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Help solve the world's toughest food-related problems, from epidemiology to cellular agriculture.

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Food Science Education

The graduate program in the Department of Food Science and Technology offers both master's and doctoral degrees that interweave the core principles of food science to prepare students to address modern challenges in food biochemistry, engineering, epidemiology, safety, and business. Our faculty conduct cutting-edge research across the spectrum of food science fields, including a number of new and emerging disciplines. Rigorous coursework and lab experiences equip students with the skills to help solve the world's toughest food problems.


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M.S. in Life Science

Our M.S. in Life Science program offers a focused exploration of biological sciences, preparing graduates for careers in research and the biotech industry through flexible coursework and hands-on research.

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Online Master's Program in Food Safety and Biosecurity

This online program equips professionals with advanced knowledge in food safety and biosecurity, blending online flexibility with academic rigor to address food protection challenges.

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Ph.D. in Food Science & Technology

Our Ph.D. program fosters innovation in food science, emphasizing research in food chemistry, microbiology, and processing to prepare graduates for leadership in academia and industry.

Explore More

Learn about admission requirements, find resources and information, check out research and study abroad opportunities, and see a list of current graduate students.

Faculty Members Currently Recruiting Graduate Students

Prospective students are encouraged to contact individual professors with matching research interests.


  • To apply to Virginia Tech for graduate school, please see the Graduate School Admissions page and the Cranwell International Center page if applicable. Our policy is to evaluate graduate applicants who complete the online application process. 
  • Typically, our department can only accept about 15% of the students who apply to our graduate programs. These decisions are based on looking at previous academic courses and grades, work or lab experience, TOEFL or IELTS test scores if needed, recommendation letters and your personal goals statement. The GRE is not required.
  • Also, we may offer admission to highly qualified students only if we believe we have funds to support an assistantship, funds for research and travel, and if there is a faculty member who is available to be a research advisor. 
  • The application deadline is February 1 for fall semester admission and September 1 for spring semester admission. You are encouraged to apply at least two weeks before those deadlines.
  • If you miss the deadline, then you should submit your application to the next semester (fall or spring).  We may still be able to consider some applications we receive after our deadlines, for the semester you wanted to apply for.

The Department of Food Science and Technology does not provide application fee waivers based on financial need.  Application fee ($75) waivers can only be provided for the criteria listed by the Graduate School at  If you are offered an application fee waiver, then you must have an application in-progress.

  • You do not need to send us your official transcript until you are offered admittance.  With your application, you should upload a copy of your transcripts from all the universities you attended.  You should also provide an English translation of your transcripts.
  • If you are offered admission and accepted, then request your official transcript from your previous universities registrar’s office to be sent to the Graduate School. The transcript must show a conferral/award date to be “official”. You can have your school send the transcript electronically or by postal mail to the Graduate School.  Our Institution Code is 005859 (for Virginia Tech or Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University).
  • Virginia Tech will only except TOEFL or IELTS test scores for an English proficiency examination.  You should submit IELTS or TOEFL scores with your application.  You can send TOEFL scores to the Graduate School ( electronically through The Educational Testing Service (ETS) from your previous university’s registrar’s office, or by postal mail, or in-person. The Institution Code is 005859 (Virginia Tech or Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University).
  • Duolingo or other tests are not accepted. 
  • For the IELTS, the minimum score needed is 6.5. 
  • For the TOEFL, the required scores are a total of 90 or more, with at least 20 in each of the 4 subscores.  A speaking subtest subscore of 25 or higher is needed if you will be receiving an assistantship.  The Department will need to justify your English-speaking abilities if your Speaking test subscore is in the range of 20 to 24.
  • The TOEFL or IELTS exams are not required if you earned a degree from an institution where English is the primary language of instruction.  English proficiency can also be demonstrated through a conferred bachelor’s degree from an accredited university where English is the medium of instruction. If this applies, we will code a waiver of the English proficiency requirement into your application once we receive and review your transcript showing degree conferral and medium of instruction as English.  After you upload to your application, send an email to to request a waiver.

For fall semester admission, we make most application decisions in the month of March.  In March and April, we typically have better information about assistantship and research funding and we should know how many current students will graduate in the spring or summer. 

For Spring semester admission, we make most application decisions in September.

Our graduate degree programs include a thesis research masters degree and dissertation research doctoral degree.  Our graduate students are based near the main Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg Virginia.

Students earning a Master of Science degree from the Food Science and Technology Department have their degree identified as a Master in Life Sciences in Food Science and Technology. We consider the MSLFS degree to be equivalent to a MS degree.

