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Food Science and Technology is the application of science and technology to the processing, preservation, packaging, distribution, and utilization of food and food products. The field continues its growth of the last several decades. Excellent career opportunities are available to persons holding graduate degrees.

The department's curriculum offers M.S. Life Sciences and Ph.D. degree programs in Food Science and Technology. The objective of these graduate programs is to develop within the student a basic scientific understanding of foods and food processing as determined through biochemistry, chemistry, microbiology, physics, and other sciences. Food scientists extend this knowledge to the development of new products, processes, equipment, and packages; to the selection of proper raw products and ingredients; and to the direction of plant operations so that foods high in nutritive value and quality are economically produced. Food Science and Technology is the key to the conversion of raw agricultural materials into a wide variety of properly processed and preserved foods, thus contributing to the well-being, economy, standard of living, and progress of humanity.

Modern scientific and technological progress demands a multidisciplinary approach and thorough training in the basic sciences. Therefore, both the graduate and undergraduate curricula are designed to provide a broad program in the basic sciences on which to build technical competence in Food Science and Technology. The food industry has increasingly shown preference for graduates who have been educated in this type of program. Most M.S. and Ph.D. students complete an original research project and present the results as part of a thesis or dissertation.  And, all degree programs must conform to the requirements of the Graduate School.

Information for Applicants to the Graduate Program:

The Department of Food Science and Technology suggests that you submit your application at least six months before the semester you wish to start. Our deadlines are May 1 (domestic) or April 1 (international) for fall semester admission, and October 1 (domestic and international) for spring semester admission. Applications, including recommendation letters and transcript copies, should be submitted online. Submission of application materials on paper or providing copies on paper will delay the review of your application. 

Our application requirements are the same as those required by the Graduate School, except we want you to take the GRE test, whereas the Graduate School dropped this as a universal requirement.  For the GRE, we expect you to earn at least 153 on the verbal portion and at least 150 on the quantitative part.  (These scores are equivalent to 500 (verbal) and 600 (quantitative) on the previous scoring scale.)  We evaluate an applicants' information as a package (grade point average (GPA), courses completed (from transcripts), GRE score, recommendation letters, personal statement, resume, and TOEFL or IELTS score for international applicants).  Additionally, please consider:

  • A 3.0 undergraduate GPA is required and certainly a higher grade point average is preferred. 
  • Many of our graduate students were not undergraduates in food science, and were likely to have another major such as biology, chemistry, animal science, or human nutrition.  We expect you to have background courses in biology, general microbiology, organic chemistry, physics, biochemistry, and statistics.  Applicants who do not have a degree in food science will be expected to enroll in food chemistry, food processing, and, in some cases, food microbiology courses as a graduate student.
  • Applicants need 3 recommendation letters, but only 2 are required for Virginia Tech undergraduates.
  • Applicants for the doctoral program should have a master’s degree, or will likely be expected to earn a master’s degree prior to their doctoral program.