Best Master’s in Nutrition Online for 2021

Become a more effective health educator and advocate by earning a master’s in nutrition online. Read on to find the best programs for your education and career goals.

The field of nutrition includes several jobs—such as a nutritionist, health teacher, or wellness coach—for those who want to make a life of helping others. A master’s degree, which by 2024 will be the minimum degree necessary to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), is essential to make the most of these careers. For those who already have RDN credentials or want to pursue other careers in the field, a master’s degree is an excellent way to shift career focus into a new area with a specialization.

To make earning a master’s in nutrition online as easy as possible, schools offer a variety of formats and learning options. But selecting the best program to fit your needs can be daunting. You might wonder if you can afford it, what it takes to get accepted, and what you can expect after graduation. Luckily, we created this guide to answer those questions and help you take the first step toward earning your online master’s degree in nutrition.

College Spotlights: Best Nutrition Master’s Programs Online in 2021

How do you choose the right online nutrition master’s program? You start by considering important factors, including flexibility, affordability, and learning outcomes, to meet your professional needs. We’ve identified three top-rated schools that excel in these areas and will serve as a great starting point for your school search. These schools are part of a more extensive rankings list that will come out later this year, so be sure to check back.

University of North Florida

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The online Master of Science in Nutrition Non-Internship Program at the University of North Florida is for students who want high-level knowledge of nutrition, but do not want to become an RDN. There are four concentrations available, including Professional Studies in Dietetics, Nutritional Sciences, Global Health, and Health informatics. Depending on their concentration, students can complete a thesis or a series of independent study classes, real-world experience, and a final project.

The admissions requirements vary by concentration. Students who want to enroll in the Professional Studies in Dietetics track must have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from an ACEND-accredited program. However, students interested in the other three concentrations only need a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a related area of study. Depending on their undergraduate major, incoming students may need to complete prerequisite coursework before they begin.

Arizona State University

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Unlike some other nutrition master’s programs online, the Master of Science in Nutritional Science at Arizona State University was created for students who already have their RDN credential. The curriculum supplements practical knowledge with higher-level theories and concepts that can only come with a graduate degree. This includes research, statistics, and a deep dive into a nutrition-related topic of the student’s choosing. Elective classes cover topics such as sports nutrition, pediatric nutrition, and nutrition policy.

Because the curriculum is high-level and tailored to RDNs, the admissions process is streamlined. For instance, GRE scores are not required for admission, nor must applicants provide proof of prerequisite courses in nutrition. Instead, they need to have a bachelor’s degree and at least a 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) during their last two years of their bachelor’s pursuit.

University of Southern California

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At the University of Southern California’s ACEND-accredited Master of Science in Nutrition, Healthspan and Longevity program, students will complete a curriculum that emphasizes health improvement and longer lifespans through scientific principles and practical experience. The curriculum classifies as a Coordinated Program in Nutrition, which means students take didactic courses while gaining the necessary supervised practice experience to become Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.

To graduate, students must complete 46 units, consisting of 28 coursework credits—most of which are taken online—12 supervised practice credits, and six research hours. Full-time students can complete their degree and training in 21 months, while part-time students take two to three years to graduate. Special admissions requirements include a 3.0 minimum GPA and completion of prerequisite courses within the last ten years.

Advantages of Earning an Online Master’s in Nutrition

If you’re considering a career in nutrition, you might wonder if getting a master’s in nutrition online is worth it. The short answer is that it is worth it, for a variety of reasons, including convenient learning and the ability to make the most of your professional career.

  • Flexible learning options

    The beauty of an online degree is not just the ability to complete courses at your own pace but also to attend classes when it’s most convenient for you, thanks to the asynchronous learning in most online nutrition master’s degree programs.

  • Future-proofing

    Right now, a bachelor’s degree is the required academic credential to become an RDN. But this will change on January 1, 2024, when a master’s degree becomes the new minimum. By earning a master’s in nutrition online in addition to a bachelor’s degree, you will meet the future degree requirement to become an RDN.

