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Food Science

Administrative Unit:Food Science
College/School: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Admitting Plans:M.S., Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.S., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Ph.D. Minor

Faculty: Professors Bishop, Damodaran, Etzel, Gunasekaran, Hartel, B. Ingham, S. Ingham, Lucey, Parkin, Rankin (chair), Steele, Wong; Assistant Professor Milani


The Department of Food Science ranks among the best of its kind in the United States. In 2007 The Chronicle for Higher Education ranked this Department as top among Food Science Departments in the U.S. in terms of productivity. Strong faculty research groups exist in food chemistry, food engineering, food microbiology, and food safety. Master's and Ph.D. options in these areas combine a generous array of in-depth courses with the use of advanced research methods for studying food properties (e.g., sensory quality, nutritive value, chemical/physical/physiological characteristics, microbial status, safety) and 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; processing of dairy products; microbiology of dairy products (including recombinant DNA approaches) and probiotics; food safety (detection, control, and mechanistic action of pathogenic microorganisms; undesirable chemicals in food); and process optimization (cost, quality, energy).

The department occupies Babcock Hall, a modern 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 is respected worldwide.

About 40-50 students from many countries are currently pursuing M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the options mentioned above. This includes some of the graduate students working in what was formerly the Department of Food Microbiology and Toxicology.

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.

Financial Aid 

Financial assistance is available to qualified individuals in the form of research assistantships, teaching assistantships, or fellowships. These are awarded annually on a competitive basis, with most research assistantships offered by individual faculty linked to specific research grants. The terms of these appointments are initially defined in the letter of offer to the student. Normally, master's students are offered financial support for two years and Ph.D. students are offered financial support for four to five years (at the discretion of the research advisor).


Students with 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) will usually have suitable backgrounds for graduate studies in this department. A decision on eligibility for admission will be based on previous academic record, scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), letters of reference, and the applicant's personal statement.

For more information: Department of Food Science, 103 Babcock Hall, 1605 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-3046; fax 608-262-6872; foodsci@wisc.edu; foodsci.wisc.edu.