A bachelor of science in nutrition online equips you with the skills needed for professional success. By earning an online nutrition degree, graduates can pursue many different careers, including nutritionist, health worker, and fitness instructor. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that job growth in dieting and nutrition fields will grow by 15% between 2016 and 2026. Factors like obesity and the aging baby boomer population increase the need for nutritional services.
Choosing a Program
Earning a bachelor’s degree in nutrition science places you at the forefront of an evolving field. Many programs offer experiential learning opportunities to help you gain hands-on experience before graduating. Curriculum requirements such as capstone courses allow students to develop research projects that fit their career interests. Interacting with established professionals as part of an internship can help students refine their professional interests and goals. Some programs use a cohort format, requiring you to complete courses along with a group of peers. Other programs follow an asynchronous format that may allow more flexibility.
What Are the Best Online Bachelor’s in Nutritional Science?
The University of Alabama
|Tuscaloosa, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 68%||
The University of Alabama's online bachelor of science in food and nutrition is one of just four online nutrition degrees in the U.S. with an endorsement from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). UA's nutrition program comprises 120 credit hours, with 56 credit hours in the major and 20 credit hours of supplemental science classes. Students graduate with comprehensive nutrition knowledge and a clear path toward becoming registered dietitians.
Required nutrition courses initially focus on building foundational knowledge then advance to specialized topics, like medical nutrition therapy, food service program administration, and experimental food science. Students also undertake a required professional independent study course as the program draws to a close, allowing learners to advance their practical knowledge and skills in areas of individual interest.
Based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, UA administers its online programs through its Bama by Distance platform. UA consistently earns rankings that place it in the top 10 public universities in the United States. UA charges all online students the same tuition rates regardless of their in- or out-of-state status.
University of Arizona
|Tucson, AZ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 64%||
The University of Arizona's bachelor of science in nutritional science program ranks as another one of the country's four online nutrition degrees with ACEND accreditation. While enrolled in UA's bachelor of science in nutritional science, students can choose between two concentration options.
The nutrition concentration focuses on the convergence of food chemistry, biochemistry, cellular biology, and medical science. Students build advanced knowledge of food safety, food science, the biology of nutrition, human metabolism, nutritional assessments, and the planning and supervision of therapeutic and medical diets. The dietetics option puts students on a direct path toward earning certifications as registered dietitian nutritionists or nutrition and dietetics technicians.
Students enjoy fixed, affordable tuition costs that make no distinction between in- and out-of-state residency status. Learners also operate on a pay-per-credit system, enabling them to proceed through the course material at their own pace. These features make UA's online nutrition program ideal for working professionals who want to upgrade their academic credentials and students who work during the day to help finance their educational goals.
The University of Arizona student body also benefits from the school's strong corporate partnerships, which create excellent internship, work
study, and practical training opportunities while supplying a path to future careers. The school also leads all public Arizona higher education institutions in alumni earning potential.
Kansas State University
|Manhattan, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 70%||
Kansas State University offers two undergraduate online nutrition degree options through its renowned Global Campus platform. First, students can earn a bachelor's in nutrition and health, which ranks among the most affordable programs of its kind in the United States.
Learners undertake 120 credit hours of coursework, covering food science, nutritional assessment, nutrition and public health, and clinical nutrition. The program design supports career opportunities as physician's assistants, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and occupational therapy, providing a strong academic background for further studies in nursing or medicine.
Students can also pursue an online bachelor's degree in nutrition and dietetics, which focuses more specifically on the relationships between diet and human health. The program meets the lofty academic requirements specified by ACEND and supports the direct progression of graduates to internships required to qualify for registered dietitian nutritionist certification.
Located in Manhattan, Kansas, K-State's online learning technologies and Global Campus have earned widespread recognition as a national leader in technology-based education. All Global Campus programs offer low, fixed tuition rates that apply to all students regardless of their geographic location.
K-State also welcomes students from other schools through its generous transfer credit system. Incoming learners can transfer previously completed post-secondary coursework from institutions, including four-year, degree-granting colleges and universities and technical and community colleges. Learners must complete 30 total credit hours in residence at K-State in order to qualify for graduation.
Arizona State University – Skysong
|Scottsdale, AZ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 14%||
Arizona State University Online features a top-rated online bachelor of science in nutrition program that helps students build toward careers in food service management, food production, food marketing, and nutrition-related journalism. Delivered through 40 classes that each run just over seven weeks, this 120-credit hour nutrition bachelor's degree online offers three specialization tracks.
