A recent survey by the International Food Information Council suggests that a majority of Americans are interested in healthy food options. This interest drives demand for skilled nutritionists, dieticians, and wellness consultants across the country. If you are interested in a nutrition job, earning a bachelor's degree makes a great first step.
After looking at five of the best online bachelor's programs in nutrition, keep reading to uncover additional details about the degree, including common courses, admission requirements, and potential career paths.
What Are the Best Nutritional Sciences Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top Five:
|1||Arizona State University||Scottsdale, AZ|
|2||University of Arizona||Tucson, AZ|
|3||Kansas State University||Manhattan, KS|
|4||The University of Alabama||Tuscaloosa, AL|
|5||Eastern Michigan University||Ypsilanti, MI|
Opportunities abound in the field of nutrition sciences. Graduates with an online bachelor's may develop community health programs, conduct research studies, or work with specific populations at risk for nutrition-related health problems. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nutritionists and dieticians earn a median annual salary of $60,370, with the highest earners working on diagnosis and treatment.
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2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences Programs
Arizona State University
|Scottsdale, AZ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
Arizona State University is a public research university with multiple campuses across the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. ASU boasts one of the largest enrollment rates in the nation: nearly 75,000 on campus and more than 30,000 online. A bachelor's in nutritional sciences is one of 300+ degrees and certificates available via distance learning.
The program requires completion of 120 credits, including courses in microbiology, applied food principles, and digital technologies in nutrition communication. An optional food entrepreneurship track prepares students for management and marketing in the food service industry.
Undergraduate admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and qualifying ACT or SAT scores (22-24 or 1120-1180, respectively). Newly admitted students can choose from six start dates per year. Nearly 90% of graduates receive job offers within 90 days of completing their degree with ASU Online.
Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Nutrition
GPA: 3.0 minimum
University of Arizona
|Tucson, AZ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 64%||
Located in Tucson, the University of Arizona is a public research university with an annual enrollment of more than 45,000 students, including 4,700 taking courses entirely online. UA's online bachelor's degree in nutritional sciences is one of only four programs of its kind accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
The program offers two emphasis options, nutrition and dietetics. The latter satisfies requirements to apply for a dietetic internship — the first step toward becoming a registered dietician nutritionist. Both emphasis options offer foundation courses in food science, metabolic biochemistry, and human nutrition.
Undergraduate applicants should possess a minimum 3.0 high school GPA. UA practices a test-optional admissions policy, though ACT or SAT scores are required for merit scholarship consideration. Newly admitted students can choose from six start dates each year.
Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Kansas State University
|Manhattan, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 64%||
Kansas State University became the nation's first land-grant university in 1863. Today, more than 22,000 students enroll in on-campus and distance programming, including a 120-credit online bachelor's in nutrition and health. Required courses include anatomy and physiology, introduction to statistics, and life span nutrition.
The nutrition and health program is an excellent preparatory option for pre-nursing, pre-dental, and pre-physician assistant students. The curriculum also prepares graduates for a number of careers in nutrition education and community health promotion. All students pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of residency.
To apply, prospective undergraduates should possess a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA and submit ACT or SAT scores. Three prerequisite requirements are not offered online by K-State, but applicants can work with an academic advisor to locate equivalents offered at other institutions.
Program Name: Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and Health
GPA: 2.0 minimum
The University of Alabama
|Tuscaloosa, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 72%||
Established in 1820, the University of Alabama is the oldest and largest public university in the state. This public research institution welcomes more than 38,000 students each year, including 4,500 distance learners. UA's bachelor of science in food and nutrition is one of more than 70 programs offering online and hybrid completion options.
The 120-credit degree is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. Successful completion qualifies graduates to apply for a dietetic internship and pursue certification as a registered dietician. Required courses include nutrition at the cellular level, introduction to research, and medical nutrition therapy.
Admission requires a minimum 2.5 GPA and submission of ACT or SAT scores. Resident tuition rates are offered to all online students, regardless of where they live. Some courses require in-person experiences, which typically can be completed in learners' communities.
Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition
Format: 100% online
GPA: 2.5 minimum
Eastern Michigan University
|Ypsilanti, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Eastern Michigan University is a public research university located on 800 acres in Ypsilanti, about six miles from Ann Arbor. Approximately 21,000 students enroll each year, pursuing more than 200 undergraduate and 150 graduate opportunities. Twenty-three academic programs can be completed entirely online, including a bachelor of science in dietetics.
Accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education and Dietetics, this 124-credit degree provides both the coursework and supervised practice required to sit for the registration exam for dieticians. Required subject areas include foodservice systems management, integrative medicine, and nutrition therapy.
EMU accepts applications on a rolling basis. Admission to the dietetics program requires a minimum 2.75 GPA, submission of ACT or SAT scores, and completion of prerequisites. Online students pay in-state tuition regardless of residency.
Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Dietetics
GPA: 2.75 minimum
Online Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences Program Overview
The primary goal of an undergraduate nutrition program is to develop students' knowledge of the relationship between nutrition and human health. To accomplish this, colleges require instruction in a variety of subjects. In addition to general education, you can expect to encounter courses in biology and chemistry, the human body, public health, and research methods.
