The graduate program in the Department of Food Science ranks among the best of its kind in the United States. Strong faculty research groups exist in food chemistry, food engineering, food microbiology, and food safety. The master's track in these areas combine an array of in-depth courses with the use of advanced research methods for studying food properties: chemical, physical, physiological, and bioactive characteristics; material properties; microbial control and safety; sensory quality; procedures for the processing, storage, and preservation of foods.
Research areas in which the department has special expertise include: chemical attributes of proteins, enzymes, lipids, flavors, bioactive components, and pigments; processes for crystallizing, separating, freezing, and drying; food safety (detection, control, and mechanistic action of pathogenic microorganisms, and undesirable chemicals in food); process optimization and validation of critical processing limits. Commodity foci include: dairy products, confectionery products, fruits and vegetables, muscle foods, and fermented products.
The department occupies Babcock Hall, a building with excellent facilities for instruction and research. Availability of appropriate instruments, equipment, and pilot-plant facilities enables research on the above topics to be conducted in a manner that has impact worldwide.
About 40–50 students from many countries are currently pursuing both the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the areas mentioned above. This includes some graduate students working in programs associated with the Food Research Institute and closely allied departments.
Individuals obtaining advanced degrees in food science will find employment opportunities in academic instruction and research, government research or regulatory programs, and industrial research, development, or quality assurance. Historically, the department's placement record for graduating students has been very good.
Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.
Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.
|Fall Deadline||January 15|
|Spring Deadline||September 1|
|Summer Deadline||The program does not admit in the summer.|
|GRE (Graduate Record Examinations)||Required.|
|English Proficiency Test||Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).|
|Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT)||n/a|
|Letters of Recommendation Required||3|
Students who are admitted to the program must meet the Graduate School minimum requirements, including completion of a bachelor's degree which typically consists of a satisfactory undergraduate education in fields such as food science, dairy science, chemistry, most biological sciences (e.g., biochemistry, microbiology, nutrition), and engineering (especially chemical and agricultural). To enter the program, students must have taken at least one course in biochemistry and one course in organic chemistry.
Fall semester—January 15 (prior to the fall semester)
Spring semester—September 1 (prior to the spring semester)
The minimum test scores required to be eligible to be "admissible" to the Food Science graduate program are the following:
|GRE||Verbal: 148 |
Analytical Writing: 3.5
|English Proficiency Test||TOEFL: 92 |
(only one English test needs to be taken)
Admissibility does NOT equal admission. Admissibility means applicants have met the minimum requirements to be eligible for admission. Applicants recommended for admission generally have higher test scores that are competitive with the top 50% of GRE scores among individuals intent on pursuing graduate studies in life sciences in the U.S. (median scores of V: 151, Q: 151, AW: 3.5). Recommendation for admission is determined solely by the supervising lab faculty member. Final admission is determined by the Graduate School.
Recommendation for admission is made by an individual food science or affiliated faculty member usually based on the review of the following:
- applicant's online application
- academic record (scanned PDF academic transcripts)
- official test scores (sent directly from the testing agency (code: 1846)) of Graduate Record Exams (GRE) and English proficiency test (non-native English speaking applicants only)
- recommendation letters (three)
- personal statement (reasons for graduate study) up to two pages double-spaced
- CV or resume
- applicant's particular research interest(s) as indicated in supplemental application
- available funding/space in their research lab
After the application is submitted, applicants should contact faculty members directly (via email) to discuss research opportunities in their labs.
Students interested in applying for the food science program should look closely at the website for specific information about the admissions process.
Graduate School Resources
Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.
We recommend that your application be complete by the application deadlines in order to be considered for funding. Financial assistance is sometimes available to qualified individuals in the form of research assistantships, teaching assistantships, or fellowships. Fellowships are granted to students meeting specific criteria and with outstanding academic records. Research assistantships are awarded by individual professors through funds available to their research programs. Funding is awarded on a competitive basis and renewed annually pending the student's satisfactory progress. (Teaching assistant positions in food science are available only to students who have already been enrolled for at least two semesters.)
Please be advised that you do not need to make a separate application for financial support as your admission application will also serve as an application for assistantships and fellowships.
Prospective students are encouraged to search and apply for external funding sources (scholarships and fellowships) on their own. (If faculty do not have funding or lab space available, they often do not accept new students into their labs.) Additionally, prospective students are encouraged to apply for graduate assistantship (teaching, research, or project) positions in other UW–Madison departments to potentially defray the costs of their studies. See Graduate School Funding pages for more information.
Minimum Graduate School Requirements
Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.
