Nutrition Education Degree Programs, Online Included

There are nutrition education degrees available in the US online and at campuses, at all degree levels. With a degree in nutrition education, you generally will learn how to educate others about nutrition. Nutrition Education is the combination of educational strategies with environmental support to facilitate positive behavior change. These positive behaviors include learning about and choosing nutrient dense foods to optimize health.

Students interested in designing nutrition related programs, campaigns and resources are a good fit for this degree. The most common degree within nutrition education is the Masters in Nutrition Education.

School Program Admissions
American University Online Master’s in Nutrition Education
Study the scientific principles of nutrition and learn to develop scalable nutrition education programs and intervention skills.
University of New Haven Online Master of Public Health
Focus areas in Global health, Health education and promotion, health informatics. Complete in 2 years or less.
American University Online Graduate Certificate in Nutrition Education
Program can be completed in as little as one year and is designed for students with a bachelor’s degree who want to quickly earn a valuable credential.
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Are there online nutrition education degrees?

Yes, there are specific online nutrition education degree programs (such as the Master of Nutrition Education at American University). There are also dozens of online nutrition degree programs. Online nutrition degrees range from a Master of Science, Bachelor of Science and Master of Public Health in Nutrition degree.

Depending on the program there are various concentrations students can pick from. A few concentrations are: Clinical Nutrition, Nutrition and Human Performance, Food Science and Nutrition Education. While there are various concentrations, many degree tracks overlap in courses.

The interdisciplinary core coursework includes seminars in food and nutrition, counseling and biochemistry. Most programs are offered both full-time or part time and take anywhere from 2-4 years to complete. Online degrees give students the flexibility to take classes from anywhere in the country.

What to expect in a nutrition education degree

Nutrition Education includes a wide variety of courses. A degree in Nutrition Education is unique because it goes beyond the science of nutrition into its practical application. With chronic diseases on the rise, nutrition professionals who are able to educate, motivate and inspire others to make health promoting changes are essential. Nutrition Education degrees are not typically offered online, but a few programs do exist.

In depth review of online nutrition education degrees

American University - MS in Nutrition Education

American University offers a unique online Master of Science in Nutrition Education degree. The program can be completed in as little as 12 months. The program features courses in nutrition science and clinical health behavior change. There are 24 credits and 6 elective credits. Nutrition Education Methods is a required class which explores the current status of nutrition education in the US. This is a foundational course in the MS program as it sets the framework on how to assess and design nutrition educational strategies. Behavior Change in Health Promotion is another core class. This course examines how cognitive behavior techniques influence lifestyle choices. Students can pick from various elective courses including Health in the School Environment, Sports Nutrition and Strategies in Weight Control. This degree prepares students to develop program and interventional skills related to nutrition. Graduates of the program have secured employment at health departments, nonprofits, schools and food companies.

The online degree serves as a precursor for the Certified Nutrition Specialist credential. The CNS is an advanced credential offered by the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists. No prior degree in nutrition is necessary to pursue the online MS which makes it a popular program amongst career changers.

American University also offers a Certificate in Nutrition Education for students who have completed a bachelor's degree seeking further credentials. If students complete the certificate and ultimately decide to enroll in the MS they can transfer credits. Admission requirements includes official transcripts and a personal statement. The GRE is not required for enrollment.

Northeastern University - Master of Science in Applied Nutrition with a concentration in Nutrition Education

Northeastern University has an online MS in Applied Nutrition degree with a concentration in Nutrition Education. There are 45 total quarter hours. The program is best suited for students with an undergraduate degree in dietetics or health science looking to further their knowledge. The Nutrition Education concentration features courses such as Wellness in Practice, Commercialization of Nutrition and Healthcare and Nutrition Communications. Many of these courses are taught by real world practitioners including dietitians. Students will become well versed in sourcing, editing, writing and presenting educational materials. Throughout the duration of the program, students create a portfolio demonstrating their skillset. Many alumni of this program go on to work in educational settings or government agencies to influence health messaging.

The online MS in Applied Nutrition also offers other concentrations. Students can choose between: Business and Entrepreneurship in Nutrition, Integrative Health and Wellness and Obesity and Nutritional Health. Despite the various tracks, all students will take Research Methods, Food and Society and Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism.

To be considered for admission, students must submit at least one letter of reference, a current resume and official undergraduate transcripts. A minimum 3.0 GPA is required. Courses are delivered 100% online. Enrollment is offered all year round in the winter, spring, summer or fall semesters. The program takes 1.5 - 2 years to complete.

Columbia University - MS in Nutrition Education

Columbia University offers a 50 credit MS in Nutrition Education degree, however the program is not available online. This degree integrates the MS with the RDN credential. The Nutrition Education degree conforms to the guidelines for the Nutrition Education Competencies for Promoting Healthy Individuals, Communities, and Food Systems set by the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB). SNEB is an international community of professionals that sets the standard of nutrition education.

