Earning an Online Nutritional Sciences Bachelor’s Degree
This page covers the basics of earning a nutritional sciences degree and will help guide your search for the right school and program. This guide introduces the nutritional sciences field and notes common courses for nutrition students. You will learn about popular career paths for nutrition science graduates and their potential salaries. This information can help you decide whether a bachelor’s in nutrition science fits your personal and professional goals. You can also review the section on accreditation for nutritional sciences programs to learn how to choose a reputable program.
Overview of Nutritional Sciences Degrees
Nutritional science explores the relationship between diet and health. The field deals with health issues related to eating habits and incorporates concepts from disciplines including biology, chemistry, and the social sciences. Nutritional science students examine how dietary choices can affect a person’s wellbeing and study the environmental and societal factors that influence eating habits.
Earning a nutrition science degree online is ideal for students who are passionate about using nutrition to solve health issues in individuals and communities. Nutritionists can use their knowledge of biology and biochemistry to treat patients in hospitals or private practices. Graduates can also apply their understanding of social sciences to address community health concerns.
While most online nutrition science programs do not require any in-person components, some programs include an internship that prepares students for careers in the rapidly growing nutrition field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment opportunities for dieticians and nutritionists will increase 15% from 2016-2026, more than double the rate for all occupations.
Demand for these professionals grows as nutrition becomes increasingly important to improving health and treating disease. Demand for nutrition services also increases as baby boomers age into retirement.
The application process for bachelor of science in nutrition online programs is similar to that for other bachelor’s programs. Each school has slightly different expectations, so prospective nutrition science students should research requirements carefully before beginning the application process.
Nearly all programs require applicants to hold a high school diploma or a GED. Programs designed for students who have already completed some college may require an associate or bachelor’s degree. Applicants must submit official high school or college transcripts, and most programs require a minimum GPA between 2.0 and 3.0. In addition, many colleges require SAT or ACT scores. For admission to most online programs, learners submit an online application and pay a fee. Some schools require supplemental materials such as a personal statement or short essay.
Many schools enforce different admission requirements for transfer students and new freshmen, so applicants should understand which requirements they must meet. Prospective students can speak with their school’s admissions office to better understand the application timeline and required materials.
What Will I Learn?
Nutrition sciences programs incorporate nutrition-specific classes and courses in various science fields. Nutrition science students often explore basic concepts in microbiology, organic chemistry, and statistics. Coursework also covers principles in human and animal nutrition, food science, metabolism, and physiology. Students earning a bachelor of science in nutrition online may also take advanced courses in human anatomy, immunology, and pharmacology.
Students earning a nutrition bachelor’s degree online generally complete 120-130 credits, typically including 50-60 in general education courses, 40-50 in major courses, and 20-40 in electives. General education requirements often include foundational courses in the social sciences, humanities, and communication. In addition, some nutrition programs require prerequisite natural science courses. Though specific coursework varies by school, the courses below are common to undergraduate programs in nutritional sciences.
Sports nutrition courses prepare bachelor’s students for roles in settings such as athletic and health clubs. These courses cover nutrition in the context of athletic training, sport science, and physical therapy. Students examine how nutrition and macronutrient utilization affect athletic performance, body composition, and exercise physiology.Clinical Nutrition
In this course, students learn to apply nutrition principles to treat diseases. They become familiar with the physiological and biochemical foundations of nutritional care, and they study how various conditions affect nutrient metabolism. Students also explore the medical nutrition therapies clinical dieticians prescribe for different diagnoses.Lifecycle Nutrition
This course covers how nutritional requirements change throughout a person’s life. Students explore the dietary needs and health concerns of infants, children, pregnant women, and the elderly. Students learn how to recommend nutrition guidelines for these groups and others, including those with substance abuse issues or eating disorders.Food Service Management
This course prepares students for positions as management dieticians and nutrition services managers. Students develop the organizational, managerial, and leadership skills they need to direct nutritional operations in healthcare organizations, food service businesses, and schools. They learn to plan menus, manage budgets, and oversee purchasing.Public Health Nutrition
This course covers nutrition problems of various populations, along with methods for addressing them. Students learn to assess a community for nutrition issues and to plan public health programs. They also become familiar with policy issues in nutrition. This course prepares students to become community health workers, health educators, and public health professionals.Nutrient Metabolism
In this course, students earning their bachelor of science in nutrition science study the basic biological mechanisms associated with metabolizing vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Students explore the processes by which the major organs absorb and utilize nutrients. They also consider sources for essential nutrients.
What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Sciences?
Graduates of nutrition science programs can pursue a variety of careers. Individuals who are passionate about community healthcare or health education may work in public health. Those interested in working for a large corporation can find jobs in the food service industry, while students who want to treat disease can work in clinical settings.
