The first four students who took an online Master’s at WUR have now graduated. They received their degrees this week. They see the ability to combine a study with a job as the main benefit of this new degree option.
Milou Oosterwijk (second from the left) with her diploma and proud family. © Luuk Zegers
After her degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at Nijmegen, Milou Oosterwijk felt she was not yet finished with studying. ‘I was already interested in epidemiology and I could choose between the regular Master’s in Nutritional Epidemiology and Public Health at Wageningen and the online variant. I chose the online degree as that lets you work and build up experience at the same time.’
Jeroen Vermue went for an online Master’s for similar reasons. He works for a plant breeding company. ‘One of my colleagues did the regular Plant Breeding Master’s. At one point he had to go to the university three mornings a week for courses. That is difficult to combine with a job.’
The workload for the three online Master’s that WUR currently offers (Plant Breeding, Food Technology, and Nutritional Epidemiology and Public Health) is about 20 hours a week and the programmes take three to four years. Iris Visscher discovered this option while she was applying for jobs. She found a job as a lab analyst for a pharmaceutical company for 28 hours a week and started the Plant Breeding Master’s at about the same time. ‘I was working two full days and three half days at the lab. On those half days, I’d study in the morning and work in the afternoon. Plus a day on some weekends and the occasional evening.’
You need discipline to do an online Master’s, say the brand-new alumni. ‘It is largely self-study,’ says Oosterwijk. ‘You don’t get the contact with other students, but that’s your choice. You get a lot of freedom instead.’ Contact with the teachers is digital too. That went well, says Vermue. ‘I got feedback quickly and felt I was getting attention.’