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, networking with industry professionals, and access to the modern Food Application Lab and a commercial dairy processing plant that manufactures the 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 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 essential to 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; many complete more than one before 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, microbiology, chemistry, and 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 active and provides students with leadership opportunities and connections to alums and industry professionals. Additionally, more than 40 companies recruit students annually, providing 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 alums 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. Students can explore studying abroad as a Food Science major by utilizing the Food Science Major Advising Page. Students work with their advisor and the CALS study abroad office to identify appropriate programs.
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 in the Contact Box for the major.
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 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.|
|Complete one of the following:||5|
|Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II 1|
|Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1|
|Complete one of the following:||3|
|Introduction to Statistical Methods|
|Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences|
|Complete one of the following:||5-9|
| General Chemistry I|
and General Chemistry II
|Advanced General Chemistry|
|CHEM 343||Organic Chemistry I||3|
|CHEM 344||Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory||2|
|CHEM 345||Organic Chemistry II||3|
|Complete one of the following:||4-5|
|BIOLOGY/BOTANY/ZOOLOGY 151||Introductory Biology||5|
|Complete one of the following:||3-5|
Any course numbered 400 or above with Biological Science designation
|Fundamental Biological Sciences|
|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|
|Economics and Applied Economics|
|Complete 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|
|Complete 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
|Any course numbered 400 or above with Physical Science designation||3|
|FOOD SCI 602||Senior Project||2|
|FOOD SCI 603||Senior Seminar||1|
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).
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
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 Program page 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||CHEM 1041||5|
|MATH 221||5||BIOLOGY/BOTANY/ZOOLOGY 151||5|
|Communications A requirement (COMM-A)2||3||FOOD SCI 201 (recommended)||1|
|CALS First-Year Seminar||1||Ethnic Studies||3|
|CHEM 343||3||CHEM 344|
& CHEM 345
|FOOD SCI 301||3||STAT 371 or 301||3|
& MICROBIO 102
|5||PHYSICS 103, 201, or 207||4|
|CALS International Studies||3||General Education Course||3|
|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 Course3||3||General Education Course||3|
|Integrated Food Product Elective4||1-3|
|FOOD SCI 532||4||FOOD SCI 514||4|
|FOOD SCI 602||2||FOOD SCI 6032||1|
|General Education Course||3||Science Elective 5||3-5|
|Integrated Food Product Elective4||1-3||General Education Course||3|
|Science Elective5||3-5||Integrated Food Product Elective4||1-3|
|Total Credits 113-123|
Students may choose to complete a General Education Course requirement this semester. Note: Enrolling in 17 credits this semester is not recommended.
Students are required to take at least one Integrated Food Product Elective course; students may choose to meet the Integrated Food Product Elective requirement during this semester.
Both Biological and Physical Science elective classes are required
Biological: 3 credits of any B designated course numbered 400 or above; or BIOLOGY/BOTANY/ZOOLOGY 152 Introductory Biology (5 credits)
Physical: 3 credits of any P designated course numbered 400 or above.
Note: Students must complete a minimum of 120 credits. This may require taking 16 credits per semester for at least four semesters.
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 before semester enrollment. Additional information can be found on the department's website.
Prospective food science majors should contact the Department of Food Science at email@example.com or 608-265-2729 for more information.
More than 40 organizations recruit students each year, and nearly all Food Science majors receive a job offer before 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.
Bradley Bolling, Audrey Girard, Richard Hartel, Tu-Anh Huynh, Barbara Ingham, John Lucey, Gulustan Ozturk, Scott Rankin (chair), Victor Ujor, Jan Peter van Pijkeren
Beth Button, Arnoldo Lopez-Hernandez, Yaa Klu, Nick Smith
Professor Brad Bolling, Professor Rich Hartel
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.
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.
Advisors encourage students to pursue internships with one of the dozens of companies connected to the program. Most students complete at least one internship before graduation, but some complete as many as three. Students spend their summers at companies that include General Mills, Pepsico, Kraft-Heinz, Organic Valley, Danone, Agropur, Schreiber Cheese, Lindt Chocolate, and many more. These internships are generally paid, and many have lodging subsidies.
Students can also gain experience in several campus centers and programs focused on food, including the Babcock Dairy Plant, Center for Dairy Research, Food Research Institute, or Bucky’s Varsity Meats.
First-year students are encouraged to pursue research experiences in faculty labs to get involved. Undergraduates can participate for credit through independent study or work for pay. Students working in faculty labs have been co-authors of scientific publications in food science and nutrition journals.
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.
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.
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 scales.
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 in 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 various 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.