Note: This post is part three of a series of posts where I cover graduate school options for dietitians, particularly sports dietitians. For parts one and two on sports nutrition graduate programs and exercise science programs specializing in nutrition, click the links attached.
Dietitians (RDs) are nutrition professionals who use scientific evidence to promote public health and prevent and treat chronic diseases. RDs can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, clinics, and private practice. Nutrition professionals may be involved in community health centers and organizations, making nutrition expertise accessible to a broad range of people. Nutrition professionals’ role in promoting healthy eating and disease prevention is critical to improving public health and reducing healthcare costs. An increase in chronic diseases, food insecurity, and public interest in health means that nutrition as a professional is growing fast! But although the need for dietitians is growing, the field of dietetics has traditionally been challenging to break into. Barriers to entry include geography, cost, time, and the small number of credentialing programs.
The eligibility requirements to become a registered dietitian (RD) or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) takes three steps: an undergraduate degree (or other didactic program completion), a dietetic internship, and a dietetic registration exam. Effective in 2025, RDs must also have a master’s degree. For the average college student, an undergraduate degree followed by a year-long unpaid, full-time internship (where only roughly 50% of students are accepted) is prohibitive enough. Adding two more years for an advanced degree deters many prospective students, particularly lower-income or first-generation college students or non-traditional students, from pursuing nutrition as a career path. These barriers have affected the diversity in dietetics, particularly limiting the number of BIPOC nutrition professionals.
Benefits of Online Nutrition Graduate Programs
Fortunately, Universities and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) have started to smarten up and create programs that are more accessible for students to continue their education in nutrition and dietetics. One of the ways schools have begun to do this is by creating online master’s programs in nutrition. In doing this, dietitians or nutrition professionals can complete their graduate studies online without having to move temporarily to a college campus. Removing a geographical barrier increases the availability of nutrition degrees to those living in rural areas or those without reliable access to transportation.
Online degree programs are usually more affordable than traditional programs. With fewer fees and a lower cost per credit hour, overall tuition is typically lower for online programs, and the cost is usually the same for in-state or out-of-state students. Online programs also provide an indirect cost saving compared to traditional on-campus programs by allowing students to live off-campus, possibly with parents or family, and save money on residential living, commuting, and parking. Finally, they also provide flexibility for working dietitians to complete degrees while making a salary.
Online dietetics degree programs provide convenience for dietitians with families or caregiving commitments, allowing them to take courses according to their schedules. Without the pressure of living on campus, programs offer the flexibility of self-paced degrees. They can be completed part-time, thus accommodating jobs, caregiving, or busy seasons of life.
When online courses are properly designed, and assistive technology is available, online degree programs can be more inclusive to disabled students, providing more autonomy over their schedule and eliminating some of the physical barriers present when navigating college campuses and classrooms.
Finally, online degree programs offer access to high-quality education from reputable institutions regardless of geographic location, allowing nutritional professionals to specialize and advance their careers through programs that may be outside their region.
Words to Know
There are some words that I abbreviate throughout this post that might be helpful to know.
ACEND – Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. An ACEND-accredited program means that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) approves university course curricula in dietetic programs.
CDR – Commission on Dietetic Registration. The credentialing arm of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the CDR, is responsible for the RD exam and specialist certifications.
DPD – Didactic Program in Dietetics. DPD is the complete coursework required to be eligible for a dietetic internship.
Dietetic Internship – The official name of the programs that offers 1,200 supervised practice hours for students to provide them with a verification statement proving their eligibility to sit for the RD exam. For a more in-depth answer on dietetic internships, check out the blog post where I detail how to become a sports dietitian.
DICAS – Dietetic Internship Centralized Application System. DICAS is the system in which students apply for matching with a dietetic internship, which provides the required supervised practice to sit for the RD exam.
FEM – Future Education Model. FEM refers to an umbrella of new programs designed to confer a graduate degree and to provide supervised practice hours to make students eligible for the RD exam. Many FEM programs offer online courses and assist students with finding on-site rotations in their local area.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Online Nutrition Graduate Program
When looking at an online nutrition program, you should consider a few factors.
