Online Nutrition Degree Programs

Case Studies, Course Offerings and Timelines to an Education in Nutrition

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Students seeking a degree and a career in nutrition have a promising road ahead with many degree programs, internships, learning modes and funding options. Prospective students have the opportunity to join a growing field via a number of online degree levels, from certification to doctoral degrees. The first step on each path toward a career in nutrition begins with research. This guide illuminates the options and possibilities for earning an online nutrition degree.

The levels of career opportunities in nutrition directly correlate with the various degree levels. Online certification programs offer a quick, albeit more basic, path into the workforce, opening the door to many entry-level positions. Associate’s and bachelor’s degrees offer a slightly wider field of options due to the depth of knowledge and skills covered within the degree program. The online graduate study programs, master’s and doctorate, open the scope to utilizing research, experience and education to influence the field of nutrition.

About Online Degrees in Nutrition

Students enrolled in an online program learn remotely, at a time convenient to them. They communicate with classmates and professors electronically. A hybrid program utilizes online educational technology while still requiring students to attend traditional classrooms some of the time to perform labs or attend seminars.

The technologically progressive online option is growing in popularity, and many traditional colleges and universities are now offering wholly online degrees. The online delivery system makes it easy and effective to communicate by email, voice, and face-to-face. Online students to learn at their own pace, balance jobs and schoolwork, and often save on costs.

Case Study #1

William earned his online associate’s degree in nutrition because he wanted to help people with weight management issues and teach healthy eating habits. His degree helped him garner a well-paying position, consulting for a health and nutrition company. In the hopes that he could make an even bigger impact on the community, he decided to go back to school to get his online bachelor’s degree.

Online Associate Degree in Nutrition

A two-year, associate degree program online includes basic courses, like English and mathematics, as well as courses focused on nutritional concepts, such as organic chemistry and microbiology. The programs provide students with the necessary tools to begin working in a career associated with nutrition. The associate degree is a smart option for students who want to enter the workforce quickly.

Many institutions offer reasonable online tuition rates for associate’s degree courses. Job candidates with associate’s degrees have a leg up on those with only high school diplomas. The associate’s degree also offers the flexibility to shift and grow. It covers core nutrition courses, but also offers a broader education to prepare graduates for the changing and fluid job market. While each online associate’s degree in nutrition is different, the following sample curriculum illustrates the types of classes generally required.

Freshman Year Credits/Units Description
English Composition I 3 Course focuses intensely on both writing and analytical reading, considering diverse perspectives, argument development, knowledge of audience and more.
General Chemistry I 4 Focus on practical and theoretical chemistry, covering such topics as kinetics, chemical bonding, atomic theory and stoichiometry.
Basic Calculus 3 An introductory course covering exponential, logarithmic functions and algebraic applications.
Social Science Elective 3 Students may choose any advisor-approved Social Science elective.
English Composition II 3 Advances the concepts introduced in English Composition I.
General Chemistry II 4 Advances the concepts introduced in General Chemistry I.
Introductory Nutrition 3 Course focuses on nutritional concepts, consumer issues, lifecycle needs and intercultural nutrition issues.
General Psychology 3 A study of human behavior and experience.
Elective 3 Students may choose any advisor-approved elective.
Sophomore Year Credits/Units Description
Human Physiology 5 An introduction to human physiology as it relates to nutrition and human organ-systems.
Organic Chemistry I 3 A look into the properties of carbon compounds and their reactions.
Careers in Nutrition 2 Overview of the requirements and routes to finding a career in nutrition.
Culture/Civilization Elective 3 Students may choose any advisor-approved Culture/Civilization elective.
Arts Humanities Elective 3 Students may choose any advisor-approved Arts/Humanities elective.
General Microbiology 3 A study of the general characteristics of viruses and bacteria.
Life Span Nutrition 2 Focus on the development of the human body and how it relates to nutritional needs.
Introduction to Statistics 3 An overview of the processes within the field of statistics, including data collection and descriptive statistics.
Culture/Civilization Elective 3 Students may choose any advisor-approved Culture/Civilization elective.
Elective 3 Students may choose any advisor-approved elective.
Case Study #2

Beth saw early on the benefits of her online four-year degree in the field of nutrition and an internship with her local public health organization. Her degree and experience in the field helped her earn a job at that very same organization, educating the mothers of newborns on infant nutrition needs

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition

An online bachelor’s degree in nutrition extends two years beyond the curriculum of an associate degree, and covers additional classes such as physiological chemistry and energy metabolism. Major courses involve the finer points of nutrition education – health and wellness, medical terminology and nutrition research, to name a few.

Most employers consider a bachelor’s degree to be a minimum requirement for any job above entry-level. The additional two years of education and experience can prepare graduates for the competitive job market. Each program is unique, but most will include the types of courses in the following example.

