Skip to content

Best Online Nutrition Certification Programs

Get the right training for your career

We recommend the best products through an independent review process, and advertisers do not influence our picks. We may receive compensation if you visit partners we recommend. Read our advertiser disclosure for more info.

If you are passionate about helping others with nutrition but aren’t ready to dive into a college-level program, online nutrition certification programs can help you prepare to work with clients. 

The best programs offer a comprehensive curriculum covering all the basics of nutrition science and coaching techniques in an easy-to-digest online format. Programs include textbooks, online videos, worksheets, and exams as part of the certification process. We reviewed online nutritionist certification programs and compared them based on cost, topics covered, and credibility.

Best Overall : Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification

Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification

Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification

Key Specs
  • Cost: $119/mo or $999 One-time payment
  • Certificate of Completion: Yes
  • Program Length:
Why We Chose It

As the top-recommended program online, Precision Nutrition’s Level 1 Certification offers the latest in nutrition science and behavior change coaching.

Pros & Cons
  • Heavily science-based, with peer-reviewed publications on the Precision coaching method

  • Study at your own pace online

  • 45-day guarantee with a full refund

  • Higher price

  • Only opens for applicants twice times a year

Founded in 2005 by Dr. John Berardi and Phil Caravaggio, Precision Nutrition (PN) incorporates a focus on both nutrition and behavior change coaching. The learning materials are easy to follow and well-organized on the online coaching platform and physical textbooks, and the program is heavily science-based leading to a better understanding of nutrition coaching and the science behind it. 

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification costs $999 on pre-sale or $119 a month for 12 months when the course is open. All classes are offered online and are self-paced. There are no requirements or level of experience needed to take the program, but with its science-based material, having some background in nutrition would be beneficial. 

Precision Nutrition only opens enrollment two times a year, but this course can also be purchased through International Sports Science Association (ISSA) where it can be started at any time. PN is endorsed by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and has many positive reviews and testimonials online.

Note that while PN has a certification program, it still offers nutritional coaching to clients (which is how it began). This means that while you can obtain your certification from them, they will also be a competitor once you begin seeing clients independently. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but something to consider when researching different programs.

Best for Basics : National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Nutrition Coach

National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Nutrition Coach

 National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Nutrition Coach

Take $50 off purchases over $499 at using code BALANCE50 at checkout.

Key Specs
  • Cost: $899
  • Certificate of Completion: Yes
  • Program Length: One year to finish, though many finish in under 10 weeks.
Why We Chose It

The NASM Nutrition Coach certification focuses on the basics of nutrition education while keeping information current to address current fad diets and hot topics.

Pros & Cons
  • Focus on the foundations of nutrition science

  • Addresses current issues in nutrition

  • Good coverage of coaching techniques and troubleshooting client issues

  • No information on the business aspects of nutrition coaching

  • Must retake the final exam every two years to maintain certification

Founded in 1987, NASM offers science-based personal training certification programs. Its nutritionist certification program covers all the basics of nutrition and will increase your knowledge so you can help your clients reach their goals. It can be taken as a continuing education course for personal trainers or as a stand-alone program. 

There are no prerequisites for this program and you can enroll online at any time. It is self-paced and you have one year to complete it, although most students find they can complete it in about 10 weeks and some complete it in as few as four. All courses and tests are offered through NASM's student portal. 

The NASM nutrition coach certification costs $899. You do have to retake the exam every two years if you want to stay certified, and all the add-ons and additional specialties can add up quickly and get expensive. However, the NASM nutrition coaching course is great for those who are already NASM-certified personal trainers and want to add another specialty to their resume while gaining their continuing education units (CEUs) for the year.

Best For Budgets : National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) Sport Nutrition Specialist

National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) Sport Nutrition Specialist

 National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) Sport Nutrition Specialist

Key Specs
  • Cost: $419 - $479,
  • Certificate of Completion: Yes
  • Program Length: Between two and four monrhs
Why We Chose It

The NCSF Sport Nutrition Specialist certification program is offered at a lower cost than many of its competitors.

