The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine recently established an online master's degree to help address global demands for a safe and nourishing food supply. Applications for the program designed for livestock health professionals opens on Sept. 15, for enrollment in the Spring 2021 semester.
The Illinois veterinary college has an international reputation for high-quality, high-impact education for food animal professionals. With the introduction of the online master's degree program, the college's expertise is now accessible and affordable for working veterinarians and others in livestock management anywhere in the world.
"Only a relatively small number of learners were able to take advantage of traditional, in-person educational opportunities, such as our college's Integrated Food Animal Management System program and Executive Veterinary Program," says Jim Lowe, director of the college's i-Learning Center. "The new Master of Veterinary Science degree in Livestock Systems Health was created to give working professionals a similar level of career-focused learning for less than $10,000."
The curriculum blends animal health, population health and business operations management at the systems level. Particular emphasis is given to the economic and food safety aspects of disease management and prevention. The business courses are tailored to efficient and effective management of a livestock production business.
To earn the master's degree, students will complete eight courses in subjects such as biosecurity, infectious disease control and business strategy. Courses are built around case studies drawn from 25 years of industry experience to keep the focus on acquiring practical knowledge.
Students must also conduct a comprehensive research project that demonstrates their ability to apply the principles learned in a real-world scenario.
"Ideally students will build their research project around an issue confronting their current workplace," says Lowe. "We anticipate that employers will see a strong return on investment when they support their professional staff in pursuing this degree."
The online format allows learners to advance their professional credentials without leaving their homes. Students proceed through lectures and course materials on their own schedules. Live sessions with the instructor are held via an online platform so learners can ask questions and participate with classmates.
Graduates of the program will gain advanced technical expertise in livestock health and production needed to deliver a safe and efficient food supply.