The UT Austin Nutrition Department will start accepting applicants for its online Master of Nutritional Sciences this fall.
During the two-year program, the first cohort of students will complete 10 courses while accommodating their own schedules, according to Sara Sweitzer, nutritional sciences lecturer and director of the online program. Sweitzer added that the second cohort will finish in just one year.
“This program is asynchronous - meaning that students are not required to meet for live events or attend/sign-in to the course at designated times,” Sweitzer said. “This allows students to complete the work at their own pace within the week or course deadlines.”
Sweitzer said that, ultimately, students already studying at UT will benefit the most from the program.
“Because faculty are having to rethink their course designs for an online environment, (they) are being exposed to new ways of teaching and engaging students while still creating a high-level learning environment,” Sweitzer said.
Sweitzer said working professionals can also benefit from this initiative because it is more accessible.
“We believe that there are many health professionals including dietitians, nutritionists, nurses, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, medical doctors and physician assistants (that) would be interested in augmenting their current knowledge with a master's degree in Nutrition.”
Stacey Arnold, who graduated with a UT degree in nutrition this year, said the new online program will benefit learners who already have jobs in health care.
“As we continue to learn more about the link between dietary choices and the risk for chronic disease, every health care, health promotion and wellness profession would benefit from nutrition coursework,” Arnold said.
“Many professionals who will want this credential now dont have the capacity to attend full-time, daytime classes on campus,” Molly Bray, one of the professors who will partake in the online program, said. “Thus we wanted our program at UT to be able to offer them this opportunity for this education through an online option.
Bray added that she is excited about the variety of students the online program will attract.
“The program will also be attractive to health and wellness professionals, students working towards medical school and individuals interested in corporate wellness or nutritional consulting, among others,” Bray said.