Best Online Nutritionist Certifications

The best nutrition certification for those looking to get qualified.

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Nutrition can be a scary topic for many people — after all, there’s so much conflicting information out there, it can be hard to know what to follow. However, it doesn’t have to be. And if you want to be that person that helps make nutrition just a bit less scary, it can be incredibly rewarding. Whether you’re trying to make nutrition counseling your full-time job, or just want to continue your education, earning an online nutrition certification can be one of the most convenient ways to achieve your goals in a convenient, cost-affordable way. 

In the United States, the title "nutritionist" can be applied to anyone who offers general nutritional advice. Nutritionists are not as regulated as dietitians, and even those who do not have any professional training can legally call themselves nutritionists. A Registered Dietitian, on the other hand, is qualified design diets to treat specific medical conditions. To gain certification, a Registered Dietitian has to complete the following: a bachelor's degree with coursework approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, supervised experience at an accredited healthcare facility, community agency, or food service corporation, and a national exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

Furthermore, an RD must meet continuing professional education requirements every five years to maintain board certification. Dietitians are recognized by the letters "RD" (Registered Dietitian) or "RDN" (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) after their names. Many certificate courses are self-paced, allowing you to take classes as and when you please at home. This can help you get certified even if you don’t have an in-person option available close by.

Not every online nutritionist certification available online is accredited, and some of them do require online live classes. Some courses are also better for helping you open a private practice or become a health coach, while others can help you get a job working another setting like at a doctor’s office or hospital, and more as a registered dietitian instead.

Here are our top picks for online nutrition certifications.

Best Online Nutritionist Certifications of 2022

Best Overall : Health Coach Institute


Health Coach Institute

Health Coach Institute

Key Specs
  • Cost: $4,950 to $5,446 
  • Certificate of Completion: Yes
  • Program Length: Self-paced
Why We Chose It

Health Coach Institute helps beginners in nutrition (or registered dietitians looking to advance their practice) find ways to take their education to the next level with a combination of quizzes, webinars, lessons, and private chats that’ll allow mastery in a unique, fun way.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Offers a combination of theory and business practices

  • Taught by a celebrity nutritionist

  • Tons of online support

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Credentials you can use are limited

  • The program does not meet the requirements for RD credentialing set forth by ACEND

Overview

Taught by celebrity nutritionist Keri Glassman, Health Coach Institute wins for best overall pick for its accessibility and ability to appeal to nutritionists of all levels. Excellent both for beginners as well as those looking to expand their practice, Health Coach Institute is a six-month online course that offers over 120 modules covering every aspect of nutrition, from how to coach to the basics of macros. You can also take the course at your own pace if you prefer. You also have an entire online community to chat with via an online portal, should you need additional support while taking the class. 

While The Nutritious Life Studio is accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP), credentials are fairly limited: Once you complete the course, you can become a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, and all RDNs (Registered Dietitian Nutritionists) will also receive 62 CPEs. However, you can’t transfer these courses to achieve other credentials, and it’s pretty expensive: The upfront cost of the program is $4,950 when paid in full, or you can split the payments into seven payments of $778 ($5,446 total). However, if you’re ready to finally start your own nutrition practice, it’s definitely the one-stop shop you need.

Best Budget : International Sports Science Association


International Sports Sciences Association

 International Sports Sciences Association

Key Specs
  • Cost: $39.28/ mo. for 12 months (interest-free), plus taxes
  • Certificate of Completion: Yes
  • Program Length: Self-paced
Why We Chose It

The International Sports Science Association’s nutrition course is an affordable way to teach you the science of food in a self-paced, accessible, jampacked program.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Affordable

  • Very detailed course curriculum

  • Offers the ability to get CEUs

Cons
  • No refunds offered

  • Not accredited 

  • The program does not meet the requirements for RD credentialing set forth by ACEND

Overview  

For less than $40 a month for 12 months, you’ll be able to learn from the experts at the International Sports Science Association, or ISSA. ISSA was founded in 1988 and launched its specialist fitness nutrition program in 2009, which covers the basics of nutrition and health coaching. The course can often be bundled with other certifications to give you a comprehensive knowledge base and prepare you to work with clients for the first time. 

