To be perfectly honest, I don t know. I know it hasn t worked out for me. I ve got an M. S. in agribusiness, plus two years of lab courses. Most departments list a few lab courses as prerequisites usually general biology, microbiology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, and (non-lab courses) nutrition, statistics, and introduction to calculus. A few programs ask for more (e. g. UC Davis asks for 1 semester of physical chemistry, and I think UMass asks for 1 semester of analytic chemistry). However, apparently taking (or even exceeding) prerequisite requirements may not actually result in strong consideration for admission. Also, it appears that strongly specific vocational focus appears to be sought after. The graduate programs don t appear to be terribly interested in students who are pursuing a general interest and related skill-set, but rather students who have a highly-delineated interest and outcome focus (e. g. dairy product rheology, food allergen molecule characterization, prediction modelling of L. monocytogenes outbreaks) to which they have already devoted significant energies. It s possible that if you don t have at least some prior exposure to the field, you may not get a look in (hence, a chicken-and-egg scenario for the uninitiated). Such a transition might work better if you were to go back and take an additional undergraduate degree in food science or possibly one of the underpinning lab sciences (e. g. chemistry, microbiology, or biochemistry). Most people can t afford to do this, however, in terms of either time or money. It does seem to result in increased opportunities and better overall orientations to the profession(s) plus you won t be an outcast relative to IFT, which really doesn t want to extend membership to aspiring food scientists not enrolled in food science programs.
However, you will want to think *very, very hard* about the risks of taking a degree in either chemistry or microbiology in the current employment climate should food science not pan out. It might also work better if you apply to programs that have closer animal science/agriculture/food science connections but you run the risk here of essentially digging deeper into your original degree area and not expanding your skill-set or post-grad employment options. This might, however, be a reasonable option if you wanted to focus on a particular animal food industry segment (e. g. poultry, meat production, possibly dairy) in which you have already begun studies, and feel confident of job opportunities in said specialty. As to why food science graduate program admissions are what they are today, my first hypothesis is that the food science grad market currently is so competitive (high applicant numbers relative to slots available as indicated by UWisconsin-Madison s publicly available application/admission numbers from the past few years) that most programs select only candidates with the appropriate background meaning an undergraduate degree in food science or one of the feeder lab sciences and with some relevant lab work experience. My second hypothesis is that depending on the institution, and owing to several reasons, research and institutional dollars are drying up some programs will in fact not admit applicants without grant support. My third hypothesis is that increasingly food science is adopting widespread industry practices in student intake, and this has impacts on student selection.
As a transfer student at Drexel UniversityБs College of Nursing and Health Professions, I must admit that Nutrition and Food Science was not my first love.
I began my college career at Bucks County Community College, and I spent three years working full-time as an apprentice in bakeries, while completing the required courses for the Culinary Arts: Pastry Emphasis program. Toward the end of the program, I began considering schools to transfer to. I learned so much about the business of baking on-the-job and in my classes, but I didnБt want to continue on in another culinary program. During my last year at Bucks, I became very interested in baking for special diets, and even more interested in the science of food and nutrition. My transfer options were slim as just a few colleges within a decent commuting distance offered a nutrition program. I chose Drexel University partly because I wanted the co-op experience, partly because I really liked the campus, and partly because my father is an alumnus. As I am reaching the last year of the Nutrition and Food Science Program, I am beginning my search for a relevant MasterБs Program. After I graduate with a BachelorБs degree in Nutrition and Food Science in the summer of 2014, I will have taken the didactic courses required for eligibility to become a dietetic intern. A dietetic internship requires 1,200 hours of supervised practice under a registered dietitian, and must be completed before taking the exam to become a registered dietitian. I hope to complete the internship while earning a MasterБs degree in secondary education.
Why would I want to become a teacher after 6 years of culinary and nutrition schooling? Theoretically, dietitians are, in part, nutrition educators. Any field of nutrition that a registered dietitian can work in requires some sort of nutrition education. Some popular paths that dietitians follow include, but are not limited to, working in hospitals, clinics, school districts, and nursing homes, and can also include nutrition research, policy-making, and private or government organizations. Any of these areas would provide an exciting and rewarding career, but my goal is to teach nutrition and food science in secondary public schools. My high school years werenБt too long ago, and I recall vivid memories of the meals that the lunchroom offered. Of course, we had gym once-per-day for half of the year, but the gym teachers wouldnБt touch the subject of nutrition education; they handed the job off to the posters in the lunchroom that advertised fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The issue of school lunch programs is mostly dependent upon funding and the affordability food. Policy making, in this area, would be a rewarding career for a dietitian, but not for me. I want to be in the classrooms teaching students the fundamentals of food science and nutrition so that they can begin to make educated decisions in the lunchroom at a young age; an age when creating healthy habits can influence their health for the rest of their lives. My high school offered a БBasic FoodsБ cooking class, which may have initiated my love for baking, food science, and nutrition. I would love to give back to my school and help students make healthy, informed decisions about the foods that are offered to them in the lunchroom, but also at home.
Nutrition educations can certainly be something that students can take home and teach their families what they learned in school that day. There are so many opportunities in so many different industries for someone with a degree in Nutrition and Food Science, and even more opportunities for a registered dietitian. With my culinary background, nutrition and food science knowledge, and future RD and MSEd credentials, I hope to change the lives of young people by teaching them about the science of food and nutrition; information that can greatly benefit them and their families later on in life. I hope that my role in adolescent nutrition education will lessen the load for oncologists and other healthcare professionals in the future. Christine Luby is a junior in the Nutrition and Food Science program at Drexel University. Before transferring to Drexel, she graduated from Bucks County Community College with an Associates degree in Culinary Arts: Pastry Emphasis. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in the summer of 2014. After graduation, she plans to work on a Masters degree in Education, while completing a dietetic internship. She is interested in food science, food service, and nutrition education, and would like to implement nutrition education classes in a local school district. She hopes to combine her knowledge in nutrition, culinary art, food science, and education to develop a school program that teaches nutrition fundamentals inside the classroom and prepares students to make healthy choices in school and at home.