MS Examinations

Master of Science Examinations

Examinations for advanced degrees in the Field of Food Science and Technology serve three primary purposes:

  • To assist the Special Committee and the graduate student in evaluating academic progress
  • To maintain high academic standards for all students in the Field
  • To provide students guidance and incentives for achieving academic excellence

MS Q-Exam

The qualifying exam (Q-Exam) is required for all MS students.

Following the exam, it is the responsibility of the student to deliver the signed examination form showing the results of the exam to the Graduate Field Office.

If the exam is failed, a re-examination is allowable at the discretion of the Special Committee after at least three months have passed.

The Q Exam has the following objectives:

  1. To identify strengths and weaknesses in the student's background for the purpose of selecting a program of courses and other educational experiences best suited for the individual student.
  2. To evaluate the student's qualifications and potential for academic achievement in the program.

These qualifications include:

  1. Competency in basic and applied sciences
  2. Ability to formulate, organize and express ideas
  3. Ability to critically evaluate the food science literature
  4. Ability to speculate intelligently
  5. Skills in written and oral communications
  6. Proficiency in the English language
  7. Commitment to a career in the field of food science and technology

The Q exam is a field required examination; it is not a requirement of the Graduate School.

Students are expected to pass the qualifying examination prior to the beginning of the second semester of their MS program.

At least one week prior to the exam submit the Schedule of Q Exam form to the Graduate Field Office AND provide all committee members with the following:

  1. A copy of the paper you are critiquing
  2. A 300-word summary of the paper
  3. A copy of your bachelor's degree and Cornell transcripts
  4. A reminder memo with date, time and location of the exam

Examiners will include all members of the student's Special Committee. In addition, all members of the Graduate Faculty of the Field of Food Science and Technology are invited to attend as non-voting examiners. The exam may be exclusively oral or both oral and written, at the discretion of the Special Committee, and will include questions pertaining to fundamental concepts and principles pertinent to the student's major and minor fields.

The oral examination will also include a critical evaluation by the student of a paper from relevant research literature with the agreement of the committee chair.
As of September 2014, the paper selected cannot be authored or co-authored by the student’s committee chair or minor members.

Prior to the exam, the student should choose a paper from the literature, critically read the paper and pertinent background materials, and prepare a concise summary of the paper and a short oral presentation.

The summary should include:

  • Justification and objective(s) of the research
  • How the research was conducted
  • Major results
  • The conclusions (200-300 words; this cannot just be a rephrasing of the abstract)

The copies and summary of the paper should be given to the examiners at least 1 week prior to the exam.

During the exam, the student will give a ten- minute "seminar" on the paper and then respond to questions related to the paper. Questions may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Why did you choose the paper?
  • What is the significance of the paper for the field of Food Science and Technology?
  • Describe/explain key concepts/principles pertinent to the topic of the paper.
  • What was the main question or objective addressed by the paper?
  • Describe the research design. Was it adequate for answering the question addressed?
  • Describe the methods used. Were they adequate?
  • Summarize results and conclusions. Are the conclusions supported by the data?
  • Describe flaws/pitfalls in the paper.
  • Had you been directing the research described in the paper, what would you have done differently?
  • What future research on this topic would you recommend?

MS Exam: Final Examination

The MS Final Examination is required for all MS students.

If the exam is failed, a re-examination is allowable at the discretion of the Special Committee after at least three months have passed.

The MS Exam has the following objectives:

  1. To evaluate the student's knowledge and understanding of subject matter pertinent to the Field of Food Science and Technology, the student's chosen area of concentration, and the student's minor subject.
  2. To evaluate the quality and scientific merit of the thesis and to require the student to defend their thesis research.

Students may schedule this examination when:

  1. They have completed all coursework.
  2. Their thesis is in near final form.

The Graduate School thesis advisor has a packet of forms and information needed for students ready to schedule their final exam.
Included in this packet is a scheduling of examination form. This form must be submitted to the Graduate School at least 7 days prior to the exam.

Upon completion of the exam you must submit the completed results of examination form to the Graduate School.
The Graduate Field Office will also need a copy of your exam scheduling form one week prior to your exam and a copy of your exam report form within three business days of the exam.

Examiners will include all members of the student's Special Committee. In addition, all members of the Graduate Faculty of the Field of Food Science and Technology are invited to attend as non-voting examiners.

The exam may be exclusively oral or both oral and written, at the discretion of the Special Committee.

All members of the Special Committee must approve the thesis and an outline and draft should be given to them at least six weeks before the final exam.

At least seven days prior to the exam, each member should receive a completed, typed copy of the thesis.
After all of the changes specified at the
exam have been made, and final approval has been obtained from the committee and Graduate School thesis advisor, two bound copies must be submitted to Graduate School for deposit with the University libraries, and one copy to the Graduate Field Office.

Check with your committee to see how many copies of the thesis they will require.