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Is nutri­tion and dietet­ics a good career? Is becom­ing a reg­is­tered dietit­ian worth it? Accord­ing to the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics, nutri­tion as a field is expect­ed to grow by 7 per­cent from 2022 to 2032. The pub­lic demand to pro­mote health and well­ness con­tin­ues to rise, espe­cial­ly as the baby boomer gen­er­a­tion ages and becomes more vul­ner­a­ble to dis­ease. Nutri­tion is effec­tive as a pre­ven­ta­tive health­care mea­sure, stop­ping dis­ease and fur­ther med­ical prob­lems longer down the line.

Both nutri­tion­ists and dieti­tians can expect a reward­ing career; a nutri­tion­ist salary and dietit­ian salary are gen­er­al­ly much high­er than aver­age, and enter­pris­ing, entre­pre­neur­ial nutri­tion experts can make a great liv­ing as con­sul­tants or in pri­vate prac­tice. But is becom­ing a reg­is­tered dietit­ian worth it? In addi­tion to a bachelor’s degree and 1200 hours of clin­i­cal expe­ri­ence, the RD exam is noto­ri­ous­ly chal­leng­ing. A mound of col­lege debt from an expen­sive pro­gram may tip the scales against becom­ing an RD, but a degree from an afford­able, low-tuition pro­gram — that’s an invest­ment with a real return. That’s why Bachelor’s Degree Cen­ter has ranked the 10 Most Afford­able Nutri­tion­al Sci­ence Bach­e­lor Pro­grams for 2022.

Methodology: Ranking the Most Affordable Bachelor Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics

Rank­ing the most afford­able nutri­tion­ist degree pro­grams is a rel­a­tive­ly straight­for­ward task. Bachelor’s Degree Cen­ter edi­tors began with a broad look at all of the Accred­i­ta­tion Coun­cil for Edu­ca­tion in Nutri­tion and Dietet­ics (ACEND) accred­it­ed nutri­tion and dietet­ics pro­grams in the US. That is a cru­cial base­line assur­ing stu­dents that any pro­gram they choose will pro­vide the fun­da­men­tals for a nutri­tion or dietet­ics career.

For order­ing the rank­ing, though, only one fac­tor real­ly mat­ters: cost. Pro­grams are ranked from low­est tuition to high­est. On-cam­pus and online pro­grams are both included.

1. California State University, Los Angeles

The Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, Los Ange­les BS in Nutri­tion­al Sci­ence is the most afford­able nutri­tion­ist degree pro­gram in Amer­i­ca. This afford­able pro­gram under­stands that all indi­vid­u­als have a right to healthy food and edu­ca­tion about good nutri­tion. In Cal State LA’s bach­e­lor degree in nutri­tion and dietet­ics, stu­dents are giv­en a strong foun­da­tion in many areas such as med­ical and com­mu­ni­ty nutri­tion and food­ser­vice. They are taught that good nutri­tion is impor­tant for indi­vid­u­als to end chron­ic dis­ease and reach the best health possible.

CSU believes their stu­dents should par­tic­i­pate in com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment and expand their knowl­edge by work­ing on projects out­side of the class­room to help mem­bers of the pub­lic. Cal State LA brings this spir­it to it nutri­tion­al sci­ence pro­grams. Stu­dents learn to ana­lyze the sci­ence of nutri­tion and cre­ate acces­si­ble mes­sages for the com­mu­ni­ty. The BS in Nutri­tion­al Sci­ence read­ies stu­dents for employ­ment in fields like food tech­nol­o­gy, food sci­ence, and food­ser­vice administration.

Degree: BS in Nutri­tion­al Science

Click here to learn more about the nutri­tion degree program!

2. Indiana State University

Indi­ana State University’s afford­able BS in Food and Nutri­tion, with a coor­di­nat­ed Dietet­ics pro­gram, stands behind their mis­sion to teach while main­tain­ing a com­mit­ment to inclu­sion, com­mu­ni­ty, and pub­lic ser­vice. They sup­port their learn­ing envi­ron­ment by offer­ing a bach­e­lor degree in nutri­tion and dietet­ics is lim­it­ed to 16 stu­dents per class. Stu­dents are required to study food and nutri­tion course­work and over 1200 hours of prac­tice expe­ri­ence in var­i­ous set­tings like hos­pi­tals, food ser­vice facil­i­ties, and nurs­ing homes.