- Accreditation. If you are looking to be eligible to sit for the RD exam after your program is complete, you need to apply to ACEND programs (and be prepared to do supervised practice rotations). If you are already an RD or not looking to become one, the reputation of the program is still essential. Find out what program graduates are doing now and what the faculty research and contribute to the field.
- Course offerings and curriculum. Do you want a specialization? The beauty of an online program is that there are many options to focus on, including clinical, community health, wellness, and sports. Examine your career goals and look for the program that is the most interesting and beneficial to you.
- Technology and Online Learning Platform. Do you need the ultimate flexibility of an asynchronous program that can be completed at your own pace? Do you have intrinsic motivation to do an asynchronous program? Or would you do better with a cohort of fellow students in a synchronous fashion? Do you want to watch lectures or read? Ask yourself what you need to succeed and ask questions about the programs you are looking at.
- Tuition. This one is simple. We all have a budget. Look for programs that match yours. Additionally, research if financial aid is available for graduate students and ask if tuition freezes for the duration of your program.
- Resources and support services for online students. Taking courses 100% online is difficult, especially if you did not take online courses during your undergraduate degree. To be successful, you will need support from the university, so find out how they help online students flourish.
A Complete List of Online Nutrition Graduate Programs
Below I have compiled a list of schools offering an online degree in dietetics or a related field. I reviewed all the programs that claim to be online and reviewed their specializations, application deadlines, how often they enroll, how long the program is, and any tuition they may have disclosed on their website. I have also included a link to each program to allow you to gather further information to determine if the program is a feasible fit for you. This is in no way an endorsement of any of these programs; this is simply a result of my own research into online graduate programs in nutrition and dietetics.
Adelphi University – Garden City, NY
MS, Nutrition (focused on Community Nutrition)
University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, AL
MS, Human Nutrition
The MS in Human Nutrition program consists of 30 credit hours. All students must complete a Capstone experience and choose one of the following curriculum tracks: Generalist, Community, or Clinical. They take applicants in the fall, winter, and summer.
American University – Washington, DC
MS, Nutrition Education
University of Arizona – Tucson, AZ
MS, Applied Nutrition and Dietetics
The PSM in Applied Nutrition– Dietetics Emphasis is an accredited Future Education Model Graduate Program, offering classes online and supervised practice in-person.
Arizona State University – Tempe, AZ
MS, Nutritional Sciences – Dietetics
ASU’s program is offered 100% online for those with RDs or a DPD verification statement (completion of a didactic program, usually in undergrad). This program can be completed full-time or part-time and has multiple start dates each year, with each course being 7.5 weeks long. Students can transfer up to 12 credit hours from another accredited program with the program director’s approval.
Auburn University – Auburn, AL
MS, Nutrition – option for an Emphasis on Sports Nutrition
Ball State – Muncie, IN
MS, Nutrition and Dietetics
Ball State’s online program is only available for those registered dietitian nutritionists seeking a master’s degree. This program is specifically geared toward working adults, allowing up to six years to complete the degree and up to 9 transfer graduate credits into the program.
Bastyr University -Seattle, WA
MS, Integrative Nutrition
Bastyr offers a two-year program asynchronously with multiple start dates, but students must be complete degrees full-time. Tuition comes to $445 per credit hour on average.
Benedictine – Lisle, IL
MS, Nutrition and Wellness (MSNW)
Currently not being offered. Check back for updates on the next cohort
Bowling Green State University – Bowling Green, OH
MS, Food Nutrition
BGSU offers the ultimate flexibility. This program can be completed online or in-person and either part-time or full-time. The program website states that “students can start or resume classes throughout the year. Core courses are 15 weeks and electives are 7 weeks.” Tuition is $467.60 per credit hour.
