Online education opportunities are increasing exponentially in today’s digital world. It took a while for more scientific programs like nutrition degrees to enter the remote learning realm, as they tend to require more equipment and experientially teaching than more cerebral fields of study. However, with the advance of video technology and portable equipment, you can now complete nutrition degrees online. Here is an overview of what you can expect from an online nutrition program, along with some tips for how to succeed in this remote learning experience.
Nutrition degrees are not one-size-fits-all. With growing concern over health and wellness, this field has grown to include many sub-fields for future nutritionists to specialize in.
- Nutrition Dietetics: This is the study of the use of food to influence human health. Students in this field will learn how to engage in research on the effects of specific diet changes on specific health issues, implement those new findings into new therapies, and pass them on to the general public and the people who design food labels and market food and nutrition products.
- Medical Nutrition: Students who study this specialization will focus on learning out to implement the therapies that nutrition dietitians develop through their research. This is a great option for students interested in both nutrition and either counseling or medicine, as they will act as counselors and work closely with doctors and other medical professionals.
- Health Coaching: This is a great field for students interested in both nutrition and people, but not as interested in the medical side of things. Health coaches work with individuals to make adjustments to their eating patterns in order to achieve everyday good health. They also base their work on the research of nutrition dietitians.
Whichever direction you take within your nutrition degree studies, you will complete coursework in some combination of a few core subjects. You will then build upon that foundational knowledge with elective coursework in subjects related to your chosen specialization. The core courses include the following:
- Biology: Understanding how food influences human health means understanding how organisms operate, develop, and sustain life.
- Chemistry: The way that different foods act on different bodily systems is understood and manipulated through chemical interactions
- Nutrition: What would a Nutrition degree program be without nutrition courses? These will build on the science course to help you understand the specific interactions and influence of specific food combinations
- Psychology: So much of the role that nutrition plays in our lives is dependent on our thoughts and emotions. Eating is human behavior. It is, therefore, crucial to have a solid foundation of psychological knowledge.
All of the aforementioned information applies whether you are completing an online nutrition degree or a traditional one. US News offers this comprehensive guide to online nutrition degree programs in particular.
Unique Aspects of Online Education
If you are still on the fence about whether or not pursuing any online nutrition degree is the right path for you, consider the following advantages and challenges of online learning.
- Cost Efficient: Online degrees are more affordable to earn than traditional degrees. Operating an online institution is cheaper because it saves the school from the costs of maintaining physical buildings and land, which saves you from having to pay the fees that cover those costs.
- Solitude: One drawback of not having a brick and mortar learning environment is that face time with professors and peers is not built-in. You have to make an effort to do video calls, which never quite feel the same as an in-person interaction. There are online extracurricular groups for students, but they are limited without having physical spaces to connect in. You are rarely engaging in academic activities at the same time as your professors and peers, which can feel isolating. Without stricter deadlines and face to face accountability, it takes more self-discipline to succeed in an online program.
- Flexibility: Another advantage related to the above challenges is that online programs allow for flexibility. For the most part, you choose when and where you work. This makes it easier to pursue your degree without sacrificing work, hobbies, and family commitments.
It is entirely possible to pursue a nutrition degree online. Remote programs offer you the same coursework and specialization opportunities as traditional programs. Although there are some additional challenges that come along with the online environment, it offers some unique advantages, as well.