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Graduate Field of Food Science & Technology

Research leaders, innovators, and technical experts

An excellent selection of courses in basic and applied sciences and modern, well-equipped research laboratories and pilot plant facilities combine to make Cornell's graduate program in food science and technology among the very best in the world. Graduate studies in food science produce graduates who are well-prepared to become the research leaders, innovators, and technical experts essential for meeting the growing needs of governments, industries, and various institutions.

As one of the premier food science programs in the nation, our program integrates the disciplines of chemistry, biology, nutrition, physiology, biotechnology and engineering to ensure that all people have access to healthy, affordable food.


Students in the M.S. degree program are expected to complete their degree requirements in two years but may be allowed up to four years to complete all requirements. Candidates for the M.S. degree are paired with a committee chair (major advisor) within the field and select one minor advisor. There are no general course requirements for the M.S. degree; instead, students select classes with the help of their special committee based on background and interests.


Students in the Ph.D. degree program are expected to complete their degree requirements in three to four years but may be allowed up to seven years to complete requirements. Candidates for the Ph.D. degree are paired with a committee chair (major advisor) within the field and select two minor advisors.  There are no general course requirements for Ph.D. degree; instead, students select classes with the help of their special committee based on background and interests.


The Master of Food Science (MFS) degree is a course-based, one year, master's level degree offered by the Field of Food Science and Technology at Cornell. The MFS is a professional degree designed for people who are already in their career but desire to upgrade their skills and knowledge. The MFS is also suitable for students who possess a non-food science but related bachelor’s degree who want to pursue a career in food science and want to acquire the necessary knowledge base.

MFS Focus Areas

Equipment used for artisanal cheese making.

Food Science

The food science specialization for the MFS degree offers a broader, more generalized approach to food science and technology education. Courses cover a large swath of topics within food science, including food chemistry, food engineering, nutrition, and food marketing. Students interested in pursuing the food science concentration should have some previous experience, whether academic or professional, in food science and technology.

Food Chemistry / Product Development

Food chemistry is concerned with analytical, biochemical, chemical, physical, nutritional, and toxicological aspects of foods and food ingredients. The long-term goals of research in food chemistry include understanding relationships between the structure and functional properties of food molecules and improving the nutritional, safety, and organoleptic aspects of food. The most successful students in this concentration will have a background in one or more of the following: organic chemistry, biochemistry, nutritional biochemistry, physical chemistry, toxicology, analytical chemistry, and chemical engineering.

Food Microbiology / Food Safety

The Food Microbiology and Food Safety specialization is concerned with safety in a wide range of areas of the food industry, including storage, processing, and agriculture. Students in this MPS concentration gain experience in our food processing and development laboratory and state-of-the-art dairy processing plant. Students may also participate in a student product development team and help develop a HACCP plan for the new food products. To pursue this specialization, students must have a solid undergraduate background in microbiology, physics, chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry.


Viticulture is the science, production and study of grapes. This specialization emphasizes knowledge development and hands-on experience. With Cornell’s ideal location in the Finger Lakes region – home to nearly 10,000 acres of vineyards – students will be exposed to every aspect of grape growing and wine making.

Food Engineering

Food engineering MPS students gain a thorough understanding of thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, and transport phenomena applied to food processes. Students focus on engineering as it relates to the development of food products, processes, and equipment. Successful Food Engineering students will have knowledge of computer programming, microprocessor applications, statistics, and engineering economics. Courses are available in thermal processing and other unit operations, physical and engineering properties of foods, rheology, and food packaging.

Food Toxicology

Food toxicology focuses on adverse effects of compounds found in food, and on living organisms. Students focus on endocrine disruptors, natural bioactive compounds, effects of naturally occurring feed toxicants on animal metabolism, neurobehavioral teratology and toxicology, and protein modification and encapsulation platforms.

Dairy Processing

The Dairy Processing specialization of the MPS degree program is focused on improving the quality and safety of milk and processed dairy products and developing improved methods for the manufacture of cheese and other dairy products. Prior training in dairy or food science and technology is desirable but not essential. Students of dairy science may choose courses in food science, animal science, dairy chemistry, microbiology, chemistry, and biochemistry.

Sensory Evaluation

Sensory evaluation uses test methods that provide information on how products are perceived through the senses. The importance of the sensory perception of food quality is widely appreciated in the food industry, providing a demand for such specialists. Students in this program take courses on data collection and statistics. Basic principles of human judgment and perception are also important, and students are encouraged to take courses in the behavioral sciences.


Designed for students who want to enter the wine industry or allied fields, the Enology specialization emphasizes the scientific theory and practical knowledge necessary for understanding both day-to-day aspects of wine production and the greater global wine industry. Classes and labs address traditional and modern approaches to grape growing, winemaking, and wine analysis. Enology students should have a background in microbiology, organic chemistry or biochemistry, sensory science, or engineering. Prior exposure to winemaking is highly desirable but not required.