Have you ever wondered what’s really in the food you eat everyday, how it’s made and where it came from? As the “study of the physical, biological and chemical makeup of food” (as defined by the Institute of Food Technologies), food science helps humans understand the properties of food, and with the help of food technology, apply the knowledge in the processing, production, preservation, sanitation and distribution of food.
With the current issues on food availability and distribution, food safety and quality, sustainability, and health and nutrition, the understanding of food is now playing an even bigger role in society.
Highlighted courses and degrees in food science
Generally, undergraduate degree programs for Food Science may include courses in science and technology, biology, chemistry and mathematics. Classes on health and nutrition may also be part of the curriculum, along with food engineering and microbiology.
Aside from lectures in the classroom, students may be required to take seminars and laboratory classes. As such, assessment may be in the form of written exams, laboratory work and even internships or industrial placements.
In the latter years of the program, a major project or research may be required and usually involves the specialization of specific food science aspect that the student has chosen to pursue through research and/or experiments.
Most universities provide specialization options for their students, either through optional electives or as a mandatory part of the degree program. Availability of specializations would also depend on the offerings of each university.
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates.
Graduates of food science degree programs can end up in different professional positions, but for those who want to be considered food science professionals, global certification for the Certified Food Scientist credential is issued by the International Food Science Certification Commission through fulfillment of its eligibility requirements and passing an examination.
A degree in food science can take anywhere from three to four years. The exact period of time would depend on the university of your choice and the country wherein it is located.
There are also various degrees available for food science graduates at the master’s and doctorate level, involving intensive research, coursework and experience for candidates looking to deepen their knowledge of food science. These can be degrees involving chemistry, nutrition, operations and other related studies of food science.
Entrance into a food science degree program varies from institution to institution. Some universities require you to take an entrance exam, while some will take into consideration national or standard exams. A number of universities also take into consideration advanced placement exams, while some consider transfer credits for post-secondary students or applicants.
Since Food Science Courses involve the different sciences such as chemistry, biology and physics, a good background in these subjects may be required. For example, the University of Nottingham requires at least two science-based subjects at A level such as those mentioned and additionally, economics, food technology and psychology as entrance requirements into its Food Science BSc program.
For a complete list of requirements, you are advised to check out or contact the institution you are interested in applying to.
If you do not meet the entry requirements you may want to consider a pathway course.
Graduates of food science degree programs can find careers in the public, corporate or government sectors in positions possibly related to the food industry, research and manufacturing. They may be involved in the production and processing of food, quality assurance and safety, sale and marketing, product development, food science research and even regulation of food standards and laws.
Some roles that food science graduates are in include food scientist, biochemist, food safety inspector, product developer, public health official, food technologist and quality manager. For these roles and many others, food science graduates can also apply certain transferable skills gained throughout the program, such as data gathering and analysis, attention to detail and preparation and presentation of reports and results.
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