Best Online Master’s in Nutrition Programs

Our higher education experts at BestColleges have ranked the best online master's in nutrition programs. Read on to learn about programs, admission requirements, and career opportunities.

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by Marisa Upson

Published on January 19, 2022 · Updated on June 20, 2022

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A master's in nutrition program may appeal to aspiring professionals who want to help people make healthier food choices. Students can learn about energy needs and food composition, as well as the psychology behind eating habits.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, unhealthy dietary choices contribute to some of the leading causes of death in the U.S. These include heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Obesity rates also have skyrocketed.

Earning an online master's in nutrition can lead to an in-demand career. And graduates can help people improve the quality of their lives.

Most online master's in nutrition programs require 30-36 credits and take about two years of full-time study to complete. According to PayScale, graduates with a master's in nutrition earn an average annual salary of about $59,000, as of September 2021. Earning this degree can put you on the path toward a lucrative and rewarding career.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Nutrition Program?

An online master's in nutrition program can help prepare graduate school students for careers as registered dietitians and researchers. It also may lead to other leadership roles in the nutrition field. Students learn about the science behind food's interaction with the human body.

These nutrition professionals can help people make food choices that lead to better health and wellness. Success in this field requires a passion for health and a desire to help others improve their health through diet.

Most online master's in nutrition programs require 30-36 credits and take about two years to complete. However, some online accelerated programs can lead to a degree in one year.

Students pursuing careers as registered dietitians may be required to complete 1,200 hours of in-person supervised practice. Distance learners may be able to fulfill this requirement in facilities near their location. On-campus requirements may include orientations and campus-based intensives.

Depending on their program, students may be able to choose from several concentrations, including:

Students interested in continuing on to earn a doctorate in nutrition may want to consider a master's in nutrition program with a thesis option.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Nutrition Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

#1 Online College in North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Information
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 91%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,000
Out of State | $2,000

Credits to Graduate
42

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council on Education for Public Health

UNC Chapel Hill offers a master's in nutrition that full-time students can complete in 16 months. The cross disciplinary curriculum teaches students about nutrition across the life cycle, nutritional epidemiology, counseling and culture, and food and nutrition policy. The program also requires a practicum work experience. 

Graduates have become public health officials; dietitians; nutritionists; and writers at Southern Living, EatingWell, and Shape magazines. Program admission does not require the GRE, but applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited school.

#2 Online College in Missouri

Logan University

School Information
Location Chesterfield, Missouri
Admission Rate 67%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 79% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $450
Out of State | $450

Credits to Graduate
36-39

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Logan's online master's in nutrition degree allows graduates to customize their education with concentrations in sports and fitness nutrition, nutritional wellness, health education and promotion, or integrative nutrition and practice.

The program, which includes three 15-week trimesters, prepares students for the Certified Clinical Nutritionist and the Certified Sports Nutritionist exams. Core courses cover life cycle nutrition, nutritional science, research methods in health, and natural therapies. Some tracks require internships or capstone learning experiences. 

Applicants do not need to take the GRE, but they must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA.

#3 Online College in Texas

The University of Texas at Austin

School Information
Location Austin, Texas
Admission Rate 32%
Graduation Rate 86%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Annual Cost
In State | $8,684-$10,848
Out of State | $8,684-$10,848

Credits to Graduate
30

UT Austin's accelerated master's in nutrition degree, which takes 1-2 years to complete, offers two concentrations in health promotion and disease prevention and biochemical and functional nutrition. 

Students take seven-week courses in molecular nutrition, experimental design and statistics, and macronutrients and micronutrients. Online learners get access to campus resources, such as libraries, discounts, and campus facilities.

The program does not require a thesis, but the curriculum meets part of the requirements for the Board Certified Nutrition Specialist certification. Applicants should have an educational background in health or related work experience.

