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 health. The master's track in these areas combines 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 MS and PhD 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) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not exclusively in English, must provide an English proficiency test score earned within two years of the anticipated term of enrollment. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Requirements for Admission policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1241.
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Admitted applicants 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).

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)
  • English proficiency for international degree-seeking applicants. See Graduate School requirements for more information
  • 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.

Applicants 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 restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

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.

Major Requirements

Mode of Instruction

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 15 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required. Refer to the Graduate School: Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1203.
Other Grade Requirements n/a
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 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 submit the final thesis online.
Language Requirements Food science does not have a foreign language requirement.

Required Courses

Graduate Seminar4
MS students must enroll in seminar for 1 credit each semester they are enrolled in the program.
Seminar Advanced
Food Science Coursework6
Students must complete two of the following courses:
Chemistry and Technology of Dairy Products
Food Biochemistry
Advanced Food Microbiology
Research Ethics and Responsibility2
Research Ethics and Career Development
Responsible Conduct in Research: Research Ethics, Rigor, Reproducibility and Transparency
Students must complete one of the following options:
Statistical Methods for Bioscience I
Statistical Methods for Bioscience II
Or an alternative graduate-level course in statistics numbered 300 and above with the Grad 50% attribute may be completed to fulfill this requirement with approval of the student's advisory committee.
Students take additional credits to reach the 30-credit minimum in consultation with their graduate program committee. These credits may include Research.
Total Credits30

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.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions

Prior graduate-level coursework from other institutions may not transfer toward minimum credit requirements for the major, but may satisfy specific food science course requirements.

Undergraduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions or UW-Madison

Prior coursework as a UW–Madison undergraduate student may not transfer toward minimum credit requirements for the major, but may satisfy specific food science course requirements.

Credits Earned as a Professional Student at UW-Madison (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary careers)

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Credits Earned as a University Special Student at UW-Madison

Prior coursework taken as a University Special student may not transfer toward minimum credit requirements for the major, but may satisfy specific food science course requirements. In that case, students do not need to take the food science course requirement, but do need to choose, in consultation with their advisor, another course with at least the same number of credits.


Refer to the Graduate School: Probation policy.

Advisor / Committee

Refer to the Graduate School: Advisor and Graduate School: Committees (Doctoral/Master’s/MFA) policies.

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 GPAC for a MS student consists of a minimum of 3 members of which one member must have a tenure home in the Department of Food Science. Within six months of starting the program, the GPAC is expected to have approved the course-taking.

Credits Per Term Allowed

15 credits

Time Limits

Refer to the Graduate School: Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences: Grievance Policy

In the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), any student who feels unfairly treated by a member of the CALS faculty or staff has the right to complain about the treatment and to receive a prompt hearing. Some complaints may arise from misunderstandings or communication breakdowns and be easily resolved; others may require formal action. Complaints may concern any matter of perceived unfairness.

To ensure a prompt and fair hearing of any complaint, and to protect the rights of both the person complaining and the person at whom the complaint is directed, the following procedures are used in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Any student, undergraduate or graduate, may use these procedures, except employees whose complaints are covered under other campus policies.

  1. The student should first talk with the person at whom the complaint is directed. Most issues can be settled at this level. Others may be resolved by established departmental procedures.
  2. If the student is unsatisfied, and the complaint involves any unit outside CALS, the student should seek the advice of the dean or director of that unit to determine how to proceed.
    1. If the complaint involves an academic department in CALS the student should proceed in accordance with item 3 below.
    2. If the grievance involves a unit in CALS that is not an academic department, the student should proceed in accordance with item 4 below.
  3. The student should contact the department’s grievance advisor within 120 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment. The departmental administrator can provide this person’s name. The grievance advisor will attempt to resolve the problem informally within 10 working days of receiving the complaint, in discussions with the student and the person at whom the complaint is directed.
    1. If informal mediation fails, the student can submit the grievance in writing to the grievance advisor within 10 working days of the date the student is informed of the failure of the mediation attempt by the grievance advisor. The grievance advisor will provide a copy to the person at whom the grievance is directed.
    2. The grievance advisor will refer the complaint to a department committee that will obtain a written response from the person at whom the complaint is directed, providing a copy to the student. Either party may request a hearing before the committee. The grievance advisor will provide both parties a written decision within 20 working days from the date of receipt of the written complaint.
    3. If the grievance involves the department chairperson, the grievance advisor or a member of the grievance committee, these persons may not participate in the review.
    4. If not satisfied with departmental action, either party has 10 working days from the date of notification of the departmental committee action to file a written appeal to the CALS Equity and Diversity Committee. A subcommittee of this committee will make a preliminary judgement as to whether the case merits further investigation and review. If the subcommittee unanimously determines that the case does not merit further investigation and review, its decision is final. If one or more members of the subcommittee determine that the case does merit further investigation and review, the subcommittee will investigate and seek to resolve the dispute through mediation. If this mediation attempt fails, the subcommittee will bring the case to the full committee. The committee may seek additional information from the parties or hold a hearing. The committee will present a written recommendation to the dean who will provide a final decision within 20 working days of receipt of the committee recommendation.
  4. If the alleged unfair treatment occurs in a CALS unit that is not an academic department, the student should, within 120 calendar days of the alleged incident, take his/her grievance directly to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. The dean will attempt to resolve the problem informally within 10 working days of receiving the complaint. If this mediation attempt does not succeed the student may file a written complaint with the dean who will refer it to the CALS Equity and Diversity Committee. The committee will seek a written response from the person at whom the complaint is directed, subsequently following other steps delineated in item 3d above.


Students are admitted by faculty in the department through direct admission.

Professional Development

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understands, articulates, critiques and elaborates core paradigms in Food Science.
  2. Recognizes that life-long learning is critical for continued personal and professional development.
  3. Complies with principles of ethical and professional conduct.
  4. Sources and assembles evidence to address questions or identify gaps in knowledge in the field of food science.
  5. Evaluates and synthesizes information to address technical challenges.
  6. Selects research methods and practices appropriate to discovery activities.
  7. Creates knowledge that contributes to the field of food science.
  8. Clearly and effectively communicates technical information in oral and written formats.
  9. Works effectively within a team.



Professors: Hartel, Ingham, Lucey, Rankin (chair)

Assistant Professors: Bolling, Girard, Huynh, Ujor, van Pijkeren