According to the Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals, several colleges and schools offer online programs in dietetics. Associate's degree programs may be offered fully online or hybrid programs and may require students to complete on-campus requirements. A bachelor's degree is the minimum required to be a dietitian. Available in both blended and online formats, these programs include internships. Online master's degree programs are available as both thesis and non-thesis options and require students to complete an internship.
Associate's Degree in Dietetic Technology
Online programs in dietetic technology prepare students to aid dietitians in planning proper nutrition plans or educating food service personnel about nutrition. Graduates are qualified to take the exam for the Registered Dietetic Technician designation. The curriculum is intensive to biology, chemistry and nutrition. Topics of study include medical therapy, food preparation and community nutrition.
Online Dietetics Associate's Degree Program Requirements
Like on-campus associate's degree programs, distance learning associate's degree programs take approximately two years to complete. Some of these programs are hybrid programs, meaning that much of the coursework is completed online with occasional visits to campus or an outreach center. Courses are typically provided through an online virtual classroom, such as Blackboard.
Students may access distance learning courses from either a PC or a Mac computer. The most current hardware and software are required despite the type of system used. Mac users should be aware they will need to download the Firefox browser if using Blackboard because Internet Explorer for Mac does not work properly.
List of Common Associate's Degree Dietetics Courses
Online dietetics associate's degree programs include such general education courses as communications, psychology, math and science. The bulk of core courses focus on some aspect of nutrition.
Distance learning clinical nutrition courses train students to interview, assess and counsel patients regarding their dietary habits and needs. Case studies are examined.
Students enrolled in an online medical nutrition course learn about the effects particular foods have on the body and various stages of disease. Nutritional therapies for various diseases are studied.
This online course trains students in proper sanitation, menu planning and quality control. Discussion of food service profitability may also be included.
Bachelor's Degree in Dietetics
A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement to become a dietitian. Some schools offer dual distance learning programs allowing students to earn their bachelor's and master's degrees in dietetics concurrently. A student may enter the bachelor's degree program as a junior if he or she has already earned a dietetics associate's degree. Prior to enrollment, students should have already completed classes in biology, anatomy, chemistry and medical terminology. Students should make sure a program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education prior to enrollment.
Online Dietetics Bachelor's Degree Requirements
Distance learning bachelor's degree programs in dietetics are typically completed in four years. Less time will be needed for those who already hold associate's degrees in the field. Like their on-campus counterparts, distance learning programs generally follow a 15-week semester format. While some schools have programs that can be completed entirely online, others have students attend some classes or take examinations in a traditional classroom setting. In addition, students may be required to complete internships.
High-speed Internet access and an e-mail account are needed to complete the online program. Distance learning classes usually use some type of virtual classroom software like Blackboard, and tutorials and technical support are available for those new to the virtual classroom technology.
List of Common Bachelor's Degree Dietetic Courses
If the student has not already earned an associate's degree, he or she must meet general education requirements prior to taking core courses. Core dietetics classes focus on advanced nutrition and food service.
Life Cycle Nutrition
Candidates learn about the appropriate nutrients for different phases of the human life cycle. Phases include infancy, childhood, adolescence, pregnancy and adulthood.
This distance learning course emphasizes the biochemical, physiological and metabolic functions of nutrition. Students explore how these functions affect one's overall nutritional wellbeing.
This online course emphasizes the role of nutrition in treating chronic and acute disease. Case studies in nutrition therapy may be discussed.
Master's Degree in Dietetics
Online master's degree programs in dietetics may be completed in as little as two years. Prior to embarking upon the master's degree program, students must hold bachelor's degree in dietetics, nutrition or a related field. A master's degree may help students gain advanced positions. Some programs offer concentrations in management or information technology. Programs may or may not require a thesis.
Online Master's in Dietetics Program Requirements
Both online and hybrid master's degree programs in dietetics are available. Hybrid programs may require students to visit the campus for intensive instruction sessions each semester, or they may only require students to participate in clinical labs or internships. Online classes are delivered by video streaming, Web conferencing and archived files. Communication with professors and fellow students is conducted through e-mail, instant messaging and online conferencing.
Students are required to have the necessary computer hardware and software to efficiently participate in discussions and to complete assigned tasks. Additional software may be needed to perform certain functions, such as teleconferencing.
List of Common Master's Degree Dietetic Courses
Online graduate-level dietetic courses are intensive to research and science. Topics of study include micronutrient metabolism, advanced nutrition therapy and healthcare informatics.
Nutrition Research Methods
Students enrolled in this online dietetics course use surveys, controlled trials and other research techniques to interpret dietary information. Other methodologies covered include biochemical tests and dietary intake evaluations.
This distance learning course examines the relationship among energy intake, energy output and body composition. The topic of obesity may be discussed.
Healthcare Delivery Systems
Online healthcare delivery systems courses emphasize payment systems, regulatory agencies and cost management. Students analyze and evaluate existing healthcare delivery systems.
Career Information for Graduates
Graduates of associate's degree programs in dietetics are qualified to work as dietetic technicians where they, under the supervision of dietitians, plan meals, counsel clients and educate communities about nutrition. As of May 2015, the BLS reported an average annual salary of $29,170 for dietetic technicians (www.bls.gov). The BLS projected job growth of 13%, faster than the average for all occupations, for this profession from 2014-2024.
Graduates may take the Registered Dietitian exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The Commission is part of the American Dietetic Association. As of May 2015, the BLS reported an average annual salary of $58,410 for dietitians and nutritionists. A higher concentration of these professionals worked in general and surgical hospitals than in other locations as of 2015, the BLS reported. The BLS projected job growth of 16%, faster than the average for all occupations, from 2014-2024 for dietitians and nutritionists.
Graduates with master's degrees may become dietetic consultants or management dietitians. With experience, these graduates may take on positions with more responsibilities and higher wages. According to the BLS, 46 states have laws governing dietetics. Because licensing requirements may vary by state, students seek licensure information from their state governments.
Numerous schools offer associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees in dietetics that can be completed entirely online or in a hybrid format. In addition to coursework in nutrition, food management, and energy balance, students may need to complete an internship.