ISU’s nutri­tion­ist degree pro­vides stu­dents with a tra­di­tion­al class­room set­ting, includ­ing lab work and super­vised prac­tice giv­ing them the expe­ri­ence need­ed for employ­ment. They receive course­work over var­ied dis­ci­plines includ­ing biol­o­gy, chem­istry, and man­age­ment. Stu­dents can sit for the reg­is­tered dietit­ian exam upon grad­u­a­tion. Job oppor­tu­ni­ties con­tin­ue to increase for these stu­dents in fields like uni­ver­si­ty food­ser­vice, mil­i­tary food ser­vice, acute care facil­i­ties, and pri­vate orga­ni­za­tions. A strong job mar­ket pres­ence and low tuition make Indi­ana State a sol­id value.

Degree: BS in Food and Nutri­tion — coor­di­nat­ed Dietet­ics program

3. Youngstown State University

Youngstown State University’s afford­able BS in Applied Sci­ence in Dietet­ics read­ies stu­dents for employ­ment in food and nutri­tion as a Reg­is­tered Dietit­ian Nutri­tion­ist (RDN). Coor­di­nat­ed Bach­e­lor’s Pro­gram in Dietet­ics and a Didac­tic Bach­e­lor’s Pro­gram in Dietet­ics. These pro­grams pro­vide over 1,200 prac­tice hours in med­ical nutri­tion ther­a­py, com­mu­ni­ty nutri­tion, mater­nal and child nutri­tion, and food­ser­vice. It’s one of the low­est-prices nutri­tion degree pro­grams in Amer­i­ca from a top-rat­ed region­al university.

Youngstown State believes in fos­ter­ing a cre­ative and inte­grat­ed approach to learn­ing. Their mis­sion is to put their stu­dents in posi­tions to lead in dis­cov­er­ing and apply­ing knowl­edge. Upon grad­u­a­tion, stu­dents in the bach­e­lor degree in nutri­tion and dietet­ics pro­gram will improve the health of patients and the com­mu­ni­ty. They will pro­vide qual­i­ty pro­grams, includ­ing med­ical nutri­tion ther­a­py. Stu­dents also learn how to con­duct nutri­ent analy­sis and man­age food and nutri­tion ser­vices across var­i­ous organizations.

Degree: BS in Applied Sci­ence in Dietetics

Click here to learn more about the nutri­tion degree program!

4. Wayne State University

Wayne State University’s three nutri­tion degree pro­grams focus on med­ical nutri­tion ther­a­py, improv­ing nutri­tion, and decreas­ing chron­ic dis­eases with­in the Michi­gan com­mu­ni­ty, in keep­ing with Wayne State’s mis­sion as a region­al pub­lic insti­tu­tion to pro­vide learn­ing and lead­er­ship in for the peo­ple of the region. Wayne State has a BA in Nutri­tion and Food Sci­ence, a BS in Nutri­tion and Food Sci­ence, and a BS in Dietet­ics, offer­ing a bach­e­lor degree in nutri­tion and dietet­ics suit­ed for any career path in the field, with the afford­abil­i­ty of Wayne State’s low tuition costs.

The BA Nutri­tion and Food Sci­ence pro­gram pro­vides stu­dents a degree in nutri­tion and food with a broad foun­da­tion in lib­er­al arts, sci­ence, and busi­ness. This pro­gram has less focus on chem­istry and sci­ence than the BS. Upon grad­u­a­tion, stu­dents can find jobs in cus­tomer rela­tions, school food ser­vices, or indus­tri­al food ser­vice. The BS in Nutri­tion and Food Sci­ence pro­gram has a strong foun­da­tion in sci­ence for stu­dents who are inter­est­ed in the chem­istry and biol­o­gy of food. Stu­dents with this degree can find jobs in food pro­cess­ing, pub­lic health, and research and devel­op­ment. The BS in Dietet­ics pro­gram is for stu­dents who want to receive reg­is­tered dietit­ian cre­den­tials. These stu­dents can find employ­ment in hos­pi­tals, gov­ern­ment agen­cies, med­ical clin­ics, and food­ser­vice facilities.

