If you’re looking to start or further a career in nutrition and wellness, then an online nutritionist course may be for you. While you can begin a career as a nutrition coach without a certification, getting one may help you move your career forward and ensure a thorough knowledge of how foods impact health. It also gives you credibility and authority with clients, helping them have confidence that you’ll be able to help them.
A good online nutrition certification program is one that was developed by health experts and backed by peer-reviewed, evidence-based scientific research. Be sure to check if other reputable organizations or boards recognize the program to assess the program’s credibility in the nutrition industry. Possible red flags could be programs that aren’t backed by research, created by experts, or come from credible organizations.
Online nutrition certifications increase your eligibility for jobs like health coaching, nutrition coaching, or creating your own coaching business. Consider who you want to work with and your interests when choosing a certification. Programs may provide general training or more specific information on topics like plant-based nutrition or children’s nutrition needs.
Below you’ll find some of the best online nutritionist certification courses available today.
- Cost: $999 for the year or $199 per month for 12 months
- Certifications: Certified Nutrition Coach
- Prerequisites: No
The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification provides a well-rounded curriculum, covering nutrition science, nutrition and health, and behavior change coaching. The program is open to anyone and geared towards fitness, wellness, health, and medical professionals who want to expand their nutrition knowledge.
- CEUs available within many organizations
- Discounted price available signed up during presale
- Textbooks, assessment forms, and online community included in tuition cost
- Program only open for enrollment a few times per year
- Higher price
Created in 2005, the Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification has since certified over 100,000 people. It was chosen for the best overall online nutritionist certification because of its detailed curriculum and high regard in the industry. The program is available to anyone interested in furthering their nutrition knowledge. You’ll learn about nutrition science, how nutrition impacts health, and behavior-change coaching. Training for behavior-change teaches about the psychology of behaviors so you can take people from knowing what to do, to actually doing it.
The curriculum is broken into three units: the Precision Nutrition Approach, the Science of Nutrition, and working through the Precision Nutrition Coaching Process. All classes are self-paced and completed online. It’s estimated to take about four and a half months to complete the program – 20 chapters paced at three to 5 hours per week. The tuition is $999 when paid in full or $199 per month for 12 months, and with it comes three textbooks, one video lecture for each textbook chapter, over 40 assessment forms, a PN calculator, and access to Precision’s online community.
- Cost: one payment of $4,950 or seven monthly payments of $778
- Certifications: Master Certified Nutrition and Wellness Coach
- Prerequisites: No
The Health Coach Institute’s Nutrition and Wellness Coach Master Certification is approved by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP), so once you complete the program you’re eligible to become a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner.
- Eligible to become a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner
- Payment plan available
- Includes training about growing a successful business
- Credentials may not be recognized by all organizations
The Health Coach Institute’s nutrition coaching was founded in 2015 by registered dietitian and celebrity nutritionist Keri Glassman. The program is available to anyone who wants to learn more about nutrition, holistic health, and growing a health coaching business.
There are two levels within the program, and both are self-paced. Level one includes foundational information about nutrition science, cravings, emotional eating, gut health, hydration, weight, sleep, and more. Level two is made up of three units focused on health conditions, counseling, and business. In addition to learning about health and nutrition, the institute provides training on setting up a health coaching business, content creation, marketing, sales, social media, and more. It takes about six months to complete the certification course.
You can receive continuing education credits with several organizations after completing the program, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Association of Drugless Practitioners, National Academy of Sports Medicine, Athletics and Fitness Association of America, American Council of Exercise, and International Coaching Federation. It also provides eligibility to become a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner. The website claims you don’t need to meet any qualifications or have any specific experience to complete this program, just a passion for health and wellness.
- Cost: $770 per credit plus $150 per semester fees
- Certifications: Master of Science in Applied Nutrition
- Prerequisites: Yes
The University of New England Master of Science in Applied Nutrition has a pathway specifically designed for Registered Dietitians (RD) seeking a master’s degree.
- Could complete a master’s degree in as few as 16 months
- Scholarships and funding options available
- Regionally accredited institute
- Books and supplies not included
- No business training offered
The University of New England was chosen as the best for Registered Dietitians because they have a pathway specifically designed for RDs. The university began offering online programs in 1998. The MS in Applied Nutrition first became available in 2016 and the RD pathway launched in 2020. The curriculum is broken down into core classes and elective courses. Core classes include topics like trends in nutrition, nutrition across the lifespan, research methods, nutrition and metabolism, nutrition education, and health promotion. The elective courses include topics like obesity and health promotion, disease prevention, sustainable nutrition, and others. Each class is completed online and structured into an eight-week semester.
