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
- Food laws
- 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
- 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:
- Food packaging
- 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
- 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 3% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that food scientists and technologists held 14,660 jobs in May 2015 and earned a median annual salary of $65,840.
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.