America's obesity epidemic and rapidly aging population is creating increased demand for trained nutritionists to help alleviate and control chronic conditions caused by poor nutrition. Students who complete bachelor's degree programs in nutrition or dietetics, as well as a supervised internship program, may be eligible to earn national certification as registered dietician nutritionists and seek employment in the field.
Students who want to pursue on-campus or online nutrition degree programs can use the information featured here to learn more about 10 of the best colleges for nutrition degree programs. Degree offerings range from bachelor's to master's degrees in nutrition, although a baccalaureate degree is the educational requirement needed to earn national certification as a registered nutritionist. Students who complete these programs have the education necessary to sit for the national certification exam and pursue employment as nutritionists or dieticians.
Keep reading to learn more about the 10 best schools for nutrition degree programs, as well as other helpful information such as the career outlook for nutritionists, scholarship information, and common career paths for program graduates.
Best Colleges for Nutrition Degree Programs 2018-19
The schools featured in the following section represent 10 of the best colleges for on-campus and online degrees for nutrition. We compiled data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics and created a unique methodology to rank each college featured here. Keep reading to learn more about these featured institutions, or click on the button below for more insight into how these rankings were created.
The top institution in our rankings is a private Catholic college located at Scranton, Penn. The university was founded in 1915 by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and has an annual enrollment of about 3,000 students.
Marywood University offers an undergraduate program in nutrition and dietetics and a graduate degree in nutrition. The 120-credit Bachelor of Science in nutrition and dietetics pathway prepares students to take the registered dietician nutritionist exam from the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The program can be combined with an emphasis in Spanish, and there's also a five-year combined B.S. to M.S. option for students interested in earning a master's degree. The master's pathway requires 36 credits to complete.
The university places first in these rankings based on its 70 percent graduation rate and 71 percent admissions rate, as well as for the high number of nutrition degrees conferred to students.
Our second institution was founded in 1858 at Ames and had an enrollment of 36,321 students in fall of 2016.
The university's department of agriculture and life sciences offers a wide range of study options within its nutritional science program. The pre-health professional and research option is for students who want to work in research laboratories or continue their education to the graduate level. Additional educational pathways include family health, health coach, food service, nutrition and wellness, and global health and policy. The university also offers a combined B.S. to M.S. pathway, as well as a Master of Science in nutritional studies.
Iowa State lands in the second spot in our rankings with its strong 71 percent graduation rate and 87 percent admissions rate. It also offers flexible course scheduling with evening and weekend classes, as well as alternative tuition payment plans.
This four-year liberal arts college located in Oneonta, N.Y. places third in these rankings based on its 72 percent graduation rate and modest cost of in-state tuition compared to other featured institutions in these rankings.
The university offers an on-campus bachelor's degree in dietetics. Students must complete 57 credits in the program major and 36 related credits, in addition to fulfilling all general education requirements. The program is rigorous -- students can be dismissed if they have two grades less than a B-minus in the program major or an overall grade point average below 3.0 at the end of their sophomore year.
SUNY Oneonta is also the first college in our rankings to offer an online degree in nutrition. Graduate students who complete the online M.S. in nutrition and dietetics program are eligible to take the registered dietician national exam. There's also an online dietetic internship program that requires 1,220 supervised practicum hours that also culminates in a M.S. degree.
This college is part of the California State University System and is located about five miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The university offers both Bachelor and Master of Science in nutritional science degrees.
The B.S. program requires 180 total study units to complete, including 62 units in the program core and 41 units of preparatory coursework in human anatomy, chemistry, biology and biochemistry, economics and psychology. Students must have a minimum C grade in all program courses to satisfy degree requirements. The M.S. program requires 45 units and includes either a comprehensive examination at the end of the program or a thesis project.
At $6,355, Cal State Los Angeles had the lowest cost of in-state tuition of any school in these rankings. The university also had a 68 percent admission rate. However, it had the highest student to faculty ratio of any institution at 28:1.
Our fifth featured school is a private Catholic university located at Malvern, Penn., a small town west of downtown Philadelphia. Annual enrollment is about 2,500 students.
