- For students with undergraduate preparation in food science, nutrition, or other science-based curricula. A thesis is required. Research areas vary with faculty expertise and interest. Graduates are prepared for further study in doctoral programs or for responsible positions in nutrition and food industries.
MS Agriculture, Specialization in Food Science
According to a report published by the California League of Food Processors in January 2015, food and beverage processing is California’s third largest manufacturing sector, responsible for a total of 760,000 jobs. The MS in Agriculture, with a specialization in Food Science, integrates the disciplines of chemistry, microbiology, product development and processing/engineering, to prepare qualified graduates for food-related careers in industry, government, and academia.
The Food Science and Nutrition Department has a team of motivated, supportive and experienced food science faculty to prepare you to be successful in your professional career. Most of our faculty members have interest in applied research and the research performed in our department is often done in collaboration with the Food Industry.
Students need to take a minimum of 45 credits to graduate from the program and write a MS thesis. Depending on the student’s research interest, many electives can be chosen as described in the curriculum tab.
• Apply scientific critical thinking in the analysis, synthesis and evaluation of knowledge within the discipline of food science.
• Effectively communicate discipline-specific information in written and oral forms to scientific and non-scientific audiences.
• Demonstrate independent and creative thinking skills in the formulation, design, conduct, and interpretation of food science research
• Exhibit leadership and ethical reasoning.
• Integrate theoretical food science principles and practical applications to address real-world food industry issues.
Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree in food science or related field such as physical or biological science, chemistry of engineering.
For candidates with a non-food science background, the following courses or equivalent must be taken: FSN 330: Food Engineering, FSN 364: Food Chemistry.
Beyond these minimum requirements, the admission committee looks for evidence of intellectual potential by reviewing performance in university coursework, considering GRE/TOEFL scores, and carefully reading the candidate's statement of interest and letters of recommendation. The candidate's statement and recommendation letters should highlight the applicant's potential for performing independent, thoughtful research. That can be done, for example, by describing the candidate's previous research experience in an academic or industrial setting, or by describing the student's ability to think beyond class assignments in a coursework setting. The candidate's statement should include a description of the student's future research interests, as well as their motivation for pursuing graduate education.
Candidates should also mention to what extent they are relying on financial support from mentoring faculty to cover their stipend and tuition.
The University offers funding opportunities for MS students including Teaching Assistantship and Graduate Assistantship. Once accepted in the program, you must discuss these opportunities with your major professor.
Samir Amin, PhD - Product Development, Culinary
Luis Castro, PhD - Food Chemistry, Flavor Chemistry, Brewing Science
Gour Choudhury, PhD - Food Process Engineering
Stephanie Jung, PhD - Processing, Engineering, Chemistry, Sustainability
Robert Kravets, PhD - Food Processing, Quality Assurance
Amy Lammert, PhD - Sensory Science, Product Development, Food Polymer Science
Amanda Lathrop, PhD - Microbiology, Food Safety
Johan B. Ubbink, PhD - Food Functionality
Food Science Graduate Coordinator: Stephanie Jung, PhD
The MS Nutrition program is designed to prepare graduates for advancement, specialization, and leadership in nutrition or healthcare careers. In addition, graduates will be prepared for further education in dietetic internships, professional schools, allied health professions, or doctoral studies in a number of academic areas including public health, animal science, or the social sciences. The interdisciplinary Graduate Group in Nutrition (GGN) allows students to work with faculty from several departments and to choose a research topic from a broad range of themes including human nutrition, animal nutrition, kinesiology, public health, business, or social sciences.
Students select a suggested area of emphasis (Molecular Nutrition; Public Health Nutrition; or Health and Wellness) compatible with their interests and career goals. Students will complete coursework and a research-based thesis conducted under the supervision of a committee chair.
- Master the fundamental principles of nutrition science
- Demonstrate a high level of technical competency and depth of expertise in the specific area of thesis research
- Understand and apply the scientific method to nutrition research through the design and conduct of a thesis research project
- Apply critical thinking skills to the analysis of published research literature and the design/interpretation of a thesis research project
- Show independent and creative thinking skills in the planning, design, and conduct of nutrition research
- Demonstrate strong written and oral communication skills
- Work productively, respectfully, and professionally as part of a research team and in other group settings
- Exhibit leadership, ethical conduct, and community values
Hello and thanks for your interest in the MS Nutrition at Cal Poly.
