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FAQ – Academic Questions
What delivery model does Hawthorn use for its classes?
Students use online and collaborative technologies, discussion boards, and email to communicate with instructors and other students. Students log on to their personal student home page to access syllabi, online reading materials, audio lectures, etc. Hawthorn students are independent learners, who want programs that offer the flexibility of studying at their own pace and are inspired to build or expand careers
in areas of natural health education, nutrition and wellness.
Is Hawthorn University accredited?
Hawthorn University has been approved to operate certificate and degree granting programs in Holistic Nutrition from the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education, school code #8441699. Any questions a student may have regarding the approval of the BPPE that have not been satisfactorily answered by the institution may be directed to the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education at P.O. Box
980818 Sacramento, CA 95798-0810,; Phone: (916) 574-7720.
Will my earned credits be acceptable for transfer to another institution?
Every college/university has the right to accept or deny credits earned at another institution. If you plan to attend another school after you have completed a program at Hawthorn, it is best to check with your future school concerning their regulations.
How will the courses be structured?
Most courses are structured in a similar fashion. Students request a course and gain access to a course syllabus, online reading materials, lectures, and other related materials. All information that is needed for the course is clearly detailed in the course syllabus. Students are expected to proceed with the online and textbook reading assignments, listen to lectures, participate in the practical activities and answer review questions and complete written and experiential assignments. Students must also submit their work on or before the dates indicated in the syllabus. Students are encouraged to post messages on the Hawthorn message boards for asynchronous discussion with other students and faculty. Students are also invited to online ‘live’ Webinars on current holistic nutrition topics which are archived and available for online viewing and listening at a later date.
You can sample some of the archived webinars by visiting ( New webinars are regularly added to these archives so check back frequently.
In the Nutrition Consultant and the Scientific Foundations of Holistic Nutrition Certificate programs the Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition program, there is a graded Skype conference where students may present questions regarding the course and receive feedback from their instructor. Every other course in these programs requires an end-of-course Skype conference with your instructor.
Hawthorn offers both clinical and non-clinical study programs. The Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition (MSHN) and the Nutrition Consultant (NC) programs are designed for professionals who want to work one-on-one with individuals.
The Doctor of Science in Holistic Nutrition, Masters of Health and Nutrition Education, the Master of Science in Traditional Nutrition, and the Holistic Health and Wise Traditions Nutrition certificate program are non-clinical programs designed to support professionals who seek knowledge in holistic health, wellness promotion, and nutrition education. The purpose of these programs is to educate individuals who are focused on teaching others rather than in pursuing an active clinical practice. Students have access to instructor’s email and weekly office hours for phoned in questions. These programs may also contain Skype conferences and/or proctored online exams.
Some programs require that students purchase books and diet analysis software that comprise the basis of a professional library from vendors of their own choice and are introduced to quality online sources of nutritional information. Students download their Hawthorn instructional materials from the website. After completing assigned textbooks readings, listening to the audio lectures, experiencing the practical activities, and submitting written assignments, and any online required examinations, students in clinical programs schedule a conference with their instructor. Students in non-clinical programs take a proctored examination via Skype in designated courses. Assignments are graded and returned to the student’s website with written feedback from the instructor.
How long do students have to complete a course?
Students must submit assignments and complete a course every two (2) months or less for three (3) credits courses, and three (3) months or less for four (4) credit courses.
What are the Hawthorn University instructors like?
Hawthorn instructors are trained professionals in the field of nutrition. They come to us with a variety of backgrounds and expertise that adds richness and relevance to our programs. You can see pictures and biographies of our instructors on our Faculty page. (
How much interaction will I have with my instructors?
As an online student you control the amount of interaction you have with your instructor which may seem limited. We currently suggest that learners check in monthly with their instructors via email. If you are able to proceed without contacting your instructor, we encourage you to do so. However, your instructor is available to you on a weekly basis during office hours and is always available to you via email. You will have an opportunity to speak LIVE to your instructor if you are in a program that contains an oral conference (NC and MSHN). Or if you are in the MHNE or DSC programs, during your instructor's office hours. In addition, our weekly Webinars are often attended by members of our faculty. During those Webinars you may pose a question about the topic or simply listen to the seminar.
Instructors are available to students on a weekly basis via phone during their office hours and routinely available via email. We suggest that students check in with their instructors via email when they have quick questions about their coursework.
Students in the NC, SFHN, and MSHN programs spend about an hour one-on-one with their instructor via Skype at the conclusion of every course. This gives students
the opportunity to practice with a professional and gain self confidence and display mastery of the materials.
In addition, Hawthorn instructors often lecture and attend our regular webinars where students may pose a question about the topic or simply listen to the seminar.
How will I communicate with my instructors?
You can communicate by phone or Skype with your instructor during their dedicated office hours. You will be given the scheduled office hours for your instructor via Hawthorn University email when you begin your first nutrition course.
