URI online dietetics program ranked among nation’s best

College of Health Sciences program is associated with the largest employer of registered dietitians in the country

The University of Rhode Island’s online master’s program in dietetics has been ranked among the top 20 online MS Nutrition programs in the country by intelligent.com, an independent editorial website covering higher education, which is highlighting dietetics programs during National Nutrition Month in March.

The website has ranked the URI Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences program number 18 overall among hundreds of comparable programs across the country. The company also ranked the URI program, part of the College of Health Sciences, as the number 1 “non-thesis online master’s program” in the country. The program, created by Department Chair Dr. Cathy English six years ago, is associated with global food service company Sodexo, the largest employer of Registered Dietitians in the country, which supplies students through its internship program.

“There’s a huge boom right now in online master’s programs, so it’s very gratifying to be recognized in this way,” said Clinical Associate Professor Dr. Jennifer Arts-Salvatore, director of the MS Dietetics online program. “We go to great lengths to offer a comprehensive, accelerated program with faculty that is available and accessible so students don’t feel like they’re isolated.”

Jennifer Arts-Salvatore

The students and many of the faculty members—who are practicing dietitians—are spread out around the country. The students are interns with Sodexo who earn their master’s degree while working in their internships. Five URI nutrition professors design the courses taught by about 15 part-time faculty members.

The accelerated program is divided into seven 7-week sessions, allowing students to earn their master’s degrees in just over a year, beginning in September. The clinical courses mirror the disease states students will encounter in practice, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, allergies, cancer and more. The students learn the best nutrition therapy for the various conditions.

“We created the program with Sodexo so the two programs are really nicely integrated,” Arts-Salvatore said. “They’re really able to apply what they learn in the graduate classes to their internship sites. It’s also good for those working in the field to get current on policies and guidelines. It’s a great refresher on what’s the best practice for a patient with one of these disease states.”

Intelligent.com evaluated each program’s reputation, course strength, cost, faculty and flexibility. Using this information, researchers calculated the “Intelligent Score” of each degree on a scale from 0 to 100.

“Our top picks for the best online nutrition degrees are flexible, affordable and respected,” the website reports. “We created an algorithm which collects and analyzes the multiple rankings into one score to easily compare each university. This ranking score gave us insight into whether the university is considered to have a rigorous program with highly-regarded professors and coursework.”