Pros & Cons
  • Less expensive option

  • Well recognized in the fitness industry

  • Great for personal trainers looking for a specialty

  • Heavily focused on sports nutrition for performance improvement which may not apply to all clients

  • Less focus on coaching styles and behavior change

The National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) was founded in 1996 and is well known in the fitness industry worldwide. It is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. The Sport Nutrition Specialist certification is geared toward those who work with athletes or want to learn more about how to improve performance and body composition. It’s also a cost-effective choice if you are a personal trainer and looking for an inexpensive option to expand your sports nutrition knowledge for yourself or your clients.  

This program covers topics related to diet and health but puts less emphasis on coaching and behavior change than other programs. It's designed for coaches who want to work with athletes, therefore it is assumed that the clients already have a solid foundation when it comes to sticking to a routine and implementing new habits. 

The NCSF Sport Nutrition Specialist certification costs between $419 and $479, making it a lower-cost option than other online courses. There is no work experience required for entry to this program, but they do require high school or equivalent education to become certified. The course will take between two and four months to complete, and you can progress at your own pace. 

Upon completion of the program, you must take an online exam to receive your certification. If you don't pass your exam the first time you can retake it for $99. There are no limits to how many times you can take it until you pass.  

Best Self-Paced : International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) Nutritionist Specialization

International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) Nutritionist Specialization

 International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) Nutritionist Specialization

Use Code BALANCE40 for 40% off the ISSA Nutritionist Specialization

Key Specs
  • Cost: $799
  • Certificate of Completion: Yes
  • Program Length: Eight months
Why We Chose It

The International Sports Sciences Association is a self-paced program with the benefit of a guided and structured study plan to help students stay on track with their learning.

Pros & Cons
What We Like
  • Online course you can do at your own pace or follow their recommended study plan

  • The course includes foundations of nutrition, behavior change, and business of nutrition coaching

  • Client-focused teaching

What We Don’t Like
  • Must pass a final exam to gain certification

  • Add-ons can become expensive

The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) was founded in 1988 and launched the specialist in fitness nutrition program in 2009, which has since become a popular option. The ISSA Nutritionist Specialization course covers the basics of nutrition and health coaching and can often be bundled with other certifications to give you a comprehensive knowledge base and prepare you to work with clients. 

The ISSA Nutrition Specialization requires no work or academic experience to enroll. This course must be completed within eight months, but many finish it much faster. You must pass a final exam to become certified, but note that online reviews online state this exam is much longer than others. 

You can also gain CEUs by taking this course, which is great for personal trainers or other professionals who want to reach their CEU requirement for the year while learning about something that will help them and their businesses. 

This course usually costs $799, but will often go on sale for up to 50% off. Check the website for the most current discount. Although this can be completed as a stand-alone certification, you can purchase one of the bundles that include other specializations that ISSA offers such as personal training or group exercise instructor. If you are just starting out, this is a great deal.

Best for Continuing Education : American Council on Exercise (ACE) Fitness Nutrition Specialist

American Council on Exercise (ACE) Fitness Nutrition Specialist

 American Council on Exercise (ACE) Fitness Nutrition Specialist

Key Specs
  • Cost: $599 - $699
  • Certificate of Completion: Yes
  • Program Length: Self-paced
Why We Chose It

ACE is a recognized leader in continuing education courses, offering certifications that can be easily transferred to CEUs with other companies.

  • Offers learning materials in written, audio, and video format

  • Includes education on business practices to increase income for fitness professionals

  • Easily transferable for Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

  • Must have a professional credential or National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredited certification before completion for certification

ACE is a leader in continuing education courses, with its courses preapproved for CEU credits with several other fitness certification providers such as NASM and NCSF. The fitness nutrition program has 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.

