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Procedures for Ph.D. Degree in Food Science

NEW for Fall 2013 students

PhD in Food Science info sheet – Courses, Committee, Examination
Expectations for Graduate Students

*****  The information below is for current students (pre-Fall 2013).

Requirements for the Ph.D. degree are established by the College of Graduate Studies. For additional information please refer to the College of Graduate Studies.

Credit Requirements

Ph.D. students are required to complete 78 credits beyond the B.S. degree.  Students must take 52 credits at the 500 level and above, and at least 33 credits of the 78 credits must be in courses numbered other than 600 (Doctoral Research and Dissertation).  Some credits (such as those used to complete an M.S. degree) may be transferred to the UI with the consent of the student’s committee and approval of the Graduate School.  Course work required by the department is described below.

Appointment of Major Professor and Guidance Committee

The major professor must be a member of the Graduate Faculty and is usually chosen prior to the student’s arrival on campus, but should be  chosen no later than the  student’s first semester. The composition of the 4-member (minimum) graduate committee follows guidelines established by the graduate school. The committee is selected by the major professor and student. The major professor is chair of the committee.  Other members must include a second faculty member from the SFS, one faculty member from a minor or supporting area, and a faculty member from outside the SFS.  A SFS faculty member who has an adjunct appointment to another department cannot be considered an outside committee member for a student in the faculty member’s primary unit. The committee advises on the dissertation research and conducts examinations as required. Any changes in the committee membership must receive the approval of the Graduate College on a Change of Committee form.

Preparation of the Study Plan

The student will prepare, in conference with the major professor and committee, a Ph.D. degree study plan outlining all course work to be completed to fulfill the requirements for the degree. The study plan is approved by the student’s committee, and submitted electronically via the VandalWeb for sign-off by the major professor, departmental administrator, and College of Graduate Studies. Any subsequent changes in the study plan must be submitted for approval to the Graduate College on a standard form for study plan changes (Study Plan/Degree Audit Change form).

Academic Requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Food Science

Background courses (14 credits). Background courses are required to ensure students have a common background in key disciplinary areas. Equivalent courses taken as an undergraduate or part of the M.S. degree will satisfy these requirements.

  • Food Chemistry – FS 460 and FS 461
  • Food Safety and Microbiology – FS 416 and FS 417
  • Food Engineering – FS 432 or FS 570
  • Statistics – STAT 401

Core courses (14 credits).  Students will take 14 credits in core Food Science courses at the graduate level.  Courses that satisfy this requirement include:

  • FS 518 Seminar (1 cr). Students will take FS 501 to learn how to prepare and present oral and poster technical presentations.
  • FS 588 Food Science Teaching Practicum (2 cr).  Students will take FS 588 to learn teaching techniques and gain first-hand teaching experience.
  • Other FS coursework (11 cr).  Other required core FS course work will be determined by the student’s major professor and graduate committee.

Broadening courses (9 credits). Students will take at least 9 credits of course work outside the discipline in a supporting area. Broadening courses, generally determined by the research project and at the graduate level, may be taken in a variety of disciplines including microbiology, biochemistry, engineering, nutrition, and statistics, among others.

Research credits (FS 600, minimum of 30 credits). All students will complete a research project under the direction of a major professor and graduate committee.  Upon approval of the dissertation project outline by the major professor and committee, the student will prepare a research proposal for presentation and discussion at the preliminary exam.

Preliminary Examination for the Ph.D. Degree

The preliminary exam will usually be given during the students fifth semester in the program after the student has completed the majority of their study plan.  The exam consists of three components: 1) a written general subject exam; 2) a written research proposal; and, 3) an oral examination.  The purpose of the written general subject exam is to evaluate the student’s ability to integrate and apply knowledge obtained in the background and core courses recommended for the Ph.D. program to general problems in Food Science.  After passing the written general exam, the student will be required to write a research proposal describing their dissertation research. The research proposal will be written in the format of a federal research grant and presented in a public seminar. The oral exam is conducted by the student’s dissertation committee. The purpose of the oral exam is to evaluate the student’s preparation and knowledge in the research area and to evaluate the student’s potential to communicate ideas, design experiments, conduct research and interpret data.

Application for Advanced Degree

The Application for Advanced Degree is submitted to the College of Graduate Studies prior to the last day of the previous semester in which graduation is intended. Before filing the application, the candidate and the major professor must jointly ascertain that the candidate has met all degree requirements or will do so by completion of the next semester.

Registration Requirements

A graduate student defending and/or submitting a dissertation must be registered for dissertation credit. A student who was registered during a term and did not complete all requirements by the end of that term, but does so before the official opening date of the new term, is awarded the degree at the end of the following term without further registration.

Final Defense

After passing the preliminary exam and completing the laboratory based research project, the student will write a dissertation and present and defend the dissertation.     Ph.D. dissertations are expected to represent significant, original contributions to research. A minimum of ten working days prior to the defense, the Request to Proceed with Final Defense form must submitted to the College of Graduate Studies. The candidate is required to present a seminar and defend his or her work and show a satisfactory knowledge of the major and supporting fields. A recommendation of a majority of the committee is necessary for a candidate to pass this defense. The defense, if failed, may with departmental approval be repeated once.


The dissertation must follow requirements outlined in the UI “Handbook for Writing a Thesis or Dissertation.” Two complete copies of approved quality and an additional copy of the title page and abstract must be turned into the Graduate School.  The dissertation research will typically be submitted for publication in the form of 2-3 refereed scientific articles in professional journals and presented at a scientific meeting.

Attendence at Departmental Seminars

Graduate students are expected to attend and participate in all department seminars even though they may not be registered for the seminar course.