Food Science Degree and Certificate Program Information

Oct 09, 2019

Students enrolled in a food science program at the bachelor's, graduate certificate or master's level gain hands-on experience working with food in a laboratory setting and learn about food safety, sanitation and preparation.

Essential Information

Aspiring food science technicians and food scientists in undergraduate degree or graduate certificate and master's programs focus on the study of food engineering, safety, processing and production. Master's degree programs are considerably more focused on independent research than bachelor's degree programs. Internships are available for bachelor's students, while master's students choose from a thesis option or research report and oral examination.

Admittance requires a high school diploma or its equivalent for a bachelor's degree program. For a certificate program, admission requires a bachelor's degree, 3.0 undergraduate GPA and satisfactory Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Admission requirements for master's degree programs include a bachelor's degree in a related area of study and prerequisite coursework in biochemistry, biology, mathematics and physics. Other requirements include a statement of purpose essay, letters of recommendation and adequate scores on the GRE.

Online courses in food science may be available.

Bachelor of Science in Food Science

This 4-year program combines the study of microbiology, chemistry, food engineering and biochemistry. The curriculum includes traditional coursework and laboratory courses in which students learn to utilize laboratory equipment and conduct experiments. Students are trained in fundamentals of food science, including issues in food processing, product development and safety. Some programs offer concentration areas, including food technology, food packaging, food business and nutrition. Food science courses cover subjects such as quality assurance, food preservation and toxicology. Common coursework includes:

  • Food borne illness
  • Microorganisms
  • Food laws
  • Refrigeration
  • Meat processing

Graduate Certificate in Food Science

Certificate options are available in food and nutrition, food science and food safety. Food science certificate programs consist of studies in food safety, production and processing, while food and nutrition programs study food nutrients and preservation. The food safety curriculum explores the risk of food contamination and methods for ensuring food safety. The curriculum explores research studies, statistics and chemistry. Other focus areas are:

  • Chemical reactions
  • Food stability
  • Fermentation
  • Food properties
  • Food nutrients

Master of Science in Food Science

Designed for students with degrees in food science or other areas of science, this graduate degree program focuses on advanced study of food processing, nutrition, and microbiology. The curriculum includes studies in research techniques, food engineering, and methods for improving public safety. Microbiology, research and biostatistics are courses found in a master's degree program. Students also participate in original research in the field. Other study areas include:

  • Dehydration
  • Food packaging
  • Additives
  • Carbohydrates
  • Organic foods

Popular Career Options

Bachelor's degree holders are qualified for careers in a food processing plant, food production company and government agency. Job titles include:

  • Food science technician
  • Quality assurance technician
  • Research technician

Graduates of master's degree programs go on to find jobs at food manufacturing and meat product firms, research facilities or government agencies like the National Institutes of Health or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Graduates can purse job titles such as:

  • Senior food technologist
  • Nutritionist
  • Director of food services

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that jobs for food scientists and technologists would grow 7% from 2018-2028 ( The BLS also reported that food scientists and technologists held 35,600 jobs in May 2018 and earned a median annual salary of $65,300.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates who are interested in a career as a teacher at a college or university can enroll in a doctoral (Ph.D.) program in food science. A Ph.D. in Food Science provides students with the advanced theoretical knowledge and practical skills necessary for careers in research science.

Food science certificate and degree programs prepare students for employment opportunities with government agencies, food manufacturing companies and research facilities as food scientists, technicians and technologists. Courses in the sciences are common, with other study including topics such as food law, technology, nutrition and engineering.

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