For students interested in sports nutrition, the school offers a Dual Degree in conjunction with the School of Human Movement, Sport, and Leisure Students. “This pathway will result in earning two graduate degrees – the MFN degree and the Master of Education in Human Movement, Sport, and Leisure Studies.”
Buffalo State – Buffalo, NY
Buffalo State offers another FEM, but it is uniquely structured for those who did not complete a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics. This program completes all didactic coursework required for a bachelor’s degree and the supervised learning requirements of a dietetic internship. There is also an avenue for those with a dietetics background to complete the master’s degree. Tuition for the 100% online program as a full-time student is $6,785 per semester for full-time students and $565 per credit hour for part-time students.
Canisius College – Buffalo, NY
MS, Applied Nutrition
This program is 100% online and can be completed in one year. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, at least 30 days before the start of the term. Terms are eight weeks in length. Non-RD students must take an additional three-credit course outside the required courses to complete this program.
Central Michigan University – Mount Pleasant, MI
MS, Nutrition and Dietetics
CMU is a fully online synchronous program that can be completed in 2.5 years. Tuition is $726 per credit hour.
University of Connecticut – Storrs, CT
MS, Personalized Nutrition
This two-year graduate nutrition program explores the rapidly expanding discipline of individualized precision nutrition, studying nutrient-gene interactions.
Students in the Personalized Nutrition Online Master’s Degree pay $825 per credit or $2,475 for a 3-credit course, and tuition is the same for Connecticut residents, non-Connecticut residents, and international students.
University of Central Missouri – Warrensburg, MO
MS, Sport Nutrition
Eastern Michigan University – Ypsilanti, MI
MS, Human Nutrition (MSHN)
University of Georgia – Athens, GA
MS, Community Nutrition
This program can be completed asynchronously and either full-time or part-time.
Great Plains IDEA (Interactive Distance Education Alliance – Multiple locations
A unique program taught by the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, a consortium of universities offering graduate programs together. As stated on the K-State website, “During your degree program, you will take courses from a variety of the participating universities. You will enroll for all courses through your home institution, but the actual courses will be taught online from any of the participating universities and their faculty members.”
To be eligible, you must be one of the following:
1. Be an RD
2. Have completed both the academic and supervised practice requirements of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and are ready to sit for the national credentialing exam to become a Registered Dietitian
3. Have a DPD verification statement
You can apply through any of the home institutions.
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Colorado State University
Iowa State University
Kansas State University
North Dakota State University
Oklahoma State University
South Dakota State University
University of Kansas Medical Center
Graceland University – Lamoni, IA
MS, Nutrition and Human Performance
This program is entirely online and allows students to determine the course load and the pace. Students can finish in as little as 16 months and have six years to complete. Tuition is $470 per semester hour.
The Sports Nutrition concentration consists of the following courses:
Sport Nutrition and Performance Concentration (15 hours)
NHPW5210 Nutritional Assessment of Athletes
NHPW5230 Human and Sports Performance Programming
NHPW6200 Clinical Nutrition: Human Disease
NHPW6230 Nutrition in Injury Recovery and Prevention
NHPW6700 Internship or NHPW6800 Thesis
Harding University – Searcy, AR
MS, Applied Dietetics
Another FEM is at Harding University. It has a distance education program, where professional didactic courses are offered asynchronously online via recorded lectures. Then, supervised experiential learning hours in food service, clinical, and community nutrition are selected by students and approved by the program. Uniquely, this program does not require a bachelor’s degree in nutrition/dietetics or a Verification Statement from an accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) program, making it an excellent option for a non-traditional student without a didactic background.
University of Houston – Houston, TX
The MS in Nutrition is designed to meet the needs of prospective students who are:
- Enrolled dietetic interns desiring a graduate degree.
- Accepted into a dietetic internship wanting a graduate degree.
- Credentialed Registered Dietitians who have completed their supervised practice experience after 2008.
Tuition is between $3387-9311 per semester for nine credit hours, depending on state residency.
Johnson & Wales – Providence, RI
J&W offers cohorts of 8-week courses, and programs are typically completed in 2 years.
