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Food Science Major & Minor

Make food healthier, safer, more affordable & more sustainable

Supplying an expanding global population with adequate food and water is one of the greatest challenges facing humankind in the 21st century. The Food Science major prepares you to lead change in industry, academia and government.


 

Major in Food Science

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

In this program, you will 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.

The Food Science curriculum prepares students for success in a range of careers in the food industry, academia and government. Students can tailor their experience through participation in course electives, internships, research opportunities, product development teams, community engagement, and study abroad experiences.

Our research programs are designed to expand understanding of the biological/microbiological, physiochemical, physical, sensory, nutritional quality, engineering properties, and sustainability of our food and water ecosystem.

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.

Our faculty and students are engaged in cutting-edge research designed to:

  • Detect and mitigate instances of microbial and chemical hazards in foods and beverages.
  • Develop improved preservation and packaging methods to improve the safety, quality, and environmental impact of the available food supply.
  • Investigate and improve the chemopreventative and nutritional properties of foods and beverages.
  • Innovate technologies to expand valorization of food production co-products and waste streams.
  • Expand our understanding of the biological and product formulation basis for sensory perception of foods.
  • Leverage big data analytics in our prediction and understanding of food safety, quality, and chemistry.
  • Advance the use of molecular biology in improving food safety, quality, and waste reutilization.
  • Develop new methods in fermentation for food and beverage production and waste/co-product stream valorization.

Undergraduates in Food Science choose from one of three degree concentrations to focus their undergraduate program and tailor their coursework to their interests. Whether students choose the Science Concentration, Business Concentration, or Safety Concentration, every student in our program receives a strong foundation in the physical and biological sciences and a comprehensive education in the core subfields in Food Science (e.g. microbiology, chemistry, engineering, sensory). Each concentration offers space for student-selection of concentration electives, and culminates with participation in a major-wide Capstone experience.

There are three paths available in the Food Science major:

  • The Science concentration is approved by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), and includes a comprehensive curriculum in the microbiology and safety of foods, food processing and engineering, the chemistry of foods and food ingredients and sensory evaluation of foods. The Science concentration satisfies pre-med requirements and is the recommended option for students considering graduate school.

  • The Business concentration supplements core courses in food microbiology, processing/engineering, chemistry and sensory evaluation with courses that train students about the principles and practices pertinent to management, economics, marketing, accounting, and financial aspects of the food system.

  • The Safety concentration supplements core courses in food microbiology, processing/engineering, and chemistry with courses that train students on the epidemiology, risk analysis/management, and pathogenesis of microbial food hazards.

Major Requirements and Example Four-Year Schedules

To view major requirements and examples of four-year schedules in the science, business and safety concentrations, please fill out our interest form. 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 recommended)

  • Also recommended: an additional unit of science

To view major requirements and examples of four-year schedules in the science, business and safety concentrations, please fill out our interest form.

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 4100 Sensory Evaluation of Food

Topics include the methods used to analyze the flavor, appearance, and texture of foods by sensory evaluation. Presents the psychological principles in sensory testing and statistical methods for sensory data analysis.

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.

FDSC 4230 Unit Operations and Food Packaging

Surveys unit operations, engineering/manufacturing principles, and materials common in the commercial processing and packaging of foods and beverages.

  • Apply foundational knowledge in chemistry, physics, mathematics, biological sciences and statistics in food science.
  • Devise experimental designs, statistical principles and data analytics tools in the interpretation and presentation of data in food science applications.
  • Describe the chemistry underlying the properties and reactions of food components.
  • Apply knowledge of microbiology underlying the quality and safety of foods and beverages.
  • Define engineering principles and describe unit operations in food preservation and processing, packaging, and water and waste handling.
  • Describe the interconnection between the core subfields of food science in understanding principles governing the safety, quality, nutrition, and climate impact of our food system from farm to fork.
  • Use oral and written communication skills, independent and team-based work, and leadership and professionalism in successfully working with individuals from diverse backgrounds.
  • Propose solutions to a problem using critical thinking skills, evaluation of evidence-based resources, and application of scientific reasoning.
  • Apply food science and critical thinking principles in practical situations to question precedence and propose thoughtful recommendations to real-world challenges.
  • Others specific to the concentration.

Minor in Food Science

Any student at Cornell University, pending course and scheduling availability, may minor in Food Science. You can find our minor requirements and declaration form here. Please note that we require students to successfully complete FDSC 2000 (a fall-only course) prior to declaring the minor.

When you’re ready to declare, please fill out the minor declaration form and email it to Brynn Wilkins at bww57 [at] cornell.edu. 

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).

Required:

  • One full academic year of Introductory Biology

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

  • General (Inorganic) Chemistry I & II with labs

 

Strongly Encouraged (Not Required):

  • One full academic year of Calculus (for PreMed students or those intending to take the Science concentration)

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

Required:

  • One full academic year of Introductory Biology

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

  • General (Inorganic) Chemistry I & II with labs

  • General Microbiology with lab

  • General Physics I 

 

Strongly Encouraged (Not Required):

  • Introduction to Nutrition
  • Statistics
  • One full academic year of Calculus and Organic Chemistry (for PreMed students or those intending to take the Science concentration)
  • 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

Business

  • 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

More

  • 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.