Junior Year Credits/Units Description
Science of Foods 3 An overview of skills necessary to select, prepare and evaluate quality food.
Physiological Chemistry 3 An in-depth look into the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, nucleic acids and proteins.
Vitamins and Minerals 3 Focuses on human nutritional needs in the way of vitamin and mineral requirements.
Business and Professional Communication 3 An overview of the principles of communication within an organization.
Elective 3 Students may choose any advisor-approved elective.
Foodservice Operations Management 3 All elements of foodservice industry will be covered, including equipment, production and menu development.
Energy Metabolism and Metabolic Integration 4 Study focuses on process by which the human body metabolizes carbohydrates, fat and proteins.
Foundations of Accounting 3 With a focus on the business world, the course looks into accounting theory and practice.
Elective 3 Students may choose any advisor-approved elective.
Senior Year Credits/Units Description
Medical Terminology 3 An introductory course to medical language.
Foodservice Systems Management 3 Focuses on the major needs of organizational and operational structures in the food and nutrition market.
Professional Issues in Dietetics 1 A licensure course, it focuses on practical application during nutritional internships.
Clinical Nutrition I 3 Assessment of human disease as it relates to pathophysiology and nutrition.
Nutrition Counseling 2 Introduction to the counseling skills to help both individuals and groups change eating habits.
Arts/Humanities Elective 3 Students may choose any advisor-approved Arts/Humanities elective.
Elective 2 Students may choose any advisor-approved elective.
Food and Nutrition in the Community 3 Course looks at the change in nutrition based on geographic location, economics, education, etc.
Clinical Nutrition II 3 A continuation of Clinical Nutrition I
Interpreting Current Nutrition Research 3 Course focuses on research of nutritional data and critical evaluation of nutritional literature.
Nutrition Counseling Application 1 Application within a classroom setting of skills learned in Nutritional Counseling.
Elective 3 Students may choose any advisor-approved elective.
Case Study #3

Crystal started working as a registered dietician in her hometown hospital. Her online master’s degree in nutrition gave her the necessary knowledge of nutrients and metabolism to help diabetes patients control symptoms through diet instead of medication.

Online Master’s Degree in Nutrition

Many students go on to earn online master’s degrees in nutrition, which typically take two years to complete. Students delve into issues of clinical behavior, nutrition and metabolism and nutritional research techniques. The coursework usually culminates in an on-site internship or fellowship within the field or in a comprehensive, research-based essay called a thesis paper. Internships are arranged at locations convenient to online students.

Beyond the intellectual reward of a master’s degree in nutrition, a student can expect to enhance certain skills that transfer directly to the work place. Through the internship and/or thesis process, master’s students learn to problem solve, collect and evaluate data, communicate professionally and manage projects. Proficiency in these skills goes beyond mere head-knowledge of nutritional concepts, making job applicants with master’s degrees very attractive to potential employers.

While specific institutions will differ, the following chart outlines a typical online master’s degree program in nutrition.

Year 1 Credits/Units Description
Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism 4 Discusses and explores the physiological connections and relationships between the body and nutrients.
Medical Nutrition Therapy 4 Examines the medical field as it relates to the application of nutritional principles.
Research Methods in Nutrition 4 An in-depth look into the techniques used in nutritional research.
Health Promotion/Disease Prevention 4 Explores the methods by which a person can enhance his/her lifestyle through nutrition.
Clinical Health Behavior Change 4 Discusses nutrition theory as it relates to the adoption of healthy behaviors.
Applied Research in Nutrition 4 Offers an opportunity to work with formal nutritional research.
Food and Society 4 Explores food trends and products and how they can affect change in the lives of people.
Year 2 Credits/Units Description
Nutrition Entrepreneurship 3 Explores the issues and techniques used to create and operate food – and nutrition-based businesses.
Health Care and Nutrition Communication 4 Discusses the current methods of health and nutrition communication, as it applies to targeting a mass audience.
Foundations of Project Management 3 Offers students with no prior business experience an opportunity to learn about general and project management responsibilities.
Financing of Nutrition and Wellness 3 Examines the processes and opportunities which accompany the acquisition of private and public funding.
Nutrition in Practice 4 A real-life internship or practicum experience with focuses on taking nutritional theory into practice.

Online Doctorate Degree in Nutrition

A doctoral degree represents the highest level of education in the field of nutrition and is often very specialized. Most online programs span four years, wherein students complete coursework, attend lectures and work on a dissertation, a lengthy publishable paper. Many institutions waive required coursework if it has been covered in a master’s program. While courses may be similar to those of a master’s degree, an additional two years are spent researching, writing and ultimately defending the dissertation before members of a review board.

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An online doctorate degree opens the door to the working in academia. Most universities and colleges only hire professors with doctoral degrees. The degree programs at this level are work-intensive and lengthy, and graduates become experts in both nutrition and educational systems, making them perfect candidates for open professorial positions.

Aside from the realm of academia, many doctoral graduates put their degrees and experience to use in the corporate world as upper echelon employees in the field of nutrition. They regularly become department, project or research managers, earning top notch salaries.

The following table provides a sample curriculum for a doctorate degree in nutrition.

Core Course Description
Nutritional Status A research-based course, it delves into the nutrient intake and assessment of nutritional status.
Dissertation A repeatable course, this is independent work on research and writing of a dissertation, guided by an advisor.
Metabolic Interrelationships I: Macronutrients Discusses the relationships between nutrients and metabolism on the cellular level as the human body undergoes the aging process.
Metabolic Interrelationships II: Macronutrients A further look into the topics explored within Metabolic Interrelationships I.
Principles and Practices of Epidemiology An introduction to the elements of epidemiology, including screening, population health and interpretation of data.
Foundations of Public Health A look into the fundamental principles in the field of public health. The course will explore the environmental, behavioral and social sides of public health.
Research Electives Doctoral candidates are required to conduct extensive research to build and defend their dissertation. Many institutions build this requirement into the doctoral curriculum.