Yes, but we prefer that applicants for the doctoral program have earned a master’s degree. 

Alternatively, some students can be admitted as a Masters student and after three semesters they could transition to a doctoral degree program if they follow meet specific Department requirements.

We do not offer a distance or virtual doctoral program.  If a student is accepted into our doctoral program (research dissertation) in food science, we would expect them to be in the Blacksburg area for all or a significant portion of the time.  If a student has a masters degree, our doctoral program is typically a 3- or 3.5-year full-time program.  In addition to usually conducting research in Blacksburg, a student with a Masters degree would typically still need to take an additional 15-18 credit hours of courses.  Some of these courses are only offered in-person, and some may be offered online.  Additionally, our Graduate School has a residency requirement for doctoral students.  The easiest way to meet the residency requirement is by having two consecutive semesters of full-time enrollment on-campus.  Some other options are possible if you provide strategies for each of the following goals: 1) Disciplinary depth and breadth, 2) Scholarly immersion, 3) Professional socialization and 4) Professional practice.

  • The Department of Food Science and Technology does not offer an online graduate program in Food Science.
  • Virginia Tech has an online masters degree program in Agriculture and Life Sciences. This degree program has 8 different concentrations, and one of them is in food safety and biosecurity.  The degree includes 24 credit hours of coursework (including four food safety courses) and a 6-credit "Project and Report" instead of a research thesis.  For more information, see:
  • Students with a GPA less than 3.0 can be accepted to our masters degree program.  We evaluate your application as a package and consider not only your grade point average (GPA), but courses completed (from transcripts), 3 letters of recommendation, personal goals statement, resume, and TOEFL or IELTS score (international applicants).  
  • All graduate students need to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher during their graduate program to stay enrolled.
  • To receive an assistantship, your undergraduate GPA needs to be at least 2.75.

Many of our graduate students did not earn an undergraduate degree in food science or food engineering 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.  Admitted students who do not have a degree in food science are required to take three of our senior level undergraduate courses:

  1. Food Chemistry (without lab)
  2. Food Microbiology (without lab)
  3. Food Processing (without lab) or Food Safety & Quality Assurance or Food Analysis (without lab)

The Virginia Tech Graduate School can accept some 3-year bachelor's degrees from graduate applicants.  To determine if your degree is acceptable for application to a graduate program, the Virginia Tech Graduate School tells us that:

  • The student would need to have their 3-year bachelor’s degree evaluated through World Education Services (WES) to see if it is equivalent to a conferred bachelor’s degree of at least (120 credits).  Virginia Tech requests TRANSLATED TRANSCRIPTS and foreign grades conversion to our grade point average (GPA) system through the WES calculator for FOREIGN GPA conversion
  •  The Graduate School uses the WES grade conversion scale in most cases (unless the transcript guide specifically tells us to use a different scale).  
  • We also look only at the last 60 credit hours, rather than the entire academic history.  

Most of our research efforts are in the general areas listed below.  Most of our faculty have research, teaching or Extension activity in at least two of these areas. You can see further research descriptions here.

  • Aquaculture & Seafood
  • Education & Extension
  • Enology & Brewing Science
  • Food & Flavor Chemistry
  • Food Processing & Engineering
  • Food Safety & Microbiology
  • Food & Beverage Fermentation
  • Functional Foods for Health
  • Phytochemistry
  • Sensory Science

A Food Science and Technology Graduate Faculty member must agree to serve as a student’s advisor before they can be admitted to our graduate program. Qualified applicants are accepted as supervisory faculty and research or teaching assistantships become available.  Applicants should contact specific faculty members whose research interests most closely align with their own.  Additionally, on your application there is a place to choose one to three faculty members, from a list, who you prefer to be your advisor.  And, in your personal goals statement, you can also mention one to three faculty members that you wish to work with.

The Department of Food Science and Technology has approximately 14 research faculty and we can admit 10 - 15 new graduate students each year. Many of our faculty are not actively recruiting graduate student advisees or may be hesitant to declare that they will be able to work with new students in some semesters.  Many of our faculty are committed to having current students finish their degrees before committing to new students, or they may be waiting to learn if they will receive new grant funds or new assistantships. On this Department website we will announce any specific research assistantship opportunities where faculty are recruiting new graduate students.

A student working on our MSLFS degree needs a minimum of 30 credit hours, which includes a maximum of 10 credit hours of FST 5994 (Research & Thesis) and a minimum of 20 credit hours of graded courses.  Students will usually have more than 10 credit hours of Research and Thesis at the end of their degree program since students receiving an assistantship must be enrolled in at least 12 total credit hours each semester. 