Degree: BA or BS in Nutri­tion & Food Sci­ence, or BS in Dietetics

Click here to learn more about the nutri­tion degree program!

5. Buffalo State University (SUNY)

Buf­fa­lo State University’s nutri­tion degree pro­grams offer three pos­si­ble paths. The three dif­fer­ent pro­grams are a BS in Nutri­tion and Dietet­ics — Didac­tic Pro­gram, a BS in Dieti­cian Edu­ca­tion, and a Dietet­ics and Nutri­tion, Adult Edu­ca­tion 4 + 1 Accel­er­at­ed Path­way. The BS in Nutri­tion and Dietet­ics — Didac­tic Pro­gram is com­mit­ted to prepar­ing stu­dents for super­vised prac­tice fol­lowed by sit­ting for the CDR exam. It encour­ages crit­i­cal think­ing and prob­lem solv­ing and a ded­i­ca­tion to pro­fes­sion­al growth and life­long learn­ing. Stu­dents often find jobs in food ser­vice agen­cies, food­ser­vice orga­ni­za­tions, and gov­ern­ment agencies.

The BS in Dieti­cian Edu­ca­tion pro­gram gives stu­dents aca­d­e­m­ic knowl­edge and super­vised prac­tice of more than 1,200 hours meet­ing the require­ments by ACEND. It has long been believed that dietet­ics is the most impor­tant piece of health care. Stu­dents learn to edu­cate the com­mu­ni­ty about prop­er health in cre­ative and acces­si­ble ways. Stu­dents are taught to eval­u­ate and direct them­selves through­out their careers and con­tin­ued learn­ing. The Dietet­ics and Nutri­tion, Adult Edu­ca­tion 4 + 1 Accel­er­at­ed Path­way enables qual­i­fied stu­dents to fast track their learn­ing and respec­tive degree.

Degree: BS in Dietet­ics — Didac­tic Pro­gram, Dieti­cian Edu­ca­tion, or 4+1

Click here to learn more about the nutri­tion degree program!

6. University of Texas at San Antonio

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at San Antonio’s afford­able BS in Nutri­tion and Dietet­ics is the begin­ning step for stu­dents becom­ing reg­is­tered dieti­tians in Texas. UTSA’s bach­e­lor degree in nutri­tion and dietet­ics focus­es on the sci­ence of how food impacts the health of a com­mu­ni­ty. UT’s. Stu­dents learn how to edu­cate the com­mu­ni­ty on how to pre­vent health con­cerns such as obe­si­ty, dia­betes and oth­er dis­eases. Stu­dents learn how to ana­lyze nutri­tion across all life cycles and stages. Stu­dents learn the sci­ence of food and its impact on indi­vid­u­als. They will par­tic­i­pate in practicum hours in areas like clin­i­cal dietet­ics and food­ser­vice management.

UT San Anto­nio is known for its pro­fes­sion­al pro­grams, and as an offi­cial­ly des­ig­nat­ed His­pan­ic Serv­ing Insti­tu­tion, plays a crit­i­cal role in help­ing pre­pare Lat­inx and His­pan­ic stu­dents for pro­fes­sion­al careers. Upon grad­u­a­tion, nutri­tion degree stu­dents can obtain employ­ment in facil­i­ties like hos­pi­tals, food ser­vice, and fit­ness cen­ters. They may find employ­ment coun­sel­ing the com­mu­ni­ty, group edu­ca­tion, and nutri­tion­al assess­ments. Stu­dents may teach in schools, or per­form research in phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal orga­ni­za­tions. What­ev­er their career path, UT San Antonio’s low costs mean a reli­able return on invest­ment for graduates.

Degree: BS in Nutri­tion and Dietetics

Click here to learn more about the nutri­tion degree program!

