Top Online Nutrition Schools
Nutrition and diet are more than weight-loss catch phrases. While registered dietitians and nutritionists may create custom diets, their reasons are more than just superficial. For people with soy or peanut allergies, finding food that won’t trigger a reaction but will also provide all the necessary nutrition can be a nightmare. Dietitians work with those who suffer from food allergies to create diets that will prevent malnutrition but will also stay clear of possibly deadly allergens. Nutritionists also assess health issues in patients which may be caused by poor nutrition, and can work with pediatricians to help prevent malnutrition in infants.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov, 2012), dietitians and nutritionists can be employed by schools, hospitals, companies or self-employed as consultants. In some cases, they may be required to oversee the production of meals and the acquisition of food in addition to measuring the success of the meal programs they develop.
As of the publication date of this article, no comprehensive rankings of nutrition schools exists. However, the only nutritional bachelor’s degree programs accredited by Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics that provide distance learning are available at the following five schools. Additionally, these schools top the list based by their total enrollment size and student-faculty ratio based on data from the National Center of Educational Statistics for the 2010 academic year.
1. University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
2. Eastern Michigan University
3. The University of Alabama
4. University of Northern Colorado
5. Kansas State University
Below is more about the nutrition focus available from online schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com
According to O*NET Online, 32 percent of dietitians and nutritionists said a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, food and nutrition, or a related area was required for employment, and 60 percent said a master’s degree was required. Nutrition programs can include classes in biology, organic chemistry, physiology, pharmacology and statistics and many programs also require hands-on internships involving food preparation or in a clinic. However, a degree specifically in nutrition is not necessarily required.
According to the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012), individuals without a degree in nutrition traditionally must show they have completed the required nutrition classes (or classes in biology, chemistry and physiology) during the process of earning their bachelor’s degrees. For individuals who have degrees and coursework outside of nutrition, a master’s degree may be more desirable than returning to school for a second bachelor’s degree.
The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) also notes that many states require licensure for practicing nutritionists and dietitians and, for most states, earning the Registered Dietitian credential, administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, allows for licensure. For these states, the requirements for the credential meet or exceed the state’s requirements for licensure and there are few states which have either additional requirements or no requirements at all. Additionally, the BLS notes, many employers require the credential for employment.
Requirements for the credential include earning a bachelor’s degree with the required course work, completing an accredited practice program in a health care facility or food-service provider and passing the national examination provided by the CDR.
The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) expects employment of nutritionists and dietitians to expand by up to 20 percent from 2010 to 2020. Growth is expected as a result of an increase in health and wellness promotion as a form of preventative health care. Nursing homes are also expected to see a demand for nutritionists as the baby boom generation gets older.
According to the BLS, dietitians and nutritionists earned a national annual wage of $54,470 median in 2011, with the bottom ten percent earning $34,300 and the top ten percent earning $76,400 nationally in 2011 (BLS.gov, 2012).
Learn more about accredited nutrition programs from online schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com
When researching online colleges and universities, make sure to verify that your choice of school is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council or by another accrediting agency that approved by The U.S. Department of Education or The Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or both. DETC and CHEA both provide a searchable list of approved schools.
The title of Registered Dietitian is legally protected and is granted by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The CDR requires credential applicants to have completed coursework approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics as one of the conditions for exam application. As a result, only courses offered from their approved schools count towards credentialing. ACEND provides a searchable list of approved programs and the required internships.
Because the credential is required in many states and by many employers, ACEND also provides a list of the non-accredited programs as to avoid confusion.
Sources and further reading:
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation
The U.S. Department of Education
The Distance Education and Training Council
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Commission on Dietetic Registration
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics