If you’re interested in becoming a clinical nutritionist, you may be wondering if it’s possible to earn this degree entirely online. With the growth of distance learning programs, more and more students are seeking degrees they can complete remotely. So can you get a clinical nutrition degree online? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Clinical Nutrition?
Clinical nutrition focuses on the role that nutrition plays in promoting health and wellness. Clinical nutritionists work with patients to develop individualized dietary plans and provide nutritional counseling. Their goal is to use food and nutrients to prevent and treat acute and chronic diseases.
To become a clinical nutritionist, you must earn at least a master’s degree. Coursework covers topics like biochemistry, physiology, nutrition therapy, and counseling. In addition to classroom learning, most programs require students to complete extensive fieldwork, often referred to as a dietetic internship.
During this hands-on training, students work directly with patients under the supervision of experienced clinical nutritionists.
The Benefits of Online Programs
Pursuing an online clinical nutrition degree offers many advantages over traditional on-campus programs. The main benefit is the flexibility – online programs allow you to complete coursework on your schedule. This makes it possible to balance your education with work or family responsibilities.
Online programs also provide wider access to students who don’t live near a college or university that offers the degree. Distance is no longer a barrier for earning a clinical nutrition degree.
Online programs also tend to have lower tuition rates compared to on-campus alternatives. Eliminating room and board expenses also reduces the overall cost.
Finding an Accredited Program
When researching online clinical nutrition programs, accreditation status should be one of your top priorities. Accredited programs have met strict educational standards designed to prepare students for professional practice.
The main organization providing accreditation for clinical nutrition degrees is the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). ACEND is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and accredits bachelor’s and master’s level programs.
A few examples of accredited online clinical nutrition programs include:
Northeast College’s Master of Science in Applied Clinical Nutrition (ACN)
Master of Science in Nutrition Education from American University
Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition from the University of Wisconsin
Completing the Dietetic Internship
One challenge of online clinical nutrition degrees is completing the required dietetic internship. These intensive, hands-on training programs are typically administered by healthcare facilities, public health departments, or universities.
Some online nutrition programs have affiliations with internship sites and will place students as part of the curriculum. However, this is not guaranteed. You may need to research and apply for dietetic internships on your own to meet the requirements for registration and certification.
Online Clinical Nutrition Degree: In Conclusion
While accredited online programs make it possible to earn a clinical nutrition degree remotely, hands-on clinical training presents a unique challenge. With some effort and planning, you can complete your degree as well as the dietetic internship component and become a fully qualified clinical nutritionist.