There are no academic prerequisites to enroll in this ISSA course, but you should make sure that you’re able to finish the entire course in a year (although the company states that most people finish it much faster). You must also pass a final exam to become certified, and you can also gain CEUs by taking this course, which is great for personal trainers or other professionals who want to reach their CEU requirements for the year. Once enrolled, you will receive textbooks and training materials with your course as well. However, this course alone is not accredited, though it does offer the ability to get credits such as CEUs and LLP Points.

Best Self-Guided : Precision Nutrition


Precision Nutrition

 Precision Nutrition

Key Specs
  • Cost: Full program cost is $119/mo. for 12 months, pre-sale $99/mo. for 12 months, or $999 up-front
  • Certificate of Completion: Yes
  • Program Length: Self-paced
Why We Chose It  

Although you can finish the program in four-five months, Precision Nutrition gives you access to their science-backed program for an entire year, so you can delve into the material at your own pace and find a rhythm that works best for you.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Focus on science-backed curriculum

  • Certain graduates get the chance to interview for jobs

  • Recognized by select US colleges

Cons
  • Not officially accredited by the government

  • Can only sign up at certain times during the year

  • The program does not meet the requirements for RD credentialing set forth by ACEND

Overview  

Precision Nutrition is a peer-reviewed program that was created in 2005 by co-founder Dr. John Berardi. The course highlights science-backed behavior change coaching and nutrition, focusing on both the scientific and psychological aspects of nutrition coaching and effective ways to attract (and keep) clients. 

The self-taught program can usually be finished in about five months, but signing up guarantees you access for a year. While the government does not accredit the program, you can earn college and continuing education (CE) credits through Precision Nutrition. It’s recognized by select US colleges and is endorsed by NASM, ACSM, ACE, CrossFit, CIMSPA, and EREPS. And the best part? For those who qualify, job interviews are available with select health and fitness companies in the United States, making following your future career path easier than ever.

Best Nutrition Coach Certification : Emory


Emory University

 Emory University

Key Specs
  • Cost: $4,995
  • Certificate of Completion: Yes
  • Program Length: 20 weeks
Why We Chose It  

If you choose to enroll in Emory’s 20-week nutrition certification program, you get access to the university’s live five-week module curriculum, theory and practice for both behavioral coaching psychology and nutrition basics, and in-depth feedback and evaluations from experienced instructors.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • You get to become a board-certified health coach

  • Very interactive

  • Focuses on both behavioral change and nutrition basics

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Can’t go at your own pace

Overview  

Emory’s Health and Wellness Coaching Certificate is an Approved Health and Wellness Coach Training & Education Program by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC, which means that graduates of this program are eligible to apply for the HWC Certifying Examination. By completing the program, you can become a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach.

This accreditation alone is worth the high price point of the program, but those who want to go at their own pace should know that given the interactive nature of the program (think weekly coaching sessions and one-on-one time with mentors), this isn’t possible. Still, the certification boasts experienced instructors with significant health and wellness coaching backgrounds, who’ll provide thorough, development-focused evaluations and individual feedback. This program is excellent for people who want to become board-certified and need that extra push to get them on track.

Best for Plant-Based Nutrition : eCornell


eCornell

eCornell

Key Specs
  • Cost: $1,260
  • Certificate of Completion: Yes
  • Program Length: Six weeks
Why We Chose It  

eCornell’s nutrition program is one of the few online certifications available online which is exclusively for plant-based eating, with a science-backed curriculum that’s backed by a ton of research.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Focused on plant-based health

  • Research-heavy curriculum

  • Created with the help of over 25 experts

Cons
  • Must take 6-8 hours of live classes a week

  • Only one type of program offered

Overview  

Cornell University’s online plant-based certification option was created in partnership with the Center for Nutrition Studies, with the participation of over 25 experts (MDs, PhDs, RDs, and RNs). The courses are very research-heavy, emphasizing why following a plant-based diet is good for your health. In addition, you take three 2-week online courses that require six to eight hours of coursework per week, led by an instructor that’s able to troubleshoot as you go. 

The course is accredited and you can also receive CE credits. However, if you want a course that encompasses other aspects of nutrition, such as coaching, an omnivore lifestyle, or sports medicine, this isn't the option for you. Since classes are live, you need to make sure they won't conflict with your schedule. 