  • Increased probability of advancement

    If you have plans to teach, would like to apply for a job or promotion that requires a master’s degree, or want to obtain supplemental instruction in a specialized area in the nutrition field, then earning a master’s in nutrition is a necessary step in your path.

What You’ll Learn in a Nutrition Master’s Program Online

In online nutrition master’s programs, the bulk of the classes teach foundational concepts, from how the human body uses nutrients to more advanced topics, like eating disorders. In addition to these core classes, students take science and math classes that emphasize research and statistical skills, which will help them understand nutrition studies and conduct their own research. Keep reading for a sampling of classes you can expect in a nutrition master’s program online.

Popular Courses

  • Nutritional Epidemiology

    This class explains nutrition epidemiology research, specifically how morbidity and mortality relate to nutrition. Students learn research methods and statistical analysis skills to best interpret research and apply their findings to dietetic practice.

  • Pediatric Nutrition Seminar

    In this class, students focus on the unique nutritional needs of children. Much of the curriculum addresses common pediatric diseases, and the special diets frequently recommended to help treat these medical issues.

  • Statistics in Research

    Research and statistics skills are a key component of the education students receive at the master’s level. This class provides an overview of statistical principles and theories commonly found during the scientific process. After taking this class, students can use statistical programs to interpret and draw inferences from research data.

  • Nutrition and Metabolism

    This class addresses the chemical processes behind how the body makes use of micronutrients and macronutrients. Students learn about energy storage and release and what happens to the human body when it doesn’t get enough micronutrients.

  • Fundamentals of Nutrition: Macronutrients

    This class provides an in-depth analysis of the role of macronutrients in nutrition. Course materials cover the human body’s macronutrient needs throughout the lifecycle and current controversies regarding nutrition theories and concepts.

Specialization Options

Besides earning a graduate degree or meeting the eligibility requirements to become an RDN, another benefit to earning an online master’s degree in nutrition is choosing a specialty. These concentrations are perfect for currently practicing nutritionists who want to shift their professional focus or soon-to-be nutritionists who want to prepare for their desired job after graduation.

  • Dietetics

    This specialization prepares students to become Registered Dietician Nutritionists, sometimes called Registered Dieticians. A critical characteristic of this specialization is the Dietetic Internship or supervised experiential learning experience, which provides the supervised practice component necessary to become an RDN.

    Learn more about online master’s in dietetics programs.

  • Nutrition Education

    This concentration is for students interested in learning about nutrition and health and developing the skills necessary to convey that information to others. Students learn about how behavior and nutrition intersect, as well as lifestyle nutrition concepts and nutrition epidemiology. They create nutrition education programs for various settings, such as the food industry, public health departments, and schools.

  • Global Health

    This specialization applies the core concepts of nutrition to global health concerns. Students will complete courses covering topics such as the nutritional needs of refugees and how culture affects nutrition and diet.

  • Nutrition, Health and Longevity

    Studies show that diet affects the human lifespan. This concentration examines this connection and reviews research on the RDN’s role in healthcare services to promote a longer and higher quality of life.

  • Entrepreneurship

    Nutritionists and dietitians certainly provide important services in healthcare settings. But there is a need for their services in other industries, especially as food and nutrition businesses continue to grow. This concentration teaches students how to meet this demand and become successful in their entrepreneurial endeavors.

Accreditation for Master’s in Nutrition Online Programs

Independent organizations, called accrediting bodies or accreditors, ensure a school or program offers an education that meets certain quality standards. If the school or program meets those requirements, they become accredited. Institutional accreditation applies to a school, while programmatic accreditation applies to a program.

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) accredits online master’s degree programs in nutrition. Not all master’s degree programs in nutrition will have this accreditation. If your goal is not to become a registered dietician, the lack of an ACEND accreditation may not be a problem. However, you should ensure that the school possesses institutional accreditation, preferably from a regional accrediting organization.

What You Can Do with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition

The master’s degree will soon be the required degree to become an RDN, but besides that, it prepares graduates to take on new responsibilities and roles in their field. For example, an online master’s in nutrition can make it easier for graduates to get post-secondary teaching positions or make them more competitive for advanced roles in schools, hospitals, restaurants, and corporations. With more and more people seeking the services of healthcare professionals, prospective students can expect the need for RDNs and other professionals to remain strong.

