URI’s online dietetics master’s program ranked among the best nationally

Onlinemastersdegrees.org ranks the URI program fourth nationally

The University of Rhode Island online master’s in dietetics program is among the top such programs in the country, slotting in fourth nationally in the most recent rankings by onlinemastersdegrees.org.

The organization listed this year’s best online dietetics master’s programs that excel in key areas such as accreditation, affordability and student support. The URI program, part of the College of Health Sciences, excelled in all areas.

“This graduate program leans on online coursework for core classes while requiring extensive hands-on learning experiences before graduation,” the announcement reads. “Students complete 17 online classes, and tackle over 1,000 hours of supervised experiential learning, all while gaining the skills they need to earn their RDN certification.”

URI’s master’s in dietetics program is an online, non-thesis program consisting of 17 online courses completed over six, 7-week sessions, combined with at least 1,000 hours of supervised experiential learning. The accelerated program allows students to earn their master’s degrees in just over a year, after which they are eligible to sit for the national dietician exam, according to program Director Jennifer Arts-Salvatore. 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.

“The students complete both components at the same time — experiential learning and the online master’s classes,” Arts-Salvatore said. “Our field recently moved to a master’s level requirement, so to become an entry level dietitian, you need a master’s degree. This is a pretty intense, accelerated program. They take the coursework online at URI and they can apply the theoretical knowledge to the practice sites they’re working at during the day, so it’s a really nice blend of the academic component and the experiential component.”

The students are interns with Sodexo, an international food service company that is one of the largest employers of registered dietitians in the world. URI nutrition professors design the courses taught by about 15 part-time faculty members. The students and many of the faculty members—who are practicing dietitians—are spread out around the country, but the program works to ensure the students remain connected to their professors and each other.

“We try to make everything innovative and cutting-edge. One of our biggest selling points is we really try to have that instructor presence that’s often hard to have come through in a fully online program,” Arts-Salvatore said. “Instructors do video sessions every week so the students really feel connected. The students rave about how accessible our professors are and how they never feel isolated, which I think is so key in getting through an online program.”

The URI online dietetics master’s program has a 97 percent completion rate, and 98 percent of students would recommend the program. The national recognition the top-five ranking provides will only further help the program expand.

 “We’ll definitely use this to attract incoming students,” Arts-Salvatore said. “There’s a lot of competition out there with other online master’s programs, so receiving this national recognition is a huge selling point.”

For more information and to apply to the online dietetics program and other nutrition courses, visit the URI Nutrition and Food Science website.