Best for Fitness Nutrition : American Council on Exercise


American Council on Exercise

 American Council on Exercise

Key Specs
  • Cost: $699-$799
  • Certificate of Completion: Yes
  • Program Length: Self-paced
Why We Chose It  

A recognized leader in CE courses, American Council on Exercise offers a fitness nutrition specialist program that anyone can follow in their own time, without any prerequisites. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Course is presented by an MD/RD

  • You can sign up at any time

  • Many different learning styles offered, such as audio, video, and textbook

Cons
  • Requires some prerequisites in order to be recognized as an ACE Specialist

  • No scholarships or payment plans available

Overview  

ACE is a recognized leader in CE courses, offering certifications that can be easily transferred for CEUs with other companies. ACE’s courses are pre-approved for CEU credits with several other fitness certification providers such as NASM and NCSF, and this program in particular offers three major categories in the curriculum: nutrition foundations, behavior change coaching, and business development. 

If you are already an ACE-certified professional, this is a great choice to increase your sports nutrition knowledge while gaining CEUs. However, although anyone can take the program, if you’re not already a certified personal trainer, health coach, healthcare professional, or in another similar profession, you can’t become certified as an ACE fitness nutrition specialist: To be recognized as an ACE Specialist, one must already hold a current license as a healthcare professional, or a current professional certification accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies or the International Organization for Standardization. 

The ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist credential is designed to be a specialty you get after already working with clients, not a stand-alone certification. The two-year program uses many different teaching methods to accommodate learning styles, such as audio, video, and textbook learning options. It’s offered in a self-paced format and led by an RD/MD, and you can start it any time in the year at your convenience.

Best Culinary Nutrition Program : Johnson & Wales


Johnson & Wales University

Johnson & Wales University

Key Specs
  • Cost: $2,526 per three credit hour course, 10-12 classes required total
  • Certificate of Completion: Yes
  • Program Length: 2 years 
Why We Chose It  

This two-year online graduate degree course is entirely self-paced, providing culinary education, scientific expertise, and nutrition best practices in a series of eight-week courses.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Provides a graduate degree in nutrition

  • Previous coursework may apply to reduce the number of classes required to earn the MS degree

  • Lets you apply nutrition in clinical settings

Cons
  • Expensive 

  • Program does not meet the requirements for RD credentialing set forth by ACEND

Overview  

Those looking to get a nutrition degree entirely online should definitely check out the Master of Science degree from Johnson & Wales. It offers a series of eight-week courses, during which one takes 10 to 12 classes depending on the previous coursework of the student. There are no minimum requirements required except an undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 2.85, and while the recommended time is two years, you can go at your own pace should you need it. 

Courses include everything from culinary nutrition topics to ways to incorporate nutrition in clinical settings. While the program is accredited, it’s important to note, however, that it doesn’t meet the requirements for an RD track—instead, you would qualify as a nutritionist.

Best Registered Dietitian Program : University of New England


University of New England

University of New England

Key Specs
  • Cost: $770 per credit, $90 technology fee per semester, $60 service fee per semester (three-five credits per semester for part-time, six or more credits full-time)
  • Certificate of Completion: Yes
  • Program Length: 16 months to two years for full-time
Why We Chose It  

This Master of Science program in Applied Nutrition is the University of New England’s accredited program that allows an RDN track for those looking to get their Master’s Degree in Applied Nutrition.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education

  • Offers an RDN track

  • Lots of live teaching and accountability 

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Lots of prerequisites required

Overview  

The University of New England’s MS in Applied Nutrition is ideal for those looking to become registered dietitians entirely online. This option has two curriculums available: An ACEND-accredited, 48-credit-hour MS, Dietetics focus option, which leads to a verification statement that allows you to write the exam for the RDN credential, or another option that satisfies CNS (Certified Nutrition Specialist requirements). The course, however, is only offered at certain times during the year, and while it’s entirely online (no campus visits required, ever), the combination of teacher meetings and live courses means it’s not self-paced. 

You can finish your degree in 16 months with the RD option, and there are four optional specializations available: Obesity and Health Promotion, Nutrition and Disease Prevention, Sustainable Nutrition, or Individualized (build a curriculum designed to best serve your future goals through a combination of four courses across any focus areas). 

It’s important to note, however, that there are quite a few prerequisites to apply: A Bachelor's Degree from a regionally accredited institution (or international equivalent) is essential, while the new RDN to Master of Science in Applied Nutrition Pathway requires an RDN credential first. You also need an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better, and previous coursework in nutrition and/or Biology and Statistics is recommended.

