Nutrition science degrees provide you with knowledge on diet, food science, resource production and safety, and how nutrition affects human health. Graduates are equipped to work with clients in a variety of fields. A bachelor's degree in nutritional science opens up career opportunities in health and wellness, food production, agricultural services, and community health. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that dietitians and nutritionist positions will grow 15% between 2016 and 2026. The growth projections for fitness professionals and community health workers, at 10% and 16% respectively, also promise strong demand for professionals with nutrition degrees.
A bachelor's in nutritional science not only creates career opportunities in growing fields, but provides you with credentials for higher earning potential. Professionals with high school diplomas alone earned a median weekly wage of $726 during the second quarter of 2018. while their counterparts with bachelor's degrees earned a median wage of $1,187 each week.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences?
A nutrition degree prepares you to work with individuals and communities to advance health and wellness. Nutrition science degrees give you the opportunity to study how nutrients function in the human body, along with how humans interact with food and how economics and the environment affect food and nutrition. Some programs may emphasize the biological and chemical components of nutrition, while others focus on the psychological and sociological relationships humans have with food.
Recent high school graduates often benefit from on-campus nutrition degrees, but working professionals who want to study nutrition might instead enroll in flexible, convenient online programs. Whether you already work in health and wellness or want to change careers into nutrition, an online bachelor's degree in nutrition science allows you to study at your own pace. If you plan to pursue graduate study in nutrition, healthcare, public health, or a related discipline, a bachelor of science in nutrition offers the fundamental information you need.
Nutrition science majors study how food relates to science and world cultures. They learn about nutrition throughout the human life cycle, food history, technologies of nutrition, and policies and regulations for food production and safety. Some classes give a chance to work in a laboratory or with individuals and communities in a field setting. As students develop their understanding of food and nutrition in these contexts, they acquire the knowledge to teach others, further their studies, or pursue a nutrition-related career.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences?
With a nutrition science bachelor's degree, you can turn your enthusiasm about nutrition into an exciting career in healthcare, laboratory science, or food service. Bachelor's degrees in nutrition science give outgoing individuals a chance to work with others on health and wellness. They also provide self-motivated students the opportunity to research independently. Careers in nutrition and nutrition-related fields involve teamwork, collaboration, and cooperation among individuals, communities, and organizations.
- Nutritionists and Dietitians
As experts in nutrition, nutritionists and dietitians help clients and patients develop healthy eating plans and habits. They assess individuals' nutritional needs and work with them to make healthy food choices according to their budget and lifestyle. Clinical nutritionists and dietitians provide nutrition therapy to patients with medical conditions, such as diabetes, while community nutritionists and dietitians educate the public about food, health, and nutrition.
Median Annual Salary: $59,410
Projected Growth Rate: 15%
- Community Health Workers
Community health workers assess and understand the health-related needs of individuals and groups in their community. These health workers develop educational programs and materials to inform others about food, health, and nutrition. They may also help community members gain access to other food and nutrition programs or healthcare services.
Median Annual Salary: $45,360
Projected Growth Rate: 16%
- Fitness Trainers and Instructors
Fitness trainers and instructors provide exercise and healthy living guidance. They may work with clients one on one or instruct classes. Fitness trainers and instructors who study nutrition science better understand how food relates to the human body, and can better advise their clients on weight control and lifestyle choices.
Median Annual Salary: $39,210
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
- Agricultural and Food Science Technicians
Agricultural and food science technicians work in laboratories or in the field with agriculture and food scientists. They may collect and sort data and samples, as well as prepare research reports and presentations. Agricultural and food science technicians follow field-specific research and laboratory protocols to ensure quality and safety.
Median Annual Salary: $49,910
Projected Growth Rate: 6%
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences Program
When choosing a bachelor's in nutrition science program, look at course offerings and specializations. Programs generally include a strong physical science component, but many degrees emphasize social sciences, as well. If you plan to work in public and community health, you may choose a degree that emphasizes the psychology, sociology, and economic aspects of nutrition, food, and health. If working in a laboratory or clinical setting interests you, a program with advanced science classes may better meet your needs.
