer exemptions from these requirements in certain situations, such as military service, family responsibilities, or burdensome travel costs.
Accreditation for Online Health and Nutrition Programs
Verifying your school’s accreditation status ensures you earn a recognized, respected certificate and that you can transfer your credits later if you want to work toward an associate or bachelor’s degree. Accreditation serves as an independent quality assurance for consumers that schools offer a robust and relevant curriculum.
Regional accreditation, the most common institutional accreditation, reviews a school’s overall academic program. Schools must hold an accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation to participate in many federal student financial aid programs. Though some programs at a school may qualify for financial aid, be sure to check your certificate program meets these requirements.
The Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals offers a specialized accreditation for nutrition and health science certificate online program. Graduates of approved programs may sit for the Certified Dietary Manager national exam. The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics accredits nutrition education programs from the associate degree level through doctorate programs. While a certificate program may not meet the requirements for this programmatic accreditation, attending a school whose degrees meet these standards can ensure a quality curriculum.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Certificate in Health and Nutrition?
Certificate programs vary in their number of courses and length. Some programs require at least one year to complete, while others take only a few months. Students should evaluate the depth and breadth of certificate programs, along with accreditation status and available financial aid assistance to ensure the program meets their professional needs. Some schools offer self-paced certificate courses, where students progress through the curriculum on their own. Enrollees may pay one fee for access to course materials for six months or a year. If they complete all the courses within that time, they will not pay additional tuition.
Other schools follow a traditional semester or accelerated semester schedule, with beginning and end dates and assignment deadlines set throughout the term. In this format, students balancing work and school may need more time to complete all the courses. Many schools offer a set tuition rate for full-time students, so taking more than 12 credits per semester can accelerate your certificate completion and save in overall tuition costs.
Courses in an Online Certificate in Health and Nutrition Program
- Nutrition Counseling
- Students can review the skills necessary to evaluate client nutritional needs and concerns and the counseling process. They use case studies to define the scope of counseling, motivational techniques, and the attributes of successful counselors. Instructors may use mock interviews to demonstrate course theories and principles.
- Learners examine how the body utilizes carbohydrates, fats, and protein to power bodily functions. The course looks at metabolism, metabolic abnormalities, and dietary requirements. Instructors also discuss how diet can assist in the management of metabolic diseases. The course draws on principles of biochemistry and pharmacology.
- Vitamins and Nutrients
- The human body requires a variety of vitamins and nutrients for optimal function and wellness. Students learn the food sources for nutrients and the role each nutrient plays in overall health. Assignments may ask students to analyze meal plans for nutrient density and balance, calorie control, and nutritional adequacy.
- Sports Nutrition
- Students explore the use of macronutrients, calorie counts, and fluid intake to assess the nutritional needs of athletes. They develop interventions for weight management and eating disorders and identify athletes with special dietary needs. They consider the timing of meals and snacks and how the nutrients fuel performance.
- Eating Disorders
- Enrollees can gain an overview of several common eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia. They look at symptoms and risk factors and appropriate interventions. The course draws on nutrition counseling, psychology, and biology, in addition to considering cultural views of food, cravings, and obesity.
Health and Nutrition Membership Associations
Research continues to change what we know about nutrition and personal health. Nutrition professionals must keep up with these changes and understand how new information impacts their work. Professional organizations offer ongoing professional development utilizing the most up-to-date resources and information. Many organizations also offer professional recognition, discounts on insurance and other services, and networking opportunities to propel your career.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- This organization shares the latest research in nutrition and dietetics to the general public through a variety of articles on its website as part of its education and outreach mission. Members include nutrition technicians, dietitians, researchers, and educators.
- National Association of Nutrition Professionals
- This association promotes holistic nutrition through advocacy and education. It welcomes practitioners, students, and interested individuals to join. Members can gain a listing in the professional directory and access to job postings through the online career center. They may attend the annual conference, receive a biweekly newsletter, and sit for board certification exams in nutrition.
- Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals
- The nonprofit organization serves more than 14,000 with professional development, industry credentials, and quality assurance training. Members can gain access to conferences and meetings, webinars, and continuing education. The association magazine, surveys, and facility data offer insights into the profession and share best practices and emerging trends.
- International Association of Health Coaches
- This organization offers members affordable liability insurance options, discounts on health products, and the opportunity to earn health coach certification. It also advocates on behalf of the profession and provides members access to policy and regulatory specialists.
- School Nutrition Association
- SNA includes the national organization and 49 state affiliates. They focus on nutrition education, anti-hunger, and food service. School nutrition professionals can earn certificates and professional credentials and complete professional development related to school nutrition services.
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