By TMHA Staff
Here you will find all you need to know about the 20 top master's programs in dietetics online.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for registered dietitians (RDs) will markedly increase in the coming years. More specifically, the bureau expects the number of employed nutritionists and dietitians to grow by about 16% before 2024. That's more than twice the national average! Experts attribute this explosion of job opportunities to two factors. First, an aging baby boomer generation will be on the lookout for ways to stay healthy, and that includes weight loss as well as nutrition-based medical therapies. Second, national health concerns have motivated average consumers to make nutrition a top priority. As a result, dietitians will see their client base expand far beyond the sick and aging populations.
Currently, students must only earn a baccalaureate degree in nutrition or dietetics and complete an internship in order to qualify for an RD credential. However, experts within the field have been debating a change to these qualifications for more than a decade. Agencies such as the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) and Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) have been working closely with special task forces such as the Council on Future Practice (CFP) to discuss possible updates to established practices. The result, as of 2012, was an official recommendation to "elevate the educational preparation for the future entry-level RDN to a minimum of a graduate degree."
In other words, a master's degree may not be an option for future dietitians, but rather a requirement. To get ahead of the game, current undergrads might want to head straight to an advanced training program once they graduate. Doing so could help them secure their credentials and avoid a blow to their professional stature once the changes kick in. The same goes for practicing RDs who only have a bachelor's degree. Earning a master's now – before it becomes a mandate – could save time and money in the future.
Especially for working professionals, it might not be so easy to drop everything and head back to school. Fortunately, online master's degrees in nutrition provide plenty of flexibility and self-paced study to meet the needs of busy adults. To begin with, there are nearly 40 schools that offer master's degrees in nutrition and dietetics online. But after studying the field, crunching the numbers, and devising a ranking, we are here to present a finalized list of the 20 top online masters of nutrition and dietetics programs.
Methodology: Want to know how we came up with these top 20 schools? Click here to see a detailed explanation of our masters programs in dietetics online ranking methodology.
20. Auburn University
Online Master of Nutrition program (Distance education option)
Novice nutritionists and practiced professionals alike will see plenty of benefits in the online Master's degree in Nutrition at Auburn University. Although some people choose distance learning specifically for the flexibility and independence, this degree actually shares a great deal in common with the traditional, on-campus program. Online MS in Nutrition students will feel right at home at Auburn, all thanks to state-of-the-art teaching methods – including discussion boards, webcasting, video lectures, and online presentations – that encourage regular interactions between professor and pupils. The curriculum, which mandates five hours of research credit (no thesis required) and offers concentrations in Nutrition Science as well as Community, Sports, and Clinical Nutrition, is ideal for students with a wide range of career goals.
Average Tuition: $19,220/yr
19. University of Saint Joseph
West Hartford, CT
Nutrition M.S. Online
Unlike Auburn, the University of Saint Joseph's MS in Nutrition is designed explicitly for current nutrition and dietetics professionals. The curriculum delivers updated information and contemporary theories to working adults who want to make sure they stay on the cutting edge of their field. This affordable online master's program in nutrition may also appeal to students with a scientific background, as the program allows online learners to customize their coursework in order to specifically emphasize "the science of nutrition." Another plus? Applicants do not need to take the GRE – or any other qualifying exam – as part of their admissions requirements!
Average Tuition: $18,240/yr
18. Benedictine University
Online Master of Science in Nutrition and Wellness (MSNW)
Benedictine University may be one of 20 schools on this master's degree in nutrition and dietetics online ranking, but its graduate program is in a class all its own. The only degree on our list to include an explicit focus on wellness, this MS in Nutrition aims to expose students to "a deeper, more sophisticated level of nutritional science." What's more, Benedictine's online graduate nutrition program is one of just a handful in the entire country to offer specific concentrations. These include Nutrition Entrepreneurship, an interdisciplinary emphasis that prepares students to operate their own health- and wellness-related businesses; and Health Education, which focuses on community health "from a holistic and environmental perspective."
Average Tuition: $16,695/yr
17. Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, MI
Online Master of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics
Through Central Michigan University's Global Campus, practicing nutritionists and registered dietitians can augment their understanding of a continuously evolving field. CMU actually combines three online masters programs in nutrition, each focused on a different type of experiential learning (coursework, internship, or research/thesis) to help students best prepare for their desired career. This versatility only makes CMU's affordable online graduate degree in nutrition all that more enticing – especially for young professionals (who may benefit from valuable internship experience) as well as students who want to learn more about dietetics research. And to top it all off, online learners in each track must complete a final oral exam to prove their comprehension.
Average Tuition: $14,685/yr
16. North Dakota State University
Masters in Dietetics Online
To be fair, North Dakota State University didn't make the cut for this top 20 online master's degree in nutrition ranking all by itself. Rather, NDSU established its reputable online Masters in Dietetics with the help of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA), a network of regional universities that have pooled their resources to offer the best distance learning experience they can. Most suitable for registered dietitians, NDSU's online program provides advanced training that can give students a leg up in their pursuit of greater career opportunities, whether that be a promotion or a PhD.