7. Delaware State University

Delaware State University’s afford­able BS in Food and Nutri­tion Sci­ences has dif­fer­ent options avail­able to stu­dents in the Food and Nutri­tion­al Sci­ence pro­gram of the Depart­ment of Human Ecol­o­gy. There is a coor­di­nat­ed pro­gram in dietet­ics, nutri­tion­al sci­ence, and food sci­ence. As a region­al insti­tu­tion, Delaware State believes in acces­si­bil­i­ty and afford­abil­i­ty, cre­at­ing one of the cheap­est nutri­tion degree pro­grams in the nation.

The Nutri­tion­al Sci­ence Option pro­vides a broad base in knowl­edge and a strong under­stand­ing of nutri­tion through var­i­ous back­grounds such as chem­istry, sta­tis­tics, nutri­tion­al bio­chem­istry, and psy­chol­o­gy to give stu­dents a strong back­ground for employ­ment in com­mu­ni­ty nutri­tion and food and allied health pro­fes­sions. The Food Sci­ence Option pro­vides stu­dents with the prin­ci­ples of sci­ence and engi­neer­ing as they relate to food com­pounds. Food Sci­ence gives stu­dents edu­ca­tion in tox­i­col­o­gy, bio­chem­istry, indus­tri­al aspects of food pro­cess­ing, and stor­age of nutri­tious and safe food prod­ucts. The Coor­di­nat­ed Pro­gram in Dietet­ics is a degree in food and nutri­tion­al sci­ences with a con­cen­tra­tion in dietet­ics. Stu­dents learn to use their knowl­edge and skills in their community.

Degree: BS in Food and Nutri­tion Sciences

Click here to learn more about the nutri­tion degree program!

8. Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University’s afford­able BS in Dietet­ics pro­vides stu­dents clin­i­cal expe­ri­ence with a base knowl­edge in clin­i­cal areas of dietet­ics. ASU’s coor­di­nat­ed bach­e­lor degree in nutri­tion and dietet­ics is pro­vid­ed by the Nutri­tion­al Sci­ence Pro­gram in the Col­lege of Nurs­ing & Health Pro­fes­sions. Stu­dents are taught to car­ry them­selves with pro­fes­sion­al­ism while pro­vid­ing valu­able health ser­vice to the com­mu­ni­ty. Stu­dents learn to focus on med­ical nutri­tion ther­a­py as entry-lev­el dieti­tians. Stu­dents learn about a vari­ety of sub­jects includ­ing food ser­vice sys­tems man­age­ment, psy­chol­o­gy, soci­ol­o­gy, and anatomy.

Found­ed in 1909, Arkansas State Uni­ver­si­ty began as an agri­cul­tur­al col­lege, and farm­ing and food pro­duc­tion have been cen­tral to ASU’s learn­ing and research ever since. One of the best nutri­tion degree pro­grams in the nation, Arkansas State brings over a cen­tu­ry of expe­ri­ence, as well as deep con­nec­tions to the com­mu­ni­ty. Stu­dents in the coor­di­nat­ed dietet­ics pro­gram have a min­i­mum of 1,200 super­vised prac­tice hours in var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ty set­tings such as food ser­vice and oth­er clin­ics. Upon com­ple­tion of this pro­gram, stu­dents are eli­gi­ble to sit for the reg­is­tered dietit­ian exam and begin their career with­out a high debt, thanks to Arkansas State’s low tuition.

Degree: BS in Dietetics

Click here to learn more about the nutri­tion degree program!

9. Delta State University

Delta State University’s afford­able BS in Nutri­tion and Dietet­ics is a bach­e­lor degree in nutri­tion and dietet­ics with a Coor­di­nat­ed Pro­gram in Dietet­ics. Offered by the Divi­sion of Fam­i­ly and Con­sumer Sci­ences, the nutri­tion degree pro­gram read­ies stu­dents for gain­ful employ­ment in the field and empow­ers them to become lead­ers in their com­mu­ni­ty. Stu­dents gain a broad foun­da­tion in food con­cepts and nutri­tion and how they increase the qual­i­ty of life. They learn to edu­cate oth­ers in dis­ease pre­ven­tion, good health, and nutri­tion services.