#4 Online College in North Carolina

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

School Information
Location Raleigh, North Carolina
Admission Rate 45%
Graduation Rate 82%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $500
Out of State | $1,500

Credits to Graduate
36

NC State features a non-thesis master's in nutrition degree that emphasizes either human nutrition or feed science. 

Required coursework includes six credits of a practicum, internship, or an independent project. Online learners take courses in nutrition and metabolism, biochemistry of gene expression, maternal and infant nutrition, life cycle nutrition, and exercise nutrition. This program qualifies students for the professional science master's designation.

Eligible candidates need a bachelor's degree in a science-related major with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants also need to have completed prerequisites in biology and organic chemistry.

#5 Online College in New York

Northeast College of Health Sciences

School Information
Location Seneca Falls, New York
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $9,070
Out of State | $9,070

Credits to Graduate
36

Northeast's online master's in nutrition degree, which emphasizes holistic health and wellness, offers fully online courses, including virtual clinical hours. 

Most online learners take two courses every 15-week trimester and graduate in two years. Some speed up their degree plan and graduate in 16 months.

Electives in sports nutrition, behavioral nutrition, and clinical practice allow students to customize their education. Core classes focus on clinical herbalism, applied nutrition and whole food science, and microbiome and gastrointestinal health. 

The master's in nutrition prepares students to become certified nutrition specialists and certified clinical nutritionists. Prospective students need to have completed at least 90 college credits, including courses in bioscience.

#6 Online College in Oregon

University of Western States

School Information
Location Portland, Oregon
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $537
Out of State | $537

Credits to Graduate
34

UWS offers an online master's in nutrition degree with a clinical focus. Each course in the program requires students to make assessments and diagnoses. Most students take two courses every semester and graduate in 21 months. 

Students complete foundational courses in principles of functional medicine, nutritional biochemistry, evidence-based nutrition, and whole food nutrition and supplementation.

While not mandatory, students can choose a mentorship option to gain supervised clinical experience. Students who work as licensed professional healthcare workers can take the American Clinical Board of Nutrition after completing 300 hours of coursework. Graduates qualify for the Certified Clinical Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist exams.

Applicants must have completed prior coursework in biology, physiology or anatomy/physiology, biochemistry, and medical terminology.

#7 Online College in Georgia

University of Georgia

School Information
Location Athens, Georgia
Admission Rate 45%
Graduation Rate 87%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $629
Out of State | $629

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics

UGA's non-thesis master's in nutrition degree prepares graduates who have work experience in school nutrition to earn Georgia School Nutrition Directors certification. Full-time students complete the program in one year, while part-time students graduate in two years. 

Major coursework provides a foundation in nutrition intervention, community nutrition, nutrition and obesity across the lifespan, and childhood and adolescent nutrition. Degree-seekers specialize their studies by taking electives in diet and disease for nutrition education, food ingredients and function, and leadership development in workforce education. 

Candidates need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college with at least a 3.0 GPA. They also need to submit GRE scores.

#8 Online College in Virginia

Liberty University

School Information
Location Lynchburg, Virginia
Admission Rate 51%
Graduation Rate 47%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
Full Time | $390
Part Time | $455

Credits to Graduate
36

Liberty's master's in nutrition degree features eight-week sessions that allow students to graduate in less than two years.

Delivered through Liberty's School of Health Sciences, this program does not lead to registered dietitian certification. However, students become competent in epidemiology, the principles of nutrition, food-borne illness prevention, nutrition research, and nutritional biochemistry. 

Degree-seekers can also specialize in performance nutrition, child and adolescent nutrition, nutrition for pregnancy, and geriatic nutrition. 

The degree prepares students to become nutrition or health educators, wellness consultants, and non-licensed nutritionists. Candidates must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally or nationally accredited school with a minimum 3.0 GPA. 