It takes a minimum of 16 months to complete the RD pathway and 20 months to complete the traditional pathway. The length of time depends on whether you’re planning on following a full-time or part-time schedule. You’ll need to take a minimum of 27 credits to complete the RD pathway and 36 credits to complete the traditional pathway.
Beginning in 2024, a minimum of a master’s degree will be required to be eligible for taking the RD registration exam. This program really only supports current RDs who want to add a master’s degree to their education.
Cost: $2,526 per three-credit hour course
Certifications: Master of Science in Nutrition
The Johnson & Wales Master of Science in Nutrition is a good fit for anyone looking for a degree in nutrition. It provides information on advanced nutrition topics and an understanding of the scientific literature on nutrition and health.
- Accredited program
- Previous coursework could reduce the number of classes required
- Program doesn’t meet requirements for the RD credentialing process
- Specific courses available and start times vary with the academic calendar
Johnson & Wales University began in 1914 in Rhode Island. They offer online programs that were created by the university faculty. The master of Science in Nutrition was created with input from industry experts to bring real-world challenges and insight from possible employers into the curriculum. It is a self-paced online program. Courses include topics like advanced nutrition, developing scientific expertise in nutrition, disease prevention and health optimization, and assessing contemporary literature regarding nutrition and dietetics practices. Previous coursework completed at a college or university may qualify for reducing the credits needed to complete the degree.
It takes about two years to complete the MS in nutrition at Johnson & Wales. Their program does not meet the requirements to be eligible for RD credentialing, so it’s best for someone looking for a nutritionist degree.
- Cost: Depends on program type and number of credits. Estimated cost between $561-$1,343 per credit hour
- Certifications: Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) and Bachelor of Science (BS)
- Prerequisites: Yes
Arizona State University (ASU) is ranked in the top 10 nationally for best online bachelor’s programs by U.S. News & World Report. ASU has been accredited since 1931 and offers multiple undergraduate nutrition degrees.
- Multiple options for online nutrition degrees
- Top 10 ranked online undergraduate school
- Financial assistance available
- Not self-paced
- Timing and exact classes available vary based on the academic calendar
Arizona State University has been offering online nutritionist degrees since 2000. There are multiple online bachelor’s degree options available including; Food and Nutrition Entrepreneurship, Healthy Lifestyles and Fitness Science, and Healthy Lifestyles and Fitness Science. And you could go on to get your master’s degree online with their Medical Nutrition or Nutritional Science degrees, which is beneficial for gaining a deeper understanding of how nutrition impacts disease and health research.
The courses are completed online and structured into seven-and-a-half-week semesters. If you prefer in-person classes, they have programs that can be completed in person if you live near the university. The program length depends on how many classes you take a semester. For example, the Health Lifestyles and Fitness Science degree requires 40 classes. Arizona State University also offers a BS in Dietetics and meets the requirements for the RD credentialing process.
Depending on your financial situation and background, you could be eligible for financial aid, scholarships, or student loans.
- Cost: $4,995
- Certifications: Online Health and Wellness Coaching Certificate
- Prerequisites: Yes
The Emory Online Health and Wellness Coaching Certification program ranks best for nutrition coaching because of the program’s emphasis on behavior change and client coaching best practices.
- Graduates are eligible to be National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coaches
- Taught by an instructor via Zoom
- Emory staff, faculty, students, and alumni receive a 10% discount on tuition
- Must buy books and any other supplemental material
- Not self-paced
- Must complete coaching sessions in addition to coursework before becoming certified
The Emory Online Health and Wellness Coaching Certificate Program is an approved program by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching and graduates qualify to apply for the HWC certifying exam. Classes cover information about behavior change, coaching psychology, client-centered communication, ethics of coaching, and evidence-informed practices.
It takes 20 weeks to complete the program, and start times are limited by semester schedules. Experienced coaches act as instructors for the program, and classes meet via Zoom.
At the end of the program, you’ll have the option to take an exam to become certified. Before you can take the exam, though, you must complete the course, 50 health & wellness coaching sessions, and have either an associate’s degree or 4,000 hours of work experience in any field.
Graduates of this program are eligible to become National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coaches (NBC-HWC), which may add extra credibility when looking for jobs or selling your coaching services
Cost: $39.28 per month for 12 months
Certifications: ISSA Nutritionist
The ISSA Nutritionist certification is best for people on a budget because it’s one of the most inexpensive programs on this list. Pros & Cons
- Lower cost than other similar programs
- Good for personal trainers and fitness professionals
- Includes foundational information on nutrition, behavior change, and business growth
- Final exam required
- Minimal CEUs available
- Information may be less extensive for nutrition information
The ISSA Nutritionist certification helps wellness and fitness professionals understand nutrition and health to better support their clients’ goals. It’s the best option on a budget because the total cost is lower than many similar programs and spread out in a monthly payment plan. The website says the program can be completed in 10 weeks by spending one hour a day doing classwork.
