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Food science is the application of science and engineering to the production, processing, distribution, preparation, and evaluation of food.

The Department of Food Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has been a part of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences for more than 100 years, instructing generations of food science and industry leaders. Housed in the recently remodeled Babcock Hall, the Department of Food Science offers students a truly unique undergraduate experience. Known for our distinguished and dedicated faculty and staff, students find the Department of Food Science a stimulating and encouraging environment to study and conduct research.

The Department of Food Science’s undergraduate program offers students valuable real-world experience and leadership skills by providing an innovative curriculum; varied club and extracurricular activities; research lab opportunities; access to a fully functional and award winning dairy plant; professional and industry contacts and experience; numerous internships and scholarships, and nearly 100% job placement.

Students find career opportunities in product development, quality assurance/control, processing and engineering, technical sales, management, research, sensory analysis, and food law and regulations.

To declare this major, students must be admitted to UW–Madison and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). For information about becoming a CALS first-year or transfer student, see Entering the College.

Students who attend Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences have the option to declare this major at SOAR.  Students may otherwise declare after they have begun their undergraduate studies. For more information, contact the advisor listed under the Advising and Careers tab.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements

In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Specific requirements for all majors in the college and other information on academic matters can be obtained from the Office of Academic Affairs, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, 116 Agricultural Hall, 1450 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-3003. Academic departments and advisors also have information on requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies and Science), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.

College Requirements for all CALS B.S. Degree Programs

Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.
Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.
First Year Seminar1
International Studies3
Physical Science Fundamentals4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biological Science5
Additional Science (Biological, Physical, or Natural)3
Science Breadth (Biological, Physical, Natural, or Social)3
CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "Major Requirements")

Major Requirements

NUTR SCI/​A A E/​AGRONOMY/​INTER-AG  350 World Hunger and Malnutrition is recommended to fulfill the CALS International Studies requirement.

Mathematics and Statistics
This major requires calculus. Prerequisites may need to taken before enrollment in calculus.
Select one of the following:5
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II 1
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Chemistry
Select one of the following:5-9
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
CHEM 343 Introductory Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 344 Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 345 Intermediate Organic Chemistry3
Physics
Select one of the following:4-5
General Physics
General Physics
Biology
Select one of the following (see below):16-18
Biochem/Botany/Microbio/Zoology (Path 1)
Biocore (Path 2)
Foundation
Econ or Ag & Applied Econ
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Agricultural and Applied Economics
Cooperatives
Principles of Microeconomics
Principles of Economics-Accelerated Treatment
Nutritional Science
NUTR SCI/​BIOCHEM  510 Biochemical Principles of Human and Animal Nutrition3
or NUTR SCI 332 Human Nutritional Needs
Core
FOOD SCI 301 Introduction to the Science and Technology of Food3
AN SCI/FOOD SCI 321 Food Laws and Regulations1
FOOD SCI/MICROBIO 324 Food Microbiology Laboratory2
FOOD SCI/MICROBIO 325 Food Microbiology3
FOOD SCI 410 Food Chemistry3
FOOD SCI 412 Food Analysis4
FOOD SCI 432 Principles of Food Preservation3
FOOD SCI 440 Principles of Food Engineering3
FOOD SCI 514 Integrated Food Functionality4
FOOD SCI 532 Integrated Food Manufacturing4
Integrated Food Product Elective
Select one of the following (2 credits minimum):2
Chemistry and Technology of Dairy Products
Commercial Meat Processing
Confectionery Science and Technology
Fermented Foods and Beverages
and Food Fermentation Laboratory
Fermented Foods and Beverages
and Food Fermentation Laboratory: The Science of Wine
Science Elective
Any 400-level or above course with Physical Science designation3
Capstone
FOOD SCI 602 Senior Project2
FOOD SCI 603 Senior Seminar1
Total Credits85-92

Biology Paths

Biochem/Botany/Microbio/Zoology (Path 1)

BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  151 Introductory Biology5
Select one of the following:3-5
Any 400-level or above course with Biological Science designation
Introductory Biology
MICROBIO 101 General Microbiology3
or MICROBIO 303 Biology of Microorganisms
MICROBIO 102 General Microbiology Laboratory2
or MICROBIO 304 Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory
BIOCHEM 501 Introduction to Biochemistry3
Total Credits16-18

Biocore (Path 2)

BIOCORE 381 Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics3
BIOCORE 383 Cellular Biology3
BIOCORE 485 Organismal Biology3
BIOCORE 587 Biological Interactions3
Select two of the following:4
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
Cellular Biology Laboratory
Organismal Biology Laboratory
Total Credits16

Honors in the Major

To earn Honors in the Major, students are required to take at least 20 honors credits. In addition, students must take FOOD SCI 681 Senior Honors Thesis and FOOD SCI 682 Senior Honors Thesis when completing their thesis project; please see the Honors in Major Checklist for more information.

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

1. Clearly and effectively communicate, both verbally and written, to a diverse range of audiences including technical experts and a lay audience.

2. Apply quantitative problem solving and critical thinking skills in all aspects of food science.

3. Rigorously apply scientific principles and quantitative reasoning to solve food science problems (technical competence).

