Food Science Graduate Program Overviews

If you want to study food science at the graduate level, there are master's and doctoral degree programs available. Learn more about these programs and future opportunities for students after graduation.

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Essential Information

Graduate programs in food science integrate many different academic subjects, including chemical engineering and biological sciences. Programs provide students with an advanced overview of the food, bioprocessing, and pharmaceutical industries, and they may allow students to specialize in a specific area of scientific or technological interest. Prior to graduation, students must complete a research project, dissertation, or oral exam. In order to apply to a master's degree program in food science, students must hold a bachelor's degree in a related field. For a Ph.D. program, they must have already completed an M.S. degree.

Master's Degree in Food Science

A master's degree in food science combines several disciplines in order to provide students with a thorough understanding of how food is created, packaged, and marketed in the United States. Some programs allow students to focus on their own particular area of interest, such as the development of new food products, safety and sanitation methods, or quality control. A master's degree program in food science may combine classroom lectures with intensive independent research. Common courses include:

  • Food microbiology
  • Food chemistry
  • Food processing
  • Advanced food technology
  • Food toxicology
  • Food engineering

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Ph.D. in Food Science

In a Ph.D. programs students conduct independent research leading to a dissertation and oral defense. Some programs offer students the option to focus on a specialty area, such as food chemistry, food processing, food toxicology, or food microbiology. Students may take courses in some of the following subjects:

  • Nutrition
  • Cellular Biology
  • Environmental chemistry and microbiology
  • Physiology
  • Psychology
  • Agricultural research

Popular Career Options

Many students who complete a graduate degree in food science go on to positions in academia or research, while others choose to work in the research and development or corporate sides of the food industry. Some career options for graduates include:

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

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of food scientists and technologists working in the field was 14,660 in 2015. The median annual wage was $65,840, and the employment for agricultural and food scientists was expected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024. This rate is about as fast as the national average for all jobs.

In conclusion, a master's or doctoral degree in food science provides students with the interdisciplinary scientific and technological training required for high-level careers in the field or future academic pursuits.

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