Working professionals might prefer programs with part-time study options. Online programs in nutrition science give you the opportunity to study on your own schedule, with flexible course offerings and curricula. Both online and on-campus nutrition science programs may include synchronous coursework, which require students to attend lectures and complete assignments on a set schedule. Many online programs offer asynchronous classes, which allow students to attend classes at their own pace. Programs with capstone or research project coursework give you the tools and skills you need to continue on to more advanced study in nutrition science.
Location also factors into your program choice. On-campus students benefit from campus resources and facilities, while online students can work from home. In-state students generally pay less tuition at public institutions than out-of-state students do, which may apply to both online and on-campus degrees.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's Programs in Nutritional Sciences
Colleges and universities can hold either regional or national accreditation, while specific programs and departments can receive programmatic accreditation through a professional association or affiliate body. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education recognize regional, national, and programmatic accrediting bodies throughout the country.
Regional accreditation is available from six agencies. This accreditation ensures that a school meets third-party education standards and usually implies higher academic standards. Many regionally accredited schools do not accept transfer credits from their nationally accredited counterparts, since national accreditation usually applies to vocational and career-oriented schools.
Nutrition science bachelor's programs may hold programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). An ACEND-accredited nutrition science degree meets the educational standards needed to prepare aspiring registered dietitian and nutrition professionals. By enrolling in an ACEND-accredited bachelor's in nutrition science, you ensure the quality of your education and demonstrate to future employers your expertise in the field.
Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences Program Admissions
The application process for nutrition science bachelor's programs varies by school. Both online and on-campus schools require prospective students to submit a formal application by a set deadline. Many online schools offer rolling deadlines or multiple enrollment dates each year, while on-campus colleges and universities usually only admit students twice a year.
You should apply to the schools that best match your interests and needs. Choose programs with coursework and concentrations that suit your academic and career goals, and apply to several of them. Accreditation status and location should factor heavily into your choice.
Many schools require applicants to provide the same types of documentation and information, but each school has its own specific admissions guidelines. Start the application process as early as possible to ensure you meet each school's deadline.
- Minimum GPA: The minimum GPA for nutrition sciences degrees might differ for freshmen and transfer students, but generally, applicants must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher.
- Application: Most colleges and universities offer online applications, but you can also submit hard copies by mail. You may be able to apply to multiple schools at once by using The Common Application, which provides one application for all participating schools.
- Transcripts: Freshmen must submit their high school transcripts to potential colleges. Transfer students and applicants with previous college coursework need to submit transcripts from their previous institutions. You can request high school transcripts from the guidance counselor's office free of charge; transcript requests from registrar's offices at colleges and universities often incur a fee.
- Letters of Recommendation: Most bachelor's programs do not requires you to submit letters of recommendation, but if your potential school does, make sure to ask individuals who can attest to your academic skills, work ethic, and strength of character. Make sure to give potential letter writers plenty of notice to meet admission deadlines.
- Test Scores: Many undergraduate universities require applicants to submit standardized test scores from the ACT or SAT. You can choose when you sign up for your exams to have your scores sent directly to potential schools.
- Application Fee: Application fees range from $20 to $100. If you apply to several schools, these fees can add up quickly. Some institutions offer fee waivers or fee reduction programs to students who demonstrate financial need.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences Program?