Average Tuition: $10,894/yr
15. Kansas State University
Online Dietetics Master's Degree Program
Like NDSU, Kansas State University is a member of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance. In fact, KSU was the lead institution in establishing an online master's program in nutrition for residents of the Midwest. Distance learners who wish to attend this top program should be certified registered dietitians and have at least 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of their undergraduate coursework. Although the entry requirements are not exactly lenient, the rewards are worth the effort; KSU graduate nutrition students take classes in research methods, statistics, and of course, dietetics. Online students also have their choice between a thesis or non-thesis degree path, and they can even customize their electives to earn an accompanying graduate certificate in business administration or leadership.
Average Tuition: $15,715/yr
14. The Sage Colleges
Online Master of Science in Applied Nutrition Graduate Program
Few schools show quite the same dedication to distance learning as The Sage Colleges – at least when it comes to earning an accredited master's degree in nutrition and dietetics online. Their program is available entirely online to: students with a B.S. in Nutrition (or a closely related field); registered dietitians with some graduate credits; and registered dietitians who completed their dietetic internship at The Sage Colleges. And yet, individuals who don't meet those requirements can still study online, but they will need to take some classes onsite at the Troy campus as well.
Average Tuition: $12,290/yr
13. University of Southern Mississippi
Online Master of Science in Nutrition and Food Systems
Students looking for a generalist nutrition program that can open doors to a vast array of careers may not want to consider the University of Southern Mississippi. On the other hand, dietitians who want to work directly with children should head directly to USM's application page. Why? Because this university hosts one of the very best masters programs in dietetics online – with an emphasis in Management of Childhood Nutrition! One of the few online graduate degrees to take such a focused approach, USM offers classes in Financial Management of Child Nutrition Programs, School Law, Food and Nutrition Public Policy, and many more topics that can help professionals advocate for the health and wellness of our nation's young people.
Average Tuition: $11,375/yr
12. University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Online Nutrition & Health Sciences: Specialization in Dietetics M.S.
The University of Nebraska Lincoln is another benefactor of the Great Plains IDEA program, although that doesn't mean it has nothing unique to offer. On this masters programs in dietetics online ranking, UNL scores slightly higher than its Great Plains consortium partners – not only because of its ANDP membership (which KSU also shares) but because of its multiple ACEND accreditations. And of course, registered dietitians will find everything they would expect in this online learning program, including coursework in food culture, dietary and herbal supplements, healthcare administration, and even phytochemicals!
Average Tuition: $15,033/yr
11. Loma Linda University
Loma Linda, CA
Nutrition and Dietetics/Coordinated Program in Dietetics, M.S.
At Loma Linda University, simply being a registered dietitian is not enough to gain entry into its unique online MS in Nutrition Care Management. One of the prerequisites for admission is a minimum two years of work experience as an RD. But that's not all! Other admissions mandates include the GRE and a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate coursework. And selectivity is not the only reason Loma Linda has one of the best master's degrees in nutrition and dietetics online. Because of the stringent entry requirements, this distance learning program is able to offer some of the most advanced classes available in the field, including coursework in medical nutrition therapy and food service systems management.
Average Tuition: $27,180/yr
10. Indiana University of Pennsylvania
MS in Food and Nutrition Online
What does it take to create one of the best online masters of nutrition and dietetics programs in the country? Answers may vary, but many students would likely cite strong support services and a sense of community as top priorities. These features sometimes fall by the wayside in distance education, but Indiana University of Pennsylvania, thanks to its comprehensive Department of Food and Nutrition, actually excels in these areas. From an undergraduate program (complete with three distinct concentrations) to an online master's degree to a dietetic internship program, IUP has covered all its nutritional bases – and then some!
Average Tuition: $13,289/yr
9. South Dakota State University
Master's in Dietetics Online
It should come as no surprise that South Dakota State University earns a place on this masters programs in dietetics online ranking, because yes, it too is a member of the Great Plains IDEA partnership. SDSU edges out its closest competition in the consortium (University of Nebraska Lincoln, ranked #12) with a slightly more affordable price tag, but with just as many great features. The 36-credit program can help launch the careers of ambitious young nutritionists – who already have a registered dietitian credential – by training them for the next level, whether that be a move into food service management, nutrition program supervision, or even private practice ownership.
Average Tuition: $11,268/yr
8. Rutgers University at New Brunswick
New Brunswick, NJ
Online Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition
For more than two decades, Rutgers University has been in the business of educating registered dietitians. And while having one of the oldest programs around doesn't necessarily make it the best, there's no doubt that Rutgers has one of the best online master's degrees in nutrition on the East Coast. But the real power source behind this top program is the university's School of Health Professions, which houses a robust Department of Nutritional Sciences. Drawing on the school's many resources, this department has managed to cultivate a comprehensive set of academic offerings that span far beyond an online graduate degree; other options include a coordinated undergraduate program, dietetic internship, continuing education courses, and two doctoral degrees!
