May 30, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Food Science

216 Call Hall
Fax:  785-532-5861

The Food Science interdepartmental graduate program is part of the Food Science Institute and includes graduate faculty housed in five colleges and eleven departments.


Institute Director:

Jeanette Thurston

Director of graduate studies:

J. Scott Smith


About the Program

The food science graduate program involves the interrelationships of about 46 professionals from 11 departments. Faculty from five colleges (agriculture, arts and sciences, engineering, human ecology, and veterinary medicine) have participated in the interdisciplinary food science masters and doctoral programs since 1965. Graduate faculty are located in the Departments of Agricultural Economics, Animal Sciences and Industry, Biochemistry; Biological and Agricultural Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Communications and Agricultural Education, Entomology, Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology; Geography, Grain Science and Industry; Hospitality Management; and Food, Nutrition, Dietetics, and Health.

Graduate students conduct their research in one of the participating departments. The food science faculty are involved in research on the chemical, microbiological, sensory, and nutritional aspects, functional characteristics, and processing of foods. Faculty with expertise in chemical analysis, instrumental analysis, sensory analysis, systems analysis, biochemistry, dietetics, statistics, microbiology, thermodynamics, rheology, biochemical engineering, and food engineering participate in the food science program.

Research facilities related to animal products include complete dairy and red-meat processing facilities, well-equipped research laboratories for red meat, poultry and dairy research, food chemistry, and food microbiology research laboratories. Research facilities for cereals include a complete pilot plant for milling grain into flour, complete baking research facilities, laboratory for extrusion research, well-equipped laboratories for cereal chemistry, a specialized cereal science library, and other supporting facilities. The flavor and sensory evaluation laboratories and instrumentation for physical, histological, and biochemical analysis of food products are also available. Laboratory facilities for food engineering research include ultrafiltration cells, instrumental fermenters, gas and liquid chromatography, an elemental analyzer, and an environmental chamber with temperature and humidity control. Facilities and instrumentation for food safety studies are available.

Graduate study in food science provides training for a number of varied academic and technical careers. Food processing is a leading industry in the United States so the need for food scientists is growing.



The application should be submitted by December 15 for Fall admission and June 15 for Spring admission for international students and February 1st for Fall admission and September 15th for Spring admission for domestic students. For those applying to the online program application should be submitted by April 15 for Fall admission and September 15 for Spring admission, and preferably earlier to ensure availability of a major professor. Admission is highly competitive and not all applicants are admitted. All prospective students must submit the following online: application form, application fee, statement of objectives, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and GRE scores. Seniors and master’s students may submit a current transcript and, if admitted, will receive provisional acceptance pending submission of an official transcript showing completion of a bachelor’s degree, or M. S. degree for doctoral applicants. It is imperative that the statement of objectives contain a specific area of study within food science, i.e., food chemistry, food microbiology, cereals, red meat, or sensory analysis, so that the application may be directed to the appropriate faculty. Terms such as food processing and food technology are too general and may result in rejection because of lack of specificity.

International students must submit a TOEFL score of at least 550 (paper),  79 (IBT), 6.5 (IELTS) or 58 for Pearson Test of English(PTE) or have received a degree in the last two years from a United States college or university. In addition, an affidavit of the financial form must be completed and signed by a sponsor and a financial institution to show evidence of support for the entire program of study.

All applications will be reviewed by three appropriate members of the food science graduate admission committee. A faculty member must be willing to act as a major advisor prior to submission of credentials to the graduate school.

Research and teaching assistantships administered by the individual departments are available on a limited basis. Those receiving assistantships pay in-state fees. Members of the food science program obtain funds from the Agricultural and Engineering Experiment Stations and outside research funds that help sponsor some graduate research assistants. Currently, research stipends are competitive but may vary by department.

General requirements for entering graduate study in food science are: (1) calculus; (2) statistics; (3) biochemistry; (4) organic chemistry; (5) a course in physics; (6) an introductory course in microbiology; and (7) a course in botany, zoology, or biology. The student’s supervisory committee will resolve course deficiencies. Certain programs within Food Science may require additional courses.

When the student’s committee believes it is necessary, the student will be required to take additional undergraduate courses to prepare more completely for the individual program.

Candidates for degrees are expected to select courses that provide adequate coverage in several food areas, with primary emphasis in one or more areas.

The M.S./Ph.D. program of study shall be expected to include courses in biochemistry, statistics, food microbiology, food chemistry, and food processing/food engineering. No more than 6 credit hours at the 500 level will be accepted. One credit of food science seminar for the M.S. degree and 2 credits of food science seminar for the Ph.D. degree shall be included. There is no foreign language requirement.

Course requirements will be evaluated by the student’s supervisory committee. The chairman of the food science graduate program must approve members of the student’s advisory committee and the program of study.