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Graduate Degree Programs in Food Science Overview

Majors Overview April 23, 2015

Get information about graduate degree programs in food science and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, and job and wage outlook.

Information on Food Science Program

Students enrolled in a graduate degree program in food science are provided with an advanced overview of the pharmaceuticals, bioprocessing, and food industries. Those armed with a degree can seek positions in management and research in those fields.

They can choose from job positions such as food scientist, product consultant, and food inspector by earning a master’s or doctoral degree program. Apart from seminars and lectures, a dissertation requirement or a research component may be featured in such programs.

Master of Science (M.S.) Programs in Food Science

A master’s degree in food science combines several disciplines related to the production and makeup of food; these include chemistry, engineering, technology, processing, microbiology, and nutrition. Performance of research in these various fields is required of students aiming to gain a comprehensive grasp of the creation, development, manufacturing, packaging, and even marketing in the United States.

Students enrolled in some graduate programs in food science are allowed to opt for a particular concentration, such as emerging technologies or scientific principles. Focusing on their individual areas of interest will enable students to learn about developing new food products, creating new flavors, researching safety and sanitation methods in the food industry, increasing product quality and tenderness, and reducing the risk of cross-contamination in foods, among other things.

Upon completion of a graduate degree in food science, many students seek positions in research or academia, while the corporate or research and development aspects of the food industry attract other students.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in physics, animal science, nutrition, chemistry, or biology.


Coursework in a graduate program in food science is a combination of seminars and classroom lectures with intensive personalized curricula. Core coursework may cover subject areas such as:

•Functional foods and health
•Proteins and enzymes
•Food toxicology
•Food engineering lab
•Food processing
•Food chemistry
•Food microbiology
•Advanced food technology
•Dairy lab

Career Choices

With a master’s degree program in food science, a graduate may choose from career options such as the following:

•Food scientist or processing engineer
•Food sales representative
•Manager, research and development
•Food inspector
•Food product consultant

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Programs in Food Science

Students who seek continuing education may pursue a Ph.D. in Food Science and Technology or Food Science, which would involve the passage of an oral exam accompanied by research and a dissertation. Students enrolled in some programs have the choice of focusing on a specialty area, such as biochemistry or food chemistry, food toxicology or the microbiology of food, including fermentation, or food processing. Various forms of food processing are among the dissertation topics, such as seafood processing, brewing and enology, and food engineering.

Education Requirements

Those who wish to pursue a Ph.D. program in Food Science are commonly expected to earn a Master of Science (M.S.) degree or its equivalent (in food science or a related scientific field, such as nutrition, microbiology, or animal or poultry science) before they can begin the doctoral program.

GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores are also typically considered by admissions committees. In some Ph.D. programs, a student with a baccalaureate degree may be allowed to work directly towards a Ph.D, bypassing the master’s degree requirement.

Additionally, prior coursework in biochemistry among other areas of chemistry, such as organic chemistry, is required to have been taken by the applicant to the Ph.D. program. Those seeking a doctoral degree in food science may prepare by completing other courses, such as agricultural sciences, biology, economics, nutrition, advanced mathematics, and physics.


Coursework within the field of food science includes many different academic subject areas, such as chemical engineering and biology-related sciences like microbiology and biochemistry. Core coursework may cover subject areas such as the following:

•Agricultural methodology, statistics, and research
•Sensory science
•Hygiene and diseases in poultry and other animals
•Environmental microbiology and chemistry
•Cellular biology

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, job growth rate of nine percent have been predicted for food scientists and technologists (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $58,610 (BLS).

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