A food science degree is a great option for students who are interested in coming up with new and innovative ways to improve our food supply. A food scientist uses his or her scientific knowledge to create or improve food products, whether that means improving the processing and packaging of foods or searching for ways to remove harmful additives. As such, food science students will learn about nutrition and food chemistry, and when they graduate they should have the analytical, organizational, and scientific skills to succeed professionally.
Classes and Assignments of a Food Science Major
Food science students may take food analysis, fundamentals of nutrition, food engineering, food processing, and microbiology of foods, in addition to chemistry, biology, and organic chemistry. Many of these classes are lecture-based, and students may be required to complete reading assignments from scientific textbooks. Some of the science classes have a laboratory component as well. A student’s grade is based on their performance on exams, laboratory assignments, research projects, essays, and class discussions.
Degree Levels for a Food Science Major
- Associate. Students who want to learn about the fundamentals of food science should consider enrolling in online associate food science degrees. In an associate program, students may enroll in the core science classes, such as chemistry and biology, as well as in food safety and sanitation, processing, quality assurance, and in nutrition. Some schools may require students to take some business classes, such as principles of management or macroeconomics.
- Bachelor’s. Online bachelors food science degrees are required to obtain an entry-level position in the industry. In a bachelor’s program, students may take food analysis, food chemistry, and quality assurance of food production, as well as several business classes. Some schools offer specializations within the food science program. Students can choose to specialize in science, which requires more biological and physical science credits, or business and operations management, which emphasizes training in the fundamentals of business.
- Master’s. Students who are interested in working in research should consider earning online masters food science degrees. A master’s degree allows a student to acquire more knowledge about food engineering, chemistry, processing, sanitation, and nutrition, while also learning about statistical methods. Certain schools also offer specializations in food safety and toxicology, food processing and quality enhancement, and more.
- Doctoral. A doctoral degree in food science is necessary for university-level teaching positions. In a doctoral program, students may receive further training in food chemistry, microbiology, analysis, and processing operations, as well as in dairy chemistry and physics, flavor chemistry, and food biotechnology. To graduate, a student may need to complete and defend an original research thesis.
A Future as a Food Science Major
Many food science graduates work for food and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, in education, and for the federal government. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of agricultural and food scientists is expected to increase 16% between 2008 and 2018 because of the need to produce quality food in greater quantities for a growing population. In May 2010, the median annual salary for a food scientist was $60,180, according to the BLS. However, keep in mind that the BLS data is no guarantee of actual salary, which is determined by the employer and the state of the economy.