Delta State’s Coor­di­nat­ed Pro­gram teach­es cur­rent and appro­pri­ate knowl­edge-based research to help stu­dents nav­i­gate their careers. Stu­dents learn how to inte­grate basic food and nutri­tion knowl­edge and ser­vices to the com­mu­ni­ty. Ser­vices include med­ical nutri­tion ther­a­py, edu­ca­tion with­in com­mu­ni­ty agen­cies, and imple­ment­ing food sys­tems man­age­ment. With Delta State’s afford­able tuition rate, grad­u­ates can start see­ing a return on their invest­ment right away.

Degree: BS in Nutri­tion and Dietetics

10. Utah State University

Utah State University’s afford­able BS in Nutri­tion, Dietet­ics, and Food Sci­ence pro­vides prospec­tive nutri­tion­ists with a bach­e­lor degree in nutri­tion and dietet­ics with three tracks, or empha­sis: dietet­ics, food sci­ence, or nutri­tion sci­ence empha­sis. The Dietet­ics track has a coor­di­nat­ed pro­gram in dietet­ics and the didac­tic pro­gram in dietet­ics. The Food Sci­ence track teach­es stu­dents the chem­i­cal com­po­si­tion of food and its ingre­di­ents. Stu­dents learn to pre­serve, pack­age, and dis­trib­ute nutri­tious and afford­able food for the com­mu­ni­ty. The Nutri­tion Sci­ence track gives stu­dents a foun­da­tion in health sci­ences, as they learn about the mol­e­c­u­lar and cel­lu­lar base of health and dis­ease. They com­bine nutri­tion with anato­my, phys­i­ol­o­gy, and biochemistry.

Utah State believes there is a high­er need for pro­fes­sion­als with this degree due to increas­ing aware­ness of the impli­ca­tions of healthy food choic­es on the com­mu­ni­ty. Depend­ing on their track, stu­dents can find employ­ment in fields such as food prod­uct devel­op­ment, food sci­en­tist, nutri­tion spe­cial­ist, and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sales. As a region­al pub­lic uni­ver­si­ty, Utah State keeps tuition costs low, mak­ing for one of the most afford­able nutri­tion degree pro­grams in America.

Degree: BS in Nutri­tion, Dietet­ics, and Food Science

Is Nutrition and Dietetics a Good Career?

Is nutri­tion and dietet­ics a good career choice for stu­dents in the 21st cen­tu­ry? Yes! There are plen­ty of rea­sons to become a dietit­ian; a degree in nutri­tion will open the door to many career oppor­tu­ni­ties. This broad field allows a nutri­tion­ist to work a well pay­ing while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly help­ing the pub­lic becom­ing health­i­er. If you have a pas­sion for health, food, and pre­vent­ing ill­ness, then a career in diet­ing or nutri­tion may be ide­al for you (it could be a smart choice for Mil­len­ni­als, with a lot of poten­tial for growth).

But is becom­ing a dietit­ian worth it? Grant­ed, it’s not easy being a dietit­ian: pros and cons include a high lev­el of respon­si­bil­i­ty (you’re respon­si­ble for feed­ing peo­ple, after all — the basic essen­tials of life) and long hours typ­i­cal of a med­ical or health­care career, bal­anced with a high clin­i­cal dietet­ics salary and poten­tial for growth. Being a dietit­ian pros and cons also depend on many per­son­al and cir­cum­stan­tial fac­tors, like where you work; some set­tings will obvi­ous­ly be more stress­ful than oth­ers (dieti­tians in nurs­ing homes, for instance, will have to cope with see­ing patients pass away).

So is becom­ing a dietit­ian worth it? For those who are inter­est­ed in help­ing peo­ple live their health­i­est lives, the rea­sons to become a dietit­ian out­weigh the stress­es of school, RD exams, and work­ing in the health­care field. If you need more rea­sons to become a dietit­ian, take a look at clin­i­cal dietet­ics salary and the nutri­tion­al sci­ence jobs potential.