#9 Online College in District of Columbia

American University

School Information
Location Washington, District of Columbia
Admission Rate 36%
Graduation Rate 79%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 20% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,720
Out of State | $1,720

Credits to Graduate
30

American University features a master's in nutrition degree that prepares graduates to help people and communities become healthier. Online learners can earn their degree fully online in as few as 20 months. 

Students take courses in life cycle nutrition, nutrition epidemiology and research methods, health communication, and vitamins and minerals. The degree sets the foundational knowledge needed to earn the Certified Nutrition Specialist credential. Degree-seekers benefit from American University's career resources, including mentorship opportunities, networking events, and webinars on hot topics.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regional school and at least a 3.0 GPA. This program does not require the GRE. 

#10 Online College in Massachusetts

Northeastern University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Annual Cost
In State | $35,300
Out of State | $35,300 

Credits to Graduate
45

Northeastern offers a master's in nutrition degree that allows students to concentrate their studies and graduate in 12-18 months through part- and full-time options. The program offers specialities in obesity and nutritional health, nutrition education, nutrition and fitness, and business and entrepreneurship in nutrition.

Online learners study under registered dietitians and healthcare specialists. Students take courses that help them put theories into practice and strengthen their research methods. 

For admission, applicants must complete prerequisites in chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology, and general nutrition.

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Admission Requirements for a Master's in Nutrition

Admission requirements for online master's in nutrition programs vary based on the program and concentration. While some programs may accept students with a bachelor's in a non-related field, prerequisite courses in microbiology, chemistry, physiology, nutrition, and biology may be required.

Part of the evaluation process for graduate school also may include on-campus interviews. Additional requirements for certain tracks may include a drug screening and a criminal background check. The following sections describe typical materials needed to apply to these programs.

Application

Make sure to check your chosen school's application process before getting started. Many graduate programs establish their own admission requirements. Some colleges and universities accept applications via a centralized system, while others require that applications be submitted through the school's portal.

Test Scores

Online master's in nutrition programs often require GRE standardized test scores. Some programs, for example, may require a minimum combined score of 300 in the verbal and quantitative sections or above the 50th percentile. This requirement can vary, even among different tracks offered in the same program. For nonnative English speakers, TOEFL or IELTS scores also may be required.

Letters of Recommendation

Master's in nutrition programs typically require 2-3 letters of recommendation. Schools may require recommendations from previous professors and/or a supervisor in the field of healthcare or food service. Students should consider requesting letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with their previous academic and work-related experience, even if they're not required.

Resume and Work Experience

Some online master's in nutrition programs require professional work experience in nutrition, health, or food science industries. However, this experience does not necessarily need to come from paying jobs — a volunteer or internship position in a related field also may qualify. Applicants can provide this information by writing a resume.

Essays

An essay or personal statement describes why a prospective student is drawn to the field of nutrition. Applicants should include experiences that have helped to prepare them for the field's educational and career demands. Additionally, students should list their long- and short-term professional goals, strengths and weaknesses, and achievements.

Official Transcripts

Students must request official transcripts from all postsecondary institutions they attended. Many online master's in nutrition programs require a minimum undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Also, make sure to check on transfer credits, as some programs may allow students to transfer in up to 50% of their required credits.

How Do I Choose a Nutrition Master's Online Progam?

Cost

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that graduate tuition and fees for public in-state schools averaged around $12,170 in 2018-2019, while tuition and fees at nonprofit private colleges and universities averaged about $27,780. Students may be able to save money by looking for online programs — some don't charge distance learners out-of-state fees. Also, campus-based fees, like student recreation and parking, may be reduced or eliminated for online students.

Program Format

Online programs offer asynchronous and synchronous learning formats. Students with full-time jobs or those caring for family members may benefit from asynchronous learning. This allows them to set their own schedule for studying. Synchronous learning formats connect students and professors, usually through weekly scheduled virtual class sessions.

Location

Some online programs charge nonresident fees, which can increase tuition significantly. Additionally, students should consider travel costs and time commitments for online programs that require on-campus or in-person participation. Attending a school close to home also may provide students with more networking opportunities. They also could participate more in on-campus activities.

