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Overview

The study of Food Science incorporates real-life aspects of chemistry, physics, microbiology, and engineering to solve today’s global and local food problems. The curriculum emphasizes high-level technical competence, while instilling communication, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills.

Housed in Babcock Hall, the Food Science major offers close contact with faculty and instructors; opportunities to conduct research; skill-building extracurricular activities; professional networking with industry professionals; and access to the modern Food Application Lab and a commercial dairy processing plant that manufactures campus’ famous Babcock ice cream.

With a nearly 100% job placement rate, graduates are equipped to compete and succeed in a modern global economy. Students find career opportunities with corporations, government agencies and nonprofits working in product development, quality assurance/control, processing and engineering, technical sales, management, research, sensory analysis, and food law and regulations.

Learn through hands-on, real world experience

Hands-on, practical learning is an essential part of the program and laboratory courses are included at every level. A capstone course integrates earlier coursework, and students conduct a lab-based research project and analyze and present their findings. Students are encouraged to pursue internships to gain additional experience, and many complete more than one prior to graduation. Some gain practical experience by working in the Babcock Dairy Plant making consumer dairy products sold on campus. Others participate in undergraduate research projects on food quality, food microbiology, food chemistry, or food and health.

Build community and networks

Faculty teach courses at every level and are on a first-name basis with students. The Food Science Club student organization is very active and provides students with leadership opportunities and connections to alumni and industry professionals. Additionally, more than 40 companies recruit students annually, providing students many links to professionals and job opportunities.

Customize a path of study

Students can select from lab-based elective courses focused on dairy, candy, meat, or fermented foods. The program also offers students the option to participate in Honors in Food Science.

Make a strong start

A course for first-year students focuses on discovering food science and includes study skills, on-campus networking, resume writing, job interview skills, and learning from alumni about career options.

Gain global perspective

Study abroad is encouraged and students can use the program’s road map to take advantage of summer and winter break study abroad opportunities or even a semester abroad with careful planning.

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. 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 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  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 Organic Chemistry I3
CHEM 344 Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 345 Organic Chemistry II3
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 and Alternative Forms of Enterprise Ownership
Principles of Microeconomics
Principles of Economics-Accelerated Treatment
Nutritional Science
NUTR SCI/​BIOCHEM  510 Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism3
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
1

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

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 Principles of Physiology3
BIOCORE 587 Biological Interactions3
Select two of the following:4
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
Cellular Biology Laboratory
Principles of Physiology Laboratory
Total Credits16

Honors in the Major

Students admitted to the university and to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences are invited to apply to be considered for admission to the CALS Honors Program.

Admission Criteria for New First-Year Students:

  • Complete program application including essay questions

Admission Criteria for Transfer and Continuing UW-Madison Students:

  • UW-Madison cumulative GPA of at least 3.25
  • Complete program application including essay questions

How to Apply

The application is available on the CALS Honors Program website.  Applications are accepted at any time.

New first-year students 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 receiving approval from the advisor for that major.  Transfer and continuing students may apply directly to Honors in Research or Honors in the Major (after approval from the major advisor).

Requirements

All CALS Honors programs have the following requirements:

  • Earn at least a cumulative 3.25 GPA at UW-Madison (some programs have higher requirements)
  • Complete the program-specific requirements listed below
  • Submit completed thesis documentation to CALS Academic Affairs

Requirements

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
General Education Course33General Education Course40-3
 14 13-16
Total Credits 27-30
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
1

Students taking CHEM 109 do not take CHEM 104.

2

 MATH 221 will satisfy the Quantitative Reasoning B requirement.

3

 Electives can be found on the Requirements tab.

4

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).

5

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.

6

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.

Advising

All 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 enrollment each semester. 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.

Career Opportunities

Nearly all Food Science majors receive a job offer prior to graduation. Careers include working in product development, quality assurance/control, processing and engineering, technical sales, management, research, sensory analysis, and food law and regulations for corporations, nonprofits and government agencies. Faculty advisors and course assignments help prepare students to write resumes, interview for jobs and network with professionals in the field. More than 40 organizations recruit students each year.

Professors

Bradley Bolling, Audrey Girard, Richard Hartel, Tu Anh Huynh, Barbara Ingham, John Lucey, Scott Rankin (chair), Victor Ujor, Jan Peter van Pijkeren

Instructors

Beth Button, Yaa Klu, Arnoldo Lopez-Hernandez, Nick Smith

Advisors

Professor Brad Bolling, Professor Rich Hartel

Full faculty and staff list.

Student organizations

The Food Science Club organizes many programs, including mentoring first-year students, organizing company visits and tours, monthly socials, K-12 educational outreach, a food and health initiative, and a food systems initiative. Faculty advise the club and activities are coordinated with coursework.

Competitive teams

The Food Science Club coordinates many competitions. Each year, there are several different product development competitions, which are very popular with students. There is also a College Bowl, a food science trivia competition, and a dairy judging team that competes regionally and nationally.

Internships

Advisors encourage students to pursue internships with one of dozens of companies connected to the program. Most students complete at least one internship prior to graduation, but some complete as many as three. 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.

Students can also gain experience in a number of campus centers and programs focused on food including the Babcock Dairy Plant, Center for Dairy Research, Food Research Institute, or Bucky’s Varsity Meats.

Research experience

First-year students are encouraged to pursue research experiences working in faculty labs as a way to get involved. Undergraduates can participate for credit through an independent study or work for pay. Students working in faculty labs have been co-authors on scientific publications in food science and nutrition journals.

Global engagement

With advance planning, students can study abroad and complete the degree in four years. Opportunities include: France, the Netherlands and Australia. Read more about study abroad as a Food Science major.

Community engagement and volunteering

The Food Science Club organizes various volunteer activities. These have included dinners at the Ronald McDonald house, working with food pantries, and reducing food waste.

Scholarships

Students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences receive more than $1.25 million in scholarships annually. Learn more about college scholarships.

Food Science students are additionally eligible for $25,000 in annual scholarships. Well-qualified students receive awards ranging from $1,000-$3,000.

Resources

Babcock Dairy Plant. Want practical experience in a fully operational dairy plant? Consider signing up for part-time work in the Babcock Dairy Plant to gain experience in a wide range of practical jobs, from quality control to production.

Babcock Hall Food Application Lab. This lab has 11 culinary workstations, food service equipment, and other amenities needed to prepare food at both small and food service scale.

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.

Bucky’s Varsity Meats. Interested in meat science? The meat processing facilities within the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences apply many food science principles and provide a unique opportunity for students to get hands-on experience with all aspects of meat production.