Nutritionist

Depending on the state in which they practice, a nutritionist must be licensed or certified, which requires completing a certain amount of coursework and supervised practice. One of the most common ways to meet these requirements is to earn a master’s in nutrition online. Not only is the master’s degree going to be the minimum required starting in 2024, but it can also be helpful for a possible career move, such as a nutritionist becoming a nutrition instructor at a post-secondary school.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$38,890 $61,270 $87,360

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Health Education Specialist

Health education specialists teach local communities about ways to improve and maintain their health. Because diet plays such an important role in staying healthy and often relates to many other health issues in a community, health education specialists will be well-served having formal training in a graduate-level nutrition program.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$32,890 $55,220 $98,680

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Technical/Vocational Nutrition Teacher

Many vocations, especially those in the culinary arts, will include instruction in nutrition and dietetics. But sometimes, having a bachelor’s degree plus real-world experience may not be sufficient to land a job as a vocational and technical teacher in nutrition. A master’s in nutrition online can help you meet academic eligibility requirements for this role.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$32,840 $54,620 $99,230

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Food Service Manager

Managers oversee food service operations in various environments, including restaurants, schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. Providing proper nutrition is vital for patients’ and students’ overall health, so having an online master’s degree in nutrition can provide the knowledge necessary to make these decisions without consulting with a supervisory nutrition professional.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$33,210 $55,320 $93,040

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Chef

Chefs supervise and coordinate the cooking activities in a restaurant or other organization that provides food preparation services to customers or patients. These duties often include creating a menu and sourcing ingredients and supplies. Additional training from a nutrition master’s program online can help them effectively meet the nutritional requirements required by their customers or patients.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$28,370 $51,530 $86,990

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Costs and Financial Aid for Master’s in Nutrition Online Programs

Most prospective students will need some form of financial aid to pay for their schooling. There are several financial aid possibilities, including grants, scholarships, fellowships, and student loans. One often-overlooked option is employer tuition assistance. This is an employment perk; employers pay for some or all of their employees’ education in return for a promise that the employee will continue working for the employer for a set period of time. To discover more financial aid options to help pay for an online master’s degree in nutrition, visit our financial aid page.

How Affordable Your Online Master’s in Nutrition Could Be

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Total Tuition Cost

Colorado State University

37

$580.00

$21,460.00

NC State University

36

$446.00
(in-state) and $1,295.00
(out-of-state)

$16,056
(in-state) and $46,620.00
(out-of-state)

University of Texas at Austin

30

$750.00

$22,500.00

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Mental Health Counseling Master’s Degrees

What are the typical admissions requirements for an online master’s in nutrition?

Although there is some variation by school, most master’s in nutrition online programs have similar admissions requirements. This includes:

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • Official transcripts
  • Statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Application fee
  • Resume or curriculum vitae

Some programs are designed for RDNs, so those applicants must provide proof of certification. Other programs only ask for evidence that applicants have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or related field.

Programs differ in their policies regarding GRE scores. Some will require them, some do not, and some programs only ask for them if the applicant has a less-than-stellar academic record.

How long will it take to finish my master’s in nutrition online?

Most nutrition master’s programs online require 30-36 credits. Full-time students who enroll in a program that only consists of coursework can earn their degree in less than a year. In contrast, part-time students who enroll in a program that includes coursework and supervised practice can expect to take three years to graduate. However, most programs will place an upper time limit. For example, at Logan University, students must complete all program requirements within five years.

Can I earn a master’s in nutrition fully online or will I need to visit campus?

Many online nutrition master’s programs that do not contain the Dietetic Internship or supervised experiential learning component are entirely online. These programs cater to students who do not need the supervised practice education component to become a Registered Dietician Nutritionist. However, other online programs require an internship or supervised experiential learning experience. During this in-person internship, students will complete the supervised practice experience necessary to become an RDN.