Best Online Nutrition Degree Programs
Broadly speaking, nutrition is the study of food and its support of life. Within this, however, nutrition students specialize in a number of areas including research, individual nutrition and public health. Students who are interested in nutrition can earn a bachelor’s, a master’s or a doctorate degree in this discipline, but it should be noted that postgraduate degrees are much more common. While some colleges and universities have nutrition schools or departments, many nutrition degrees are offered through other schools and departments, including medicine, nursing, public health and health sciences.
The best nutrition degrees, regardless of whether or not they are offered on-campus or online, will provide students with a strong background in biological sciences, clinical nutrition, nutrition education, and nutrition research. Students in these programs will learn about the importance of nutrition, from the micro and macro points of view, looking at how nutrition affects both individuals and societies.
Online Nutrition Courses
Although the nutrition courses students are likely to take will depend on the area in which they specialize, there are several that most students will take.
- Organic Chemistry – the study of carbon-based compounds
- Biochemistry – the study of chemical processes in living organisms (including humans)
- Nutrition and Metabolism – the study of nutritional biochemistry and physiology, including digestion, absorption, metabolism and storage
- Food Studies – comparative study of foods in a global context
- Public Health Nutrition – the concepts and principles of public health nutrition including the differences between population-based and individual-based policies of prevention and treatment of nutrition-related conditions, and the barriers to improving a community’s health
- Infant and Maternal Nutrition – principles and application of nutrition to promote healthy mothers and infants with a focus on research relating to normal growth and development
- Pediatric Nutrition – principles and application of nutrition to promote the healthy growth, development, and behavior of children, particularly those with special healthcare needs
- Nutrition and Chronic Disease – studies how nutrition contributes to, prevents and controls chronic diseases, including cancer
Students who graduate with a degree in nutrition can pursue careers in several areas. Most obviously, they can work as nutritionists, offering advice to individuals, families and communities. Many nutritionists also work in the education field. Some graduates go on to teach in nutrition programs, while others focus on educating communities that are prone to chronic illnesses such as diabetes and obesity. In a similar vein, many nutrition degree holders go on to work for nonprofit and non-government organizations (NGOs) providing strategy and analysis for communities and regions.
Online Nutrition Degree Programs
Although there are more traditional, on-campus nutrition degree programs than there are online nutrition degree programs, there are a some well-regarded online degree programs offered by accredited institutions.
University of Bridgehampton
The University of Bridgehampton offers an online Master of Science in Nutrition. In order to successfully complete this program, students must take 44 credit hours of core and elective curriculum courses and pass a comprehensive exam, which is offered twice a year. If a student is interested in completing a thesis, which is optional, that can count as an elective. The comprehensive exam, however, is mandatory. The University of Bridgehampton delivers its online classes via Blackboard and occasionally uses synchronous technology (meaning that all students are online at the same time) to create a virtual classroom.
New York Chiropractic College
New York Chiropractic College (NYCC) also offers a graduate degree in nutrition, the Master of Science in Applied in Clinical Nutrition. This program requires 36 credit hours, which usually takes students to two years to finish. In addition to coursework, NYCC’s master’s in clinical nutrition program prepares students to sit for certification exams such as the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS), the Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN), and the Diplomate for the American Clinicate Board of Nutrition (DACBN).
Arizona State University
Although Arizona State University (ASU) does not offer a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, it does offer a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences – Healthy Lifestyles Coaching. In addition to courses in fitness, nutrition, healthy eating, stress management, students will also take classes that focus on the cultural and political aspects of healthcare. This bachelor’s degree program encourages students to work with communities through nonprofit and for-profit organizations.