MODE OF INSTRUCTION
|Face to Face||Evening/Weekend||Online||Hybrid||Accelerated|
Mode of Instruction Definitions
Evening/Weekend: These programs are offered in an evening and/or weekend format to accommodate working schedules. Enjoy the advantages of on-campus courses and personal connections, while keeping your day job. For more information about the meeting schedule of a specific program, contact the program.
Online: These programs are offered primarily online. Many available online programs can be completed almost entirely online with all online programs offering at least 50 percent or more of the program work online. Some online programs have an on-campus component that is often designed to accommodate working schedules. Take advantage of the convenience of online learning while participating in a rich, interactive learning environment. For more information about the online nature of a specific program, contact the program.
Hybrid: These programs have innovative curricula that combine on-campus and online formats. Most hybrid programs are completed on-campus with a partial or completely online semester. For more information about the hybrid schedule of a specific program, contact the program.
Accelerated: These on-campus programs are offered in an accelerated format that allows you to complete your program in a condensed time-frame. Enjoy the advantages of on-campus courses with minimal disruption to your career. For more information about the accelerated nature of a specific program, contact the program.
|Minimum Credit Requirement||30 credits|
|Minimum Residence Credit Requirement||16 credits|
|Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement||Half of degree coursework (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (https://registrar.wisc.edu/course-guide/).|
|Overall Graduate GPA Requirement||3.00 GPA required.|
|Other Grade Requirements||The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of incomplete (I) are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.|
|Assessments and Examinations||Students are required to have a graduate program advisory committee (GPAC) meeting once each year to monitor progress toward their degree. |
The presentation for the graded FOOD SCI 900 Seminar Advanced must be given a semester before or in the semester of the defense.
Master’s students are required to defend their thesis after they have cleared their record of all Incomplete and Progress grades (other than research and thesis) and deposit the final thesis to the Memorial Library.
|Language Requirements||Food Science does not have a foreign language requirement.|
|Students are expected to have taken one course each in organic chemistry and biochemistry. If they enter the program without these courses, students are required to take them before graduating.|
|Food Science Core Courses 1|
|Principles of Food Preservation|
|4 credits of FOOD SCI (600, 610-679, 700-899) or closely related courses (Any graduate level )|
|Students must take a course in statistics if they have not done so prior to entering the program. Typically students will take:|
|Statistical Methods for Bioscience I|
|Statistical Methods for Bioscience II|
|Students must enroll in this course every semester they are in the program:|
|Seminar Advanced 2|
|Students may take courses with the graduate-level attribute (G50%) in Food Science and related disciplines to meet the 30-credit minimum requirement.|
If students have taken similar "Food Science Core" courses prior to entering the program, these courses may be waived.
The semester students present their research, this course is graded. Otherwise, students take it as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.
Graduate School Policies
The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.
Graduate Program Handbook
A Graduate Program Handbook containing all of the program's policies and requirements is forthcoming from the program.
Graduate Work from Other Institutions
Prior graduate-level coursework from other institutions may not count toward minimum credit requirements for the major, but may satisfy specific food science course requirements.
Prior coursework as a UW–Madison undergraduate student may not count toward minimum credit requirements for the major, but may satisfy specific food science course requirements.
UW–Madison University Special
Prior coursework taken as a University Special student may not count toward minimum credit requirements for the major, but may satisfy specific food science course requirements.
Candidates not making satisfactory progress will be placed on probation. If this probationary status is not resolved by the end of the semester in which it is initiated, the candidate may be dismissed by their faculty advisor.
The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.
ADVISOR / COMMITTEE
Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor. To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor on a regular basis. An advisor is a faculty member or affiliate faculty member from the major department responsible for providing advice about the student's coursework, supervising the student's research, and acting as a mentor to the student through the student’s graduate career.
The student’s graduate program advisory committee (GPAC) also is involved in advising of the student in various stages of their studies to monitor and ensure they are making satisfactory progress toward a degree. The M.S. GPAC should consist of at least 3 members as detailed in the Food Science Graduate Student Handbook.
CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED
It is expected that students will complete all degree requirements in two to three years.
Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.
Students are admitted by faculty in the department through direct admission. Faculty also determine who will receive funding which is dependent upon available funds from grants.
Graduate School Resources
Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career.
- Understands, articulates, critiques and elaborates core paradigms in Food Science.
- Recognizes that life-long learning is critical for continued personal and professional development.
- Complies with principles of ethical and professional conduct.
- Sources and assembles evidence to address questions or identify gaps in knowledge in the field of food science.
- Evaluates and synthesizes information to address technical challenges.
- Selects research methods and practices appropriate to discovery activities.
- Creates knowledge that contributes to the field of food science.
- Clearly and effectively communicates technical information in oral and written formats.
- Works effectively within a team.