By Anna Flagg
Hungry for higher education?
The Baylor Graduate School is launching a master’s degree program in nutrition sciences. Although courses for the program will begin this spring, the program’s first full-time students will officially start next fall.
The program is expected to enroll five or six students its first year and grow over time. Incoming students can choose between two options in the two-year program: completing 36 hours of coursework or completing 30 hours of coursework and writing a thesis.
Classes will be offered in the late afternoon and evening to accommodate working students.
Dr. Suzy Weems, chairman of the department of family and consumer sciences, said the profession of dietitians is becoming more specialized, creating a need for students in the undergraduate program to obtain a Master of Nutrition Sciences.
“To become a dietitian, you have to go through an undergraduate program, an internship and then sit for exams,” Weems said. “What this program will do will be to provide an opportunity before an internship or before exams to earn a master’s.”
Teague junior Lindsey Winfree said she recently discovered the program and it has sparked her interest.
“I like that the program will be small, especially starting out, because a lot of people won’t know about it yet,” Winfree said. “It would be nice to be able to stay at Baylor to get my master’s.”
Weems said Baylor will offer something that other programs do not.
“What makes our program unique is that it will be housed in family and consumer sciences, and within this department there are five very distinct programs,” Weems said. “We feel that Baylor will be able to provide a better balance of the other aspects that also affect and are affected by nutrition.”
Advanced study in nutrition sciences will also create more research opportunities for Baylor faculty and students and will help keep the college on par with its peers, as there are many existing nutrition programs at other universities across the state. Colleges such as the University of Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Woman’s University all have programs in place already.
Jessica Theimer, a 2009 Texas Tech University graduate who teaches nutrition classes in McLennan County, said she was surprised when she moved to Waco and found out Baylor did not have a graduate program for nutrition sciences. She said she was excited to hear about the upcoming program.
“Having both an undergraduate and graduate program at Baylor will be easier on students because they can keep the relationships with their professors and they do not have to move,” Theimer said. “It will be so much more convenient.”
Theimer said she wants to get her Master of Nutrition Sciences, though she isn’t sure when she will make the attempt. She emphasized the importance of obtaining a master’s.
“You will be more competitive and specialized in your field of work with a master’s degree,” Theimer said. “Nutrition is one of the best fields to get into right now because there are so many opportunities, such as working in hospitals, schools and food research centers.”