Schools for Aspiring Food Inspectors: How to Choose

Food inspectors examine foods in processing companies and restaurants for quality assurance. They may work for the government or for processing plants and businesses. Colleges and universities offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in food science.

Prospective food inspectors can pursue a formal education through majors such as examine foods in processing companies and restaurants for quality assurance. Selecting the appropriate program is the first step to a career in this field.

10 Schools with Food Science

Schools typically don't offer food inspection majors, but bachelor's and master's degree programs in food science can offer preparation. Here are some of the schools offering these programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degree's Offered Tuition and Fees (2015-2016, undergraduate in-state & out-of-state)
Texas A&M University College Station, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $10,176; $28,768
Ohio State University Columbus, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $10,037; $27,365
Penn State University University Park, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $17,514; $31,346
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,560; $36,360
Rutgers University Camden, NJ 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $14,000; $28,890
University of Florida Gainesville, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $6,381; $28,659
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $15,054; $30,214
University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,790; $22,210
University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $10,415; $29,665
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $10,002; $28,804

Source: *NCES College Navigator

School Selection Criteria

Food science degree programs usually focus on food processing, production, preservation, safety and evaluation. Since schools vary in their offerings, common considerations include:

  • Food inspectors typically have a background in science, so students should find out program prerequisites regarding specific coursework.
  • For those who have already earned a bachelor's degree, many schools offer master's and doctoral programs in food science and health promotion.
  • Look for a school with food quality testing experiences, such as research centers, food labs or on-campus processing centers.
  • Find a school that offers research experience as they may enhance job outlook.

Bachelor of Science

Undergraduate programs may have a food science club to help students network, raise money and attend professional conferences. Many programs encourage undergraduates to participate in internships with food companies or food processing firms. Students choose an emphasis, such as business or food technology.

Master of Science

Those with a graduate degree in food science may find jobs as researchers and developers. Programs may offer emphases in areas such as microbiology, engineering, toxicology and food safety. Master's programs generally have thesis and non-thesis options, though all students complete a final project. Students learn to identify microorganisms, track changes in food composition over time and analyze food.

Doctor of Philosophy

Those with a doctoral degree in food science typically conduct research rather than act as inspectors in the food-processing industry. All doctoral candidates must pass qualifying examinations and complete a dissertation. They may be required to publish their dissertation research in scientific journals. Candidates may research topics in food safety or quality enhancement.

Programs in food science are offered on many levels and prepare interested individuals for a career in food inspection. Some important considerations for a potential student are desired work environment, career goals, and time commitment.


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