The field of food studies is quite broad, as it covers multiple food-related issues and topics like the history of food and agriculture, nutrition, food law, and food politics. Students with a variety of educational backgrounds may be interested in pursuing food studies at the graduate level. These programs are more commonly found at the master's level, though it is possible to achieve a doctoral degree in food studies.
General Information About Food Science Graduate Programs
At the master's level in food studies, the time it takes to complete the program will depend on whether students enroll in the thesis or non-thesis track while the length of a Ph.D. program is dependent on the curriculum that a student and their faculty advisor or committee devise. Master's degree students and Ph.D. students will likely take similar courses, a few of which we will discuss below.
Most programs will include a course in food systems, which will explore the ways in which people produce and consume food and the systems we have in place that allow us to do so. Some topics that will likely be covered include industrialization of the food industry, new food technology, and how the food industry relates to business.
Food and Nutrition
A course in food and nutrition is also common to food studies program. This course will focus on human health, how food has evolved over time, and how society's views of nutrition continue to shift.
Research Methods in Food Studies
Another typical course in these types of programs is a research methods class, which focuses specifically on learning both qualitative and quantitative research methods and how to apply them to the field of food studies. You may learn how to correctly design surveys and questionnaires, how to conduct field work, and how to present your findings in reports and academic briefs.
Food Policy, Politics, and Law
Food studies programs also usually include a course that focuses on food policy and food law. Possible topics covered may include learning about the various government agencies that regulate and set food laws, how food policy and politics differ domestically and internationally, and how changing food technology influences the food law landscape.
Doctoral Dissertation in Food Studies
At the Ph.D. level, students will be required to select a topic related to food studies on which to write a dissertation. During this process, students typically work closely with a faculty advisor who has done related research in the area that the student is interested in. After writing their dissertation, students must be able to defend it before receiving their doctoral degree.
Food Science Graduate Program Admission Requirements
At the master's degree level, students interested in applying to a food studies program will need a bachelor's degree. This degree can be in any discipline and there are generally no prerequisite courses necessary before beginning a food studies program. However, students are expected to have maintained at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale. Some programs may require you to submit GRE scores, but not all will. Applicants will generally also need to submit letters of recommendation and a personal statement.
At the doctoral level, GRE scores are necessary. You must also submit all transcripts from any post-secondary institution you have attended. Both candidates with bachelor's degrees and master's degrees are considered for admission to the doctoral program. Applicants at this level must also submit a personal essay detailing the research they hope to do while in the program.
Students who are interested in learning about food studies at the graduate level have various options when they are considering what type and level of program they want to enroll in. Generally, master's and Ph.D. students take similar courses though admission requirements may vary.