Beyond the degree's overarching goal, program-specific outcomes and curriculum components vary. For example, not every degree prepares graduates to become registered dieticians. Individuals interested in obtaining this credential should seek out a program with a built-in dietetic internship requirement.
Earning an online bachelor's in nutrition prepares graduates for a number of entry-level careers in public and community health, private consulting, patient care, and the food industry. Some professionals decide to continue with master's or doctoral study in pursuit of advanced opportunities, higher education positions, and scientific research jobs.
Common Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences Degree Courses
- Intro to Human Nutrition
The cornerstone of nearly every undergraduate nutrition program, an introductory course in human nutrition provides foundational study of nutrients and their functions. Coursework typically covers personal dietary choices, food systems issues, and digestion and energy balance. Students learn vital concepts for success in future courses.
- Intro to Anatomy and Physiology
An introductory course to anatomy and physiology explores the structure and function of various organ systems of the human body. The class may also examine basic disease concepts. This course typically includes a lab component featuring physiology experiments, computer simulations, and dissection demonstrations.
Food is made up of chemical compounds, which makes understanding chemistry a vital skill for nutrition professionals. Undergraduate nutrition degrees may require study of basic chemistry, organic chemistry, and/or biochemistry. These courses cover different scientific principles, laws, and theories. They typically include laboratory components.
- Food Service Systems Management
Courses in food service systems management explore systems theory and the skills required to run a successful food service operation. Students gain extensive knowledge of menu planning, sanitation and safety, personnel and financial management, and operation of equipment. Coursework emphasizes customer satisfaction.
- Survey of Nutrition Careers
To help students better understand the field and their employment options after graduation, some degree plans include a survey course focusing on nutrition careers. Coursework covers the history of public health, contemporary health issues, and behaviors in the prevention of disease. The class may also discuss other healthcare professions.
Online Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences Admission Requirements
High School Education
All colleges and universities require prospective undergraduate students to provide proof of high school graduation or GED completion. To ensure adequate college preparation, course transcripts must meet certain curriculum standards, typically with specific requirements in place for math, science, fine arts, foreign language, and social science.
Along with a completed high school education, many college admissions policies require a minimum GPA for first-time freshmen applicants. This requirement varies by institution and prospective program. Nutrition programs typically seek applicants with minimum GPAs in the range of 2.0-3.0.
Standardized Test Scores
To better evaluate the academic knowledge and abilities of applicants, many schools require submission of ACT or SAT scores. Admissions policies may or may not specify minimum score requirements, and some schools are test-optional, allowing students to decide whether or not to provide scores at all.
While prerequisite courses are not incredibly common, you may encounter this requirement if you decide to enroll in a dietetics program. Some degrees require completion of select foundational coursework prior to admission or to beginning the major core. Advisors can evaluate your transcript to determine what, if any, courses need to be completed.
Grades, scores, and transcripts are useful tools for student evaluation, but schools often want to know more than just your numerical likelihood for success. When applying, be prepared to supply additional materials. The most common requirements are personal essays and letters of recommendation from high school teachers and counselors.
Online Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences Career Paths
Graduates most commonly work as nutritionists and dieticians. Although many people use these terms interchangeably, the requirements to pursue even entry-level positions differ greatly.
To earn the right to practice as a registered dietician, professionals must successfully complete an undergraduate program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), a 1,200-hour dietetic internship, and a national registration examination. Requirements for nutritionists vary by state, but many can practice without licensure or certification.
Other careers available for nutrition graduates include health program coordinator or manager, food scientist, food technologist, and, with additional education and licensure, physician assistant.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What can I do with a degree in nutritional sciences?
An online bachelor's in nutritional sciences prepares you for careers in healthcare, nonprofits, government, and food production and safety. You may find work as a registered dietician, nutritionist, food technologist, or health program coordinator with local governments or nonprofit organizations.
- Can I be a nutritionist with a health science degree?
Education and certification requirements for nutritionists vary by state. A health science degree may allow you to work as a non-licensed nutritionist. However, to practice as a registered dietitian, you must complete an ACEND-accredited program, internship, and registration examination. Pathways to licensure are available for graduates of non-nutrition/dietetics bachelor's degrees.
- What degree do you need to be a nutrition consultant?
Qualifications for nutrition consultants vary by employer and position requirements. A certificate or associate degree satisfies the minimum education requirements for a number of nutrition consultant positions, but employers often prefer or require candidates to hold a bachelor's. Optional credentialing certification is available from the American Association of Nutritional Consultants.
- Are nutritionists in high demand?
Skilled nutrition professionals are in high demand across the country. As social interest in food and wellness continues to increase, this demand is expected to continue. The BLS projects an 11% growth in employment of dieticians and nutritionists from 2018-2028. This is much faster than the average of all other occupations.
- Is nutritionist a good career?
Working as a nutritionist has the potential to be incredibly rewarding. Alongside excellent pay opportunities and faster-than-average job growth, nutritionists get to spend their days proactively improving the lives of others. Diverse opportunities allow nutritionists to work with clients on-on-one; develop community programs; or customize nutrition plans for hospitals, cafeterias, or schools.
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