Example courses include Nutritional Ecology, Strategies for Nutrition Education and Behavior Change and Eating Disorders: Awareness and Treatment. A final thesis project is required to graduate. Alumni of the program go on to work in a variety of settings such as health care facilities, schools, government and communities.

To be considered for admission, students must submit undergraduate transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a $75 application fee, a personal statement and resume. The GRE is optional. The program takes 2 years to complete.

Columbia University – Master of Education in Community Nutrition Education

In addition to the MS in Nutrition Education, Columbia offers an Ed.M. program in Community Nutrition Education. This includes coursework in advanced nutrition with a stronger emphasis in community assessment and behavioral science. There are 60 total credits to complete the degree. The Ed.M. program requires the same coursework as the MS degree plus a Research Seminar in Nutrition, a Qualitative Research Methods course and electives. This program prepares graduates to become community educators and practice research.

Since online Nutrition Education degrees are limited, similar online degrees students can explore include an MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine and Health Education and Promotion.

University of Bridgeport – MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine

The University of Bridgeport has a 100% online degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. It takes 23 months to complete and features 35 credits. Classes include Vitamins and Minerals, Biochemistry and Assessment of Nutritional Status. While it is not a degree in Nutrition Education, this program offers courses that align. Lifelong Healing with Food is a course that examines the connection between mood and food and cognitive techniques to influence behavior change. Evidence-Based Nutrition is another course that describes the analytical approach for interpreting research and nutrition information. These overlap with Nutrition Education since they explore how to analyze programs and human behaviors to improve health outcomes. Official transcripts and a resume are needed to apply. No GRE necessary.

Walden University – MS in Health Education and Promotion

Walden University has an online MS in Health Education and Promotion degree. There are 50 quarter credits and a final capstone course required to graduate. While this is not a Nutrition Education degree, there are similarities. Coursework includes Health Education and Communication Strategies, Exploring Health Education in the 21st Century and Health Behavior Theory. This degree explores the field of health education. A degree in health education takes a broader approach than nutrition education. The program prepares students for careers that focus on program planning, outreach, advocaacy and policy development around healthy living. Students will be prepared to assess community needs and create lifestyle programs based on interpretation and analysis of current data. Graduates of the program work as health educators, health coaches and community coordinators.

This degree prepares students to sit for the national Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) exams. Admission requirements include official undergraduate transcripts, resume and a fee. No GRE needed.

Typical courses for an online nutrition education degree

Health Communication

This course addresses various forms and tactics of delivering health promotion messages to the public. Students will learn how to communicate public health matters via public speaking, writing and social media marketing.

Strategies for nutrition education and health behavior change

This course explores the application of various theoretical frameworks to facilitate positive behavior change. The aim is for students to understand and apply different behavioral science techniques. This is key when working with clients one-on-one as well as group settings.

Nutrition for health

In this course, students will build foundational knowledge around macronutrients and micronutrients. The relationship between nutrients and chronic disease will be explored. This is usually offered at the beginning of programs to expose students to the basics of energy balance, the functions of nutrients and metabolic processes.

Nutrition program design

In this course, students will learn how to develop, implement and evaluate nutrition programs. Each detail of program development will be assessed along the way to ensure the proper usage. Instead of a traditional final, students will create a logic model and mock nutrition education program.

Nutrition counseling

Students will learn the basics of counseling clients. In some cases, this course will involve fieldwork placements or mock patient interactions.

Wellness in practice

Students will examine how wellness and nutrition education programs operate in various settings. Settings include health care facilities, schools and gyms. This class offers guidance on proven methods and approaches to make an effective program.

What can you do with a nutrition education degree?

With a degree in nutrition education, there are many directions one can take their career in. Most students will also pursue the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential to be eligible for more job opportunities. RDNs are eligible to work in various settings such as hospitals and corporate wellness.

Other students will opt to forgo this credential and move into teaching or program design roles. Ultimately, graduates with this degree are prepared to work in schools, clinics, businesses, government agencies and private practice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6.6% employment growth for nutrition professions between 2022 and 2032. The median salary for nutrition professionals is around $66,000 in the US. Nutrition professionals entering private practice or consulting tend to have higher earning potential.

What are some alternative majors for undergraduate programs in nutrition education?

There are various undergraduate programs within the field of nutrition beyond nutrition education. Other related degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition, Nutritional Science and Community Nutrition.

As of 2024, a Bachelor’s in Nutrition does not automatically prepare students to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam. Students interested in becoming Registered Dietitians must complete the core set of DPD courses as well as a Masters degree. However, the MS does not have to be in nutrition.