Q&A with Program Director Dr. Anastasia Snelling

Program Director Anastasia Snelling answered a few detailed questions about the online MS in Nutrition Education program, why it’s unique and career outcomes during her latest virtual webinar on February 2016.

The following is a partial transcript to a few responses in the Q&A portion of the 2016 Dietary Guidelines Updates Webinar, which can be viewed in full here.

What separates the American University’s MS in Nutrition Education program from others in the country?
Our program has prioritized the education piece of nutrition and that’s a distinguishing factor.

We are not preparing you to be a clinical dietician. The clinical aspects of nutrition, like treating people with advanced cancer where they need different types of feedings are not part of our program. We do want to make that clear so we manage your expectations and the type of education you are getting. Some students do come in with an RD or previous nutrition degree for professional development and career advancement.

In the online MS in Nutrition Education, we are creating a very different professional and that is what makes our program stand out. There are few online nutrition education programs across the country so we try very hard to meet our students needs by having very current content for our classes and as well as an engaging faculty who are dedicated to their students and their students future. Most of our faculty is full-time and they continuously attend to the needs of our courses and our students. That is really important. We are a student-centered University and we want to have a very student-centered online graduate experience. Our faculty is really available and fairly responsive in a very short period of time.

What is the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) ® ™ credential and how does the program get me there?
There are multiple routes to get a license as a Registered Dietitian (RD). That is primarily focused on clinical and that is practicing nutrition in a clinical or hospital setting and that is owned by the academy of nutrition and dietetics. It is the responsibility of the states to license these professionals – and states do look towards associations like the Academy for guidance.

However, years ago, another credential complimentary to the RD was the Certified Nutrition Specialist. If you have a master’s in Nutrition Education and a handful of pre-requisites like anatomy and physiology, you may qualify for sitting in for CNS certification. That would then allow you to become licensed at the state level to do more of the therapeutic nutrition practice. It’s not that when you come out of program that you can sit for the CNS, but it qualifies you from the master’s requirement.

For some people, that type of licensure is not important. The type of work they do will not require them to have this licensure and we can help people decide if that is the right path for them.

If we choose not to go the CNS route, do you have the ability to work 1:1 with clients?
A very popular career path is a nutrition educator (or coach) who is someone who doesn’t provide the scientific portion of the counseling. As a nutrition educator/coach you can help someone review their diet and make very sound recommendations on how to change diet to improve diet and well-being. Health care companies and work sites are hiring coaches and what they are doing is an overall health and well-being education and it is important in these professional environment. As I was saying people make 200 decisions a day about what to eat and people are very confused. This degree combines the nutrition science along with the education process so you know how to distill the information so people can understand and make the changes necessary that lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Does this program help me build a network for a job?
Within your classes there are specific assignments in multiple courses that allow you to get to know your community in the realm of nutrition education. While you are in the program, you can build a local network from that community that you can reach out to and you can communicate with when you graduate the program. There are also a lot of students in the program who already work in the field as well that are great resources.

Additional Resources
MS in Nutrition Education FAQs
Online MS in Nutrition Education Student Blog

About Anastasia Snelling
Dr. Anastasia Snelling is a professor and the Associate Dean in the School of Education, Teaching, and Health at American University. She has been a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a registered dietitian for over thirty years and a fellow in the American College of Nutrition. Dr. Snelling teaches courses including nutrition, health promotion, and health communication. Her research focuses on methods of behavior change in nutrition education to manage risk factors related to chronic disease. Specifically, Dr. Snelling aims to understand the impact of food policy and programs on weight status of students and teachers in the school environment. Dr. Snelling holds a PhD in Counseling and Development and an MS in Health Fitness Management from American University in Washington, D.C., along with a BS in Clinical Dietetics from the University of Connecticut.

To learn more about American University’s online Master of Arts in Nutrition Education, request more information or call us toll free at 855-725-7614.