The course covers topics like micro- and macronutrients, dietary guidelines, trending diets and myths, lifestyle changes, client assessments, supplementation, product claims, and business of nutrition coaching.
The certification may be best suited for personal trainers and fitness professionals because the content is geared towards trainers. However, the information could still be useful for people without a fitness training background. In addition, the company offers other health, wellness, and fitness certifications if you want to expand your knowledge into other areas.
Certifications: Certified Youth Nutrition Specialist
The AFPA Youth Nutrition Specialist certification specifically focuses on children’s nutrition and health needs to establish healthy habits at a young age.
- Perfect for those who want to work with teenagers and children
- Program approved by ADP and ANMAB
- Lower cost than some programs
- Must pass certification exam
- $75 retest fee
- Specialized to children, so is not appropriate for everyone
AFPA began in 1994 and now offers a wide variety of certificates for nutrition, health coaching, personal training, fitness, and continuing education. Their foundational certificate, however, is the Nutrition & Wellness Consultant Certification, which covers basic nutrition science.
The youth specialization is designed to help nutritionists support the needs of children and teenagers. The courses cover topics like children’s energy requirements, optimal dietary habits, child growth and development, athletic performance, and vegetarian swaps.
A specific scientific background isn’t required for the youth specialization program. However, AFPA highly recommends having a valid nutrition certification prior to completing the program. It is a fully self-paced, online nutrition certification program that takes about 6 months to complete.
The cost is $499 and includes e-books, PDFs, study guidelines, resources for clients, considerations for youth athletic performance, special considerations for vegetarian diets, and one attempt for the final exam. If you don’t pass the final exam initially, it costs an additional $75 for each retake of the exam.
- Cost: $1,260
- Certifications: Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate
- Prerequisites: No
The T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Program wins the pick for the best plant-based online nutritionist certification because it’s based on T. Colin Campbell’s decades of research and created with the assistance of over 25 health experts.
- Focused specifically on plant-based nutrition
- CEUs available for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, and NSCA members
- Lead by an instructor
- Not self-paced and is only offered at specific times of the year
- Not appropriate for people who don’t want to focus on plant-based nutrition
The eCornell T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Program was created based on Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s decades of research. The program is for anyone who wants to learn about plant-based nutrition or health professionals looking to expand their knowledge in this area.
The program includes three instructor-led courses that each last two weeks. The courses are titled Nutrition and Society, Nutrition and Chronic Disease, and Plant-Based in Practice. They cover topics like plant-based diets and chronic diseases, community health, and practicing a plant-based diet.
The plant-based nutrition program takes six weeks to complete and is only available for purchase at specific times throughout the year. You’re certified after completing the six weeks of courses. The total cost of the program is $1,260.
- Cost: $899
- Certifications: Certified Nutrition Coach (CNC) and Certified Sports Nutrition Coach
- Prerequisites: No
The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) online nutritionist certification pairs well with the NASM personal trainer certification. A bundled option is available for people who want to become certified as a personal trainers and nutrition coaches.
- Self-paced program
- Bundle options available with fitness and nutrition certifications
- Large quantity of downloadable handouts and infographics to use with clients
- Must be renewed every two years
- Only 1 year to complete the final exam
- No business training
NASM was founded in 1996 and is an NCCA-accredited organization. It provides multiple nutrition, fitness, and wellness certifications, such as its certified personal trainer and certified wellness coach courses. The nutrition programs offered are the Certified Nutrition Coach (CNC) and Certified Sports Nutrition Coach (CSNC). The CNC program focuses more on nutrition for general clients while the CSNC program hones in on nutrition specifically for athletes and athletic performance.
Both programs are self-paced and can be completed in as few as four weeks. The $899 cost of the program includes 24 chapters, 40 lecture videos, handouts, and infographics. You have up to one year to complete the final exam for certification. This certification is excellent for personal trainers because health is influenced by more than fitness. With a nutrition certification, personal trainers can offer both nutrition and fitness coaching to provide a more well-rounded experience for clients and boost client results. NASM nutritionist certifications offer CEU credits with NASM and AFAA.
The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified Nutrition Coach program is highly rated in the industry, provides thorough information, and is priced lower than many available programs. The certification is an excellent fit for anyone looking to expand their nutrition knowledge and/or become a nutrition coach.
