Derick de Souza
Written By - Derick de Souza

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The application of scientific principles to maintain and create a wholesome food supply is known as Food Science. Individuals interested in applying principles of processing technology, consumer issues, microbiology, and producing safe, high-quality, and wholesome foods should pursue a master’s in food science online. An online food science master’s teaches about the primary disciplines of chemistry, biology, and engineering and how to apply them to food systems. It also gives specialized training in a particular area of expertise. Graduates with master’s in food science online degrees can work in numerous roles, such as food chemists, sensory scientists, quality control supervisors, food processing and packaging design engineers, and more. This guide analyses the curriculum, career prospects, specializations, and various other aspects of the master’s in food science online degree program.

Masters in Food
    Science Online

Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

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Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Master’s in Food Science Online Programs

Before starting the application process for online master’s in food science degree programs, it is crucial to choose universities that are ranked best in terms of experience and teaching of the faculty, reputation, quality, support services, infrastructure, funding opportunities, accreditation, and so on. Students should also ensure that the selected institution meets their objectives and interests. Here is the list of the best master’s in food science programs online from which to choose:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan 48824
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
601 E John Street, Champaign, Illinois 61820
Kansas State University
919 Mid-Campus Drive, Anderson Hall, Manhattan, Kansas 66506
Johns Hopkins University
3400 N Charles St, Baltimore, Maryland 21218
Arizona State University Campus Immersion
University Drive and Mill Avenue, Tempe, Arizona 85287
Rutgers University-New Brunswick
83 Somerset St, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
Utah State University
Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322
University of Arkansas
Administration Bldg 425, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
Texas A&M University
JKW Administration Building, Suite 200, College Station, Texas 77843
University of Florida
Tigert Hall, Gainesville, Florida 32611
The Pennsylvania State University
201 Old Main, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
1011 South Dr 201 Sutton Hall, Indiana, Pennsylvania 15705
New York University
70 Washington Sq South, New York, New York 10012
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University(ON-CAMPUS)
210 Burruss Hall, 800 Drillfield Dr., Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
Colorado State University(ON-CAMPUS)
102 Administration Building, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Master’s in Food Science Online Programs

Master’s in food science online programs provide students with the knowledge of applying engineering and science principles to the practical and theoretical aspects of the entire food chain. This graduate-level degree program is offered in offline and online learning modes. Some colleges offer it as a hybrid program, blending online classes with on-campus ones. While the offline mode is best suited for students who can dedicate most of their time to studies and spend time on campus, the online or hybrid modes are best for those working full-time and who want to balance their professional and personal lives.

The food science degree program requires students to take 34 to 40 credits of coursework to complete it. Various areas of specialization are available for students to choose from within the program, which matches their professional interests. The online food science degree program typically offers a thesis and non-thesis track. While the thesis track is suitable for those who intend to pursue their doctoral studies, the non-thesis option is best suited for students who want to gain advanced practical skills instead of carrying out a research project in the final year of their master’s program.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Master’s in Food Science Online Programs

The online master’s in food science program focuses on food microbiology, food chemistry, food safety, food processing, sensory analysis, and food engineering. Students must take mandatory core courses and choose electives for their coursework. Some of these food science courses are:

  1. Food Microbiology – Food microbiology teaches about microorganisms that modify, process, colonize, spoil, or contaminate food. It deals with beverages and food of various compositions that combine a broad spectrum of environmental factors that might influence microbial growth and survival.
  2. Food Processing Operations – Food processing operations teaches the techniques that transform agricultural products into consumable substances with particular sensory, textural, and nutritional properties using commercially feasible methods.
  3. Advanced Food Chemistry - This course explores the role of food chemistry in solving problems and enhancing the health and functionalities of food. It studies the interactions and chemical processes of all non-biological and biological components of food.
  4. Food Analysis – This course introduces the techniques, methods, and principles in the compositional analysis of food. It helps students in developing skills and techniques in food analysis.

The master’s in food science provides students with theoretical and practical knowledge to work in the field of food science. Some of the skills gained by students from the food science master’s program include their ability to: 

  • effectively and clearly communicate technical information in written and oral formats;
  • synthesize and evaluate information to address technical challenges;
  • assemble and source evidence to identify gaps and address questions in knowledge in the field of food science;
  • apply the fundamental principles of food science in required coursework and research;
  • design, formulate, interpret, and conduct food science research;
  • interrogate theoretical food science and analysis principles and statistical design with practical applications to address real-world issues;
  • assess the involvement of sustainability in food science and nutrition;
  • exhibit ethical resonating and leadership;
  • apply scientific knowledge to solve and evaluate food science problems; and
  • interact effectively with scientific teams.

