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|| |
* 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. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies, Science, and Capstone), 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 Seminar||1|
|Physical Science Fundamentals||4-5|
|General Chemistry I|
or CHEM 108
|Chemistry in Our World|
or CHEM 109
|Advanced General Chemistry|
|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")|
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 Chemistry||3|
|CHEM 344||Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory||2|
|CHEM 345||Intermediate Organic Chemistry||3|
|Select one of the following:||4-5|
|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|
|Cooperatives and Alternative Forms of Enterprise Ownership|
|Principles of Microeconomics|
|Principles of Economics-Accelerated Treatment|
|NUTR SCI/BIOCHEM 510||Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism||3|
|or NUTR SCI 332||Human Nutritional Needs|
|FOOD SCI 301||Introduction to the Science and Technology of Food||3|
|AN SCI/FOOD SCI 321||Food Laws and Regulations||1|
|FOOD SCI/MICROBIO 324||Food Microbiology Laboratory||2|
|FOOD SCI/MICROBIO 325||Food Microbiology||3|
|FOOD SCI 410||Food Chemistry||3|
|FOOD SCI 412||Food Analysis||4|
|FOOD SCI 432||Principles of Food Preservation||3|
|FOOD SCI 440||Principles of Food Engineering||3|
|FOOD SCI 514||Integrated Food Functionality||4|
|FOOD SCI 532||Integrated Food Manufacturing||4|
|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
|Any 400-level or above course with Physical Science designation||3|
|FOOD SCI 602||Senior Project||2|
|FOOD SCI 603||Senior Seminar||1|
Biochem/Botany/Microbio/Zoology (Path 1)
|BIOLOGY/BOTANY/ZOOLOGY 151||Introductory Biology||5|
|Select one of the following:||3-5|
Any 400-level or above course with Biological Science designation
|MICROBIO 101||General Microbiology||3|
|or MICROBIO 303||Biology of Microorganisms|
|MICROBIO 102||General Microbiology Laboratory||2|
|or MICROBIO 304||Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory|
|BIOCHEM 501||Introduction to Biochemistry||3|
Biocore (Path 2)
|BIOCORE 381||Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics||3|
|BIOCORE 383||Cellular Biology||3|
|BIOCORE 485||Principles of Physiology||3|
|BIOCORE 587||Biological Interactions||3|
|Select two of the following:||4|
|Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory|
|Cellular Biology Laboratory|
|Principles of Physiology Laboratory|
Honors in the Major
Admission to the Honors Program is not competitive provided students meet the required admission criteria.
Admission Criteria for New Freshmen:
- In the upper 10% of their high school graduating class
- ACT score of 28 or higher
- SAT score of at least 1240
Admission Criteria for Transfer and Continuing UW-Madison Students:
- UW-Madison cumulative GPA of at least 3.25
Highly motivated students can apply for admission to the program in the absence of these requirements by including a letter with their application addressed to the Honors Dean in 116 Agricultural Hall explaining why they should be in the program.
How to Apply
Apply to the program online or request an application in the Office of Academic Affairs, 116 Agricultural Hall. Applications are accepted at any time.
New freshmen with accepted applications will automatically be enrolled in Honors in Research. It is possible to switch to Honors in the Major in the student’s first semester on campus after meeting with the advisor for that major by completing the application form and selecting Honors in the Major. Transfer and continuing students may apply directly to Honors in Research or Honors in the Major (after meeting with the major advisor).
How to Cancel Participation
Students who are no longer interested in pursuing Honors should contact the CALS Honors Program Manager (see the contact box for CALS Honors Program). Students may cancel their participation at any time, and this will not be noted on the student’s transcript.
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.|
- Clearly and effectively communicate, both verbally and written, to a diverse range of audiences including technical experts and a lay audience.
- Apply quantitative problem solving and critical thinking skills in all aspects of food science.
- Rigorously apply scientific principles and quantitative reasoning to solve food science problems (technical competence).
- Demonstrate the ability to work both independently and in groups across a wide range of situations.
Sample Food Science Four-Year Plan
|CHEM 103 or 1091||4-5||CHEM 1041||5|
|MATH 2212||5||BIOLOGY/BOTANY/ZOOLOGY 151||5|
|General Education course3||0-3||General Education Course3||0-3|
|COMM A Course||3||FOOD SCI 201 (recommended)||1|
|First Year Seminar||1|
|Total Credits 24-31|
|CHEM 343||3||CHEM 344|
& CHEM 345
|FOOD SCI 301||3||STAT 371 or 301||3|
& MICROBIO 102
|General Education Course3||3||General Education Course4||0-3|
|Total Credits 27-30|
|BIOCHEM 501||3||NUTR SCI 332 or 510||3|
|FOOD SCI 440||3||FOOD SCI/AN SCI 321||1|
|FOOD SCI 410||3||FOOD SCI 432||3|
|MICROBIO/FOOD SCI 324|
& MICROBIO/FOOD SCI 325
|5||FOOD SCI 412||4|
|General Education Courses3||0-6||Food Science course4, 5||0-2|
|General Education Course3||0-6|
|Total Credits 25-39|
|FOOD SCI 532||4||FOOD SCI 514||4|
|FOOD SCI 602||2||FOOD SCI 6036||1|
|Food Science Course4||0-3||Food Science Course4||0-3|
|Science Elective Course5||0-3||Science Elective Course5||0-3|
|General Education Courses3||3-6||General Education Courses3||3-6|
|Total Credits 17-35|
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 552 Food Fermentation Laboratory: The Science of Wine (fall semester).
Students must complete two science elective courses:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-262-3046 for more information.
Damodaran, Etzel, Hartel, Ingham, Lucey, Rankin (chair)
Bolling, Huynh, vanPijkeren
Food science students are strongly encouraged to develop leadership skills through a variety of extracurricular experiences.
Food Science Club
The highly-acclaimed Food Science Club provides a wide array of activities to its members each year. These activities provide opportunities to develop leadership skills and network with industry professionals and other students.
- 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. Outreach activities, such as cheese making, 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. In order to sponsor club activities, fundraising activities (i.e., selling Babcock ice cream at Taste of Madison, silent auctions at professional meetings, and merchandise sales) are a great way to get involved and develop leadership skills.
- 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 systems, 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. These info sessions provide an opportunity to learn about the range of companies that hire our graduates and are a great opportunity for networking.
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, Organic Valley, Dannone, Agropur, Schreiber Cheese, Lindt Chocolate, and many more. These internships are generally paid and many have lodging subsidies.
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 Sciences 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.