NACOGDOCHES, Texas - In 2003, Stephen F. Austin State University's School of Human Sciences was among the first to offer an online Master of Science in human sciences. Today, the program continues to have impact.

"This program was one of the first of its kind," said Dr. Lynda Martin, director of SFA's School of Human Sciences. "Most universities offered only face-to-face programs, but after many stakeholders expressed their interest in an online program, we began to address the need."

SFA's Master of Science in human sciences is a 30-hour online degree program with a thesis option or a 36-hour non-thesis option. Graduate students can select from four program emphases: Child development and family living, family and consumer sciences, interior design and health care interior design.

"Every individual is part of a family and community, and each individual needs food, shelter, clothing etc. That is what this degree program focuses on as students take courses in human resources, customer service, sustainability, supervision and research and then apply these theories to their fields," Martin said.

Shannin Williams, interior designer and coordinator of the SFA Design Center, graduated from the Master of Science in human sciences program in 2011 and has since been putting her degree to use.

"This degree helped me raise the bar in my profession and broaden my knowledge and education in my field. I completed extensive research while working on my master's degree in interior design and that has taught me to continue my research before designing a space to make sure it will function properly for the end user," Williams said. "This research helps me daily in my work as it gives me the outlook I need to design spaces in a higher-education facility."

Likewise, Ron Watson, associate director of SFA's physical plant, is enrolled in the program and working toward a graduate degree. Watson said the program is flexible and accommodating for working professionals, as coursework can be completed according to the student's schedule. He also emphasized that the program can be tailored to the student's career goals.

"The thing that sets this program apart is the willingness of the chair and faculty and staff members to work with me on a specific program that meets my needs. There is never any sense that I am a number, a statistic or billable hours," Watson said. "Every faculty member has treated me as a professional he or she is collaborating with. I was given individual, personal attention in a very professional manner."

For more information about SFA's Master of Science in human sciences, visit