Online Schools for Aspiring Dietitians: How to Choose

Learn about important considerations when selecting an online dietitian school. Read more to get an overview of the program options, clinical requirements, and common topics offered for the field of study.

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Aspiring and practicing dieticians have plentiful online educational options tailored to specific needs. When comparing schools, potential students will want to consider degree levels offered, the accreditation status of the program and whether a fully online or a partially-online, partially-on-campus educational experience is desired.

How to Select an Online Dietitian School

Online dietetics programs are available through 4-year colleges and universities. Online dietetics programs are found at the bachelor's and master's degree levels and prepare students for the registered dietitian national examination. Upon graduating from a dietetics degree program and becoming licensed, individuals can pursue careers as dietitians or nutritionists.

Award Level

A bachelor's degree in dietetics is required to become a registered dietitian; bachelor's programs are available online in 4-year and degree completion formats. There are also online master's degrees for registered and registration-eligible dietitians who want to advance to high-level positions, teach or do dietetics research.

Program Type and Accreditation

Fully online dietetics programs are available and allow students to complete classes at a distance. Hybrid programs feature online courses and require clinical practice time at a local school or partner facility. It's important to choose a program that's accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, which is part of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), formerly called the American Dietetic Association. The AND website provides comprehensive information on the dietetics profession, as well as a list of accredited programs, available internships and mentoring programs.

List of Online Dietetics Programs

Online Bachelor of Science in Dietetics

Some bachelor's programs are available fully online, but it's also common to see requirements for local clinical activities. Basic courses like biochemistry, organic chemistry and biology form a scientific framework for studies.

Professional dietetic practice within the context of traditional and alternative medicine is also examined, sometimes through internships and clinical practice, and the role of food in culture is explored. Students graduating with an online Bachelor of Science in Dietetics will be ready to take the national registration exam and seek work in public and private healthcare settings, as well as in commercial and noncommercial food service operations. Dietetic training focuses on:

  • Food science
  • Life span nutrition
  • Nutrient metabolism
  • Food systems management
  • Counseling strategies in dietetic practice

Online Master of Science in Dietetics

Online master's degree programs in dietetics are designed for registered dietitians who want to broaden their professional knowledge or specialize in an area of dietetics. Some schools allow dietitians who are eligible for registration to enroll as well.

Mother and child nutrition, the effect of nutrition on human performance, micronutrients, nutritional counseling and food education are possible focus areas. Graduates will be prepared to pursue high-level work in nutrition and food management or apply for a doctoral program to continue their studies. In both thesis and non-thesis options, students develop research and critical thinking skills through exploring topics in:

  • Current issues in dietetics
  • Statistics
  • Research methods
  • Biomedical sciences

Schools with Online Programs for Dieticians

For bachelor's degree seekers, Eastern Michigan University hosts a program that may be completed either on-campus or online (via the Extended program). Before enrolling, it is important to check your eligibility for online studies with the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement if you are an out-of-state student. If you are a transfer student, your previous credits must have been completed at a four-year college or university. In addition to online coursework, students must complete several practical experience courses in real world settings.

The unique dietetics master's degree program of Kansas State University brings together the resources of eight universities (the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance) to provide students evidence-based learning initiatives in food, nutrition, food service and health. While scheduling is flexible for this fully online, 36-credit program, the Kansas State website estimates that taking at least two courses per semester should enable you to complete your degree within two years. You will have the option of completing a thesis for your coursework, and you must be a Registered Dietician to gain admission into the program.

Colorado State University offers another accredited university option for Registered Dieticians applying for an online master's degree. Also part of a multi-university partnership program, this degree program is designed to expand career opportunities for RDs while enhancing knowledge within specific areas of interest. Students can also use the program to prepare for doctoral studies.

Individuals pursuing preparation to become registered dieticians will likely benefit from an online bachelor's degree program, while dietician professionals seeking career advancement can benefit from master's studies. Regardless of the degree sought, students should evaluate reputable, accredited programs based on course offerings and potential internship opportunities, if applicable.

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