We have a thesis-based program that gives students strong research experience under the direct leadership of their faculty supervisor. Our unique Nutrition Graduate Group (NGG) model enables MS Nutrition students to have faculty supervisors from- in addition to Food Science and Nutrition- Agribusiness, Animal Science, Biology, Dairy Science, Kinesiology, Psychology and Child Development, Social Sciences, and Statistics.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact individual faculty members to discuss research interests and availability for supervision of MS students. This is an important part of the admission process as it is the practice of the NGG to admit a student only when a faculty member (from any of the above departments) has agreed to serve as the student’s major professor. Students will work closely with their faculty advisor to determine which elective courses beyond the core curriculum is most appropriate. Areas of emphasis may include molecular nutrition, public health nutrition, health and wellness, or others.
Most applicants with undergraduate degrees in Nutrition are eligible to apply for the MS program. Applicants with other undergraduate degrees are also eligible to apply, with pre-requisite course work, see below table for details. Students with undergraduate degrees other than nutrition must discuss their situation with potential thesis supervisors and the NGG to coordinate curriculum requirements and to develop an appropriate Study Plan.
Cal Poly equivalent
CHEM 127 and 128
Nutrient metabolism I, II
FSN 328 and 329
Be sure courses from other institutions are appropriate equivalents (use www.assist.org if using transfer courses from another CA public institution).
Applications are accepted until April 1, but candidates are strongly encouraged to submit by mid-January. As a relatively small, non-cohort program, it is important that candidates connect with NGG faculty, discuss potential areas of research, include these considerations in their statement of interest, and submit applications early.
If you have a nutrition undergraduate degree, but have not completed the DPD (Didactic Program in Dietetics) track and are interested in doing so at Cal Poly, this is usually possible with the addition of a few classes to the MS curriculum.
Our MS program does not currently offer a formal dual MS-DPD track for graduate students without a nutrition undergraduate degree. However, enrolled students may take DPD courses alongside their MS courses, but this should be carefully planned in conjunction with the student’s supervisor upon matriculation. Some of the 400 level DPD courses may be able to count as electives in the MS Nutrition, the number of DPD courses left to complete depends on what the applicant has already taken. If the applicant has completed all of the sciences, survey of economics, general psychology, pre-calculus algebra and a basic nutrition course, that leaves about 16 classes, most are 4 quarter units each, to take in addition to the MS curriculum. The handbook attached includes a DPD course list for your information. The DPD requirements total approximately 115 quarter units at Cal Poly however many of the lower division science and other courses can be found at other universities and community colleges.
Students admitted to the MS Nutrition interested in completing the Didactic Program in Dietetics must submit official transcripts to the DPD Director for evaluation of courses that meet the DPD requirements after which the student, their Advisor and the DPD Director will work together to integrate DPD requirements with MS requirements.
Important financial information
The MS is composed of 45 units. State/federal student aid/loan programs will only cover up to 125% of the required number of units to graduate.
As such, it is vital that students needing to take more than 56 units while at Cal Poly be prepared for the financial implications of their route of study.
Information regarding individual FSN courses is available in the Cal Poly Course Catalog (link below).
All applicants must submit:
- A statement of purpose;
- 3 letters of reference;
- GRE scores (at least 50th percentile or higher)
For applicants with degrees from outside the US, all of the above applies, plus:
- Your international credentials must be evaluated by one of these agencies: AACRAO, ACEI, WES or IERF
- Proficiency in English must be demonstrated by taking TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) within the last 2 years with an internet score of 80 or greater or ELTS (International English Language Testing System) must be taken within 2 years with a score of 6.0 or greater
- TOFEL or ELTS is required to issue an I20 visa
Relevant web links and emails
Aydin Nazmi, MS Nutrition coordinator: email@example.com
Arlene Grant-Holcomb, DPD coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
FSN Departmental office: email@example.com
Cal Poly Graduate Education office: firstname.lastname@example.org
MS Nutrition program information: http://catalog.calpoly.edu/collegesandprograms/collegeofagriculturefoodenvironmentalsciences/foodsciencenutrition/msnutrition/
FSN Department website: https://fsn.calpoly.edu/
FSN catalog of courses: http://www.catalog.calpoly.edu/coursesaz/fsn/
Cal Poly application deadlines: http://admissions.calpoly.edu/applicants/graduate/deadlines.html
Graduate Education application (CSU Mentor application): http://catalog.calpoly.edu/graduateeducation/#applicationforadmission
Interfolio application: https://apply.interfolio.com/38223 (need to submit this, plus CSU Mentor application for consideration into program)
The anticipated career paths of MS Nutrition graduates include jobs in public health, community nutrition, clinical nutrition, food industry, food service and management, and postsecondary education. The MS also prepares students for clinical science fields as well as PhD programs in a broad range of areas.
