NACOGDOCHES, Texas - During the past year, Stephen F. Austin State University's School of Human Sciences' food, nutrition and dietetics program has expanded its degree and minor options to meet the needs of the growing interest in nutrition and health.

Students can now choose from three focus areas within the food, nutrition and dietetics degree plan: dietetics courses with a registered dietitian focus, pre-professional courses with a registered dietitian focus, and food and nutrition courses with a non-registered dietitian focus. The dietetics and pre-professional focus areas are suited for students seeking to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. In addition, the pre-professional focus area helps prepare students who want to pursue a pre-professional degree and advance to medical, pharmacy, dental and other schools.

The food and nutrition courses with a non-registered dietitian focus area is the newest addition to the degree plan. This degree option allows students to choose courses specific to their career goals while developing skills in areas such as communication, marketing, management and health sciences.

Dr. Lynda Martin, director of the SFA School of Human Sciences, said this focus area is directed toward community-based professions.

"Students can take their passion, match it with nutrition and move forward to a fabulous career," Martin said. "This degree allows students to do what they love."

Dr. Darla O'Dwyer, dietetic internship director and associate professor, said this degree option is a great opportunity for students who love nutrition. She collects data on graduate employment and said that SFA students, who have recently graduated with this degree, have secured outstanding careers in the field.

SFA alumni have obtained jobs as a nutrition surveyor at the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, an assistant food service director for Houston Independent School District, a representative for nutraceutical and pharmaceutical sales, and nutritionists for the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children, to name a few. With this degree, students also can acquire careers in journalism, marketing, home health and more.

In addition to the new focus area, the program has implemented a new minor: nutrition in healthcare.

"With this new minor, we hope to attract students who might be majoring in biology, chemistry, or other sciences and also are interested in the field of nutrition," O'Dwyer said. "What is unique about this minor is that students will learn how to practice effective communication skills, look at real-life scenarios from case-study applications, gain experience through participation in community outreach, and apply their biochemistry knowledge to health and disease."

For more information, contact O'Dwyer at or Martin at