Liberty University – Lynchburg, VA
MS, Human Performance – Nutrition
The website states it is online with 2 required “residential intensives”. I’m not sure what intensives are but the website has a tuition calculator and a degree plan to view.
Logan University – Chesterfield, MO
MS, Nutrition in Human Performance (MS-NHP)
Logan offers three tracks for its graduate program: Nutrition Wellness, Sports & Fitness Nutrition, and Health Education & Promotion. It is offered in trimesters, and tuition for the 2022-2023 year was $525 per credit hour.
Manchester University – Manchester, IN
MS, Nutrition and Nutrigenomics
*This is an MS-RD route with a dietetic internship.*
Coursework is 100% online, and supervised practice can be done at your preferred locations off-campus. This is a full-time, 2-year program that is delivered asynchronously.
North Carolina State University – Raleigh, NC
This non-thesis degree option, ideal for those wanting to work in “community and public health nutrition, health and wellness promotion, and food and pharmaceutical manufacturing with an emphasis on nutritional health products,” is available entirely online.
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, FL
UNC’s program can be done part-time, full-time, or through an accelerated track (done in 16 months).
University of Northern Colorado
UNC offers an online curriculum for a master’s degree, with or without a dietetic internship. Tuition for 2022-2023 was $609/credit hour.
Dietetics Master of Science (No Internship) is for RDs who want to earn their master’s degree. This is 35 credit hours and can be completed entirely online in less than two years.
Dietetics Master of Science with Dietetic Internship is for those who have completed an approved DPD program but have not completed their Dietetic Internship yet. It comprises 55 credit hours, including internship supervision, and can be completed in less than three years. Rotations must be completed in the United States.
Nova Southeastern University – Fort Lauderdale, FL
MS, Nutrition Professional Practice – MS-RDN program
NSU’s MS-RDN program has classes online; however, students must be local to attend regular on-site meetings and experiential learning in the tri-county area. Tuition costs $23,000 per year.
Students who already have their RD credentials or don’t desire to get one can attend NSU’s online master’s, consisting of 30 credits entirely online. Their degree can be completed in as little as one year, and tuition costs $628 per credit.
Ohio University – Athens, OH
MS, Nutrition Science
OU’s program is self-paced with the flexibility to finish in as quickly as one year, or students can take as little as one course per year until complete.
Oklahoma State University – Stillwater, OK
PhD, Health, Leisure, and Human Performance
The only doctoral program on this list comes from Oklahoma State. All doctoral coursework is offered in a 16-week format during Fall and Spring semesters and three to six weeks in the Summer semesters. Full-time students can expect to complete the online PhD in 2-4 academic years, depending on credit hour requirements. Tuition is $230 per credit for residents and $360 for non-residents.
Penn State University – State College, PA
Master of Professional Studies, Nutritional Sciences
University of Rhode Island – Kingston, RI
Rhode Island offers an online degree program for current RDs and a Future Education Model program incorporating online classes with experiential learning. It also has this very helpful graphic about the dietetics program.
University of Saint Joseph’s – Philadelphia, PA
St. Joe’s is another school offering the FEM. For their MS-DI, the classes are online, and students complete dietetic internship rotations simultaneously. According to their website, the timeline looks like this: “starting coursework the summer before your internship starts, taking one or two courses during the fall and spring semester of your internship, and completing the degree during the next summer.” Tuition is $8,381 per term.
Samford University – Samford, AL
Samford offers a standalone master’s degree as well as the option to complete coursework toward a Master of Science in Nutrition and clinical experience to become eligible for the Registered Dietitian exam. This program is offered full-time (1 year) or part-time (2 years), and tuition is $924 per credit.
Simmons University – Boston, MA
Two tracks or concentrations: Research track or Entrepreneurship track
Students can complete this program in three semesters or one full academic year, including a summer session. U.S. students can enroll for part-time study.
