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FST Graduate Students

The department's curriculum offers M.S. Life Sciences and Ph.D. degree programs in Food Science and Technology.  The objective of our graduate programs is to develop within the student a basic scientific understanding of foods and food processing as determined through biochemistry, chemistry, microbiology, physics, engineering and other sciences.

Higher education resource Successful Student ranks Virginia Tech's Food Science and Technology master's program eighth best in the country

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Graduate Research Program Areas

  • Examine the role of sub-lethal stresses encountered during food processing on the survival, persistence, and virulence of food-borne pathogens
  • Develop interventions to prevent food contamination by food-borne pathogens and improve recovery during pre-harvest, post-harvest, and food preparation
  • Examine the effect of functional foods on the microbial ecology of gastrointestinal and food systems 
  • Discover novel antimicrobial compounds, extracted from natural sources, to reduce pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms in foods
  • Understand basic molecular reactions, flavor chemistry, food composition, component interactions, and physical properties of food systems
  • Apply and characterize changes in food quality attributes, such as texture, color, flavor, and nutrition
  • Characterize nano-, micro- and macro-scale molecular changes that influence food structure
  • Characterize the influence of salivary composition on flavor perception
  • Evaluate consumer interactions with an emotional response to food and packaging
  • Integrate physiological, neurological, and sensory methods for developing new sensory approaches
  • Develop new methods to process food products safely through thermal and aseptic processing; dehydration, and modified atmosphere packaging
  • Use nondestructive evaluation methods to characterize food components
  • Observe how food packaging affects the characteristics of the food
  • Create new methods and unit processes for food processing and packaging
  • Develop and evaluate vineyard and orchard management, fermentation, and processing practices used in wine and hard cider production
  • Determine brewing quality of Virginia grown barley and hops
  • Use pre- and pro-biotics to improve health including gut metabolism reduction inflammation, inhibiting pathogens, and stimulation of gut microbial activity
  • Understand the influence of food and beverage fermentation processes on product quality and composition of bioactive compounds
  • Analytically assess bioactive components and how they work emphasizing chemistry and biochemistry
  • Characterize the influence of dietary compounds on cancer-induced taste disorders
  • Advance aquaculture technologies used for producing freshwater and marine seafood
  • Enhance the quality of aquaculture-produced seafood to feed the growing demand and expanding populations
  • Develop interventions and educational programs to empower food handlers to use safer practices
  • Receive industry certifications (HACCP, Better Process Control School, ServSafe)
  • Work alongside food companies to solve complex food safety and quality issues
  • Participate in Extension and outreach efforts addressing all food industries addressing aquaculture, enology, brewing, assisting new food entrepreneurs

Graduate Certificate Programs

The Graduate School offers graduate certificate programs that can expand your perspective

  • Graduate Teaching Scholars Program
  • Future Professoriate Graduate Certificate
  • Water INTERface (Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program)

Financial Aid

Graduate students have opportunities for financial support that include tuition, a stipend and contribution toward the university-sponsored health care plan.

Graduate Program Director

Joseph Eifert
(540) 231-3658

Graduate Program Coordinator

Terry Rakestraw
(540) 231-6806

Additional Info:

Current Student Resources
Graduate Program Brochure
Application Process
Our Students

Now accepting applications:

Fall semester applications due February 1
Spring semester applications due September 1