Research specializations a key to employment

Laura Cox

SDSU now offers graduate students three additional certificate programs in which to specialize.

The programs, recently approved by the Board of Regents, are childhood obesity prevention in the College of Education and Human Science, financial and housing counseling in the same college and grassland management in the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences. Each specialization was formed to help grad students better market themselves to employers as well as further tailor education to the student’s own interests.

The childhood obesity prevention certificate, now in its first semester, is the result of a $4.1 million five-year grant through the United States Department of Agriculture.

SDSU and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln were both awarded the grant following SDSU’s proposal for a joint application for the grant. The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative will administer the grant. According to Teresa Kemmer, assistant professor in health and nutritional sciences, to receive the grant for the full five years, both schools must justify their programs.

The programs work hand-in-hand. The schools jointly have 23 students enrolled, and the students work together through a distance-learning network, said Kemmer. She went on to say that the certificate applies to many different graduate disciplines.

The grant application requirements, as stated on the USDA website, are that the childhood obesity prevention certificate must use the skills of many disciplines to address the problem. Kemmer noted that a single discipline cannot solve the problem. She intends for the program to teach students how to approach obesity keeping in mind the many perspectives from which it can be addressed.

As the name of the certificate suggests, students will learn to address the issue of childhood obesity through research, designing programs and developing educational tools to use and practice outside of class.

The USDA justified the need for a childhood obesity prevention program, in the grant description by saying that the abundance of high energy, good tasting foods with little nutrition quickly lead to weight problems in children. The USDA feels that it is responsible for addressing the issue.

The College of Education and Human Science’s other new specialization is financial and housing counseling. This program, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and Department of Defense, is part of the University Passport Program. The program is offered online to active duty military, military spouses, dependents and civilians serving the military. Graduates of the program may apply to become certified housing counselors or accredited financial counselors.

The certificate also fulfills the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance program. Whose goal is to offer online graduate school programs taught by university faculty.

Similarly, the grassland management graduate certificate, is offered through AG IDEA, an affiliate of Great Plains IDEA. This certificate allows graduates a wide range of job opportunities related to agricultural and the sustainable range management.