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Online Registered Dietitian Degree Program Information

Learn about online registered dietitian degree programs. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

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Essential Information

Registered dietitians provide measurable benefits to the public involving nutrition, health and the interaction between the two. Individuals interested in pursuing a college education in this field online can pursue options at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Online degree programs in nutritional science and dietetics are available at the bachelor's and master's levels. Most bachelor's programs offer lecture-based coursework online, while internships must be completed in-person. Master's programs are primarily designed for registered dietitians seeking career advancement who hold a relevant bachelor's degree. Most master's programs are available in fully online formats.

A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum educational requirement for working as a dietitian or nutritionist. Most states require nutritionists to be professionally certified or licensed, so check with the educational and licensing guidelines in your state before choosing an educational program.

Bachelor's Degree in Dietetics

An online bachelor's degree program in dietetics is concerned with the science of nutrition, the role of diet in health and disease prevention, food safety regulations and principles of food preparation and meal planning. Students also develop the communication skills needed to counsel people on their dietary choices and the management techniques necessary for foodservice operations. Enrollment in a dietetics program requires a high school diploma or GED. High school-level courses in the natural sciences are preferred, particularly chemistry and biology.

Program Information and Requirements

Apart from internship requirements, courses in an online dietetics bachelor's degree program can be completed entirely online. Students interact with instructors and other students via message boards, e-mail, chat sessions and phone. All course content may be accessed through a school's Web site at a student's convenience. Assignments have a fixed deadline, but students can work at their own pace toward that deadline. A bachelor's degree is typically earned in four years.

A sound and graphics-capable personal computer and Internet access are the minimum technical requirements to participate in an online program. Schools may use Blackboard to manage educational content.

Common Courses

Bachelor's degree programs generally require liberal arts courses in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Programs may give particular emphasis to courses in human anatomy and physiology, chemistry and biology.

Nutrition

Students learn about the function of various nutrients and their effect on human health. Topics considered include nutrient digestion, utilization and storage.

Food Production and Management

This course presents general management theories , examining the process of running a food service system in particular. Topics include procurement, menu planning, quality control and computer applications, among other topics.

Dietetic Counseling

Students learn techniques used in educating and advising people on food choices and nutritional options. Techniques are also explored for use in both individual and group counseling.


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Master's Degree in Dietetics

This degree program is designed for registered dietitians looking to enhance their knowledge in food, nutrition, health and wellness promotion, and food service operations management. Programs emphasize research, critical thinking on public health policy and applications of new theories in dietetics. Eligible candidates must have earned a bachelor's degree in dietetics with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and be credentialed by the American Dietetic Association's Commission on Dietetic Registration.

Program Information and Requirements

Students may complete this program entirely online, typically in 2-3 years. Readings, lectures, assignments, tests and other course content are accessible on a 24 hour basis. Interactions between students and the instructor are conducted through online forums, chat rooms and e-mail. Students need a multimedia-capable personal computer and Internet access to participate.

Common Courses

Master's degree programs are often organized into sets of core courses and electives and can include a thesis or non-thesis option. Students who choose to write a thesis may have to present an oral defense of it before a review committee.

Nutrient Metabolism

This course explains the physiological processes by which the body metabolizes vitamins and minerals and uses them for energy and cell maintenance. Coursework addresses hormonal regulation, symptoms of toxicity and nutritional deficiency, biological availability and nutrient interactions.

Energy Balance

Students examine the effect of metabolism and endocrinology, as well as lifestyle choices on mental and physical vitality. Topics explored include the development of obesity, research methods and applications of energy balance data.

Clinical Dietetics

An in-depth analysis of the pathology and physiology of diseases is provided as they relate to nutrition. Physical disorders that disrupt nutrient assimilation and nutritional deficiencies that undermine physiological function are both considered.


Career Information

An online bachelor's degree in dietetics qualifies graduates to work as a dietetic technician or dietitian. Hospitals, nursing homes, government agencies concerned with public health, private businesses and educational institutions all employ dietitians. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), employment of dietitians will grow 16%, faster than the average for all occupations, from 2014-2024. Growth will result from increased emphasis on proper diet as a means of preventing disease. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $57,910 for nutritionists and dietitians as of May 2015.

An online master's degree in dietetics can help registered dietitians meet any legally mandated continuing education obligations, as well as advance to higher level management positions as directors or assistant directors. Some dietitians may specialize in nutrition therapy for elderly, diabetic or renal patients. They may also become dietetic consultants, nutrition policy advisers or clinical researchers.

Continuing Education Information

In most states, dietitians need to be licensed or certified by the state; however, dietetic technicians do not. Students who wish to be certified as registered dietitians by the American Dietetic Association need to arrange for and complete an internship at an approved food service corporation, community agency or healthcare facility. They may then go on to earn a master's degree in dietetics.

Registered dietitians who earn a doctorate degree in dietetics may teach at the college level or lead academic research projects. As of December 2013, doctoral programs in dietetics were not offered online.

Students can earn an online bachelor's or master's dietitian degree; bachelor's degree's are offered in a hybrid format while the master's program is fully online. Upon graduation, dietitians will have to potentially obtain their license or certificate in the state they reside.

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