Accreditation

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. ACEND is the accrediting body for nutrition and dietetics education programs. Accreditation assures high educational standards and can influence credit transferability, eligibility for financial aid, and the ability to sit for national exams.

Student Support

While students pursuing an online master's in nutrition might worry about missing out on student services and connections with faculty and peers, that is not necessarily the case. Many online programs provide opportunities to connect. Check with a program to make sure it offers advisors, mentorship opportunities, and alumni connections. Also, consider internships and whether or not the school helps online learners access these opportunities close to home.

Courses in a Nutrition Master's Program

Research in Nutrition

This class explores different types of research and how it can be applied to nutrition and dietetics. Students also learn how to use qualitative and quantitative data to evaluate community health services.

Nutritional Biochemistry

This course focuses on vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other components the human body requires. Covered topics include how the body metabolizes nutrients and the biosynthesis of vitamins. Students also explore health problems that can result from inadequate nutritional intake.

Nutritional Program Design

Students learn the science behind creating nutritional programs for different populations. Additional topics include evaluating existing nutrition programs and their effectiveness in reducing the risk of chronic disease and improving health.

Behavior Change in Health

This course goes over cognitive behavior techniques designed to help people overcome negative lifestyle choices, such as overeating, choosing unhealthy food and beverages, and smoking. Topics include theories and practices that can affect changes in behavior.

Nutrition and Disease Prevention

This class addresses the role nutrition can play in preventing acute and chronic diseases. Students investigate nutritional therapies and research supporting nutrition as a preventative measure.

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What Can I Do With a Master's Degree in Nutrition?

Career Outlook

Graduates with an online master's in nutrition often pursue careers with community service organizations, public health departments, schools, and food companies. They can also work as self-employed nutritional counselors. In addition, many go on to positions as nutritionists and dietitians working in hospitals and nursing care facilities.

Effective Jan. 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration will require students to hold a graduate degree to take the credentialing exam to become registered dietitian nutritionists. As a result, a master's degree will become much more important for success in this field.

The demand for nutritional experts is expected to increase in the coming years due to growing interest in preventative healthcare and an aging U.S. population. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 11% job growth for dietitians and nutritionists between 2020 and 2030. This is above the projected 8% job growth for all occupations. These nutrition professionals earned a median annual salary of $63,090, as of May 2020.

See where a master's degree in nutrition can take you. Learn more about nutrition careers.

Continuing Education

Some master's students decide to continue their education, earning a Ph.D. in nutrition. Others go on to pursue advanced degrees in public health or administration. A Ph.D. focuses on research and academia, with many graduates entering postsecondary teaching positions.

A doctorate in nutrition can prepare graduates for leadership roles in clinical settings, government agencies, and community organizations. Graduates can earn top recognition as experts in their field. These programs typically require an advanced practice residency and may take 4-6 years to complete.

Graduates also may pursue national certification through numerous professional organizations. While not usually required, these certifications signal that you are qualified in specific areas. They may lead to more job and advancement opportunities. A few of these certifications include certified clinical nutritionist, certified nutrition specialist, and certified nutritional consultant.

Careers for a Master’s in Nutrition Graduate

Registered Dietitian

Registered dietitians (RDs) work in various settings, including hospitals, nursing care facilities, schools, and correctional centers. These professionals may help patients manage chronic illnesses, such as Type 2 diabetes, by developing meal plans and helping them understand how food affects their condition. They also may manage food-service operations. RDs are typically required to complete 1,200 hours of supervised work experience, pass a national exam, and acquire state licensure.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $63,090

Food Scientist

Food scientists perform research, analyzing the nutritional content of food. They work to develop better methods for processing, packaging, and storing food. Many work in quality assurance, monitoring food production and analyzing the final product. Others work for the government, enforcing food regulations.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $68,830

Community Nutritionist

Community nutritionists typically counsel individuals and groups within a community on nutrition, diet, and health. They may work with specific populations, such as children, older adults, or individuals with certain diseases. Many work in community organizations, including government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and health clinics. Licensing requirements vary by state.