The following sections introduce core nutrition science skills and how these skills apply to various nutrition-focused occupations.
Students in bachelor of science in nutrition science programs develop skills they need to excel in a variety of nutrition-related careers and industries. Students hone analytical skills necessary to review the latest nutrition research and learn about new approaches. They also improve their communication skills, allowing them to effectively convey medical information to patients and clients. Additionally, nutrition science programs cultivate the problem-solving skills graduates need to comprehensively evaluate clients and recommend diet plans.
Bachelor’s programs help students develop the specialized skills that nutrition professionals need for different lines of work. Nutritional sciences students gain the skills necessary for positions in medical environments such as hospitals, outpatient care facilities, and physician’s offices. They learn to assess medical issues, care for patients, and recommend nutritional treatments for various ailments. Students may also gain the managerial and organizational abilities required to direct nutrition initiatives in food service businesses, cafeterias, and other organizations. Students interested in public health can master approaches for evaluating health issues in rural and urban communities.
Some programs prepare students for the registered dietician certification exam.
Potential Careers & Salaries
Nutritionists fill a variety of crucial roles in many sectors. In general, professionals with a bachelor of science in nutrition promote wellness, prevent disease, and increase longevity. Some nutritionists run their own businesses and help clients reach personal health and fitness goals. Others work in healthcare organizations, treating diseases such as obesity and digestive disorders through nutritional programs and diet changes. Still other professionals with an online nutrition degree work in the public health sector, where they run nutrition education programs and improve access to healthcare.
Earning a bachelor of science in nutrition online does not guarantee any of the careers below. In most states, nutritionists and dieticians must apply for a license before they can practice. Additionally, many health-focused professions require certification.
Clinical dieticians and nutritionists work in healthcare settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, and private practices. They evaluate patients’ health problems and develop nutrition plans that address these issues. They may specialize in a specific condition, such as diabetes or kidney disease.
$49,595 per year
Community nutritionists work in public clinics, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. They develop public health and nutrition programs that promote wellness in a community. Community nutritionists may focus on a specific segment of the population, such as children or the elderly.
$41,683 per year
Also called nutrition services managers, management dieticians plan food programs in organizations such as schools, hospitals, and prisons. They ensure food service adheres to nutritional and food safety regulations. These dieticians also manage budgets and direct purchases.
$49,673 per year
Community health workers improve access to affordable healthcare services and health education. They evaluate a community’s needs and work with healthcare providers to make sure people receive the necessary care. Health educators help the public understand health and health services.
$44,086 per year
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Nutritional Sciences?
A bachelor’s degree in nutrition science provides the skills and academic experience entry-level professionals need. However, students interested in intermediate-level or management positions should consider earning a graduate degree. A graduate degree can also qualify professionals for specialized or clinical practice.
A graduate degree in nutrition qualifies holders to pursue the certified nutrition specialist credential, an advanced certification administered by the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists. This certification demonstrates proficiency in the nutrition field and can help nutritionists achieve senior-level positions in many organizations. However, bachelor’s degree holders can advance their careers without further education. Earning a certification, such as the registered dietitian nutritionist credential, can lead to higher-level jobs with more responsibility.
Accreditation for Nutritional Sciences Bachelor’s Programs
Accreditation is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a bachelor’s program in nutritional sciences. Attending an accredited institution ensures that employers will recognize your degree and allows you to apply for federal financial aid. Plus, most graduate programs require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Accreditation proves that a school offers high-quality instruction and academic resources.
The U.S. Department of Education authorizes the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics to accredit nutrition science programs. In addition to programmatic accreditation, students should ensure the institution holds regional or national accreditation. Regional accrediting include the Higher Learning Commission, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education Accreditation, and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Nutritional Sciences Professional Organizations
Professional organizations can provide recent college graduates with valuable networking, continuing education, and professional development opportunities. These resources can prove crucial for entry-level professionals. The science-focused nature of the nutrition field demands that professionals stay up-to-date on the latest trends. Professional organizations for nutritionists often provide access to publications, newsletters, and peer-reviewed academic journals that include recent research in nutrition and dietetics.
NANP advances the holistic nutrition field and supports professionals including nutrition educators, chefs, and nutrition consultants. The association maintains a job board, publishes a biweekly newsletter, and hosts an annual conference and expo.
Founded in 1928, ASN works to advance nutrition research, practice, and education. The association helps researchers share their work through publications and an annual meeting. Members can learn about trends in the field through peer-reviewed journals and continuing education opportunities.
Through research, practice, and advocacy, SNEB works to improve nutrition education and promote healthy behaviors. The organization offers professional development opportunities, webinars, policy updates, and an annual conference to help members advance their careers and learn about the field.