Students can pursue a concentration in food and nutrition management, which focuses on institutional and commercial food service operations and widely used food delivery methods. Another specialization path covers food studies, focusing on key principles of food production and food marketing. Finally, learners can emphasize nutrition communication and develop advanced skills for relaying important food-related facts and information to healthcare professionals and general consumers.
Unlike many other online nutrition programs, ASU's BS in nutrition program takes a career-minded approach to commercialized aspects of the food industry. It represents a strong option for students seeking to build skills in high demand in the private sector beyond the typical confines of the healthcare industry.
ASU's online bachelor's programs in nutrition are offered through the College of Health Solutions and the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion. These administrative subdivisions count as key drivers of ASU's renowned reputation for innovation, with the College of Health Solutions spending $9 million per year on research projects as of 2016.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor’s in Nutritional Science Program?
Every nutrition school online offers a unique curriculum, especially if the program includes concentrations with specialized coursework. However, many bachelor's programs offer similar course topics -- such as food science and nutrition throughout the human life cycle -- that form a foundational understanding of nutritional science regardless of chosen profession. The following list includes examples of common courses students may encounter throughout their online nutrition degree.
Curriculum for an Online Bachelor’s in Nutritional Science
- Food Science: In this foundational nutrition course, students explore the scientific properties of food, including the handling and preparation of those foods, often in a lab-like setting. Course activities may include planning and making recipes that reveal the chemical interactions of nutrients and examining the latest food technology.
- Fundamentals of Microbiology: Students learn the properties and principles of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They use this knowledge to form a deeper understanding of application in ecology, health, and related fields. Students may also study how microorganisms affect food safety and sanitation in the context of food production and distribution.
- Nutrition Education: With a focus on different types of audiences, students learn how to develop and deliver an effective nutrition education curriculum. Course content addresses current issues and trends in nutrition and the potential behavioral barriers that dieticians might face with individual clients, community members, or other groups.
- Food Service Management: Applicable to any position in the food service industry, food service management covers topics like food handling safety, sanitation, and nutrition program development. Students also learn the management and communication skills necessary for running a food production, delivery, or distribution business.
- Nutrition and the Life Cycle: Students learn about the nutritional needs and potential health-related issues at various stages of life, from infancy to older adulthood. In addition to the biological factors at play, students investigate cultural, socio-economic, and environmental impacts on health and behavior.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelor’s in Nutritional Science?
An online bachelor's in nutritional science requires an average of at least 120 credit hours and takes between three and four years to complete. However, a variety of program characteristics impact the amount of time needed to complete an online degree, including the number of required credit hours, full- and part-time enrollment options, and whether courses may be taken in a self-paced or cohort-based format.
Students in cohort-based programs typically attend virtual class sessions during the evenings or on the weekend and complete courses within the same time frame as other students in their cohort. Some online programs may also require students to come to campus to complete lab-based science courses like microbiology, which can also extend degree completion time.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor’s in Nutritional Science Degrees
School accreditation by a national or regional agency typically indicates a high level of quality in terms of curriculum, instruction, and student outcomes. Some schools earn both national and regional accreditation, while others have earned only one or the other. Regional accrediting agencies usually review state or nonprofit universities. Technical and vocational programs, religious institutions, and for-profit organizations tend to hold national accreditation. Both types of accrediting agencies assess higher education institutions based on a set of quality standards. However, many schools only accept transfer credits from schools with regional accreditation.
Students can also look for accredited online nutrition degrees recognized for meeting professional-level standards at a program level. Search for nutritional science programs with recognition from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), one of the foremost accrediting agencies for related programs in the country.
The U.S. Department of Education (the ED) oversees a variety of federal agencies that provide various functions, including managing federal student aid and promoting anti-discrimination policies. The ED also approves organizations to assess schools and programs for quality standards through accreditation. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a membership organization, also approves accrediting agencies. Both the ED and CHEA maintain lists of accredited schools on their respective websites.
Employment Outlook for Bachelor’s in Nutritional Science Graduates
Bachelor’s in Nutritional Science Salary
According to the BLS, coastal and midwestern states hold the highest demand for nutritionists and dieticians. While wages differ by state and depend on a variety of factors -- such as specific job, cost of living, and competitiveness in the job market -- the annual mean wage in the U.S. for nutritional science graduates amounts to about $60,000. California ranks at the top of the list as both the highest-paying and highest-employing state for dieticians and nutritionists.
|Top Paying States for Dieticians and Nutritionists||Annual Mean Wage||States with Highest Employment Level||Annual Mean Wage|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Bachelor’s in Nutritional Science Careers
Graduates of dietician schools and related programs qualify for a variety of job opportunities, including as chefs and agricultural scientists. While the day-to-day responsibilities of each career path outlined below vary, several of these positions involve working directly with clients or customers and providing direction or management of operations. Helpful characteristics for nutrition-related careers include an appreciation for changing, dynamic environments; a passion for working hands-on with food or creating nutrition-oriented programs; and a general receptiveness to people's needs and desires.
