Nutritional sciences master’s program partners with online course provider edX

Nataleah Small

The University’s nutritional sciences master’s program will be available on the online course provider platform edX starting this fall. 

Since 2017, UT’s nutritional sciences master’s program has offered two online degree options: health promotion and disease prevention, and biomedical and functional nutrition, said Sara Sweitzer, nutritional sciences associate professor and director of the online nutritional sciences master’s program. 

Sweitzer said by offering these courses on the edX platform, the University will have the potential to reach more people. Sweitzer said in the future the program would possibly branch out with other general instruction courses to offer nutrition science information to a wider audience.

The University currently has 21 course offerings on the edX platform, according to the edX website. UT has partnered with edX since 2012 and in 2018 was one of the first universities to offer a computer science master’s program on the platform, Mike Dumbroski, senior director of educational services at edX, said in an email. 

Programs offered on edX help address the challenges presented to people who work full time or would otherwise have trouble paying for an advanced degree, Dumbroski said. 

“These learners come to us looking for an online option that gets them a top-ranked degree — at an affordable price point — that they can earn flexibly on their own time,” Dumbroski said. 

People who are interested in this program range from registered dietitians to people applying to pharmacy and medical school, Sweitzer said. A person applying to a professional program can improve their résumé by earning a master’s degree in nutritional sciences, Sweitzer said. 

Offering this master’s program online can also help practitioners who currently work as registered dietitians stay competitive, Sweitzer said. In 2024, newly registered dietitians will be required to have a master’s degree, Sweitzer said. 

“Another portion of our students are practitioners, dietitians who are out in the field practicing, and they can’t take the time off from work,” Sweitzer said. “They’re able to complete a master’s degree online.”

Angie Cook said she participated in a online program and graduated with her master’s in nutritional sciences in August 2019. Cook said she graduated from Baylor University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in nursing and currently works as a registered nurse for UnitedHealth Group. 

Cook said she was inspired to learn more about nutrition when she developed health issues a few years before enrolling in the program. 

“That has led me on a journey to learn more about nutrition and have a desire to use that and incorporate that into my nursing career, which that part’s still evolving,” Cook said. 

Although she did not use the edX platform, Cook said there are benefits to using any online platform to complete a degree. 

“It offers so much flexibility and ability to be able to accomplish this around your schedule,” Cook said. 

Nursing freshman Thunyathorn Jaruves said she has already taken two online classes during her time at UT and appreciated that she could do the work at her own pace. She said online master’s degree options are beneficial for people with families and full-time jobs. 

“It will be better for them because they’ll be able to do it and then also take care of their other responsibilities, such as if they have a family,” Jaruves said. “It’s more at their pace and how they need to do it.”