When Jennifer Raabe decided to go to graduate school, she had the same questions and concerns that most adults do. Here’s how the University of Wisconsin–Madison helped her find balance in her life and career while she completed her M.S. in Clinical Nutrition in just one year.
What drew you to UW–Madison’s clinical nutrition program?
Raabe: First, it specialized in clinical nutrition, as opposed to dietetic studies, which many other programs do. Then the flexibility of being able to do it online and still feeling like I was part of the school were important to me. Online education can be difficult because you don’t always have the resources available that a traditional student does. But I never felt that, even while I was applying.
What challenges did you face while completing this program?
Raabe: Definitely finding that balance of figuring out how much time I need for my school work and my family. I also had to accept not being perfect at all things, which is a challenge. Clinical nutritionists are a perfectionistic group, it’s just who we are. But I’ve accepted that I’m doing everything I can to be the best I can at everything I do.
How did UW–Madison help you overcome your challenges?
Raabe: It’s very helpful to know what to expect for the semester, and I cannot say enough about all of the professors’ ability to lay it out. They told us this is what we’re doing, this is when we are doing it, this is the expectation and this is when they’ll be available for questions on what day.
What surprised you about working collaboratively online with your classmates?
Raabe: I appreciated working in those groups and discussing things. I shared what I do really well and what I don’t do really well. For example, I work in pediatrics, so I understand adults but it’s not my forte. So I could say to my classmates: These are adult medicines? What does it look like, how do they impact people nutritionally? Being able to pull from everyone’s expertise was super helpful and surprising. We talked through everything collaboratively, even with the professor leading the discussion.
What advice do you have for people considering this program?
Raabe: It’s absolutely possible, and you should do it in a year! You can take one or two classes and still have a healthy social life and work-life balance. Also don’t be afraid to reach out if you don’t understand something, professors are more than happy to explain it.
Would you recommend the online master’s in clinical nutrition to other people?
Raabe: I would and I have. People my age have a lot of things to consider when we decide whether we want to go to school again or not. We have families, we have careers and we need to decide if we really want to add on school and the time to complete school. This program’s flexibility, taking as many classes as you want or as few, is really helpful. The cost is appropriate. I think if you’re in the clinical field and that’s what your focus is, it’s one of the best programs in the country.
The online master’s degree in clinical nutrition at UW–Madison can be completed in four semesters of full-time enrollment or part-time at the student’s own pace. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and have completed several prerequisite courses. Students who already have a certificate in clinical nutrition from UW–Madison can finish their degree in just two semesters.
The online program provides project-based activities, case studies, weekly web conferences and discussion boards. Students also develop a research proposal that applies to their specific interests or their employer’s needs.