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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:Doctoral Minor

Faculty: Professors Damodaran, Etzel, Hartel, Ingham, Lucey, Parkin, Rankin (chair), Steele; Assistant Professors Bolling, Ikeda, van Pijkeren


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 food safety.  Master's and Ph.D. tracks in these areas combine 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 status and safety; sensory quality; 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; 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, confectionary products, fruits and vegetables, muscle foods, and fermented products.

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 PhD. degrees in the areas 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 on a competitive basis and renewed annually pending satisfactory progress, with most research assistantships offered entirely by individual faculty linked to specific research grants. The terms of these appointments are initially defined in the letter of offer to the student.


Students who are admitted to the program 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). To enter either program, students must have taken at least one course in biochemistry and one course in organic chemistry. Students with a master’s degree are eligible to apply for the Ph.D. Students without a master’s degree are not eligible to enter the Ph.D. program, and must first apply to the M.S. program.

A decision on eligibility for admission is made by individual faculty members based on the review of the applicant’s academic record, scores on TOEFL (for international students) and Graduate Record Exams (GRE), letters of reference, supplemental application and personal statement (reasons for graduate study) and available funding/space in research labs. Students interested in applying for the food science program should look closely at the website for specific information about the admissions process.

For more information: Department of Food Science, 105 Babcock Hall, 1605 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-3046; fax 608-262-6872; foodsci_grad_program@mailplus.wisc.eduhttp://foodsci.wisc.edu