You can communicate to your instructor via email at any time of the day or night. Your instructor will typically respond to you within forty-eight (48) hours.
Your instructor will review your submitted assignments and return them to you graded and with written feedback.
How much time will I need to study?
Students absorb materials differently. Our experience indicates that approximately nine (9) to fifteen (15) hours of week is needed to read and respond to assignments.
Can I sample a learning activity?
You can sample some of the archived webinars by visiting our Webinar Archives page. ( From there you can select different webinars.
What is the self-directed elective in the doctoral program?
The purpose of a self-directed elective (directed study) is to allow students to study a specific area of interest. The subject chosen by the student is often related to the student's dissertation topic and requires advanced approval by the Director of Doctoral Studies.
How do I access my classes?
Enrolled students attain access to their courses via their Hawthorn student website. All information on how to access and work in the online environment is communicated during Orientation and is recorded for future reference.
Who do I contact when I have a question about a course?
Your instructor is available to answer any questions you have via email or during their scheduled office hours.
What resources are available to students?
In addition to the intellectual resources of our professional faculty and staff, students have links to library resources that support their programs. Students may access information on nutrition that is posted on the student website, retrieve pertinent information and news about the University, and see a current listing of career opportunities. Technical support is also available should students experience problems by posting an inquiry through our Help Desk system.
Can I take courses without working towards a degree?
Students may opt to take one or two courses for their personal enrichment. As such, these students will be accepted into the University as non-matriculated students and will pay for the course or courses that they take.
Can I take more than one course at a time?
Hawthorn recommends that students take one course at a time. However, students have the option of taking one or more courses at a time if they wish to accelerate in their program and graduate earlier.
Students are not required to take more than one course at a time but some students have expressed the desire to proceed at a faster pace and believe they can successfully manage additional courses. In an attempt to help our students succeed and achieve their dream in a more timely fashion, we are supporting those students who wish to proceed with a greater course load.
Can I be awarded credit for previous academic work or work experience?
Hawthorn will transfer a maximum of:
1. Twelve (12) credits from for four (4) of the first six (6) courses in the Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition program.
2. Seven (7) credits for any of the first five (5) courses in the Master of Science in Health and Nutrition Education and the Master of Science in Traditional Nutrition programs.
3. Twelve (12) credits for the Doctor of Science in Holistic Nutrition program.
4. Nine (9) credits for the Nutrition Consultant programs.
5. Three (3) credits for the Scientific Foundations of Holistic Nutrition.
6. No credits transfer into the Holistic Health Certificate or WISE Traditions Nutrition Certificate programs.
Credits will be transferred on a course-by-course basis as appropriate to Hawthorn’s curriculum. In some cases, the combining of two or more courses may be necessary to equal the content of ONE three (3) credit course at Hawthorn.
The applicant must submit:
1. A Transfer Evaluation Request form with fee.
2. An official transcript.
3. Course descriptions.
4. Course syllabi if possible.
5. Any other documentation such as homework assignments, resume including related experience, proof of attendance at a conference or seminar, certificates, etc. indicating competency in the subject area.
Upon receipt of all available documentation, Hawthorn will review and evaluate the transfer credit request. Students will be informed within ten (10) business days of the decision. All acceptable transfer credits will be recorded on the student’s transcript as TC. Transfer credits will not be counted in the grade point average (GPA) of the student, but will apply to the total credits needed to graduate.
What is the difference in the master degree programs?
The Master of Science in Health and Nutrition Education (MHNE) is a 37 credit independent study program in health and nutrition education. Students build a professional portfolio while developing proficiency in wellness promotion and holistic nutrition education.
The Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition program (MSHN) is a clinically based 60 credit program. Learn about functional medicine nutritional tools that can increase vitality and reduce long range disease risk. Conference with your instructor and work with practice clients.
The Master of Science in Traditional Nutrition (MSTN) examines the principles of the Weston A. Price Foundation and Hawthorn University's whole foods nutrition philosophy in a 36 credit program.
What is the difference between the NC program and the MSHN?
Although the credit requirements are different, the Nutrition Consultant and the Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition are similar; they both present a strong foundation in nutritional sciences, human systems are studied, and clinical practice is emphasized. Graduates of both programs are certified as Nutrition Consultants. Students may enroll in the NC program with a high school diploma. A bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for enrolling in the master’s program and certainly a master’s degree is a stronger credential then a certificate. Students in the Master's degree program have additional course work.
How long will it take to complete a program?
When students enroll in a program of study they are encouraged to set a study track and determine a goal of how long they intend to take to complete their course of studies. Students who are able to complete the course requirements may move swiftly through the program. Below are the minimum completion standards for each program. Students who require more time to complete a program may petition
the chief academic officer for a program extension.
Scientific Foundations of Holistic Nutrition - This certificate programs consists of eight (8) courses and twenty-four (24) credits are required for graduation. We anticipate that motivated students will be able to complete this program in 18 months.