Best for Beginners : Institute for Integrative Nutrition


Institute for Integrative Nutrition

 Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Key Specs
  • Cost: $6,995
  • Certificate of Completion: Yes
  • Program Length: Six months accelerated or 12 months regular
Why We Chose It

The Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) offers a comprehensive health coaching program that spans over six or 12 months to complete, (depending on your preference)., It covers everything from nutrition science to holistic wellness concepts through a vast array of visiting and on-staff faculty.

Pros
  • Complete, comprehensive course

  • Lots of accredited faculty on staff 

  • Two tracks to take, depending on time commitment

  • Available in both English and Spanish

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Can’t pick and choose courses

If you’re a beginner in the health and wellness space and looking for a comprehensive program that will teach you the ins and outs of creating a successful health coaching business, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition is your best pick. It has two tracks — 12 months regular or six months accelerated — as well as a carefully planned syllabus that includes everything from scientific studies and holistic wellness practices to coaching behavioral patterns and business marketing. This aims to provide you with every detail required to start a successful health coaching business from scratch. IIN also maintains a roster of reputable faculty members, both visiting and on staff, including functional doctors, Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), hormone specialists, and more.


Upon completion of the course, you receive IIN certification, which allows you to practice health coaching (however, this does not qualify you as a Registered Dietician). The IIN classes are broken up into seven categories — physical health, nutrition, mental and emotional health, primary food, spirituality, and coaching and business — and you’re required to take all of the courses. This is a great certification for people who want an overview of how to start a coaching business, but it doesn’t provide the opportunity to go deep into a particular topic or specialty. And while the course can be expensive at almost $7,000, payment plans and financial aid are available. IIN is accredited through partnerships with specific organizations for approved transferrable credits, such as the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBWC), the International Coaching Federation (ICF), the Health Coach Alliance, and Health Coaches Australia and New Zealand Association (HCANZA).

Final Verdict

While there are several options available for choosing the best online nutrition certificate for you, it’s important to note that all of them don’t work in the same way. Each option on this list has a different focus, various price points and lengths, and accreditations. Some, like the University of New England and Johnson & Wales provide full master’s degrees, while others, like eCornell and Emory offer shorter, more focused meal plans.

Overall, however, our best pick goes to Health Coach Institute for its accessibility and ability to appeal to a vast array of people. Great both for beginners as well as those looking to expand their practice, Health Coach Institute offers over 120 modules covering over six months that cover every aspect of nutrition, from how to coach to the basics of macros. You can go at your own pace if you prefer, and you also have an entire online community on call on, should you need the additional support—therefore offering the best of both worlds.

Guide to Choosing the Best Online Nutrition Certification 

What Is a Nutrition Certification? 

A nutrition certification is essentially a credential that allows you to practice nutrition—although that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be accredited by your state or be a licensed dietitian. If there’s a certain nutrition topic you’re interested in or want to build more confidence in certain fields, getting a certification can help you feel more confident in your ability to help your clients reach their goals. You will not only gain new information and facts but also learn methods and strategies that can help push your career in a new direction.

What Should I Look for in a Nutrition Certification?  

When you’re looking for a nutrition certification, it’s important to realize how many differences there are among them. When you’re looking for the best online nutrition certification for you, it’s vital to consider the following:

What Type of Jobs Will I Qualify for After Completing This Certification?  