What Can I Do With a Nutritionist Degree?

Plen­ty of nutri­tion­al sci­ence jobs become avail­able to those who earn nutri­tion degree. Nutri­tion­ists can pro­vide nutri­tion­al coun­sel­ing for hos­pi­tals, clin­ics, pub­lic, or pri­vate health orga­ni­za­tions. Nutri­tion­ists can work for uni­ver­si­ties or edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams, edu­cat­ing the pub­lic and research­ing the lat­est inno­va­tions in nutri­tion­al sci­ence. They can work with the food indus­try, pro­vid­ing con­sul­ta­tion for food man­u­fac­tur­ers or chefs look­ing to cre­ate healthy food options. Nutri­tion­ists can even work inde­pen­dent­ly as a fit­ness coun­selor or health writer. The great thing about a nutri­tion degree is that it is extreme­ly flex­i­ble for non-tra­di­tion­al dietit­ian jobs.

To work in this field, a bachelor’s in nutri­tion along with some intern­ship train­ing is gen­er­al­ly required. Some states require licens­ing in order to work with a par­tic­u­lar prac­tice or orga­ni­za­tion. The edu­ca­tion itself usu­al­ly involves cours­es in food, dietet­ics, anato­my, phys­i­ol­o­gy, clin­ic nutri­tion, pub­lic health issues, psy­chol­o­gy, chem­istry, and biol­o­gy. The train­ing process is super­vised, usu­al­ly tak­ing up sev­er­al hun­dred hours or under­grad­u­ate work. It is also pos­si­ble to receive a mas­ter’s degree to advance career oppor­tu­ni­ties with­in the field. Nutri­tion­ists can choose to pur­sue an area of spe­cial­ties such as pedi­atric nutri­tion or sports dietetics.

Your per­son­al career path will large­ly depend on your spe­cial­iza­tion and what kind of insti­tu­tion, busi­ness, or orga­ni­za­tion you work for, but the work a nutri­tion­ist or dieti­cian does from day to day is large­ly the same. Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, nutri­tion­ists and dieti­tians tend to have the fol­low­ing duties:

  • Eval­u­at­ing a patient or clien­t’s health needs
  • Pro­vid­ing advice or healthy eat­ing habits
  • Devel­op­ing or assess­ing meal plans that will meet a clien­t’s nutri­tion­al needs
  • Doc­u­men­ta­tion of a clien­t’s progress in a diet
  • The pub­lic pro­mo­tion of bet­ter health through diet­ing and nutrition
  • Cre­at­ing edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als relat­ed to food and nutrition
  • Con­tribut­ing to nutri­tion science

Ulti­mate­ly, nutri­tion­ists and dieti­tians aim to improve the over­all health of peo­ple through diet­ing and nutri­tion. If you are inter­est­ed in health, food sci­ence, and broad career oppor­tu­ni­ties with­in the health­care field, a career in nutri­tion or dietet­ics would be right for you.

How Much Does a Nutritionist Make?

Nutri­tion­ist and dietit­ian are often used inter­change­ably, but there is a dif­fer­ence between the two occu­pa­tions. A dietit­ian is a type of nutri­tion­ist who becomes reg­is­tered with the Com­mis­sion on Dietet­ic Reg­is­tra­tion (CDR). Dieti­tians work more strict­ly under gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion. Some U.S. states require that nutri­tion­ists receive a Board of Nutri­tion license in order to prac­tice nutri­tion. A nutri­tion­ist salary will depend on all of these factors.

The Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics states that the aver­age nutri­tion­ist salary is $66,450 in 2022. Those who work in gov­ern­ment or nurs­ing facil­i­ties can expect to make around $66,370 while those work­ing in hos­pi­tals or out­pa­tient care cen­ters make over $75,000. With the high­er lev­el of cre­den­tials and edu­ca­tion, dieti­cians tend to have posi­tions with more respon­si­bil­i­ty and author­i­ty, and so will tend to make more than work­ers with just a nutri­tion degree.

Relat­ed Rank­ings:
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