Immaculata University offers an undergraduate and three master's programs in nutrition. The Bachelor of Science in nutrition and dietetics emphasizes medical nutritional therapy, education, counseling, food service management and community nutritional research. Students who complete the program are eligible for the national RDN program. The three nutrition education Master of Arts programs vary depending upon students' educational background and goals. Study pathways include registered dietician, dietetic internship and wellness promotion.
The university had favorable admissions (79 percent) and graduation (70 percent) rates, as well as the lowest student to faculty ratio (9:1) of any institution in our rankings. However, it also had the highest cost of in-state tuition at $33,280.
This university about 90 miles north of Sacramento is the second-oldest institution in the California State University System. The college was founded in 1887 and had a total enrollment of 17,789 students in fall of 2016.
Chico State's nutrition and food science department offers a diverse range of programs. Bachelor's degrees require 120 credits to complete, including 69 to 75 units in the program major. Concentrations include study in food and nutrition communication, nutrition management or general dietetics. The department also offers Master of Science degrees in nutritional science, nutrition education or general nutrition. Either pathway requires 30 credits to complete.
Chico State places sixth in these rankings based its favorable cost of in-state tuition compared to other featured schools, as well as its 64 percent graduation and 63 percent admissions rates.
This small public university located in the town of Mansfield in the north-central part of the state was founded in 1857 and had a total enrollment of 1,897 students in the fall of 2016.
Mansfield U offers undergraduate degrees in dietetics and sports nutrition. The dietetics pathway is for students who wish to become registered dieticians. Students must maintain at least a 2.7 GPA in all classes, as well as earn at least a C grade in all nutrition and dietetics curriculum. The sports nutrition program is for students who seek employment at community fitness centers or for collegiate and professional sports teams.
The university also offers a completely online Master of Science in nutrition program that requires between 33 and 36 credits to complete and concludes with a thesis or capstone project. Mansfield U had the highest admissions rate of any institution in these rankings at 89 percent, as well as the highest number of students in distance education programs at 43 percent.
Our eighth featured school is located in Jacksonville and had a total enrollment of 16,491 students in fall of 2016. The university features the second-lowest cost of in-state tuition among these 10 institutions at $6,394. It also offers flexible scheduling with night and weekend classes and offers academic and career support to students in nutrition degree programs.
University of North Florida offers both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in nutrition and dietetics. The undergraduate pathway is a rigorous science-based program that includes a highly competitive 1,200-hour dietetic internship. Students who complete the 120-credit program typically pursue the national Registered Dietician credential. The master's pathway, meanwhile, can be completed completely online with or without a thesis. The program requires 43 semester hours to complete and only admits student in the fall semester.
Located in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Appalachian State University had a total enrollment of 18,811 students in fall of 2016.
The university's college of health sciences offers undergraduate degrees in dietetics and food systems management. The dietetics pathway requires 124 credit-hours of study and a 300-hour internship to satisfy graduation requirements. The food service pathway requires a 400-hour supervised internship in a food service operation.
Appalachian State University also offers a Master of Science in nutrition degree. Curriculum focuses on rural health in conjunction with the college's rural location in northwestern North Carolina. The program requires 39 credits to complete and has thesis or non-thesis tracks.
The university had the third-lowest cost of in-state tuition at $6,852 among these featured schools, as well as a strong 71 percent graduation rate. It also admits two-thirds of all applicants.
The final institution in our top 10 is a private Christian college located in Mechanicsburg, Penn. The college was founded in 1909. Its mission is to develop students' maturity of intellect, character and Christian faith.
Messiah College's nutrition and dietetics program requires 123 credits to complete and culminates with a Bachelor of Science degree. It's designed to prepare students for graduate school or to complete a supervised dietetic internship. The college's 19-credit dietetic internship program provides students with 19 graduate credits. The internship requires 1,275 hours at approved sites located in central Pennsylvania. Completion of the program qualifies students to take the national Registered Dietician exam.
Messiah College students finish what they start -- the college has the highest graduation rate (77 percent) of any school in our top 10. It also has a low 12:1 student to faculty ratio.