4. Demonstrate the ability to work both independently and in groups across a wide range of situations.

Four-year plan

Sample  Food Science Four-Year Plan

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
CHEM 103 or 10914-5CHEM 10415
MATH 22125BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  1515
General Education course30-3General Education Course30-3
COMM A Course3FOOD SCI 201 (recommended)1
First Year Seminar1 
 13-17 11-14
Total Credits 24-31
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
CHEM 3433CHEM 344
CHEM 345
5
FOOD SCI 3013STAT 371 or 3013
MICROBIO 101
MICROBIO 102
5PHYSICS 2075
FOOD SCI 375 (The Practicing Professional: Pathway to Leadership (recommended))1General Education Course40-3
General Education Course33 
 15 13-16
Total Credits 28-31
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BIOCHEM 5013NUTR SCI 332 or 5103
FOOD SCI 4403FOOD SCI/​AN SCI  3211
FOOD SCI 4103FOOD SCI 4323
MICROBIO/​FOOD SCI  324
MICROBIO/​FOOD SCI  325
5FOOD SCI 4124
General Education Courses30-6Food Science course4, 50-2
 General Education Course30-6
 14-20 11-19
Total Credits 25-39
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
FOOD SCI 5324FOOD SCI 5144
FOOD SCI 6022FOOD SCI 60361
Food Science Course40-3Food Science Course40-3
Science Elective Course50-3Science Elective Course50-3
General Education Courses33-6General Education Courses33-6
 9-18 8-17
Total Credits 17-35

Students are assigned a faculty or staff advisor once they declare the major. Advisors are prepared to help with curricular planning and course access; major and degree questions; discussion of independent study and lab research experience; and navigating internship and scholarship opportunities. Declared food science majors must meet with their assigned advisor prior to registration. Additional information can be found on the department's website.

Prospective food science majors should contact the Department of Food Science at foodsci@wisc.edu or 608-262-3046 for more information.

Professors

Damodaran, Etzel, Hartel, Ingham, Lucey, Parkin, Rankin (chair)

Assistant Professors

Bolling, Huynh, Ikeda, vanPijkeren

Food science students are strongly encouraged to develop leadership skills through a variety of extracurricular experiences.

Food Science Club

The Food Science Club has garnered Gold status from the Institute of Food Technologists Student Association for many years, placing highly every year in the Chapter of the Year competition. This acclaim comes from the wide array of activities offered by the club each year.

  • Product Development teams. Join teams of students who develop new products, from idea conception to manufacture, for submission to national competitions. Our student teams place highly every year, in part because of the extremely supportive culture within the program.
  • Outreach. Each semester, club members participate in outreach activities (WI Science Festival, Science Expeditions, local school activities, etc.) that promote food science to grade school and high school students. Activities such as Peeps Jousting, gummy bear production, chocolate rheology, flavor and sensory science, and many others, help demonstrate various science principles and generate interest in science among younger students.
  • Fundraising activities. A Bucky Puck, an ice cream sandwich with Cookies and Cream ice cream, is the main fundraising product of the club. You can help make them and then help sell them to various events. Other fundraising activities include selling Babcock ice cream at Taste of Madison, silent auctions at professional meetings, and merchandise sales. Funds raised through these activities help support other club activities.
  • Food and Health Initiative. Are you interested in developing healthy food alternatives? This program is for you then. Hear from a variety of experts on various topics of interest, including gluten-free pasta, sugar and health, GMO foods, and many others.
  • Food Systems Initiative. Food science focuses on converting raw materials into edible food products. But there is so much more to the broader food landscape. This initiative focuses on the wider scope of food, investigating how food scientists can interact with food production and social issues related to food.
  • Social activities. Each month, a fun social activity allows students to mingle in a friendly environment. For example, you can make (and eat) Thanksgiving dinner in November and enjoy chocolate-covered anything at the February social.
  • College Bowl. Which state has the largest production of ginseng? Questions like this serve as the focal point of College Bowl, a food science trivia competition for both undergraduate and graduate students. The team competes first in the regional competition, and if successful then moves on to the national competition. Yes, Wisconsin is the largest producer of ginseng in the United States.
  • Company info sessions. Each club meeting is sponsored by a food company that also gives a brief presentation about itself. Additional info sessions are sponsored on an individual basis.

Summer Internships

Spending a summer working and gaining experience at a food company is a great way to apply classroom learning to the real world. With over 40 companies visiting the program each year, numerous opportunities are available for any student interested in a summer internship. Students spend their summers at companies that include General Mills, Pepsico, Kraft-Heinz, Foremost Farms, Agropur, Schreiber Cheese, and many more. These internships are generally paid (sometimes quite well) and many have lodging subsidies.

Research/Work Experience

Another way to gain practical experience is to work in the building or on campus.

  • Research labs. Food Science faculty welcome undergraduates to gain experience conducting meaningful research in their labs.
  • Babcock Dairy Plant. Want practical experience in a fully operational dairy plant? Consider signing up for part-time work in the Babcock Dairy Plant gaining experience in a wide range of practical jobs, from quality control to production.
  • Center for Dairy Research (CDR). Also within Babcock Hall is the internationally renowned Center for Dairy Research. Students can conduct research, work in the analytical labs or participate on the CDR Sensory Panel to gain invaluable practical experience.
  • Food Research Institute (FRI). Housed in the Microbial Sciences Building, FRI conducts industry oriented research on a wide range of food safety topics.
  • Meat Lab/Bucky’s Butchery. Interested in meat science? The meat processing facilities within the Animal Science department actually apply many food science principles and provide a unique opportunity for students to get hands-on experience with all aspects of meat production.