So You Want to Be an Online Grad Student…

Graduate Program: MS in Nutrition Education
Graduate Year: 2015

Hey everyone! My name is Taji Mortazavi. Besides being a personal trainer, a self-proclaimed foodie, and a black leggings addict, I’m also a graduate student at American University, getting my online MS in Nutrition Education.

Maybe you’re here because it’s senior year and you want to look into graduate school opportunities. Maybe you’re unsatisfied with your current career and are looking for a change. Or maybe, you’re like me—you want to turn your passion for nutrition, food, and overall wellness into a rewarding career. If any of these are the case, then you’ve come to the right place. American University’s MSNE program will definitely give you the knowledge, tools, and professional experience to advance your career in nutrition. Although the program definitely requires both passion and persistence, the reward is worth the work. Check out these simple, but effective strategies to balance this program with a full-time job and other responsibilities!

Online Student Tip #1: Plan, Plan, then Plan Some More

If you’re in the field of nutrition or wellness, you probably emphasize the importance of planning meals to family, friends, and clients. Does ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ ring a bell?

This same concept of planning applies to being an online grad student. Although the courses are taught online, there are several due dates each week. It’s up to you to get the work done. Take time to plan on a weekly (or monthly) basis for all the assignments you are required to do for your course. This way, you’ll be more prepared and won’t receive penalties for late or incomplete assignments.

Online Student Tip #2: Develop a Schedule

This tip ties in closely with tip #1. The more you plan, the more you develop a consistent rhythm and schedule for your Master’s program. For instance, I usually complete schoolwork for my program from 10 AM to 1 PM almost every day. It’s what works for me and my schedule.

But perhaps you prefer to complete your studies in the evenings after work. Or maybe the weekends are your thing. All of these options are fine; the key is being consistent with your studying schedule. If you find other activities constantly creeping into your study time, maybe you need to rearrange your schedule. Remember, there isn’t a perfect study schedule out there, and you don’t have to attune your routine to people like Kurt Vonnegut or Pablo Picasso. Find a routine that works for you and stick to it!

Online Student Tip #3: Learn to Be an Independent Learner

This isn’t to say that American University’s staff and faculty members don’t do a good job of educating their students. Just remember that ultimately, the choice to complete this program comes down to YOU.

This isn’t high school (or even undergrad) where content and information are often spoon-fed to you. You need to get comfortable working with your textbooks and lecture slides for hours at a time until you grasp the material. Being an online grad student requires a lot of independent learning. There will be guidance—but there won’t be any hand holding. Instead of seeing this as daunting, take this as an opportunity to work independently and complete some very rewarding projects over the course of the program.


Earning an online graduate degree might seem challenging, but is a very satisfying journey that will provide you with the education and experience to further your nutrition education career. With a little planning, a solid studying schedule, and developing your independent learning skills, you’ll be on the road to success!

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

  • About the Author

    Taji Mortazavi

    Taji Mortazavi is a certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. She is also the founder of We’re Talking About Food, a food blog devoted to healthy recipes, clean eating tips, and other wellness practices. Taji’s goal is to democratize health. She believes that anyone can live a healthy lifestyle regardless of schedule, budget, disease, or other secondary factors. Support Taji by subscribing to her monthly newsletter or liking her Facebook page.