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Discover a One-Year, Career-Focused Master’s Degree in Food Science

The Master of Food Science (MFS) program is a one-year, STEM-designated, course-based master's degree. Designed for working professionals aiming to enhance their skills, this professional master's degree is ideal for people already established in their careers. Additionally, it accommodates individuals without a food science bachelor’s degree who intend to enter the field. 

Prospective students holding non-science bachelor’s degrees (e.g., history, English, business) and considering graduate-level food science studies can prepare for the MFS program by completing roughly 15 credit hours of science-based coursework before applying. Recommended courses encompass General Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, and Microbiology, with preference given to courses with lab components.

MFS Focus Areas

The Field of Food Science and Technology offers seven areas of focus for MFS degree candidates. Each focus area cultivates the skillset and develops the theoretical problem-solving capacity required for careers in these fields within food science. Capstone projects and career outcomes from recent graduates are included in the concentration information below.

Food Science

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. 

Food Chemistry / Product Development

Focuses on the analytical, biochemical, chemical, physical, nutritional, and toxicological aspects of foods and food ingredients. Students in this focus area learn about a wide range of topics. 

Food Microbiology / Food Safety 

Concerned with safety in a wide range of areas of the food industry, including storage, processing, and agriculture. Students gain experience in Cornell University's food processing and development laboratory and state-of-the-art dairy processing plant. 

Food Engineering

Covers topics such as 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. 

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

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. 


Designed for students who want to enter the wine industry or allied fields, the Enology focus area emphasizes the scientific theory and practical knowledge necessary for understanding both day-to-day aspects of wine production and the greater global wine industry. 

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.

CALS MFS program details

Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Master of Food Science (MFS) program is an accredited, course-based, one-year master’s degree program that emphasizes professional development and intellectual investigation in the areas of agriculture, life sciences and global development.

Though similar to a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in its academic rigor, the MFS degree differs from a traditional M.S. degree in its structure and focus. An M.S. is research based, with students building a thesis over the course of two or three years.

In contrast, the MFS degree is a one-year, course-based program where students study the intricacies and in-depth questions of their field of study. Instead of a thesis or research project, MFS students complete a capstone project during their final semester. To understand this difference in greater detail, please visit the CALS MPS FAQ page.

The Master of Food Science program has two main components:

  • Coursework: Students work with a faculty advisor to map out their individualized course of study based on their areas of interest. The majority of courses (20 credits) will be within CALS; however, students have the opportunity to take courses across Cornell.
  • Capstone project: With the guidance of a faculty advisor, students work on solving a real-world problem.

Students work with top-ranked faculty who are leaders in their field on an experiential project that fosters professional skill development through the creation of solutions to real-world problems.

Compare a CALS Professional Master's (MPS, MFS) to an M.S. degree

MPS, MFS and M.S. programs lead to graduate-level master’s degrees. Which is right for you? Here's how they compare: 

Final ProjectCapstone projectThesis
Length1 yearTypically 2-3 years
FundingSelf-funded, usually with federal and/or private loansFunded by the department with  stipends and teaching  assistantships
Ideal forIndividuals who want to pursue careers in industry, government or nonprofit agencies; some continue in researchIndividuals who are interested in pursuing careers in research or academia

Alumni Spotlights


Sophia Elie

"Personally, I thought I knew my limits, but this experience, in addition to working, has smashed those limits to pieces."


Vipul Saran

"The MPS program allowed me to explore all the resources Cornell has to offer, even beyond my field area." 


Katrina Cariño

"All the experiences and the encounters I’ve had with people from different backgrounds and races really honed me as a person. I’ve become a better person because of them."

sophia elie student working on microscope
Vipul stands in front of a vehicle
Katrina works in a lab

Career Development and Outlook

The Master of Food Science (MFS) program contains a significant career development component focused on developing the necessary interpersonal and communication skills required to advance in any professional field. Offering a range of workshops including resume building, personal narrative development, and mock interviews, to effectively prepare students to transition into their careers after graduation.

The MFS is a versatile degree that can open doors onto a range of professional opportunities. Past graduates from the Food Science and Technology program have found employment in positions such as:

  • Food Scientist
  • R&D Specialist
  • Food and Flavor Technologist
  • Product Development Specialist
  • Enologist
  • Assistant Winemaker