The prevalence of online food science degrees has grown substantially in recent years in parallel with the rising popularity of online college courses. Increased interest in online degrees in general can explain much of this phenomenon. According to Colorado Christian University, a study performed by the Sloan Consortium indicates that 5.6 million students enrolled in one or more online courses in 2009, with a significantly higher number expected in the years that followed. Online degrees have the same accreditation as traditional colleges while offering greater flexibility and convenience, and in an increasingly technical world, the technology needed to complete a degree online is easier to come by.
Online food science degrees, in particular, have increased in popularity. Pop culture can take some of the credit. Celebrity chefs like Rachael Ray, Wolfgang Puck, and Gordon Ramsay make cooking and food science appear more glamorous through the use of brands, books, magazines, and television shows. Entire television networks, like the Food Network and Cooking Channel, flood the airwaves with culinary topics, sparking new interest in related subjects.
Moreover, society has become so health conscious in recent years that it almost seems a fad. Food science lies at the center of health consciousness. As the University of Nevada School of Allied Health Sciences explains, studies increasingly show “scientific support for the role of nutrition in the prevention of disease.” The more society knows about nutrition and other food science topics, the more scientists can discover ways to ward off heart problems, cancer, birth defects, obesity, and many other diseases and conditions. The increased awareness of and desire for better preventative measures contribute to the growth of food science programs.
Additionally, the green movement also lends support to the field of food science. Aside from studying the sciences of cooking and nutrition, students of food science also research animals and plants. Students explore possible ways to provide the greatest amount of product while using the least amount of resources, thus promoting the concept of conservation. The study of plants also bridges into the study of biofuels. Prompted by the green movement, demand for more renewable sources of energy is on the rise, and biofuels are a type of renewable energy source derived from plant matter.
Lastly, the job outlook for food science careers supports this increased trend. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Employment of agricultural and food scientists is expected to increase by 10 percent from 2010 to 2020.” As interest in food, health, and nutrition grows, the demand for new food-related research will also increase. The role that food science plays in integrated sciences allows it to play a part in the search for renewable energy, as well. The increased interest in careers associated with food science leads to an overall increase in the availability of online food science degrees.