Nutrition degrees may vary by school and program. Some programs focus on the science of nutrients and food chemistry, while others provide training in communication; community outreach; and the social aspects of food, nutrition, and health. Most programs combine these aspects, but you may find a specific path better meets your needs and career goals.
|Nutrition||A bachelor of science in nutrition emphasizes the chemistry and biology of food and how it interacts with the human body. Coursework includes metabolism, nutrition at the cellular level, and therapeutic diets.||Nutrition advisers, wellness coordinators, government agency employees|
|Dietetics||A bachelor of science in dietetics trains future registered nutritionists and dietetics professionals. Students learn about food and food science, nutrition's role in society, nutrition through the human lifecycle, and community health education.||Registered dietitian nutritionist, registered dietitian nutritionist technician|
|Food Studies||A bachelor of science in nutrition with a concentration in food studies gives students the chance to study food, food history, food perception, and food advertising. Coursework also explores food transportation, supply, and retail.||Community health workers, advertising professionals, social media managers|
|Food Management||A bachelor of science in nutrition with a food management emphasis gives students the opportunity to study business, accounting, and finance as the subjects relate to food and the food industry. Coursework includes food travel and tourism, food service purchasing, and nutrition leadership.||Food purchaser, food company accountant, supply chain manager|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences Program
In a bachelor's in nutritional sciences program, you must complete core coursework in addition to degree-specific classes. Advanced coursework for nutrition science degrees vary by school, but most programs include a few common classes. Laboratory science, lifespan development, and nutrition technology courses give students in-depth information on aspects of nutrition, health, and food that they will take into their future careers.
- Human Nutrition
By studying the different systems of the body and how food impacts each one, human nutrition classes assess the absorption, digestion, and storage of food. Students learn to critically assess food and nutrient choices with attention to each body system, overall function, and potential reaction.
- Life Span Nutrition
Life span nutrition coursework investigates how age affects food and nutrient needs, health, and overall wellness over the course of a human life. Students study nutrition in infants, children, adults, and the elderly. They also look at food patterns across different age groups.
- Clinical Nutrition
Clinical nutrition classes focus on nutrients and food as they relate to disease and disease management. Students learn the language and terminology needed to work in the clinical nutrition environment. Students develop nutrition assessment, food counseling, and medical nutrition therapy skills through case studies and class exercises.
- Nutrition and Exercise
Nutrition and exercise classes look at the relationship between nutrients and physical exertion. Students study how physical activity and nutrition interact at different levels of exercise, from the ordinary public to the professional athletic community. Nutrition and exercise courses also investigate how to improve overall physical health with food and diet.
- Nutrition and Culture
Nutrition and culture coursework focuses on how food plays a role in human daily life. Students study the ethnic histories of food and cooking and the geography of food. They also develop skills for meal planning, food selection, food preparation, and food safety in a professional setting.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences?
Degrees in nutrition science require between 120 and 130 credit hours. In addition to degree-specific classes, students complete a full range of general education coursework. Programs also provide opportunities for nutrition majors to take elective classes and focus on subject areas including fitness, finance, or sports studies.
Full-time students typically finish their bachelor's degrees in four years. Transfer students with prior college credit might complete their degrees more quickly, especially if they receive credits for general education coursework. Part-time students usually take longer to graduate.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences?
Nutritional sciences bachelor's programs can cost between $40,000 and $60,000 per year for full-time students. Tuition per credit hour ranges from $350 to $850 for nutrition science programs, but this varies for in-state, out-of-state, and online students.
On-campus programs benefit in-state, full-time students, who often pay a flat tuition rate per semester. Part-time students usually pay per-credit tuition, instead, and often pay much more in tuition than full-time students do. Moreover, out-of-state students at public universities must usually pay higher tuition rates than in-state residents. On the other hand, some online schools charge the same tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, making online degrees more affordable for out-of-state students.
On-campus students often pay additional expenses that online students do not, including residence and facility fees, commuting costs, meal plans, and parking. Online students might be subject to technology and distance-learning charges, as well. Tuition, fees, and other expenses may offset each other depending on where you live and how many classes you can take at one time.
When you apply to a bachelor's program in nutritional sciences, you should submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal loans, scholarships, and grants. It also helps inform state governments and universities about your financial need.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences Prepares For
- Registered Dietitian or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Two names for the same credential, an RD or RDN receives certification through the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing body of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. RDs and RDNs work in a variety of settings, including healthcare, business, government, and education. To receive certification, dietitians and nutritionists take an exam covering the principles of dietetics, nutritional care for individuals and groups, management of food and nutritional programs, and food service systems.
