Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there so much chemistry and other basic science? What if I haven't done well in those subjects before?

Our majors require approximately the same amount of basic science as do the other science majors. The difference is that in Food Science every student gets an exposure to a wide range of scientific disciplines and has a chance to succeed in more areas. Food Science courses then ask students to apply principles learned in general science classes to the science of food production.

How can I gain practical experience to see if I am headed, career-wise, on the right track?

There are a couple of options to develop further experience in Food Science. Students can pursue independent study with a professor under FST 199, and assist or participate in performing research in the faculty meber’s laboratory. Students can also work for a food-related company or State agency, either during the school year or during the summer break, and can also ask for units of FST 192.

Can I use this major in my preparation for professional school, medical school, etc.?

The Food Science major provides enough rigor for further educational advancement in graduate or professional schools. Students are responsible for ensuring that they have completed all necessary prerequisites of the program to which they wish to apply. Our students have an excellent record of success in graduate and professional education.

Students in the Food Science major are particularly encouraged to consider entering the School of Veterinary Medicine after the completion of their junior year. They would then obtain both the B.S. degree in Food Science and the DVM (Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine) degree. There is an increasing demand for students educated in the area of food safety due, in part, to outbreaks of diseases associated with food-borne infections, especially those involving poultry, eggs, meat and dairy products.

Will I be immediately employable after completion of a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in these majors?

Yes. Our students have no difficulty in obtaining employment throughout the food industry. Companies such as General Mills, Coca-Cola, Pillsbury, Dole, Del Monte, Campbell's, as well as state and federal government agencies, have hired several of our graduates.

Can I finish my B.S. degree in four years?

Yes. Some students, however, do opt to extend their programs in order to take advantage of various internship opportunities, minor studies, etc.

Should I also minor in something else?

Minors are designed to add extra elements to your education. This can increase your marketability to prospective employers. Also, minors allow you to explore and discover a field not necessarily limited to the area of your major studies.

What else do I do besides attend classes? What opportunities are there for additional involvement?

There are many clubs, sports activities, and organizations on the UC Davis campus. For students majoring in Food Science and Food Biochemistry, you might want to look into the Food Tech Club, the Brewing Club, or the  Institute of Food Technologists Student Association. These are run by and for students. You have opportunity to developing leadership skills by serving as an officer of the club, or by organizing club activities. These include dinners with fellow students or with representatives from the food industry, field trips, Picnic Day, Preview Day, and other campus activities.

What are some of the differences between Food Science, Nutrition and Dietetics?

Food Science deals with the science and technology which is required to produce food from agricultural commodities. Food Science ensures a safe food supply. Proper storage and processing prevent the transfer, or the production, of toxicants. Biotechnology creates new, innovative, useful foodstuffs by manipulation of biological source materials. Sensory science allows consumer testing and product research. Quality control maintains production standards. Engineering develops new methods of processing, and perhaps even new ways to make familiar foods. 

Nutrition deals with the effects of foods on the people who consume them. It deals with nutrient contents and their the effects on human health and development.

Dietetics is the science concerned with the nutritional planning and preparation of foods. The curriculum includes normal and clinical nutrition, biological and social sciences, communication and management. Students in the Dietetics major can be certified as registered dietitians and usually work in a clinical setting, such as in hospitals, schools, or other similar institutions.

Are opportunities in Food Science limited geographically?

Graduates obtain positions all over the United States and also internationally. The food industry is worldwide. Careers ranging from Quality Control to Production to Microbiology to Sensory Science to Management, etc., can be pursued throughout the nation. 

If I major in Food Science, must I always remain a scientist? Isn't this a narrow career option?

A degree in the Food Science area can be the launch pad to many career options. You can start as a technician, go on to supervisor, and pursue research (which may require a graduate degree). Some graduates have also gone on to obtain an MBA. On the other hand, you could follow a career path into technical sales, marketing, distribution, plant supervision, product development. You might even form your own company.

What if I have no ideas for a career. Why should I pick Food Science?

Food Science provides all of its students with a fundamental background in science. If you have a fundamental curiosity and interest in food, it leaves many career doors open. There is time and encouragement for you to explore and complete a minor which may help you focus your objectives. Applied courses, such as meat and dairy science, allow you to sample different areas of the food industry.