Americans are increasingly conscious of the importance of a healthy diet plays in their lives. So, it makes sense that nutrition and dietetics is a quickly growing career field. If you want to take part in this industry and use scientific knowledge to help people understand nutrition, or use an understanding of nutrition in your medical career, earning a bachelor’s degree in nutritional science or a related field may be a critical step.
What is a Nutrition Science Degree?
Nutritional science studies the relationship between food and the human body. Students in this major study chemistry, biology, and related fields to understand how diet affects health, sociology and psychology to understand the role of food in our lives and cultures, as well as cooking and food service management to understand how food is prepared. Students who plan to become a nutritionist or dietitian also take part in certified internships as part of their licensing requirements.
What’s the Difference between Nutrition Science and Dietetics?
Nutrition science and dietetics are related fields and are often combined. To become a registered dietitian, licensed to give diet advice, you must earn a Dietetics degree from an accredited program and complete the required supervised practice. Some bachelor’s degrees are coordinated programs in Dietetics, which include supervised practice, and others are didactic programs in Dietetics, in which students must obtain it after graduating. However, most states don’t require a license to give nutritional advice, as long as you don’t call yourself a dietitian (This is the main difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist: nutritionists usually don’t require a license. ). So, nutritional science degrees qualify graduates to give advice as nutritionists. Students also earn the degree if they plan to go to medical school or to work in food service management, sports nutrition, or the pharmaceutical industry. A similar degree, food science, covers how food is created and processed
What Schools Have the Best Nutrition Programs?
We’ve compiled a list of the best undergraduate degrees in nutrition, dietetics, and nutrition science. These colleges are ranked based on their tuition (lowest is best) and faculty-student ratio (lowest is best). We included a mix of both large, well-known universities and less-famous institutions.
|1||Delta State University (41 points)||Cleveland, Mississippi|
|2||Oakwood University (37 points)||Huntsville, Alabama|
|3||Delaware State University (33.5 points)||Dover, Delaware|
|4||Purdue University (29.5 points)||West Lafayette, Indiana|
|5||Drexel University (29 points)||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
Our Top 18 Schools for Nutrition Science Degrees
Delta State University (41 points)
Delta State University in Mississippi offers a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences with an emphasis in Nutrition and Dietetics. Students take part in over 1000 hours of supervised practice and graduate with eligibility to take the dietitian licensing exam.
Oakwood University (37 points)
Oakwood University offers a didactic program in Dietetics and two nutrition-related Bachelor of Science majors: Dietetics and Nutrition with Vegetarian Cuisine Emphasis. The didactic program is a shortened degree recommended for students with a prior bachelor’s degree who want to switch careers to dietetics.
Delaware State University (33.5 points)
Delaware State University is a historically Black college that offers three emphasis options for a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutritional Sciences: Nutritional Science, Food Science, and Dietetics. The Nutritional Science major prepares students for careers in nutrition and health, and the Food Science major applies a scientific understanding to food processing and distribution. In the Dietetic program, students complete 1200 hours of supervised practice in clinical, community nutrition, and food service management settings over three semesters and one summer.
Purdue University (29.5 points)
Purdue University offers majors in Nutrition Science, Dietetics, and Nutrition, Fitness, and Health (NFH). The Nutrition, Fitness, and Health Program is unique to Purdue, and students receive hands-on experience and guidance working with certified sports dietitians. Dietetics majors can participate in either the Coordinated Program or the Diadetic Program in Dietetics. The CPD qualifies students to be licensed as a dietitian, while the DPD requires students to take an internship after graduating. Dietetics and NFH are often combined as a double-major.
Drexel University (29 points)
The Drexel Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Foods program prepares students to pursue career opportunities in nutrition and dietetics. Graduates of this program are able to apply the principles of nutrition and food science to the nutritional care of individuals and groups – such as in school food service or community nutrition – or to excel in careers in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
Drexel is a comprehensive global research university with a unique model of experiential learning that combines academic rigor with one of the nation’s premier cooperative education programs.
Western Michigan University (28 points)
Western Michigan University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. This degree explores the relationship between food and health. Students have access to networking opportunities through the Student Dietetic Association.