Although anyone can take the program, this program is designed to be taken after you already have an NCCA-accredited certification or professional credential. If you are not already a certified personal trainer, health coach, healthcare professional, or in another similar profession you cannot become certified as an ACE fitness nutrition specialist. 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 website emphasizes they use different teaching methods to accommodate learning styles such as audio, video, and textbook learning options. The program is offered in a self-paced format and costs $599 to $699, which is a bit less expensive compared to other programs on our list. It can also be caught on sale.

Final Verdict 

Overall, if you’re looking to expand your nutrition knowledge then an online certification may be a great place to start. Most of the programs on this list allow you to enroll at any time, and some even offer steep discounts, while others only open registration twice a year.  Precision Nutrition (PN)won best overall because it puts the focus not only on nutrition and learning how to promote behavior change coaching. the program is heavily science-based so you can fully understand the science behind being a certified nutritionist.

If you are looking for a more budget-friendly and busy schedule-accommodation program, look into NCSF Sport Nutrition Special. If you need something to supplement your continuing education credits, look no further than ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist. Please note that these programs are designed to earn you the title of "certified nutritionist" upon completion and are not a substitute for a higher-level education if you want to pursue a career as a licensed dietitian.

Compare Providers

Best Nutritionist Certification Programs  Cost Certification Course duration
Best Overall:
Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification
$999 on pre-sale or $119 a month for 12 months Yes 20 lesson exams (Self-led)
Best for Basic Certification
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach
$899 Yes 1 year to finish, though many finish in under 10 weeks.
Best for Budgets: NCSF Sport Nutrition Special  $419 - $479, Yes 2-4 months
Best Online/Self-Paced ISSA Nutritionist  $799 but can be bundled for savings  Yes 8-months
Best for Continuing Education:
ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist 
$599 - $699 Yes  Self-led

*As of November 2021

What Is an Online Nutrition Certification Program?

Certified nutritionists help others reach their health goals by making healthy food choices, developing good habits, and eating well to support their lifestyle and dietary needs.  An online nutrition certification program is designed to help you earn the title of certified nutritionist. 

These programs cover relevant topics such as nutrition science, coaching techniques, motivating clients, and developing healthy eating habits, and are designed to prepare you to work with clients on their nutrition goals. 

Is It Worth Getting an Online Nutrition Certification?

Certification is beneficial. If you want to work with clients offering nutrition advice, you will need formal training as it’s not recommended that you give this kind of specialized advice to clients unless you have a good grasp on the fundamentals and important aspects of nutrition. 

These courses provide the training and information you’ll need, and they allow you to call yourself a "certified nutritionist" or "health coach" which will help you present yourself as a credible professional.

What Does an Online Nutrition Certification Program Include?

Most programs include all the courseware and materials you need to complete the course. You will often get access to an online portal to access lectures, videos, and reading materials and some courses will mail you the textbooks to accompany this. Some courses also include a test or exam at the end that you must pass to complete the program. 

How Much Does an Online Nutrition Certification Program Cost?

Nutrition certification programs vary in cost. They can range from $349-$999, although we found that many programs are discounted from time to time. You might want to sign up for a company’s newsletter or email alerts so you’ll know when the classes go on sale.  

You can also take a nutrition certification program to gain CEUs to recertify your current certification, making the cost worthwhile. 


We looked at over eight online nutritionist certification programs available in the U.S. and compared them based on cost, value, length, and accreditation. We excluded courses that were not accredited or recognized by NCCA, NASM, or ACE, and we looked for courses that focus primarily on nutrition and nutrition coaching. 

All of our top choices offered accredited, comprehensive nutrition curriculums that can be completed in a practical amount of time and for a reasonable cost.

Updated 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,, First Time Mom and Dad, Mama Mia, All4Women, the New York Times Bestseller, A Letter To My Mom, and more.

Edited by
Simone Scully
Simone Scully Headshot
Simone is the health editorial director for performance marketing. She has over a decade of experience as a professional journalist covering mental health, chronic conditions, medicine, and science.
Related Articles