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
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
Select one of the following:4-5
General Physics
General Physics
Select one of the following (see below):16-18
Biochem/Botany/Microbio/Zoology (Path 1)
Biocore (Path 2)
Econ or Ag & Applied Econ
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Agricultural and Applied Economics
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
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 2
Science Elective
Any 400-level or above course with Physical Science designation3
FOOD SCI 602 Senior Project2
FOOD SCI 603 Senior Seminar1
Total Credits85-92

MATH 217 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II requires MATH 171 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I as a prerequisite.


Both FOOD SCI 550 and either FOOD SCI 551 or FOOD SCI 375 The Science of Wine must be taken.

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. Graduates recognize the necessity of continued learning.  Graduates will:
    1. Understand that information, knowledge, and technology are always evolving.
    2. Develop a sense of what they know and don’t know (as individuals).
    3. Be receptive to change in technical and professional settings.
  2. Graduates are effective communicators.  Graduates will:
    1. Write clear and concise technical reports and research articles.
    2. Read for content and quality of literature in the field.
    3. Deliver clear and concise technical presentations.
    4. Communicate clearly scientific principles and data to lay audiences.
    5. Listen intelligently and accept constructive criticisms.
    6. Respect alternative options.
  3. Graduates have basic employability skills.  Graduates will:
    1. Understand the importance of responsibility, dependability, punctuality, appropriate behavior, and effort in the work place.
    2. Demonstrate the ability to work independently, as well as the ability to work cooperatively in teams.
    3. Recognize changes as part of growth.
    4. Recognize, accept, and respect ethnic and cultural diversity and individual difference.
    5. Commit to the highest standards of professional integrity and ethical value.
  4. Graduate have strong quantitative problem solving and critical thinking skills.  Graduates will:
    1. Develop ability to deftly apply the scientific method to food science problems: (1) scientific curiosity and observation to detect a problems; (2) define the problem statement; (3) search, explore, and gather evidence; (4) design and implement an experiment to challenge the hypothesis; (7) observe and analyze the results; and (8) reach a conclusion pertinent to the problem statement.
    2. Develop ability to apply quantitative reasoning skills to food science data: (1) recognize and construct a mathematical model that represents quantitative information; (2) analyze and manipulate these models; draw conclusions, predictions, or inferences on the basis of the analysis; and (4) assess the reasonableness of these conclusions.
    3. Develop ability to rigorously apply principles from general chemistry, physics, statistics, and mathematics to food science problems.
    4. Be comfortable with ambiguity in scientific and technical fields.
    5. Develop ability to critically examine technical literature and apply it in the workplace.
  5. Graduates are competent in the key aspects of the multidisciplinary nature of food science.
    1. Goals of the program are to have graduates that are competent in the following areas:
      1. Understand the physical, chemical and biological reactions that are important in maintaining food quality and safety, and how to evaluate these changes (analysis).
      2. Understand the physical, chemical and biological processes involved in conversion of raw materials into finished food products and how to evaluate those changes.
      3. Understand the relationship between food and health/wellness.
      4. Knowledge in the laws and regulations which govern our food supply.
    2. Graduate should be competent in the following core knowledge areas:
      1. Food chemistry and analysis:
        • understand reactions in foods and its components.
        • compositions of key foods/products.
        • knowledge of analysis methods.
      2. Food safety and microbiology:
        • knowledge of food pathogens.
        • microbiological aspects to making safe foods.
        • food preservation methods.
      3. Food processing and engineering:
        • processing and engineering principles related to foods and their manufacture/design.
      4. Food nutrition and health:
        • understand the relationships between foods and health/wellness.
      5. Applied food science:
        • integration of disciplines in relation to food problems or processes.
        • knowledge of relevant laws and regulations for the food industry.
        • current issues/trends in the food industry.
      6. Technical and analytical skills:
        • able to apply food science and other disciplines to understand real world food industry problems.
        • to be able to critically evaluate reports/information relating to food quantitative (mathematical and statistical) analytical skills.

In addition to these departmental program learning outcomes, IFT requires documentation of how students meet a standardized set of Core Competencies.

Four-year plan

Sample  Food Science Four-Year Plan

CHEM 103 or 10914-5CHEM 10415
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
CHEM 3433CHEM 344
CHEM 345
FOOD SCI 3013STAT 371 or 3013
FOOD SCI 375 (The Practicing Professional: Pathway to Leadership (recommended))1General Education Course40-3
General Education Course33 
 15 13-16
Total Credits 28-31
BIOCHEM 5013NUTR SCI 332 or 5103
5FOOD SCI 4124
General Education Courses30-6Food Science course4, 50-2
 General Education Course30-6
 14-20 11-19
Total Credits 25-39
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 taking CHEM 109 do not take CHEM 104.


 MATH 221 will satisfy the Quantitative Reasoning B requirement.


 Electives can be found on the Requirements tab.


Students must select at least one course from FOOD SCI 511 Chemistry and Technology of Dairy Products (spring semester), FOOD SCI/​AN SCI  515 Commercial Meat Processing (fall semester), FOOD SCI 535 Confectionery Science and Technology (fall semester), or FOOD SCI 550 Fermented Foods and Beverages (spring semester) and either FOOD SCI 551 Food Fermentation Laboratory (spring semester) or FOOD SCI 375 Special Topics (fall semester).


Students must complete two science elective courses: 
(1) at least 3 credits of any 400-level or above biological science course or BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  152 Introductory Biology (2) at least 3 credits of any 400-level or above physical science course.


Combination of FOOD SCI 602 Senior Project and FOOD SCI 603 Senior Seminar satisfy Comm B requirement.

Note: Students must complete a minimum of 120 credits. This may require taking 16 credits per semester for at least four semesters.

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 or 608-262-3046 for more information.


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

Assistant Professors

Bolling, Ikeda, vanPijkeren