  • Cost: Prices for nutrition certifications can vary widely, with some costing less than $500, with others going to the $10,000 mark. The more renowned ones can be much higher in price, but the good news is that many of them offer payment plans and loan opportunities, should the higher-priced options be something you want to pursue.
  • Time commitment: Some programs can be done in short, intense bursts like six weeks, while others can take years to complete. It’s also important to note that while many online nutrition certifications are self-paced, there are a few that require live classes, which makes them hard for those with busy, rigid schedules. It’s important to figure out which fits your lifestyle the most.
  • Prerequisites: While most nutrition certification programs do not have any prerequisites, some might require certain courses, a background in nutrition, or in the case of Master’s Degrees, a Bachelor’s Degree in something related to nutrition. Be sure to check the prerequisites of your certification of choice before committing, as you might find that the prerequisites suggested make all the difference in how much you get out of each program.
  • Specialties: Depending on the type of career you want to go into, your choice of specialty and certification will look very different. Are you a trainer looking to add a fitness nutrition component to your clients? Would you prefer a more holistic view of nutrition? Would you rather skew more plant-based? Consider your future goals before you delve into the specialties of each nutrition certification program.
  • Accreditation: Many online nutrition programs lack national accreditation the way that most university programs do. However, there are still a handful of nationally recognized companies that can help lend authority to some of the programs on the market, and you can also couple them with other programs to meet your state’s requirements for practicing nutrition.
  • Scope of practice: Understand that a credential in health coaching will not match that of a registered dietitian credential. you will not be able to practice medical nutrition therapy, especially in a licensed state. for example, if you have someone with diabetes, it is best to refer out. know when to refer out.
  • Ethics: ^his goes hand-in-hand with the scope of practice. a program that you choose, should have an ethics component that tells you, you want what's best for the general public and to stay in your scope of practice as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There a Difference Between a Nutritionist Degree and a Nutritionist Certification?

A nutritionist degree is generally a bachelor’s or master’s degree taught by an accredited university. In contrast, a nutritionist certificate offers more specialized courses that can be completed more quickly and effectively — one specifically for plant-based nutrition or another for fitness. “A nutritionist degree is obtained at an accredited institution and can vary from a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nutrition,” elaborates Christina Meyer-Jax (MS, RDN, LDN, CLT, RYT), Standard Process Nutrition Chair and Assistant Professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University. “Traditionally, this is obtained within four years and courses occur in person. However, recently universities, such as NWHSU, have begun offering full online nutrition programs.”

“In comparison, nutritionist certificates are short-term intensive courses that can be completed in as short as four weeks,” adds Meyer-Jax. “As they are less time consuming, nutrition certificates are a good option for individuals looking to expand their expertise quickly.” However, note that every nutrition certificate is not accredited, so you have to ensure that the one you’re doing provides the correct credentials needed to further your career goals.

How Long Do Nutrition Certifications Take to Complete? 

There are several different options available, and since many nutrition certifications are self-paced, you can take anywhere between a few months to a few years to complete one. This list, for instance, has options ranging from six weeks to two years, but you can take less or more time if you wish.

Can You Become a Fully Certified Nutritionist Online? 

Yes, several certifications are available for you to become a fully certified nutritionist online. Still, you will need to look at the requirements in your state if you wish to become a registered dietitian or licensed nutritionist. In many states, you are required to earn a bachelor's or master’s degree (which may be available online), participate in an internship or practicum experience, or take an exam to achieve your license to practice. Still, in some cases, an accredited course might just be enough.

What Type of Jobs Will I Qualify for After I'm Certified?

The types of jobs you’ll qualify for after completing a nutrition certification will depend heavily on which types of certifications you complete. Some will allow you to work more holistically with clients, while others will allow you to work in a sports facility, for example. Overall, however, completing a nutrition certification will most likely allow you to call yourself a "certified nutritionist" or "health coach" which will help you present as a credible professional in your particular field.

Methodology

We evaluated 16 different online nutrition certifications based on their cost, specialty, accreditations, reputation, and qualifications of the team. We chose programs that were created by RDs and MDs since these are the most qualified nutritional counseling experts. We prioritized programs that emphasized community, specialized programs for all sorts of training (including fitness and plant-based nutrition), and in-depth programming. We also made sure to include both degree options that take longer to complete, along with shorter, more intense programs.

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By Nikhita Mahtani
Nikhita has written extensively about health and wellness since 2014, and has enjoyed a successful career in the digital space as both an editor and strategist. A New York-based writer, she primarily uses her contacts in the mental health industry to help readers deal with stress and burnout, prejudices or racial bias, and the mind-body connection.

Edited by
April McCormick
April McCormick

April is the health editor for performance marketing at Verywell, where she oversees family health, wellness, and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Time, Parents Magazine, The Huffington Post, TripSavvy, Parenting.com, First Time Mom and Dad, Mama Mia, All4Women, the New York Times Bestseller, A Letter To My Mom, and more.

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Ally Hirschlag
Allison "Ally" Hirschlag

Ally is a senior editor for Verywell, who covers topics in the health, wellness, and lifestyle spaces. She has written for The Washington Post, Scientific American, The Guardian, BBC Future, and more.

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