Food process engineering programs are available at all levels of study. Bachelor's degree programs provide fundamental knowledge of such topics as packaging design and quality assurance and prepare graduates for careers or for further education.
In a master's program, students engage in research and explore various options to improve the food processing industry. These programs call for 2-3 years of study, and both thesis and non-thesis options are available. Doctoral programs, which can take up to six years to complete, allow students to focus their studies on one particular area of interest related to food processing and involve the writing of a thesis. Applicants with a master's degree may complete the program in only 3-4 years.
Prerequisites for bachelor's degree food process engineering programs include a high school diploma or GED. Applicants to master's degree programs are required to have a bachelor's degree, though many programs do not specify particular undergraduate academic disciplines.
Bachelor's Degree in Food Science and Technology
Undergraduate food science programs teach students to improve upon the quality and safety level of foods prior to using these foods in pharmaceuticals or shipping the products to market. These programs often include classes related to food process engineering, such as food preservatives and packaging.
Prospective food process engineers take courses relating to creating cost-effective processes, products and packaging that maintain the nutritional integrity and aesthetic value of food. Topics of study in a bachelor's degree program include:
- Food sensory science
- Packaging design
- Quality assurance
- Food processing
- Food engineering
Master's Degree in Food Process Engineering
Students in graduate-level food processing and food science programs learn about phase transitions within food systems, the effects of electricity on biomaterials and new food sterilization techniques, like ohmic heating. Coursework discusses methods to improve the existing manufacturing and preservation processes for food, such as those relating to the classification, fermentation, drying and transportation of food items.
Graduate students apply their knowledge of chemistry and biology to projects such as designing insect-repellent packaging, increasing the extraction of oil from harvested nuts and improving measuring techniques for produce. Commonly offered courses include:
- Food chemistry
- Food product development
- Packaging engineering
- Food processing sanitation
- Processing engineering
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Food Processing
- Food Science
- Food Technology
Ph.D. in Food Processing Engineering
Students in doctoral-level programs are allowed to focus their studies on a specific area of interest, such as environment engineering or agricultural systems management. Students focusing on food process engineering may learn about pasteurization technologies, high-pressure processing, aseptic packaging and edible coatings. Doctoral degree programs may also offer courses in subjects related to composting, greenhouse engineering and water management.
Students studying food and process engineering in doctoral degree programs learn about automation, seal integrity inspection, food safety, shelf life and instrumentation. Common course topics may include:
- Chemical analysis
- Flavor chemistry
- Food safety
- Package engineering
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in food science and technology may find careers working with ingredient manufacturing, food machinery, processing and packaging. Possible job titles include:
- Organic food salesperson
- Product development specialist
- Quality assurance technician
- Sensory scientist
With a Ph.D. in food science, employment options are available in design firms, government agencies and health care companies, as well as the pharmaceutical industry. Doctoral program graduates may also work as professors and teachers at colleges and universities. Some possible job titles include:
- Food chemist
- Food engineer
- Nutrition scientist
- Professor of food science
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 14,660 food scientists and technologists employed in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The same agency projected that employment in this field will grow 5% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS reported that food scientists and technologists earned an annual median wage of $65,840 in 2015.
Food process engineering degrees are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels and train students in all aspects of food processing, product development and packaging, depending upon program level and focus. Bachelor's degrees prepare graduates for roles in food processing and manufacturing, while graduates with doctoral degrees are eligible for employment in government agencies, the pharmaceutical industry and at colleges and universities.