Graduate Programs

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 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 food science program 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 an MS thesis. Depending on the student’s research interest, many electives can be chosen as described in the curriculum tab.

Learning Outcomes

• 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.

Admission Criteria

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. If these courses have not been taken and passed they can be taken after joining our program to obtain their MS in food science, along with the other requirements.

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.

Cal Poly Graduate Education/Admissions:

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.

Application Process

All applicants must submit

  • A statement of purpose including educational and career goals and research interests;
  • 3 letters of reference;
  • GRE scores (at least 50th percentile or higher)
  • Curriculum Vitae including work and/or research experiences, volunteer activities, extracurricular activities, professional activities, awards and other recognitions

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

*For USDA National Needs Fellowship applicants, make sure that your statement of purpose includes a description of your interests in the area of agricultural and food waste and why you are interested in an MS focusing on that topic.

Cal State Apply:

Cal Poly application deadlines:

Curriculum and Other Requirements

Course requirement for candidates of the MS food science program: Curriculum

Graduate Faculty

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 


USDA Funded Graduate Scholarship

Scholarship Description

Cal Poly’s Food Science and Nutrition Department has been awarded a nearly $250,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Needs and Postgraduate Fellowship Grants Program to focus on the conversion of agricultural and food waste challenges into opportunities.

The funding will be used over a four-year period starting fall 2017 to enroll six students in the master’s in food science. The students’ coursework will be focused on global issues related to agricultural and food waste. The cross-disciplinary program will involve 11 faculty members from across the university, including food science and nutrition, industrial packaging, animal science, and engineering. Food science Professor Stephanie Jung and Associate Professor Amanda Lathrop will oversee the program.

“This program will expose fellows to an array of academic, intellectual and global themes pertaining to food waste and the ways to overcome the challenges associated with it,” Jung said. “Students will address the economic, environmental and social burden of food waste.”

It is estimated that 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. is wasted each year. In 2015, the USDA launched the first-ever national food loss and waste goal, calling for a 50 percent reduction in food waste by 2030.

“To meet those goals both nationally and outside the U.S., there will be an increased demand by the industry and governmental institutions for food scientists to implement solutions,” Jung said. “As it is now, there are limited training opportunities for food science students in this area. This program will provide the research needed to guide the food industry on possible alternatives to handling food waste and provide trained students with the leadership and technical skills needed to solve those challenges.”

The Cal Poly program will include a mandatory internship with key industry partners and leadership development through undergraduate mentoring and teaching opportunities.

Students with a bachelor’s degree in sciences such as food science, chemistry, biochemistry and engineering are encouraged to apply. Evaluation of candidates will begin immediately. A stipend of $18,000 per year for two years, plus partial tuition, will be awarded to the selected candidates.

Collaboration with the food industry is key to the success of this program and we are looking for industry partners on the research component. In addition, Fellows will perform a Summer internship and we are looking for companies interesting in taking graduate-level interns.

For more information on admission requirements and application procedures, visit and click on the graduate/blended programs tab or contact Jung at



Food Science Graduate Coordinator: Stephanie Jung, PhD    

MS Nutrition

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.

Learning Outcomes


  • 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

Admission Criteria

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, 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 are 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 coursework, 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

General chemistry

CHEM 127 and 128

Organic chemistry

CHEM 212

General biochemistry

CHEM 313

Introductory biology

BIO 161

Introductory nutrition

FSN 210

Nutrient metabolism I, II

FSN 328 and 329

Be sure courses from other institutions are appropriate equivalents (use 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.

DPD information

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).

Application Process

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

Aydin Nazmi, MS nutrition coordinator:

Arlene Grant-Holcomb, DPD coordinator:

FSN Department office:

Cal Poly Graduate Education office:

MS nutrition program information:

FSN Department website:

FSN catalog of courses:

Cal Poly application deadlines:

CSU Apply application:

Career Opportunities

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.


Graduate Faculty

Food Science and Nutrition

Michael La Frano, PhD, RD Lipid Mediators, Metabolomics, Carotenoids, Vitamin A, Method Development

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 - Cardiometabolic Health, Sport Nutrition, Community Nutrition

Scott Reaves, PhD - Sports Nutrition, Molecular Nutrition


Marilyn Tseng -  Nutrition Epidemiology, Public Health Nutrition, Immigrant Health

Alison Ventura, PhDFamily Health, Nutrition

Biological Sciences

Christopher Kitts, PhD - Microbial Ecology

Animal Science

Mark Edwards, PhD - Comparative Animal Nutrition

Social Sciences

Dawn Neil - Human Behavioral Ecology, Nutritional Anthropology, Ecology of Obesity, Urban Anthropology


Nutrition Graduate Coordinator: Aydin Nazmi, PhD    



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, 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.

Program Requirements

Students must fulfill all of the requirements for the MS 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

Application Forms

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,

•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

Animal Science

Dr. David Everett - Dairy Science

Dr. Ike Kang - Meat Science

Dr. Vincent Yeung - Dairy Science

Wine and Viticulture

Dr. Frederico Casassa - Enology

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