shutterstock 1292011333When considering how to get your online bachelor’s degree in nutrition or your online master’s in nutrition, there are many factors to think about.

Not that long ago, many students might have balked at the notion of getting a degree totally online. However, the nature of how, where, and when we learn has shifted dramatically in the age of the internet.

As a result, the differences in online and on-campus nutrition programs have become much less significant, and employers are viewing both types of programs more similarly as a result.

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why these two approaches to learning are on a more equal footing than ever.

Open Communication is Readily Available in Online Learning

In the early days of online learning, it could be argued that students missed out on the experience of taking a college class because there weren’t many opportunities for interaction with the professor or one’s classmates.

Some early distance learning courses were done completely independently, with the only communication between student and teacher being feedback on assignments or an occasional email.

However, as online learning has blossomed, so too have online learning environments. Today, online learning makes use of everything from video and teleconferencing to livestreaming to chat rooms. These technologies give students the chance to interact with and learn from one another in a collaborative environment. What’s more, it facilitates improved student-teacher communication – students can ask questions, get feedback, and seek guidance more readily.

Bringing this kind of “traditional” classroom experience into an online environment means that students who are learning online are no longer at a disadvantage due to their isolation. Instead, students from all over the world can learn together.

Employers Don’t Care if Your Degree is Traditional or Online, So Long as the Program is Accredited

When things like online bachelor’s degrees in nutrition and online master’s in nutrition were first developed, they faced the stigma that online learning was somehow not as rigorous as on-campus learning.

But in today’s world, online programs in nutrition science are every bit as rigorously developed as on-campus programs – and that’s a good thing.

From an employer’s standpoint, most could care less how you learned what you learned, so long as your degree program is accredited. Most online nutrition degrees meet accreditation standards and their graduates are just as desirable to potential employers as traditional on-campus graduates.

Accreditation requires that degree programs help students meet specific educational standards. These standards are developed by regional accrediting bodies for the institution that offers the degree (and in some cases, the degree program itself might be accredited as well).

For example, Arizona State University offers an online nutrition science program. ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, so their online degrees are every bit as recognized as valid by potential employers as their on-campus degrees.

Many Colleges and Universities Offer Online Versions of On-Campus Degrees

In many cases, the online degree program a college or university offers has the same requirements for graduation as the on-campus option. All that differs is the delivery of the classes.

Perhaps more than any similarity between online and on-campus learning, this is the most important one between degrees in nutrition.

Early on, a critique of online learning is that it didn’t offer the same breadth and depth of learning, let alone the same level of rigor as on-campus degree programs.

But when an online degree program has the same requirements as an on-campus program, that argument is null and void.

Even if an online bachelor’s degree in nutrition doesn’t have an on-campus equivalent, employers can look at your transcripts, evaluate the courses that you took, examine your grades, and take letters of recommendation into account to determine whether you have the education and skills to fill the position. Additionally, as noted earlier, if the online program you pursue is accredited, employers won’t be bothered with whether you learned online or in person.

The Same Degree Levels are Available Online

Online learning started out as offering a smattering of classes for students. Then associate’s degree programs were offered. Then bachelor’s degree programs.

Today, you can get an online master’s in nutrition. Some colleges and universities even offer doctoral programs in nutrition.

The point is that on-campus learning used to provide students with many more degree options for studying nutrition sciences than online learning. That has now changed.

With so many options now available online, it’s just another way that the lines have been blurred between “traditional” on-campus learning and the more modern delivery of online courses and degree programs.

Online Learning Helps Develop Sought-After Skills

A final reason why online learning is no longer viewed differently from on-campus learning is that online learning helps students develop the same skills that on-campus programs do.

Careers in nutrition sciences require you to be organized and manage your time effectively, both of which are crucial skills you need to be successful in an online learning environment.

Likewise, nutritionists and other workers in this field need to be able to work effectively on their own as well as in groups. Again, today’s online learning environments offer both kinds of learning opportunities for students.

Jobs in nutrition also demand that workers have excellent interpersonal communication skills, good written and verbal communication skills, and possess the ability to meet deadlines. These critical skills are developed and enhanced in online learning environments just as well as they are in on-campus classes.

So, while there are differences between online and on-campus learning, students in the field of nutritional science view them as equally valuable options for getting one’s education. Employers view them as equal opportunities for developing the necessary knowledge and skills to be effective employees, too.

Sean Jackson

December 2019

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