Rochester Institute of Technology (21.5 points)
Rochester Institute of Technology offers a comprehensive Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science that teaches both scientific knowledge and leadership skills. The program offers individualized learning, a strong research component, and connections with the Rochester nutrition and health community. RIT also offers several study-abroad programs in nutrition, including in Ghana and Kosovo.
California State Polytechnic University – Pomona (21 points)
Students at California State Polytechnic University – Pomona can participate in a didactic program in Dietetics, which includes a variety of hands-on learning opportunities and unique courses in nutrition genetics and evaluation of alternative medicine. Cal Poly Pomona also offers a Food Science and Technology major with four tracks: Science and Technology, Business, Culinology (one of the few programs accredited by the Research Chefs Association), and Pre-professional.
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (20.5 points)
The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill has one of the best nutrition departments in the country, and its Bachelor of Science in Public Health with an emphasis in Nutrition is one of the top-ranked pre-med programs. The curriculum covers a wide range of courses, from epidemiology to social science, and requires all students to participate in nutrition research.
University of Florida (20 points)
The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Florida offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Dietetics, Food Science, and Nutritional Sciences. The Nutritional Sciences major has a strong emphasis on preparing students who plan to attend professional schools, such as medical or dental institutions. The Dietetics major is a didactic program, meaning students need to complete an additional internship after graduating.
Kansas State University (19.5 points)
Kansas State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences, which prides itself on high success rates for students going into medical-related fields. Students can also major in Sports Nutrition or Nutrition and Health or take either a didactic or coordinated program in Dietetics. The DPD and Nutrition and Health major are available completely online.
University of Arizona (19.5 points)
At the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences, with the option of either taking a didactic program in Dietetics or a Nutrition track for pre-professional preparation. Arizona also offers a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Systems, which explores the cultural, economic, and political factors behind the food industry
Point Loma Nazarene University (19.5 points)
Point Loma Nazarene University, a small Christian university in San Diego, has one of the top 25 nutrition degree programs according to Public Health Online. Students can participate in a Bachelor of Arts in Nutrition with concentrations in Counseling, Food, or Sports and Fitness, or a didactic program in Dietetics. Their DPD program earns a student a Bachelor of Science degree, while the Nutrition program earns a BA degree.
California State University – Long Beach (16.5 points)
Students at California State University – Long Beach can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics with a concentration in Nutritional Science or in Dietetics (didactic program). CSULB also offers a food science major with a 90% employment rate for graduates.
University of Georgia (16 points)
The University of Georgia offers a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences in Nutritional Sciences that fulfills pre-med requirements. Students can also earn a BSFCS in Culinary Science and Nutrition or complete a didactic program in Dietetics. The Dietetics major can be combined with a master’s degree, allowing students to complete both in five years.
Abilene Christian University (14.5 points)
Abilene Christian University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. Students can choose a concentration in Community Nutrition, Exercise Science, Food Service, or the didactic program in Dietetics.
Arizona State University (13.5 points)
The Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences at Arizona State University offers tracks in Integrative Nutrition and Nutrition Research. The Integrative Nutrition track prepares students for a variety of individual and community health careers. ASU also offers a didactic program in Dietetics and a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition Entrepreneurship.
University of Alabama (12.5 points)
The University of Alabama offers a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition, in which students can complete either a coordinated or didactic program in Dietetics. The Accelerated Master’s Program allows students to earn a masters with only 15 additional credits.
How Did We Rank this List?
Our ranking was based 60% on faculty-student ratio and 40% on tuition.
From each institution’s website, we gathered in-person tuition rates for out-of-state domestic students in the different programs. Where tuition was only listed on a per-year or per-semester basis, the year was assumed to consist of two semesters, twelve credits each. Tuition figures do not include fees or other expenses.
Each school was given a score from 1 for the highest tuition to 18 for the lowest. Schools were also scored from 1 to 18 for faculty-student ratio based on data from U.S. News and World Report.
Then, faculty-student ratio points were multiplied by 1.5. The weighted scores were added together to produce the final ranking.
If your school isn’t on this list and you think it deserves consideration for an update, please contact us. Also, if you work for one of the schools on this list and you notice an error, please let us know. We always seek to provide the most accurate information available and let readers know about the best schools across the country.
Still not sure which school is right for you?
Choosing the right college is an important decision. Check out our degree finder and our other lists to help find the best programs in nutrition and dietetics, or in other fields.