Nutrition Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
A bachelor's degree is the most common educational requirement for employment as a nutritionist; however, many students choose to pursue master's degrees in nutrition to open additional career opportunities. Here's some of the many skills students learn in nutrition degree programs, as well as common career paths for graduates.
Dietitian and nutritionist degree requirements are usually fairly similar. The difference between becoming a nutritionist and becoming a dietitian lies in the necessary credentials for each position. Dietitians must qualify for and pass a registration examination before they can rightly use the label "registered dietitian." Learn more about how to become a nutritionist.
Career Outlook for Nutrition Majors
The increasing importance placed on food and nutrition for human health and wellness and preventing chronic disease is expected to generate strong demand for dieticians and nutritionists, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Here's an idea of your salary and job outlook as a nutritionst.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Dietitians and Nutritionists||$61,210||64,670||14.1%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Nutrition
Students don't necessarily have to rely on federal financial aid to help pay for their tuition -- there are many scholarships available for students enrolled in nutrition degree programs. The Clarkston Scholars Program awards $10,000 to undergraduate students in Pennsylvania who are studying a life sciences program. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics awards scholarships ranging in value from $500 to $10,000 to students at all levels of study, and the National Institutes of Health's undergraduate scholarship program pays up to $20,000 a year to students committed to careers in social-science health-related research.
Renewable if recipient continues to qualify academically per transcript.
Recipients are invited to reapply, but are not guaranteed funding.
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2016-17, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- Nutrition and Dietetics, Marywood University, http://www.marywood.edu/progs/ug/nutrition-dietetics
- Nutritional Science, Iowa State University, http://catalog.iastate.edu/collegeofagricultureandlifesciences/nutritionalscience/#
- Dietetics, SUNY Oneonta, http://catalog.oneonta.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=4&poid=372
- Nutritional Science, California State University Los Angeles, http://ecatalog.calstatela.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=19&poid=7697&returnto=1757
- B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics, Immaculata University, http://www.immaculata.edu/academics/departments/nutrition_and_dietetics/undergraduate_program
- Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Sciences, California State University-Chico, http://catalog.csuchico.edu/viewer/17/NFSC/NUFSNONEUN.html#NUFSDIETBS
- Nutrition Degree, Mansfield University, https://www.mansfield.edu/nutrition/nutrition-dietetics-degree/index.cfm
- Nutrition and Dietetics, University of North Florida, http://www.unf.edu/brooks/nutrition/
- Dietetics, Appalachian State University, http://www.appstate.edu/academics/majors/id/nutrition-foods-dietetics
- Nutrition and Dietetics, Messiah College, https://www.messiah.edu/nutrition-and-dietetics-major-pennsylvania
- Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
- School pages, accessed July 31, 2018: Curriculum, BS in Nutrition and Dietetics, New York University Steinhardt, https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/nutrition/dietetics/bs/curriculum; Dietetics Curriculum, University of Illinois, https://fshn.illinois.edu/undergraduate/dietetics/curriculum; Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, Purdue University Global, https://catalog.purdueglobal.edu/undergraduate/health-sciences/nutrition-bs/#degreeplantext; Nutrition Curriculum, Weber University, http://programs.weber.edu/nutrition/Curriculum.htm; Emphases in Nutritional Science, Penn State University, https://hhd.psu.edu/nutrition/undergraduate/major-nutritional-sciences/emphases-nutritional-sciences; Master of Science in Food Systems Administration, Texas Woman's University, http://catalog.twu.edu/graduate/health-sciences/nutrition-food-sciences/food-systems-administration-ms/; Curriculum in Nutritional Sciences, Molecular and Experimental Track, Texas A&M University, http://aglifesciences.tamu.edu/nfs/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2013/12/NUSC_MolecExp.pdf; Course Descriptions, Texas A&M University, http://catalog.tamu.edu/undergraduate/course-descriptions/nfsc/; Curriculum in Nutrition (Nutrition Science Option), Auburn University, http://bulletin.auburn.edu/undergraduate/collegeofhumansciences/departmentofnutritiondieteticsandhospitalitymanagment/nutritionscienceoption_major/