The following requirements account for 17 of the 20 minimum graded course credits you need:

  • GRAD 5004 (1 credit): Graduate Teaching Workshop
  • ALS 5024 (1 credit): Building Multicultural Competence in Agriculture and Life Sciences (spring of your first year)
  • FST 5054 (1 credit): Graduate Professionalism in Food Science (fall of your first year)
  • FST 5004 (1 credit, twice):  FST Graduate Seminar (offered each Spring)
  • A minimum of 12 course credits that are 5000 level courses.  These must include:
    • BCHM 5124 (3 credits): Biochemistry for the Life Sciences (fall only)
    • STAT 5605 (3 credits): Biometry or STAT 5615 (3 credits): Statistics in Research (fall only)
    • two FST 5000 level courses (3 credits each)

A student working on our PhD degree needs a minimum of 90 credit hours which includes a maximum of 60 hours of FST 7994 (Research and Dissertation) and a minimum of 30 graded course hours.  In many cases, PhD students transfer about 12 graduate course credits from their Masters degree.  For the 30 graded course hours, at least 27 must be 5000 level or higher courses. 

Other course degree requirements include:

  • GRAD 5004 (1 credit): Graduate Teaching Workshop (first year)
  • ALS 5024 (1 credit): Building Multicultural Competence in Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • (spring of your first year)
  • FST 5054 (1 credit): Graduate Professionalism in Food Science (fall of your first year)
  • FST 5004 (1 credit, three times):  Graduate Seminar (offered each Spring)
  • BCHM 5124 (3 credits): Biochemistry for the Life Sciences (fall only)
  • STAT 5605 (3 credits): Biometry or STAT 5615 (3 credits): Statistics in Research (fall only)
  • STAT 5### (3 credits): a second graduate level statistics course
  • three FST 5000 level courses (can include food science graduate courses transferred from a masters degree program). 

Student are required to take three of our senior level undergraduate courses, if they did not have equivalent courses from a previous degree program:

  1. Food Chemistry (3 credits, without lab)
  2. Food Microbiology (3 credits, without lab)
  3. Food Processing (no lab) or Food Safety & Quality Assurance or Food Analysis (no lab)

FALL 2023 (odd # years)

  • FST 5624 – Applied Food Microbiology and Sanitation (online)
  • FST 5634 – Epidemiology of Food & Waterborne Diseases (online, annually)
  • FST 5094 – Grant Writing and Ethics (more relevant to a PhD student, annually)

SPRING 2024 (even # years)

  • FST-5014 - Sensory Evaluation of Foods
  • FST 5034 - Good Agricultural Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices (online)
  • FST 5514?- Food Analysis (graduate, no lab, annually)
  • FST 5604 – Advances in Food Microbiology (no lab, annually)

FALL 2024 (even # years)

  • FST 5044 – Global Food Laws and Regulations (online)
  • FST 5094 – Grant Writing and Ethics (more relevant to a PhD student, annually)
  • FST 5634 – Epidemiology of Food & Waterborne Diseases (online, annually)
  • FST 5734 - Data Analytics for Food Science & Agriculture (may be moved to Spring)
  • FST 5984 – Food Toxicology

SPRING 2025 (odd # years)

  • FST 5514?- Food Analysis (graduate, 3 cr., no lab, annually)
  • FST-5664 - Flavor Chemistry
  • FST 5604 – Advances in Food Microbiology (no lab, annually)
  • FST 5614 – Food Safety and Security (online)
  • Nearly all students who are admitted to a Food Science graduate program will receive a research or teaching assistantship, therefore a separate assistantship application is not needed. 
  • An assistantship will pay for tuition and some academic fees, a stipend of approximately $2,400 per month (for 9 months), and a waiver of 88% of the cost of university-sponsored health insurance.  The total value of an assistantship is more than $40,000 per academic year.
  • Most graduate students in our Department will receive a stipend during the summer months (mid-May to mid-August).
  • The cost of living in Blacksburg and surrounding areas is close to the national average for the USA.
  • About one-third of our students receive a teaching assistantship and two-thirds receive a research assistantship.  Students do not choose which type of assistantship they receive.  The pay level is similar.  The assistantship for some students can change from teaching to research or research to teaching after one year.
  • An assistantship requires that students work approximately 20 hours per week in areas that may be separate from their thesis or dissertation research. 

Some students take out educational loans during their graduate program.  Also, the Virginia Tech Graduate School has a limited number of scholarships or financial aid opportunities which are described at:

Change the Future of Food

Apply to Virginia Tech to begin your degree in food science and your journey toward an impact on our world.

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