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Food Science Major & Minor

Make food healthier, safer, more affordable & more sustainable

Supplying an expanding global population with adequate food is one of the greatest challenges facing humankind in the 21st century. The Food Science major prepares you to lead change in the food industry, academia and government. Our research programs are designed to expand understanding of the biological/microbiological, chemical, physical, sensory, nutritional and engineering properties of foods and beverages. 


Major in Food Science

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

In this program, you can gain skills and advance your knowledge so you can make meaningful contributions toward ensuring that all people have access to a safe, healthy, affordable and sustainable food supply. Our faculty and students are engaged in cutting-edge research designed to:

  • Identify and prevent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses.
  • Develop improved preservation methods to expand the available food supply.
  • Evaluate the role of fruit and vegetables in preventing cancer.
  • Reduce nutrient losses during processing, storage, and transport of foods.
  • Improve the effectiveness of food fortification.
  • Develop foods that may someday travel to other planets with astronauts.

The Food Science program prepares students for leadership positions in the food industry, academia and government.

Our research programs are designed to expand understanding of the biological/microbiological, chemical, physical, sensory, nutritional and engineering properties of foods and beverages.

Our extension and outreach programs transfer research-based information and technology to consumers, food and beverage companies and government agencies with the goal of enhancing the availability, quality and safety of our food supply.

Undergraduates in Food Science have the opportunity to choose from one of three degree emphases, which assist students in focusing their undergraduate program and matching their coursework to their interests. Whether students choose the Science Emphasis, Business Emphasis, or Safety Emphasis, every student in our program will get a strong foundation in the physical sciences and a thorough exposure to the various fields in Food Science. 

There are three paths available in the Food Science major:

  • Food Science provides an integrated curriculum that blends fundamental science with the more applied aspects of the science of foods. This option includes core courses in the microbiology and safety of foods, food processing and engineering, the chemistry of foods and food ingredients and sensory evaluation of foods.

  • Food Operations and Management deals with the principles and practices pertinent to efficient management of food processing, preservation, distribution and marketing operations. This option is offered to meet the needs of students that are more interested in the business or marketing side of the food industry.

  • Food Safety provides a comprehensive curriculum covering physical, chemical and biological hazards that affect the safety of foods while providing a solid background in applied food science.

Example Four-Year Schedules

To view examples of four-year schedules in the science, business and safety emphasis, please visit Please vis the Food Science Degree Options page. Note the four-year schedules are examples only, for a hypothetical first-year student entering without AP/IB credit.

CALS seeks students who maintain a rigorous high school curriculum and demonstrate an outstanding record of academic achievement.

  • 4 Units of English

  • 4 Units of Mathematics (including calculus)

  • 3 Units of Science (biology, chemistry and physics)

  • Also recommended: an additional unit of science

For a full list of courses and requirements within the three degree paths, please visit the Food Science Degree Options page.

FDSC 2000 Introduction to Physiochemical and Biological Aspects of Food

Comprehensive introduction to the physical, chemical, and nutritional properties of foods and to the principles and practice of food science and technology. Topics include chemistry and functionality of commodities and ingredients, chemical and physical phenomena that affect food quality, techniques of processing and preservation, microbiology and fermentation, food safety, regulation, and contemporary issues.

FDSC 3950 Food Microbiology Laboratory

Work includes study of the physiological characteristics of representative food microorganisms, practice in using general and rapid methods for microbiological testing and control of food products, and practice in the application of a systematic approach to controlling the safety of foods, or addressing a food safety issue.

FDSC 4170 Food Chemistry

Covers the chemistry of foods and food ingredients. Discusses the chemical and physical properties of water, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and other food components and additives in the context of their interactions and functional roles in foods.

•     Demonstrate the use of oral and written communication skills.

•     Define a problem, identify potential causes and possible solutions, and make thoughtful recommendations.

•     Apply critical thinking skills to new situations.

•     Commit to the highest standards of professional integrity and ethical values.

•     Work and/or interact with individuals from diverse cultures.

•     Explain the skills necessary to continually educate oneself.

•     Work effectively with others, provide leadership in a variety of situations, deal with individual and/or group conflict, and facilitate group projects.

•     Independently research scientific and nonscientific information. Competently use library resources.

•     Manage time effectively. Handle multiple tasks and pressures.

•     Understand the chemistry underlying the properties and reactions of food components (water, carbohydrates, protein, lipids, other nutrients, food additives).

•     Others specific to the concentration.

Minor in Food Science

Any student at Cornell University, pending course and scheduling availability, may minor in Food Science. Please visit the Food Science Degree Options page for more information.

Transfer Admission Requirements:

Explore food systems from processing and packaging to distribution, evaluation and safety, and solve real-world problems by combining chemistry, microbiology, nutrition and engineering. Focus on food science or food operations and management.

Academic Record

  • Strong academic record at the college level. In general, competitive applicants have at least a 3.0 (B) average.

  • CALS Required Coursework should be completed or in-progress with a “B” or better before applying.

  • The most competitive applicants are full-time students who have met the GPA and course requirements.

(Or transfers with two full-time college semesters of study (post-high school) completed or in progress at time of application).


  • One full academic year of Introductory Biology

  • Two College Writing/English Composition courses or one writing/composition and Public Speaking

  • Calculus I and II

  • General (Inorganic) Chemistry I & II with labs

(Or transfers with four full-time college semesters of study (post-high school) completed or in progress at time of application).


  • One full academic year of Introductory Biology

  • Two College Writing/English Composition courses or one writing/composition and Public Speaking

  • Calculus I & II

  • General (Inorganic) Chemistry I & II with labs

  • General Microbiology with lab

  • Organic Chemistry I & II

  • General Physics I 


Strongly Encouraged (Not Required):

  • Introduction to Nutrition
  • Statistics
  • Courses that meet the CALS social science and humanities requirements in Cultural Analysis, Historical Analysis, Knowledge, Cognition and Moral Reasoning, Literature and the Arts, Social and Behavioral Analysis and Foreign Language.

Careers in Food Science

Students of the food science program examine cottage cheese


  • Big data research analyst
  • Tech sales representative
  • Marketing replenishment analyst
  • Financial analyst
  • Consumer goods analyst

Food Industry

  • Dairy sales associate
  • Corporate management
  • Food regulatory analyst
  • Food associate scientist
  • International sales associate
  • Culinologist
  • Liquid commercialization assistant
  • Food safety specialist
  • R&D technician
  • Food analyst
  • Product and development scientist
  • Chocolate technologist
  • Plant quality technician


  • Wine making assistant
  • Quality assurance laboratory lead
  • Teacher
  • Food research associate
  • Research and development laboratory technician

Explore your opportunities

A CALS education goes beyond the classroom and gives students frequent opportunities to apply what they learn in real-world settings.