- Dietetic Technician Registered or Nutrition Dietetic Technician Registered
A DTR or NDTR works in food service or in a clinical setting. Candidates must complete a comprehensive exam covering nutritional care for individuals and groups, food science and food service, and management of food and nutrition programs.
- Licensed Nutritionist
Nutritionists can be licensed by professional organizations or by state; 47 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia regulate nutritionists and dietitians. State requirements for licensure often resemble those for national certification.
- Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition
A certified specialist in pediatric nutrition demonstrates expertise in nutrition for infants, children, and adolescents through completion of an exam. The exam covers nutrition assessment, intervention, monitoring, and evaluation for pediatric patients and clients. Certified pediatric nutritionists educate others about issues and concerns related to pediatric nutrition. The also conduct research in the field.
- Certified Specialist in Sports Nutrition
This specialized certification in sports nutrition focuses on the nutritional needs of athletes and active clients and patients. Certified specialists in sports nutrition design and implement eating programs and nutrition strategies for people of all ages, at all performance levels.
Resources for Nutritional Sciences Students
Nutrition.gov provides comprehensive nutrition information to help the public and nutrition professionals alike make healthy food and nutrition choices. Links include resources on food guidelines, food assistance programs, meal planning, dietary issue updates, and weight management tools.
The nutrition and health resources at the NIH website focus on child health. The NIH targets parents and nutrition professionals, providing specific information for each to help them engage children in activities and smart food decision-making.
The USDA offers a list of nutrition, health, and food-focused websites for the general public, nutrition practitioners, and food professionals. Content includes food policies, distribution, and security, providing information about national, regional, and local food agencies and procedures.
The FDA website provides information on a multitude of topics related to food, medications, and health. The nutrition resources include updates on nutrition guidelines; news about foodborne diseases and food recalls; and tools geared to health educators, consumers, and food industry professionals.
As one of the websites run by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Eatright.org provides food, health, and fitness information to the general public. In addition to group-specific content for children, seniors, men, women, and parents, Eatright.org helps website visitors find nutrition and health practitioners.
Professional Organizations in Nutritional Sciences
Membership to a professional organization in nutrition sciences opens up resources to aspiring, new, and experienced nutrition professionals. Professional organizations bring practitioners, scholars, and educators in nutrition, dietetics, and fitness for networking and collaboration opportunities. Members to professional organizations also benefit from access to continuing education and professional development activities, job listings and career advice, and discounts to industry resources and academic conferences. Nutrition professionals also stay current in the latest trends and news in their field with organization newsletters and publications.
The Academy of Nutritionists and Dietetics includes more than 100,000 nutrition and food professionals from around the world. Members receive discounts at conferences and events, resources on nutrition industry standards and practices, and access to job boards and organization publications. Members also benefit from leadership and advocacy opportunities in public health initiatives.
The NANP emphasizes holistic nutrition across the human lifespan in the efforts of reducing disease and building healthy lifestyles. Professional, student, and associate members of NANP receive information about national health and nutrition practices, as well as access to conferences and events and discounts for certification programs.
The ASN unites nutrition practitioners and scholars to advocate for food and science policy, as well as educate the general public. Membership to the ASN includes access to research and scholarly publications in the field, continuing education programs, and the networking opportunities with fellow researchers.
The SNEB promotes nutrition education and healthy living internationally by fostering collaboration and cooperation among nutrition professionals, the food industry, and government agencies. SNEB members receive nutrition and health policy updates, professional publications, and access to continuing education and professional development resources.
The ACN works to prevent and treat disease through the advancement of food science. This organization brings together nutrition clinicians and researchers to spread knowledge and provide guidance about nutrition practices. Membership includes access to publications and professional conferences, awards eligibility, and continuing education resources.