Food Science and Nutrition
Aydin Nazmi, PhD - Public Health Nutrition, Social Epidemiology, Chronic Disease Etiology and Epidemiology
Peggy Papathakis, PhD, RD - Clinical, Maternal and Child, Global Nutrition
Kari Pilolla, PhD, RD - Clinical, Exercise Physiology
Scott Reaves, PhD - Sports Nutrition, Molecular Nutrition
Marilyn Tseng - Nutrition Epidemiology, Public Health Nutrition, Immigrant Health
Christopher Kitts, PhD - Microbial Ecology
Mark Edwards, PhD - Comparative Animal Nutrition
Dawn Neil - Human Behavioral Ecology, Nutritional Anthropology, Ecology of Obesity, Urban Anthropology
Nutrition Graduate Coordinator: Aydin Nazmi, PhD
Links to Graduate School Information
Food Science Blended BMS Program
The FSN Department is offering a Blended BMS Program in Food Science - for current Cal Poly students only.
The program is open to food science undergraduate students pursuing the BS degree in Food Science (Advanced Food Science and Applied Food Technology concentrations only), with a minimum CPSLO GPA of 3.0 at the time of application to the blended program.
Applications must be approved before the student has completed 170 units toward their undergraduate curriculum requirement. If students reach 170 units for the undergraduate requirement, they are not eligible for the BMS program.
Students must have taken FSN 330 and FSN 364 prior to the quarter they apply to the blended program.
Blended Program Application Process
Students seeking to apply to the blended BS and MS degree program (BMS) in Food Science must complete the following steps:
• Determine if you meet the criteria for admission in the blended program, see FSN Food Science BMS Program Application.
• Submit the FSN Food Science BMS Program Application and required documents in one email to the Blended Program Coordinator, Dr. Stephanie Jung, at FSblendedBMS@calpoly.edu, by the deadlines listed in that form.
• Once you received notification of acceptance in the program, and the name of your mentor faculty, you will have two weeks to submit the Admission to Blended Programs Approval Form to the Blended Program Coordinator, Dr. Stephanie Jung.
Students admitted to the BMS program must complete their thesis within two (2) years of completing their coursework. Students who do not meet this deadline will be removed from the program.
Students must fulfill all of the requirements for the MS Agriculture, with Specialization in Food Science degree (see Curriculum), along with all the requirements of the BS in Food Science in order to be granted a BS in Food Science and a MS in Agriculture, with Specialization in Food Science, at the end of their studies.
Additional information about admission and FAQ's: Academic Programs and Planning
Blended Program FAQ's: Blended Programs BMS
A Cal Poly prospective Food Science student that meets the eligibility requirements should submit the following forms (printed format and pdf by email) to the Food Science Blended Coordinator, Dr. Stephanie Jung, FSblendedBMS@calpoly.edu:
•Food Science BMS application: FSN Food Science BMS Program Application
•Recommendation Form: Recommendation Form for FS BMS Admission
After acceptance to the BMS program, submit the following forms:
•CalPoly BMS application: Admission to Blended Programs Approval Form
•Post-Baccalaureate Change of Objective Form (PBCO): PB Change of Objective
CSU Mentor $55 application fee is waived and no GRE exam is required for the BMS program
Culminating Experience/Faculty Advisors
The culminating experience of a Cal Poly blended student will be a thesis (9) units. The program will allow students to complete a capstone experience that integrates the senior project with the graduate thesis. The blended students will need to submit a senior project, in addition to their thesis.
Faculty advisors for the BMS in Food Science include all food science faculty from the Food Science and Nutrition Department plus faculty from the Animal Science and Wine and Viticulture departments. Faculty, mentoring BMS students, will change every quarter, of which the students will be notified.
Food Science and Nutrition
Dr. Samir Amin - Product Development, Culinary
Dr. Luis Castro - Chemistry
Dr. Gour Choudhury - Engineering
Dr. Stephanie Jung - Processing, Engineering, Chemistry, Sustainability
Dr. Robert Kravets - Processing
Dr. Amy Lammert - Sensory, Product Development
Dr. Amanda Lathrop - Microbiology, Food Safety
Dr. Job Ubbink - Food Functionality
Dr. David Everett - Dairy Science
Dr. Ike Kang - Meat Science
Dr. Vincent Yeung - Dairy Science
Wine and Viticulture
Dr. Frederico Casassa - Enology