Uniquely, you can make this an MS-DI program by pairing it with one of the following dietetic internships: Be Well Solutions, Wellness Workdays, or the prestigious Massachusetts General Hospital. For details on the application process (DICAS is involved) and for additional information, check out their website.
Additionally, if you are first enrolled in the Simmons MS program, you can apply to DIs as a pre-select without going through DICAS. The following DIs allow this: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Hebrew Rehabilitation, and Massachusetts General Hospital.
State University of New York – Oneonta, NY
MS, Nutrition and Dietetics (MS-RDN)
SUNY Oneonta offers a full-time, one-year (three-semester) program that starts annually in May. It has both a master’s degree and supervised experiential learning, as well as a final intervention project. Students select their own preceptors and facilities. Students are eligible for the RD exam upon completion.
Tuition is $16,965 for New York State residents, $20,358 for non-residents and 100% online graduate students.
Stony Brook University – Stony Brook, NY
Stony Brook’s program includes an ACEND-accredited dietetic internship for students who have a DPD verification statement and are eligible for a dietetic internship. Prospective students can start the MS first or apply to enroll in both the DI and MS simultaneously. Tuition is $471 per credit for in-state students.
University of Southern Mississippi – Hattiesburg, MS
MS, Nutrition and Food Systems
There is an option to do an emphasis on Dietetics Practice, which is a Dietetic Internship coordinated with graduate coursework.
University of Texas – Austin, TX
MS, Nutritional Sciences
Concentrations: Biochemical & Functional Nutrition or Health Promotion & Disease Prevention
UT offers the following options for its master’s programs:
1 or 2-year tracks, $25300-25600, with classes offered in cohorts
1-year track: Four 7-week courses per long semester (two concurrent courses every seven weeks) and two 7-week courses over the summer semester.
2-year track: Two 7-week courses per long semester (one course every seven weeks) and one 7-week course each summer semester
Texas Tech University – Lubbock, TX
MS, Nutrition and Dietetics
TTU’s program is designed for current RDs or those with a DPD verification statement who will complete a dietetic internship.
University of Wisconsin – Madison, WI
MS, Clinical Nutrition
Tuition is $800 per credit hour
A Note on Nutrition and Accessibility
Above all, the need for more accessible graduate programs is a direct result of AND’s new master’s degree requirement for practitioners, which made entry into dietetics more difficult than it already was. There is so much work to be done in dietetics to make this field accessible to a diverse group of candidates to ensure that dietetics has practitioners representing the population of the community they are working in.
While schools are finding ways to try to level the playing field, it is still a mountain next to an ant hill. We need current and future nutrition professionals to continue to put pressure on our systems and to work individually to open doors for underrepresented students. So many dietitians and organizations are doing great work in this space, and we need to learn from and support them. Here are a few of my recommendations:
Diversify Dietetics is an excellent resource for those interested in finding BIPOC mentorship or preceptors for internship rotations (usually in a distance program, you are responsible for finding your own rotations and preceptors).
I highly suggest Anjali Prasertong’s Antiracist Dietitian and Dalia Kinsey’s Body Liberation for All Substacks for learning, unlearning, and constructive ways to move our profession forward positively.
RDs for Neurodiversity provides courses and CEUs for dietitians and offers supervised practice for dietitians who want to work with neurodivergent clients.
Finally, on Instagram, Anna Sweeney (@dietitiananna) and Jackie Silver (@accessiblewellness) are disabled dietitians, and Kendra DePinto (@kendrawesomeness) is a disabled chef. They bring awareness to the inherent ableism of our world by sharing their lives, their work, and ways to improve accessibility in the nutrition and healthcare space.
And there you have it! All the online graduate programs in nutrition. This post is part three of a series of posts where I cover graduate school options for sports dietitians. Some upcoming topics include graduate programs in sport science and graduate assistantships in sports nutrition. Past posts cover sports nutrition graduate programs and exercise science programs specializing in nutrition.
This series of blog posts has been a labor of love. It is what I wish I had when looking at grad schools. I will do my best to keep this post updated but if you see a program missing, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can add it.