Master’s in Food Science Degree Types

There are three types of online master’s in food science programs – the Master of Arts in Food Science, the Master of Science in Food Science, and the Master of Food Science (MFS).

Master of Arts in Food Science

The Master of Arts in Food Science or MA Food Science is directed more towards research and is focused on liberal arts and humanities subjects. With a theoretical approach to the subject, students intending to pursue a Ph.D. degree can opt for the MA program.

Master of Science in Food Science

The Master of Science in Food Science or MS Food Science is oriented more towards a scientific viewpoint. The MS program also involves a fair amount of research but focuses more on gaining practical skills.

Master of Food Science (MFS)

The Master of Food Science or MFS degree is a course-based master’s designed for professionals already working in the field of food science but want to enhance their knowledge and skills. The MFS degree[1] is also suitable for students who do not have an undergraduate degree in food science but have a related bachelor’s degree.

Specializations in Master’s in Food Science Online Programs

Specialization helps an individual become more efficient in a particular area of expertise. It helps to enhance one’s career prospects and increase their income potential. Students can optimize their skills by specializing in a specific area of food science. Students can specialize in several topics within the food science master’s degree. Some such food science concentrations are:

Area of Specialization Description 
Muscle Food Science This program focuses on the biochemical and chemical aspects of further processing aquatic muscle, poultry, and livestock. Some of the research areas in this program are cooked color defects, meat packaging, myoglobin and lipid oxidation, and more.
Food Safety This program provides the necessary training and knowledge to enter the regulatory agencies and the global food industries. Food microbiology, food safety policy, and the impact of food safety regulations are some research areas in this program.
Food Engineering This program helps students become the highest quality leading suppliers of research, technology, and development transfer services to the agricultural and food product industries.
Agribusiness Economics This program focuses on fiber processors through an intensive and constant review of changes in both markets and industry characteristics.
Food Technology The objective of this program is the core of food technology, such as product design, ingredient functionality, and sustainable food process engineering.
Food and Vegetable Postharvest Physiology and Processing This program aims to help the processors and producers of horticultural products provide nutrients and convenient and delicious food products to consumers everywhere. Some of the research areas in this program are the recovery of capsaicinoids in peppers, assessing food safety risks in ready-to-eat fresh-cut vegetable products, uses and recovery of lycopene from watermelon tissue, etc.
Food Microbiology This specialization teaches about modern and classical food microbiology, including spoilage and food safety, food biotechnology, hygienic production of food, food fermentation, and so on. 
Food and Nutrition This program teaches students about the science of healthy food and nutrition. It focuses on several vital aspects of safety practices, food science, planning, purchasing, preparing, standards, story, quality control, and more.
Food Science This specialization focuses on the basic sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology and the interaction with various scientific disciplines such as nutrition, microbiology, process engineering, biochemistry, and biotechnology.
Food Business and Management This program deals with the techniques involved in processing, storage, food product manufacturing, distribution, labeling, packaging, and quality control.
Fermentation Science This program emphasizes the skills and experience to prepare professionals to create end products in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and water treatment industries.

Some of the other specialization areas in food science include but are not limited to:

  • Food Chemistry 
  • Nutrition 
  • Food Business And Industry 
  • Food Biology/Microbiology 
  • Cereal Science 
  • Consumer Food Science 
  • Human Nutrition And Metabolism 
  • Food Packaging 
  • Oil/Oilseed Chemistry 

Accreditation for Master’s in Food Science Online Programs

To maintain the standards of educational quality, institutions go through a strict evaluation process known as accreditation. Accreditation signifies that colleges and universities in the United States have met the expected education standards. Prospective students should be aware of accredited food science colleges and apply only to those having this status. Colleges may be nationally or regionally accredited by agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE)[2], the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)[3], or both. The six regional agencies that accredit universities are:

  1. New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  2. Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  3. Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  4. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  5. Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  6. Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

For more information on accreditation for universities and programs, read the Accreditation Guide.