- Dietitians and Nutritionists
Dietitians and nutritionists use their expertise in nutrition and food to create healthy eating and lifestyle plans for clients. They also assess clients' progress over time and make adjustments to plans. Some dieticians may also create educational materials, speak to groups, or contribute to nutritional science research. A bachelor's degree in food and nutrition or a related area usually provides a solid entry path for this career, though many states also require professionals to earn a license before practicing.
Median Annual Salary - $59,410
Projected Growth Rate - 15%
- Health Educators and Community Health Workers
Community health workers and educators serve their local communities, collecting health data on populations and educating the public about the latest research and ongoing programs. The two positions are distinct, though they often work in tandem. These careers generally require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
Median Annual Salary - $45,360
Projected Growth Rate - 16%
- Food Service Managers
Taking the lead of operations in restaurants and other food-serving establishments, food service managers ensure that facilities operate according to code and aim for consumer satisfaction. Managers also hire, train, and oversee staff; run budget and payroll; and order all food, equipment, and serving supplies. Though not always required, a bachelor's degree can provide an advanced level of business acumen to increase a candidate's competitiveness.
Median Annual Salary - $52,030
Projected Growth Rate - 9%
- Agricultural and Food Scientists
Grounded in research, agricultural and food scientists examine and improve the safety of agricultural products and suggest ways to effectively scale the supply of products to the public. Scientists may also submit research findings for publication, create new food products or packaging, and work to improve soil composition for growing crops. At minimum, agricultural scientists need a bachelor's degree, though many pursue advanced degrees.
Median Annual Salary - $62,910
Projected Growth Rate - 7%
- Chefs and Head Cooks
Overseeing food preparation at restaurants, hotels, and other food-serving facilities, chefs and head cooks combine a deep knowledge of food with an aesthetic eye and operation management skills. Primary responsibilities include ensuring that food is fresh and safe to eat, maintaining an appropriate stock of food and supplies, and planning daily and seasonal menus. This hands-on profession requires hours of experience in the kitchen. Head cooks may also obtain degrees from a technical or culinary arts institution.
Median Annual Salary - $45,950
Projected Growth Rate - 10%
Recent graduates and students pursuing their online nutrition degree can benefit professionally and academically from becoming members of professional organizations. Members of professional organizations gain access to numerous opportunities, including continuing education programs, conferences, recent job postings, and networking forums. Annual conferences and symposiums feature specialized topics such as Native American nutrition, nutrigenetics, and immunonutrition. Professional organizations offer research resources as well, including access to academic journals and newsletters. Student members can develop mentoring relationships and connect with peers in the field.
This organization specializes in advocacy, leadership, and continuing education. Members gain access to professional development webinars that feature topics in using evidence-based nutrition, creating a professional image, and incorporating mobile apps into dietetics practice.
With an emphasis on scientific knowledge, ASN promotes improved quality of life through research and practice. Members receive access to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The organization’s monthly newsletter features job opportunities and student news.
NANP offers many opportunities that incorporate the organization’s mission to advance holistic nutrition. NANP’s annual conference features exhibits of industry products, collaborative learning opportunities, and the latest holistic nutrition information.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Nutritional Science Program
Students pursuing a bachelor of science in nutrition online should begin by completing the FAFSA. This free online application for federal aid is the first step toward securing financial assistance in the form of loans, grants, and scholarships. In addition to federal financial aid, universities provide numerous scholarship opportunities for high achieving students, first-generation college attendees, parent students, and more. Scholarships offered through professional nutrition organizations and private donors help reduce the cost of tuition.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning mirrors what you might find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place and the different funding opportunities available to online students.
Online college programs can make a flexible, affordable option for single parents interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We have compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.
- Best Online Bachelor's in Nutritional Science Programs of 2018
Ranking School Location 1 Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ 2 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 3 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 4 Arizona State University-Skysong Scottsdale, AZ 5 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS
- Best Online Bachelor's in Nutritional Science Programs of 2017
Rank School Location 1 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 2 Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ 3 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 4 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS 5 Arizona State University-Skysong Scottsdale, AZ