Graduate Course Requirements

Minimum Credits

All graduate students are required to enroll in at least 12 credits each semester. Course enrollment is the act of signing up for specific courses offered by Cornell’s colleges and schools. It is distinct from registration with the University. Students must enroll in courses within three weeks of registration.

Students not enrolling in specific courses must enroll for thesis or dissertation research using either Graduate School or, if available, departmental course numbers assigned for that purpose.

Graduate students will be automatically enrolled in GRAD 9010. This is a placeholder course which will disappear after the ‘drop’ deadline as long as the student has enrolled in 12 credits hours of coursework (please enroll in FDSC 8900/9900 research credits to meet the 12 credit minimum).


Students may enroll in courses either for credit or audit. Auditing (which appears as “V” on unofficial transcripts) means that the student pledges regular class attendance but not necessarily participation in all aspects of the course.

Audited courses do not count toward the 12 credit requirement each semester.

Dropped Courses

Through the seventh week of the semester, courses may be dropped, credit hours may be changed, and grading options may be changed, without penalty. After the seventh week, courses may be added and changes to credit hours and grading options may be made only in exceptional circumstances. A petition signed by the instructor and the student’s special committee chair is required.

A course dropped after the seventh week appears on transcripts with a “W,” signifying Withdrawn.
Exceptions may be approved when a student submits a petition approved by both the instructor and the special committee chair. After the last day of classes for the semester, no course may be dropped and no changes may be made to credit hours and grading options.

Course Requirements

There are course requirements for FST graduate students (FDSC 6000, FDSC 6010, FDSC 6060, and FDSC 6950). Beyond that, each student works with their special committee to choose courses that best fit the student’s degree program. However, to constitute a minimum exposure requirement in food science, it is recommended that students take at least one course in food science other than FDSC 6000 and 6010.

All graduate students are required to register for:

  • FDSC 6000, Seminar (every semester)
  • FDSC 6010, Principles and Applications of Food Science and Technology (first fall semester)
  • FDSC 6950, Current Readings in Food Science (once for MFS and MS students, twice for PhD students)

Course Details

FDSC 6000: Food Science Seminar


All graduate students must enroll in this course each semester, unless you are granted an exemption (see below for details). This course a full semester course as of Spring 2023. Students missing more than one seminar without a written excuse will be given an unsatisfactory (U) grade. Each semester volunteers are needed to assist with seminar, students may be appointed to this position.

  • Ithaca Seminar – Tuesdays afternoons (1-hour in duration) in room 146 Stocking Hall


Students who have a class conflict with the seminar schedule during a given semester, may request a waiver of the seminar requirement for that semester. Waiver requests should be sent to ea56 [at] (Erin Atkins) with a copy to your advisor/committee chair. The waiver request must provide the class information (i.e. number, title, description) and must be a course that is required for your degree.

Make-up Seminars

If a student misses more than one seminar, which results in not meeting the attendance requirement, the student may request that a substitute seminar be used as credit towards the missed Food Science seminar. Missed seminars may be made-up only if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. Your advisor/committee chair agrees you can make up the seminar
  2. Erin Atkins has been notified of the third seminar absence via e-mail with a copy to the advisor/committee chair beforehand.
  3. The student is granted permission to make-up the missed seminar by attending a seminar in a department other than food science.
  4. A report and evidence of the attendance from the make-up seminar is submitted to Erin Atkins no later than two weeks after the missed seminar.

Attending seminars outside of Food Science

With advance notice, the Field of Food Science and Technology will support students that would like to attend a seminar other than FDSC 6000, to be counted towards their FDSC 6000 seminar attendance. Students will receive credit for an alternate seminar under the following conditions:

  1. The alternate seminar should take place the same week that the student will not be in attendance during FDSC 6000.
  2. The student must provide the alternate seminar announcement, evidence of attendance, and a summary of the alternate seminar to Erin Atkins no later than the start of the next week’s FDSC 6000 seminar.

Students can attend a maximum of two alternate seminars in place of FDSC 6000.

FDSC 6010: Principles and Applications of Food Science and Technology


This is a 1 credit course, team-taught by faculty members, that is required of all graduate students with majors and minors in Food Science and Technology. The course is taught during the fall semester only.
Students matriculating in the spring should sign up for the class during the fall.
Students are only required to enroll in this class one time.

Course Objectives

  • To provide Food Science and Technology graduate students with a common experience
  • To introduce new graduate students to the graduate faculty in food science
  • To expose students to the many research opportunities food science offers
  • To help students learn to critically evaluate research papers in food science
  • To present and discuss concepts and principles that are fundamental to the discipline of food
  • To discuss current issues and controversies related to food and nutrition
  • To raise and discuss ethical issues related to scientific conduct, publishing, and citing the work of others in written and oral presentations

FDSC 6950: Current Readings in Food Science


This course is designed to give members of the food science and broader scientific community an opportunity to stay up-to-date on the most current discoveries and methods used in food science.

The course is designed to foster meaningful discussions about:

  1. Recent publications in respected journals of basic research.
  2. How these discoveries can be applied to research within the field of food science.

Format consists of weekly discussion groups with each participant presenting at least one oral report based on independent reading. Multiple sections focusing on different topics may be taught in any given semester.


At least two section topics will be offered every semester. Students select one of the two section topics to participate in when they enroll.
MFS/MS students are required to participate in one section during their program. PhD students are required to participate in two sections during their program.

Topics include:

  • Food microbiology and food safety
  • Food chemistry
  • Sensory evaluation
  • Food engineering and materials science.

Interested students should contact the designated instructor(s) for each semester.

Course Objectives

Learning objectives include:

  • Developing a habitual engagement with current literature
  • Improving skills related to the critical evaluation of methods and conclusions
  • Fostering graduate student-lead communication