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Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Food Science

The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Agriculture and Life Sciences degree is a course-based, one year, master's level degree offered by the Field of Food Science and Technology at Cornell. The MPS is a professional degree designed for people who are already in their career but desire to upgrade their skills and knowledge. The MPS 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. 

Students who hold a non-science bachelor’s degree (e.g. history, English, business, etc.) and are interested in studying food science at the graduate level can prepare themselves for the MPS degree by successfully completing approximately 15 credit hours of science-based coursework prior to applying.  Suggested courses include General Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, and Microbiology (courses with lab preferred).

Program Description

Created for professionally focused individuals, the Master of Professional Studies (MPS) is similar to a traditional Master of Science (MS) degree in academic rigor, but eliminates the thesis research component so as to enable completion in one academic year. In lieu of thesis-level research, MPS students in the Field of Food Science and Technology complete a research project under the direction of their faculty advisor. To understand this difference in greater detail, please visit our FAQ page.

The Master of Professional Studies year-long program has two main components:

  • Coursework: Students work with a faculty advisor to map out their individualized course of study based on their chosen concentration. The majority of courses (20 credits) will be within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; 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.

MPS Specializations

The Field of Food Science and Technology offers seven areas of specialization for MPS degree candidates. Each specialization 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

The food science specialization for the MPS 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.

Recent MPS student projects in this concentration have included a review of the preventative and ameliorative effects of green tea components against the various pathologies and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Alumni from the general food science specialization have gone on to work with the Dannon Company, Treatt USA, and other companies in a variety of positions.

Read More About the Food Science Specialization

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.

Previous projects by MPS students in the Food Chemistry and Product Development specialization have included the development of premium dried apple wedges and a study on the effects of various processing methods on phenolic phytochemicals and their bioactivities. Graduates of this one-year master’s have found positions with Hilmar Cheese, Pepperidge Farms and Aileen Cakes and Cookies.

Read More About the Food Chemistry/Product Development Specialization

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.

Previous MPS student projects in the Food Safety specialization have included a review of the safety of U.S. food imports, as well as a study on the effect of ultraviolet light on fresh fruit and produce surface decontamination. Graduates from this specialization have found positions with Amazon, Perfection Foods Company, and NSF International.

Read More About the Food Microbiology/Food Safety Specialization

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.

Previous MPS student projects in the food engineering concentration have included a focus on multi-stage supercritical extraction of oil from potato chips, rheological properties of food materials, and a focus on bio-separation and concentration processes using membranes. Students from the engineering concentration have found positions with David Michael Flavor Company and Vitasoy International Holdings Ltd, among others.

Read More About the Food Engineering Specialization

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.

Examples of past MPS projects in dairy science include the development of Greek-style yogurt using milk fortified with micellar casein concentrate and the development of an economic feasibility model for artisan cheese startups. Past graduates of this program have gone on to find positions with Danone S.A., Tillamuk, and Byrne Dairy, among others

Read More About the Dairy Processing Specialization

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.

Examples of past MPS student projects in Sensory Evaluation include the analysis of processing variables on powdered milk, research into the influence of sound on taste perception, and the effect of sugar and fat replacement on consumer response to ice cream. Past graduates have gone on to find positions with Kraft Foods, International Flavors and Fragrances, and Firmenich, among others. 

Enology

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.

Previous examples of MPS student projects in Enology include developing new techniques for measuring sulfur dioxide in wine and evaluating approaches for deacidifying high acid wines. Graduates have gone on to find positions with E & J Gallo Winery, Damiani Wine Cellars, and the Wine Research Institute, among others.

Read More About the Enology Specialization

Career Development and Outlook

The Master of Professional Science (MPS) 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, the Cornell CALS MPS programs effectively prepare students to transition into their careers after graduation.

The MPS degree from Cornell CALS 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

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

The Master of Professional Studies degree enables students to earn a master’s degree in Food Science and Technology in one year, facilitating accelerated career growth and developing the skills required to advance in the fields of food science and development. To learn more about our MPS programs, request information today.