Graduate Programs

Prospective Student

Demand for food scientists with graduate degrees is high. Graduates are employed in the food industry in research and development, food process development, food safety, quality assurance, analytical sciences, and managerial positions. Recent graduates have found employment with major food companies like H.J. Heinz Co., J.R. Simplot Co., Lamb Weston, Kraft Foods, and Litehouse Foods. Many MS graduates continue on for a PhD in preparation for a career in academia. Students also find employment with federal agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration or the United States Department of Agriculture.

By enrolling in the graduate program in food science at Washington State University, you form part of a team of students, faculty, and staff dedicated to the scientific and intellectual pursuit of knowledge in food science.

Depending on your career goals, your studies may concentrate on such basic sciences as chemistry, biochemistry, and microbiology, as well as food science. You may explore a variety of subjects, such as food chemistry, food safety, food microbiology, fermentation, wine science, and sensory science to complement your graduate education. Keeping your interests and goals in mind, your research project, course requirements, teaching, and/or Extension experiences for your graduate work will be individualized and determined with your faculty advisor and graduate committee.

International F-1 applicants may be interested to know that the MS and PhD in Food Science are both recognized DHS STEM eligible programs, and eligible to apply for the two-year STEM extension after the initial year of OPT.

Detailed information about applying to the program is provided below. Please scroll down.


Hulbert Hall Rm 213
PO Box 646243
Pullman, WA 99164-6420 USA

Programs and Requirements

MS in Food Science

The curriculum emphasizes courses in food processing, food chemistry, food microbiology, sensory evaluation, and other specialized areas. Some of the coursework is in cooperation with nearby University of Idaho. Examples include the processing and manufacturing of cereal, dairy, fruit, and vegetable products, including cheeses, wines, and potatoes.

PhD in Food Science

The curriculum emphasizes courses in food processing, food chemistry, food microbiology, sensory evaluation, and other specialized areas. Some of the coursework is in cooperation with nearby University of Idaho. Examples include the processing and manufacturing of cereal, dairy, fruit, and vegetable products; including cheeses, wines, and potatoes. Each student’s program of study is individualized based on their research interests, prior academic experience, and collaboration with their major advisor.

MS of Science in Agriculture

The food science and management option provides students with a solid core curriculum in agricultural science, focusing on valuable practical knowledge and skills for agricultural professionals. You will also take courses specializing in food science, food industry practices, business, and management. This combination of science and business courses means that you will be uniquely qualified to meet the increasing demand for managers who understand science and research as well as business and industry economics.

Priority Application Deadlines

Fall semester: January 10
Spring semester: July 1

  • Materials must be complete by these dates for admission and/or assistantship considerations.
  • Graduate applications are very competitive. It is beneficial to submit all materials before the deadlines.

Who should apply?

Students with undergraduate majors in the food sciences, including chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, biology, and biochemistry, may be well prepared for graduate work in food science. If your undergraduate degree is not directly related to food science, you may be eligible by strengthening your preparation through enrollment in additional courses before applying, or while pursuing your graduate degree. Undergraduate students who are pursuing studies not related to food science and who contemplate graduate work in food science should take as many courses in the basic physical and biological sciences as possible. Your graduate studies may be tailored for your individual background and needs.

Please know that a completed application is an effective and essential tool for faculty consideration. Applicants are not required to contact faculty prior to application. 

A Master of Science (M.S. thesis) degree demonstrates the ability to conduct and report research and is generally required for admission into the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in Food Science.   

Application Materials

For a complete application, the following materials are required. All materials should be received by the deadlines outlined above for priority consideration – including language requirements. Applications are most competitive when these priority deadlines are met.

  1. An online completed Application for Admission to the Graduate School, on which the student should indicate food science as the major.
  2. A $90.00 non-refundable application fee. The School of Food Science does not have application fee waivers available.
  3. Submit unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. If the transcripts are not in English, an unofficial copy of the transcript in the applicant’s native language, along with its English translation, is acceptable. These transcripts should be uploaded through the online application. It is important to note that once the transcripts are submitted, they become part of the official Graduate School application file and cannot be returned or transferred. Foreign Credential and Transcript Evaluation is not required.  
    Applicants who attend school outside the United States or Canada should also include copies of mark sheets, grade reports, or examination results, along with degree certificates from all higher education institutions attended outside the United States or Canada—including English translations. 
  4. Three letters of recommendation from professors or employers. Once you submit your application, your references will be contacted automatically through the online application system and asked to submit an electronic recommendation form.
  5. A Statement of Purpose, which also describes what area of research you are interested in or the faculty member you want to work with.
  6. A Curriculum Vitae or Resume must be uploaded with your application.
  7. Language Requirements for international students. Please refer to the detailed information on the Graduate School site. Applicants who are required to submit exam scores will be held incomplete until those are received.
  8. The GRE is not required, but recommended/prioritized for students seeking assistantship funding. Take the General Test, submit it to University code 4705.
  9. If you are a resident of one of the States/territories listed on the WICHE website, make this known in your Statement of Purpose so you qualify to pay for reduced tuition. Also, identify yourself as WICHE WRPG on the Graduate School Application.

Admission Considerations

On the basis of the above data, the Graduate School and the department evaluate the prospective student’s qualifications. Recommendations for admission are made, provided that:

  • The student meets the Graduate School’s criteria (see Graduate School Admission)
  • The student meets departmental criteria
  • A member of the departmental faculty agrees to serve as that student’s major advisor, and:
  • There is a committed source of funding to support the student (an assistantship or a commitment that the student will be self-supporting)

Departmental criteria includes a GPA of 3.0 or better, as stipulated by the Graduate School, supportive letters of recommendation, and a clear “statement of purpose” by the prospective student explaining explaining their research interest/s at the WSU School of Food Science (SFS). Within SFS, the decision for admission and recommendation to the Graduate School is made by the Graduate Admissions Committee and approved by the School’s Director. Although SFS sends an unofficial notice of acceptance, formal notice of acceptance into the graduate program will come from the Graduate School.

Transfer Credits

Students can use postbaccalaureate graded credits with a B grade or above to count towards a degree. The maximum number of transfer course credits is limited to half the total graded credits with the approval of a student’s major advisor and graduate committee.

Graduate Student Financial Information

  • Departmental State Assistantship – A research or teaching assistantship (RA/TA) is a nine-month assignment in a class or on a specific research project, requires 20 hours of work per week, includes a tuition waiver, monthly stipend, ­and a health benefit. When applying for a RA/TA, we must receive your graduate school application and all required materials by January 10 for fall semester and July 1 for spring semester. If applying for an assistantship, mark the appropriate box on the Graduate School online application and indicate your area of interest and/or faculty member you are interested in working with. The RA/TA’s are usually only offered for the academic year beginning with fall semester, however, we occasionally offer awards for spring semester. International studentsAs a policy, we usually do not award these assistantships to students for whom English is a second language during their first year of study in the United States.  
  • Departmental Grant Assistantship – The same deadlines apply as listed above. Grant assistantships, if available, are under the discretion of each faculty member and you work 20 hours a week on research with your faculty advisor. The assistantship is for nine months and includes a tuition waiver, a monthly stipend, and a health benefit. To apply, mark the appropriate box on the Graduate School online application. Once you receive notification that your file has met the admission criteria, you can contact appropriate faculty to inquire about open grant positions they might be offering. 

Graduate Student Resource Links