The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents has approved an online master of science degree with a focus on clinical nutrition, among the first of its kind in the U.S.
UW-Madison will launch the program next year, enrolling the first students in fall 2017. Designed for working professionals, the curriculum will cover advanced nutritional science, clinical nutrition, and professional skills over four semesters. The university hopes to attract students from across the nation, meeting the growing demand for nutrition professionals with advanced credentials.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of dietitians will increase 16 percent between 2014 and 2024, more than double the growth in demand for most occupations. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development predicts a nearly 11 percent increase in dietitian and nutritionist jobs by 2022. An advanced degree is increasingly important for dietitians competing for internships and jobs, and starting in 2024 a master’s degree will be a required credential.
“The need for advanced education has affected all healthcare professions in the last decade,” says David J. Eide, chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences. “The online master’s degree in clinical nutrition will benefit those who want to advance in the field and better serve the public. By being among the first to deliver a clinical nutrition master’s program online, UW-Madison is poised to serve more students as the degree requirements change for dietitians.”
Flexibility for working professionals
The M.S. in clinical nutrition will build on the success of UW-Madison’s online capstone certificate in clinical nutrition, offered by the Department of Nutritional Sciences since 2014. The post-baccalaureate program is designed for practicing registered dietitians and others who require continuing education to remain competitive. All 12 of the certificate credits will transfer seamlessly into the master’s program for those seeking an additional credential.
The online master’s degree will emphasize projects, discussions, and other active learning strategies. It offers flexibility for working professionals, similar to the online capstone certificate.
“I could work at my own pace,” says Sarah Droege, a graduate of the capstone program. “The flexibility was key because I could look at the course schedule and choose when I wanted to get things done.”