Average Annual Salary (as of September 2021): $43,700

Management Dietitian

Management dietitians manage food programs in various settings, including hospitals, schools, corporate cafeterias, and prisons. Tasks may include planning meals, purchasing, budgeting, and managing staff. These dietitians may establish meal plans by determining caloric needs based on exercise levels, health conditions, and age.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $63,090

Nutrition Education Specialist

Nutrition education specialists design nutritional education programs in schools, community service organizations, and corporations. These professionals also research the relationship between chronic disease and dietary habits and share this knowledge with individuals and groups. Some also pursue roles in food companies and product development.

Average Annual Salary (as of September 2021): $50,730

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Nutrition Programs

Is a master's in nutrition worth it? true

For individuals looking to take on leadership, managerial, and research roles, an online master's in nutrition can offer career advancement opportunities. In addition, as of 2024, ACEND will mandate a master's degree as the minimum educational requirement for registered dietitian certification.

An online master's in nutrition also can allow students to specialize in their area of interest, whether in sports, food science, or as clinical dietitians. For those interested in postsecondary teaching, a master's can pave the way to a Ph.D. in nutrition or a related field. A doctorate in nutrition can lead to leadership roles in government agencies and community organizations.

What can I do with a master's in nutrition? true

A master's in nutrition prepares graduates to enter leadership roles in numerous fields. They can pursue careers as registered dietitians, supporting medical staff and designing food plans that help patients with specific illnesses. They also may provide individualized nutritional counseling as self-employed nutritionists.

Master's in nutrition degree-holders also work as food scientists, community nutritionists, and nutrition education specialists. These professionals work in clinical healthcare settings, schools, nonprofit agencies, public health departments, and correctional facilities. Additionally, some students use a master's in nutrition as a stepping stone to a Ph.D., which can lead to teaching positions in postsecondary institutions and research opportunities.

Are nutrition majors in demand? true

The demand for nutrition experts should increase as more healthcare providers and patients turn to healthier eating habits and nutrition to prevent or help treat diseases. The aging baby boom generation should also lead to increased demand as this population increasingly looks to nutritionists and dietitians for ways to stay healthy as they grow older.

The BLS projects 11% job growth for dietitians and nutritionists between 2020 and 2030 — faster than the average 8% projected job growth for all U.S. occupations. Professionals with advanced degrees should have more job prospects as employers search for well-qualified applicants with knowledge in specific areas of nutrition.

How much money can I make with a master's in nutrition?

nnual salaries vary based on position, employer, location, and experience level. For instance, while dietitians and nutritionists earned a median yearly salary of $63,090, as of May 2020, those working in outpatient care centers made a median annual wage of $69,660, according to the BLS.

Location also plays a significant role in earnings, with nutritionists and dietitians in California boasting the highest earnings with an annual mean salary of $81,070.

According to PayScale, individuals with a master's in nutrition earned an average annual wage of $59,000, with most nutritionist salaries ranging from $32,000-$78,000, as of September 2021.

What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a master's in nutrition?

The highest-paying jobs you can get with an online master's in nutrition typically involve clinical practice and leadership roles. For example, a clinical nutrition manager's annual salary ranges from $57,000-$93,000, according to PayScale. Certified diabetes educators also see some of the highest earnings, with an average yearly wage that typically ranges from $53,000-$80,000.

By industry, one of the top-paying employers for dietitians and nutritionists is the federal government. These professionals earn an annual mean salary of $77,580, according to the BLS. Food and agricultural scientists also take home significant earnings, with an average median wage of $68,830 and the top 10% earning $125,280 (as of May 2020).

Feature Image: Fertnig / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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