Online bachelor's and master's degree programs in nutrition sciences are available in a hybrid format. In some cases, bachelor's-level students may need to complete in-person clinical experiences either on campus or near their homes. Most states require professional licensing for dietitians and nutritionists, but requirements vary by state, so check for location-specific requirements when choosing an educational program.
An associate's degree is required to enter the bachelor's degree program, and a bachelor's degree is required to begin the master's program. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dietitians and nutritionists are generally required to earn a bachelor's degree and complete an internship.
For students seeking a fully online program, they may opt to pursue a certificate in nutrition consulting. These programs are typically around 18 months in length and prepare graduates to be nutrition professionals working to support their clients' needs and lifestyles.
Nutrition Science Bachelor's Degree
Students pursuing an online nutrition science bachelor's degree study food systems, nutrition service and the application of food and nutrition to health. Graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in the nutrition field, as well as state-required certification, licensure or registration. Some programs coordinate with master's level studies to help the transition into an online graduate degree program. Common prerequisite coursework includes classes in chemistry, biology, communication skills and statistics.
Information and Requirements
Some online programs provide in-state tuition rates to out-of-state students. Normally a student can take classes and access resources at their own convenience, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Registration, online discussions, material purchases, assignments and tests are all completed online. Some programs also require supervised practice in approved work settings in the student's locality.
Minimal computer specifications include processor speed, memory requirements and modem speed. Students will also need access to an Internet service provider, e-mail account and, with some programs, specific software.
Typical Courses in a Nutrition Science Bachelor's Degree
Online bachelor's degree programs in nutrition science tend to follow licensure, certification or registration requirements, although students should check with their state. Online general education courses in math, English, humanities, social sciences and biology are typical.
Food and Nutrition Fundamentals
Nutritional impact on health, lifestyle and disease is studied in this course. Students also study the role of nutrients in relation to health status, physical performance and disease. Food safety, controversy, processing, storage and fads are explored in the class.
World Food Culture
This course examines influences on food habits including society, culture, religion, poverty, population growth and government policy. Intercultural communication and adequacy of world food supply are also explored.
Individual needs in nutrition related to medical issues such as liver disease, weight management, transplant, sepsis, transplants and HIV-Aids are studied. How to develop, implement and evaluate nutritional care plans is also covered.
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Nutrition Science Master's Degree
Although program requirements vary, students can expect four semesters of study along with supervised practical experience to complete this program. A thesis is normally required towards the end of the program, and some programs offer both a thesis option that emphasizes research and a non-thesis, professional development-focused option requiring a research project.
Information and Requirements
For entry to an online nutrition science master's degree program, students normally possess a bachelor's degree and may be required to complete an entrance exam. Students must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or above and complete prerequisite coursework in areas of science and nutrition. Online out-of-state students are sometimes offered in-state tuition rates, and programs are available from any location in the virtual classrooms. Access to research materials and information, simulations, book purchases and initial registration are also all normally performed via the Web.
Courses offered online can usually be accessed anytime from any personal computer. Courses are designed for flexibility in scheduling, duration and assignments. Online interaction between faculty and students encourages thoughtful sharing on nutrition via e-mail or discussion boards.
Typical Courses in a Nutrition Science Master's Degree
Online nutrition science master's degree programs provide career-advancing training equivalent to traditional programs. Professional development, research, understanding and principal application in the nutrition field are emphasized in coursework.
Biochemistry of kinetics, hormones, vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids are studied along with other nutritional areas. The course also emphasizes control and integration mechanisms.
Nutrient influence on the function of respiratory, urinary, cardiovascular, nervous, endocrine and digestive systems are studied in this class. Imbalances, infection and inflammation are other areas of concentration.
Primary and secondary nutritional strategies and implications are surveyed in this course. Disease-related methods of treatment and therapy, along with how nutrition supports other medical interventions, are also studied.
According to the BLS (www.bls.gov), median annual wages for dietitians and nutritionists were $57,910 as of May 2015, with the lowest-earning 10% earning about $35,240 or less, and the highest-earning 10% making $80,950 or more. Employment between 2014 and 2024 is expected to grow by 16%, much faster than the average for all occupations, partially due to an increased awareness in both dietary habits and disease prevention.
Although not required in any state, the Registered Dietician status is available from the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association. To achieve this designation requires coursework, successful passing of an exam and a supervised internship. The internship can be completed concurrently with coursework over a 4-5 year period, or completed separately in 900 hours in 6 months to 2 years, depending on a full-time or part-time schedule.
Online bachelor's and master's degree programs are available in nutrition science in a hybrid format. These programs prepare students for careers nutrition and dietary management, as well as state required certification, licensure or registration requirements.