Average Tuition: $24,034/yr
7. University of North Florida
Master of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics Online
Speaking of the East Coast, the University of North Florida has another one of the region's best MS in Nutrition degrees online. Beyond its affordable price tag and robust, multi-level program, this university also scores points for hosting an accredited internship/clinical practicum experience. Although of course internships (which consist of 1200 hours of supervised training) require face-to-face interactions, the graduate degree coursework is available entirely online. Students can choose the thesis track to focus on an independent research project or opt for the non-thesis path, which emphasizes hands-on learning through a combination of field experiences, projects, and independent study courses.
Average Tuition: $15,874/yr
6. University of Rhode Island
MS in Dietetics – Online
Like most of the schools on this online masters programs in nutrition ranking, the University of Rhode Island offers an MS in Dietetics that primarily admits current registered dietitians. However, students can also apply to this degree program without the RD credential – if they are concurrently enrolled in a dietetics internship. In fact, the coursework for this degree is designed to complement the various clinical rotations typically included in ACEND-accredited internship programs. Each seven-week course focuses on a different area of nutrition, such as medical nutrition therapy, health promotion, or foodservice operations, allowing online learners to acquire the appropriate theoretical knowledge at the same time they are working toward technical proficiency in their clinical practicums.
Average Tuition: $19,547/yr
5. Samford University
Online Master of Science in Nutrition
Most of the accredited online masters of nutrition and dietetics programs on this list are designed to meet the 2016 requirements for registered dietitians. And while that makes perfect sense, Samford University is busy thinking ahead. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently recommended that, starting in 2024, the mandatory education level for aspiring RDs change from a bachelor's to a master's degree. In response, Samford designed an online program to build upon foundational nutrition knowledge and help students choose a specialty before becoming registered dietitians. The curriculum includes concentrations in General and Clinical Nutrition and requires distance learners to complete a research project in either community or clinical nutrition, nutrition science, or public health.
Average Tuition: $19,223/yr
4. East Carolina University
Online Master of Science in Nutrition
One of the most affordable master's degrees in nutrition and dietetics online, East Carolina University is committed to providing "in-depth nutrition knowledge" and "career advancement" at the right price. The MS in Nutrition at ECU follows the traditional curriculum for graduate-level dietetics study, including coursework in physiology and metabolism, biostatistics, and epidemiology. Both RDs and non-professionals are eligible to apply, although GRE scores and a minimum number of undergraduate nutrition classes are required for admission. Once accepted, distance learners can choose between a thesis and non-thesis track. While both options incorporate research, thesis-track students must design an independent project and submit a final paper – and may need to attend some on-campus events.
Average Tuition: $13,158/yr
3. Colorado State University at Fort Collins
Fort Collins, CO
Online Master of Science (M.S.) in Food Science and Nutrition
Colorado State University at Fort Collins represents the last – and highest ranked – of the Great Plains IDEA members on this list. CSU's accredited online masters of nutrition and dietetics program is also the most expensive of the group, but the cost is justified. After all, this university's involvement in health and wellness extends far beyond its online graduate degree. CSU's Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition enjoys a notable presence on campus, with three distinct BS degrees, two MS degrees, and a comprehensive doctoral program. So while online students still benefit from the resources of a regional, multi-institutional alliance, they can also take advantage of the robust services of a department with deep roots on campus.
Average Tuition: $18,141/yr
2. Texas Woman's University
Online MS in Nutrition
Staying to the original purpose of distance education, Texas Woman's University offers an affordable online masters of nutrition and dietetics program that is designed to be maximally flexible and minimally intrusive. Registered dietitians, full-time nutritionists, and professional healthcare workers can get the training they need from TWU without disrupting their daily schedules. Classes take place entirely online and allow students to learn at their own pace (as long as they graduate within six years). The program also provides internship opportunities for individuals who can commute to Denton or Houston, as well as a unique School Nutrition Specialist (SNS) internship.
Average Tuition: $10,177/yr
1. Eastern Michigan University
Dietics and Human Nutrition Program
Boasting a pile of accreditations and distance learning options, Eastern Michigan University wins big in the search for the best masters programs in dietetics online. In fact, EMU is the only official online MS in Nutrition in the entire country that is ACEND-accredited! Standing behind this top-notch program is EMU's mighty School of Health Sciences, which offers a cornucopia of undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates in everything from health administration to clinical laboratory sciences to occupational therapy – plus MS degrees in both Nutrition and Dietetics (yes, there are two!). The nutrition degree, which is available both online and on campus, offers three pathways to graduation – thesis, research, and research writing – to support students with varying career interests.
Average Tuition: $21,609/yr
Now all you have to do is choose the best online graduate degree in nutrition for you!
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Association of Nutrition Departments and Programs (ANDP)
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