For anyone looking to work with children or teenagers, the AFPA Youth Nutrition Specialist Certification is a great option as it caters to the specific nutrition needs of children. However, aspiring nutrition coaching and personal trainers will likely prefer the NASM bundled personal trainer and nutrition coaching certifications.
|Company||Cost||Certifications||Program Type||Prerequisites Required|
|Precision Nutrition Best Overall||$999 one-time OR $199/month for 12 months||Certified Nutrition Coach||Self-paced video training and readings||No|
|Health Coach Institute Best for Holistic Nutrition||$4,950 one-time OR $778 monthly for 7 months||Master Certified Nutrition and Wellness Coach||Self-paced video and readings||No|
|University of New England Best for Registered Dietitians||$770 per credit plus $150 per semester for fees||Master of Science in Applied Nutrition||Instructor-led courses||Yes|
|Johnson & Wales Best for Nutritionist Degree||$2,526 per 3 credit hour course||Master of Science in Nutrition||Self-paced video and readings||Yes|
|Arizona State University Best for Undergraduate Degree||$561-$1342 per credit hour||Bachelor of Science (BS) Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS)||Instructor-led courses||Yes|
|Emory Best for Nutrition Coaching||$4,995 one-time||Online Health and Wellness Coaching Certificate||Instructor-led courses, zoom meetings||Yes|
|ISSA Best for Budget||$39.28 per month for 12 months||ISSA Nutritionist||Self-paced, reading||No|
|AFPA Best for Working with Youth||$499 one-time||Certified Youth Nutrition Specialist||Self-paced, readings||No|
|eCornell Best for Plant-Based||$1,260 one-time||Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate||Instructor-led classes, video||No|
|NASM Best for Personal Trainers||$899 one-time||Certified Nutrition Coach (CNC) Certified Sports Nutrition Coach (CSNC)||Self-paced, video and readings||No|
What Type of Nutrition Certification Is Offered?
The first step to choosing the best online nutrition certification for you is understanding what certification a specific program offers. The type of nutrition certification depends on the organization because it isn’t a regulated term. Common certifications offered include certified health coach, certified nutrition coach, and certified wellness coach. Other organizations may offer programs for a specific age group or a type of diet, like an AFPA youth nutrition specialist or eCornell plant-based diet.
What Type of Jobs Can I Apply for After Completing This Certification?
In general, with a nutritionist certification, you’ll be able to apply for jobs like health coaching, nutrition coaching, or start your own business providing nutrition coaching. If you’re looking for jobs specific to plant-based diets or a group of people like children or older adults, it may help your job opportunities to get a more specific certification.
What Should I Look for in a Nutrition Certification?
When considering what type of nutrition certification you’d like to complete, it may be helpful to start by thinking about your career goals. Then, you can research jobs you’d like to apply for in the future to see what certification they’re looking for in the job description. This could guide you to what certifications will help you best in your career or business.
Consider key factors like:
- Program eligibility requirements
- Certification type
- Program length
- Topics covered
What Is the Difference Between a Nutritionist, a Dietitian, and a Nutrition Coach?
A Registered Dietitian has completed a bachelor’s degree and 1,200 hours supervised practice hours through an accredited program and passed a national registration exam. Both nutritionist and nutrition coach are unregulated titles. Often the term nutritionist refers to people who focus on nutrition. In contrast, a nutrition coach may offer both nutrition and fitness support.
Is There a Difference Between a Nutritionist Degree and a Nutritionist Certification
A nutritionist degree is usually offered through an accredited higher learning institution, takes longer to complete, and once completed, you can receive an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. On the other hand, nutritionist certifications are usually shorter programs and cost less. Certifications may offer training on specific nutrition topics, coaching, behavior change, and business building.
Can You Become a Nutritionist Without a Degree?
Nutritionist is an unregulated term, and you can become one without a degree or certification. Still, getting a degree or certification can be beneficial to deepen your understanding of nutrition and health.
Is It Worth It to Get a Nutrition Certification?
Yes, and it doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started working in the nutrition industry or want to expand your expertise. Getting a nutrition certification provides additional training, and support, and it can increase your authority with clients. However, if you already have a background in nutrition from professional experience or education, you may not find it valuable to have an additional certificate.
What Is the Most Recognized Nutrition Certification?
Precision Nutrition Nutrition Coach Certificate is one of the most recognized nutrition certifications. However, there are many other recognized certificates, like American Fitness Professionals & Associates and the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
When selecting the best online nutritionist certifications and degrees, 16 companies were seriously considered, and others were looked at. Factors used to evaluate the certifications included price, year company launched, accreditation, program focus, certification type, program length, topics covered, class types, technology and supply requirements, refund policies, and more.