Timeline for graduation from Master’s in Food Science Online Programs

Master’s in food science online programs are available full-time and part-time. While full-time master’s students will have to complete their degree programs within two years, part-time students will have a more flexible schedule and can complete their degree programs in 3 to 5 years while balancing their work, studies, and personal life. Of course, the coursework, specialization, capstone or thesis requirement, and other factors will affect the timeline of this typically 34 to 40-credit program.

Admission Requirements for Master’s in Food Science Online Programs

Prospective students must go through the admission requirements at their chosen college before applying to a master’s in food science online program. The requirements for a food science master’s are mostly the same across all the universities. However, some universities might have specific requirements that students must meet as a part of their application process. Here are some of the common and standard master’s in food and science admission requirements:

No GRE Master’s in Food Science Online Programs

In most instances, students must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) before applying to graduate school and submit their test scores while applying to a master’s program. Although these scores are a mandatory requirement in the application process at most colleges, some institutions waive this requirement. For example, the IOWA State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Oregon State University offer online master’s in food science no GRE programs.

Accelerated Master’s Food Science Online Programs

Accelerated master’s in food science programs can be completed in less than two years. Students can obtain their degrees faster by choosing fast-track programs and transfer credits to shorten the duration of their programs. Moreover, accelerated degrees cost less than the typical master’s degree. Some universities offer integrated programs combining bachelor’s and master’s degrees, which can be completed in five years instead of six. The University of Vermont and The University of Rhode Island are examples of universities that allow students to complete their nutrition and food science bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years.

Free Courses for Master’s in Food Science Online Students

Free courses do not lead to a master’s degree and are not accredited. There are no free online master’s in food science programs available. However, some free short courses in food science are available that can give some additional information and an overview of a specific topic in food science. These courses can be helpful to students in their assignments and projects. Here are some to explore:

Course Provided by Description 
Stanford Introduction to Food and Health[4]Coursera This course provides learners with the knowledge and useful skills necessary to start making the most out of their diet. The course emphasizes practical discussions about real food and the environment in which it is consumed rather than reductionist discussions about nutrients.
Plant-Based Diets: Food for a Sustainable Future[5]edX This course teaches students the science behind three major global health concerns: infectious diseases, chronic diseases, and climate change. It also demonstrates how the food in front of a person directly affects these issues.
Introduction to Processing Technologies[6]Alison This course introduces processing technologies and explains food processing as converting raw ingredients into food or food into other forms by physical or chemical means. Topics include supercritical fluid extraction, microwave heating, radio frequency drying, food irradiation, and membrane technology.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Food Science Online Program

The cost of a master’s program varies between universities, programs, and locations. However, students studying for their master’s online can save on travel and accommodation expenses. The main expenses of online students are the tuition fee, course materials, technology fee, and distance learning fee. There are several financial aids that students can consider for funding their master’s program. Some of the funding options for master’s in food science online programs are:


Scholarships are one of the popular funding possibilities among students. They are given based on the student’s academic achievements and are funded by universities, public and private institutions, or commercial organizations. Students must beware of Scholarship Scams that do the rounds online.


Grants are among the many options for students to consider while funding their master’s. Grants are not awarded entirely depending on merit but based on specific areas of research or education and financial need.

Graduate Assistantships 

A graduate assistantship is a part-time employment opportunity for graduate students. Students can work and study simultaneously, working as assistants for professors by demonstrating and teaching undergraduate students. They are provided a stipend for this work. One can also work as an assistant in a lab by taking up a research assistantship.


Prospective graduate students can fill out the FAFSA or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid[7] form to determine their eligibility for financial aid.

Find out how to fund a master’s degree program by reading the Financial Aid Guide.

Scholarships for Master’s in Food Science Online Students

Students with an excellent academic record can apply for graduate scholarships. Associations, universities, and external organizations offer scholarships to students after determining their eligibility based on academic strengths. Some of the scholarships for master’s in food science online programs are:

ScholarshipFeeding Tomorrow Scholarships
DescriptionFeeding Tomorrow of the Institute of Food Technologists offers annual scholarships to students pursuing a graduate degree in various disciplines within food science.
Application DeadlineFebruary, annually
ScholarshipAcademy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation Scholarships
DescriptionThe Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation offers scholarships to graduate students majoring in dietetics and nutrition.
Application DeadlineFebruary, annually
ScholarshipFood Safety Auditing Scholarships
DescriptionThe FMI Foundation offers scholarships to students majoring in food and agricultural science who are strongly interested in the field of accredited food safety auditing.
Application DeadlineOctober, annually

