Nutrition is the study of the science of the foods we eat, what those foods are made of, and how the human body processes that food to sustain us. Nutritionists are experts in nutrition who help individuals and organizations plan meal programs, to optimize the health of a person or target group. Online degree programs for nutrition are a good fit for individuals who are passionate about helping others lose weight, manage disease, increase their fitness level, or live healthier lives. Online degree programs in nutrition science conveniently allow students to complete their didactic course work from their home computers and also help to coordinate internship opportunities near where the student lives. The best online nutrition degree programs are accredited by the American Dietetic Association’s Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Online Associate Degree Programs for Nutrition
An online degree program in nutrition at the associate degree level serves as an excellent foundation for transitioning into a four-year program. Students who do not wish to pursue a four-year degree may use their degree as an introduction to entry-level careers in food service. Course work is focused on building a student’s foundational understanding of the nutrients in food and how the body digests, absorbs, and metabolizes those nutrients. For example, Cosumnes River College’s online Associate of Science in Nutrition and Foods includes courses like Nutrition and Metabolism, Nutrition and Disease, Nutrition Issues Throughout Life, and Food Theory and Preparation.
Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs for Nutrition
Online bachelor degree programs in nutrition are focused on the connection between food and overall human health, and are a good fit for those who wish to become licensed dieticians in their state. While licensure requirements for nutritionists and dieticians vary by state, all candidates are required to have a bachelor’s degree in an area related to food and nutrition, complete supervised practice, and pass an exam, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Students in accredited online degree programs in nutrition typically take courses in Nutrition in the Life Cycle, Community Nutrition, Medical Nutrition Intervention, Food Service Systems Management, and Advanced Nutrition, among others. Programs typically conclude with a supervised internship, providing students with hands-on experience working in nutrition.
Online Master’s Degree Programs for Nutrition
Online masters degree programs in nutrition are a good fit for individuals who want to advance into a managerial position in clinical, community health, or food service settings, or even with the federal government. Courses in a master’s program in nutrition might include Human Nutrition in Physiology and Metabolism, Biostatistics for Health Professionals, Nutrition Research Methods, Dietetics Management, and more. Depending on individual career goals, students may be required to complete a master’s thesis or capstone project in nutrition. A thesis option is appropriate for those who plan to continue their education at the doctoral level in pursuit of a career in academia, while the capstone project is often chosen by those who wish to continue working as nutritionists in the field. Students may also have the opportunity to specialize; for instance, Northeastern University’s online Master of Science in Applied Nutrition allows students to specialize in obesity and eating disorders, nutritional education, nutrition and fitness, or business and entrepreneurship in nutrition.
Online Doctoral Degree Programs for Nutrition
While doctoral programs in nutrition are not commonly offered online, some may offer individual courses online as part of a traditional, campus-based Ph.D program. As with master’s-level programs, students have the opportunity to specialize in an area of nutrition, such as food science. Required courses will closely follow the student’s specialization, and might include Food Chemistry, Food Analysis, Eating Behaviors and Disorders, Food Toxicology, and Nutrition and Genomics. All Ph.D programs emphasize nutrition research, and students may conduct individual study in an area of interest. Such programs conclude with the completion and oral defense of a dissertation, or a student’s original, substantive research into a specific area of nutrition. Doctoral programs are a good fit for students who are interested in careers as researchers or college professors.
Online Degree Programs in Nutrition in the Work Place
Those who complete online college degree programs in nutrition often go on to become nutritionists and dieticians. Careers as clinical dieticians, management dieticians, and community dieticians typically require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in the field as well as state licensure or certification where applicable. The median yearly salary of a nutritionist or dietician was $53,250 in May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Of course, this figure is not reflective of starting salaries in the field, as salaries vary significantly based on a person’s experience, education, roles and responsibilities, and size and type of employer or client base. Dieticians and nutritionists can expect employment growth of 20% between 2010 and 2020, which is faster than average when compared to job growth in other occupations.