Nutrition Consultant - The Nutrition Consultant curriculum consists of seventeen (17) courses of which sixteen (16) are required and an optional thesis. Students are encouraged to complete the 48 credit program in thirty-two (32) months.
The Holistic Health certificate program is made up of four (4) courses totaling twelve (12) credits. This 540 hour program can be completed in six months.
The Wise Traditions Nutrition certificate program is composed of six courses. This eighteen (18) credit program can be completed in 810 hours of study or in less than a year.
Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition - Students are encouraged to complete the 60 credit program in forty-three (43) months. Motivated, full-time students may accelerate to complete the program more quickly.
Master of Science in Health and Nutrition Education - Students are encouraged to complete this 37 credit program in fourteen (14) months.
Master of Science in Traditional Nutrition (MSTN) is composed of twelve (12) courses for a total of 36 credits. We anticipate that this program can be completed in fourteen (14) months by a dedicated student.
Doctor of Science in Holistic Nutrition - Fulltime students may complete the 60 credit Doctor of Science in Holistic Nutrition program in a minimum of thirty six months. The maximum time to complete this program may not exceed ten (10) years.
Why did the doctoral designation change from an Ed.D.  to a D.Sc. degree?
Hawthorn's doctoral program is rich in the “science of nutrition”. As such, a proposal was put before our Governing Board and it was decided that we change the degree designation from Doctor of Education to Doctor of Science. A D.Sc. degree is more in line with our program objectives. Students who graduate from this program are educated for employment in many areas including education.
Will I have enough time to complete my dissertation?
Doctoral students have a doctoral committee of three members who help to shape, refine, and edit the dissertation. One member of the committee must be a subject specialist from outside of the University. In addition, students are encouraged to find a "buddy" to help support them during their program.
How much time each week will I need to devote to each course?
Every one works at a different pace depending on their schedule of work and personal responsibilities. However, it is recommended that students set aside approximately nine (9) to fifteen (15) hours a week for their studies.
How do I take exams?
All program courses contain multiple choice online exams or quizzes. Some programs require that a student complete a mid program exercise prior to advancing in the program as well as a final exercise before graduating.
In clinical programs students are also graded on their ability to present information during oral conferences which are conducted via Skype individually with your instructor.
How flexible is the program to fit my individual goals and needs?
We encourage students to work through the courses and programs at a pace that will help them to achieve their goal of receiving a degree in the shortest amount of time possible. However, when circumstances arise that prevent the completion of a course the student may apply for a twenty-one (21) day extension online which will be automatically granted. A second 21 day extension is available for a fee of $50, as is a third and fourth extension. A student may not request more than 1 free extension and three additional paid extensions per course. An Incomplete "I" grade will be placed on the student's progress report until the course is completed. Upon course completion, the "I" grade will be replaced by the earned letter grade.
Students may also take a leave of absence for certain unforeseen circumstances which can be granted for a period of three (3) months, or six (6) months for a documented Medical Leave of Absence. For additional policy information, students may refer to the college catalog. Hawthorn also allows students to take a moderate amount of time off between courses. A stop out time of fourteen (14) days between courses is allowed.
What do I do if I have questions or a problem regarding a course?
If your question is related to your coursework, an email to your instructor will get you an answer. If you have a problem related to uploading or downloading information and is computer related, your issue will be resolved by emailing our Help Desk (
Are courses ever canceled?
Hawthorn University has never had to cancel any courses. We are dedicated to student success and, as such, will provide you with an instructor even if the number of students enrolled in the course is small.
Can I get an extension to complete a course?
Students may request a twenty-one (21) day extensions for each course. The Request for Course Extension link is located on the student's portal and can be requested online by the student at any time. This request will automatically be granted. Only one free extension is allowed in each course. Three additional 21 day extensions are available for a fee of $50 each. For additional information on an extension, refer to the question: "How flexible is the program to fit my individual needs?"
If necessary, can I get a leave of absence?
Hawthorn University is aware that there are situations when a student may wish to interrupt his or her course of study. The University is committed to reasonable evaluation and responsible handling of such cases. A student may request a Leave of Absence (LOA) after completing their current course by filling out a request form located on the student website. If a student needs an LOA and is unable to finish their current course, the student must withdraw from the course prior to requesting the leave. A leave of absence is granted for a three (3) month period, or six (6) months for a documented Medical Leave of Absence (MLOA), and is approved by the chief academic officer. A student may request a Leave of Absence no more than three (3) times during the course of a program. A Leave of Absence may not go beyond 180 days in a calendar year.
How do I withdraw from a course or from the program?
Students who wish to withdraw from a course may do so online through by clicking the Withdrawal from Program form link in the Forms/Publications section on their student portal, completing the form, and sending it to the Registrar but communication of a withdrawal in any form will be accepted.

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