Careers and Salary Outlook for Master’s in Food Science Online Graduates

Graduates of food science master’s can work as food scientists in different areas of food science. Some of the work settings food scientists can work in are:

  • Food Wholesalers 
  • Food Research Laboratories 
  • Food Packaging Companies 
  • Flavor Houses 
  • Agricultural Commodities Export Ventures 
  • Food Quality and Certification Organizations 
  • Corporate Food Manufacturing Companies 

Including Food Scientists, there are various other job profiles for food science graduates. Some of the job titles for food science professionals are:

  • Quality Assurance Manager 
  • Marketing Manager 
  • Nutritional Therapist 
  • Purchasing Manager 
  • Sensory Scientist 
  • Food Chemist 
  • Quality Control Supervisor 
  • Food Process and Package Design Engineer 
  • Regulatory Affairs Specialist 
  • Food Plant Production Manager or Supervisor 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), agricultural and food scientists have a median annual salary of $74,940[8] with a job outlook of 6% between 2022 and 2032. The following list highlights the statistical data of some typical job positions in the field of food science:

Occupation Median Annual Salary Job Growth (up to 2030) Job Description 
Dietitians and Nutritionists $66,4507% (faster than average)Dietitians and nutritionists conduct and plan nutritional or food service programs to help people have a healthy lifestyle.
Food Service Managers $61,3100% (little or no change)Food service managers oversee and manage the daily operation of restaurants and other establishments that serve and prepare beverages and food.
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians $75,24013% (much faster than average)Occupational health and safety specialists evaluate the health and safety of different workplaces. They also develop training and employee safety programs while ensuring food is prepared with hygiene and cleanliness as priorities.
Agricultural and Food Scientists $74,9406% (faster than average)Agricultural and food scientists research to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural enterprises and products and preserve and extend the nation’s food supply.

Certifications and Licensing for Master’s in Food Science Online Graduates

An excellent way to increase one’s job prospects and income potential in a particular subject is by being professionally certified. Certifications also help gain additional knowledge in specific subjects and enhance career opportunities. Some of the certifications for online master’s food science students are:

Additional Resources for Master’s in Food Science Online Students and Professionals

Additional resources help food science professionals stay up to date with the latest changes and advancements that take place in the field of food science. They help gain better exposure and a broader perspective on the subject. Attending seminars and workshops, joining organizations, staying up to date with journals and publications, and connecting with peers are some ways of staying relevant in the field. Some of the additional resources for master’s in food science online professionals are:

  1. Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)
    The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a scientific community of food technologists and professionals. They aim to collaborate, learn, and contribute scientific knowledge to the world. They conduct various events for food professionals and offer several learning opportunities. Joining the IFT benefits new professionals who want access to the resources and people that will help them grow.
  2. American Society for Nutrition (ASN)
    The American Society for Nutrition (ASN) provides various science-based nutrition information crucial for improving health worldwide. It helps nutrition professionals stay updated on the latest trends and science. ASN also offers multiple educational programs, including workshops, webinars, meetings, and online learning, which can help them stay ahead in the field.
  3. American Diary Association (ADA)
    The American Dairy Association (ADA) is a group of professionals who register with dietitians and health professionals throughout various educational institutions and ensure everyone knows the importance of dairy’s role in a healthy, delicious, and sustainable life. Their objective is to inspire consumers’ passion for dairy foods.
  4. Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE)
    The Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) improves the lives of people with food allergies by empowering them to live safe, productive lives with others’ respect through education and advocacy campaigns and increased understanding about healthcare alternatives and treatment.
  5. American Meat Science Association (AMSA)
    The American Meat Science Association (AMSA) is a large group of people who find, develop, and communicate their collective meat science knowledge “to provide leadership, education, and professional development.”

FAQs About Master’s in Food Science Online Programs

What is food science technology?

The application of food science to the preservation, distribution, selection, and use of safe food, processing, and packaging is known as food science technology. Nutrition, quality control, biotechnology, food safety management and engineering are some fields related to food science technology.

What is a master’s in food science?

Is a master’s in food science online?

What can you do with a master’s in food science online degree?

How long is a food science master’s?

Where to do a food science master’s degree?