Admission Criteria

Lab studentsThe primary requirement for admission is evidence of intellectual achievement and potential for successful graduate study. Applicants should hold at least a bachelor's degree or its equivalent in a physical or biological science or in engineering from an institution of acceptable standing. The minimum acceptable grade point average is a "B" or its equivalent. Translation of transcripts from non-US institutions into a grading system similar to the American 4.0 point scale will help those applicants to be compared appropriately with their American counterparts.

Beyond these minimum requirements, the admission committee looks for evidence of intellectual potential by reviewing performance in university coursework and carefully reading the candidate's statement of interest and letters of recommendation. The candidate's statement and recommendation letters should highlight the applicant's potential for performing independent, thoughtful research. That can be done, for example, by describing the candidate's previous research experience in an academic or industrial setting, or by describing the student's ability to think beyond class assignments in a coursework setting. The candidate's statement should include a description of the student's future research interests, as well as their motivation for pursuing graduate education.

The admissions committee reviews every completed application in its entirety.

The Application Process

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Application for Admission

General Requirements: By the time they enroll, successful applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent that is comparable to a degree from the University of California both in distribution of academic subject matter and in scholarship achievement. A minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent) from the institution where you have earned or will earn your bachelor's degree is also required. More information can be found on the Graduate Studies admissions requirements webpage

Deadlines: Applications open in September and the deadline to apply to Food Science Graduate Group is December 1. For best consideration, please ensure all of your application materials are received by the deadline, including letters and transcripts.

Applications: Applications to the Food Science Graduate Group must be submitted online through the UC Davis Office of Graduate Studies. No paper copies will be accepted. Fellowships: Within the admission application, prospective students are able to apply for UC Davis fellowships. Access to the UC Davis Internal Fellowship section is only available after you have completed and submitted the admission application section. If applying for fellowships, you must also fill out and submit the fellowships application for new students.

Letters of Recommendation: Three letters are required. Once you have identified recommenders in your application, they will be sent a secure online submission link. Letters of recommendation will only be accepted via the online system. No paper letters will be accepted.

Transcripts: UC Davis requires academic records from each college-level institution you have attended. You will be instructed to upload scanned copies of your transcripts after you have submitted your online application. For more details visit

Status: Your login to the application system will also allow you to monitor the status of your application once submitted. All inquiries concerning the status of applications for admission should be referred to the Office of Graduate Studies.

Application fee: Current application fees are listed at the Graduate Studies Application Portal.

International application requirements and English language examination requirements can be found on the linked Graduate Studies webpages.  

Additional Requirements

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) - No longer required for admission

Coursework Preparation 

Graduate coursework in Food Science at UC Davis requires a background in mathematics and in biological and physical sciences as shown in the prerequisite worksheet. Students with general science deficiencies should complete these courses prior to admission into the program in order to be competitive for admission. The Food Science Graduate Group recruits and admits students from a number of scientific disciplines, and applicants lacking Food Science prerequisites can complete these during their first year of the graduate program.

Please note coursework preparation in the "Prior Coursework" section of the application. UC Davis course descriptions are hyperlinked below so student may compare their coursework to the UC Davis equivalency. 

Science Background Worksheet: Word format or PDF format

General Science preparatory courses for all students):

General Chemistry lectures and laboratory, including quantitative analysis (CHE 2A+2B+2C)
Organic chemistry lectures with laboratory (CHE 118A+118B+118C preferred, or CHE 8A+8B)
General Biochemistry lectures (BIS 102+103) and laboratory (MCB 120L or FST 123+123L)
Calculus and Analytical Geometry (MAT 16A+16B+16C)
Statistics including Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) (FST 117 or STA 100)
Physics lectures and laboratory (PHY 7A+7B+7C)
Introductory Biology (BIS 1A)
Microbiology: introductory microbiology (BIS 1A or MIC 102)

A foreign language is not required

In addition, students need the following Food Science preparatory courses, which can count toward the graduate degree:

Physical Chemistry (CHE 107A+107B)
Food Process Engineering: physical principles in food processing (FST 110A)
Food Microbiology: food microbiology lecture and laboratory (FST 104+104L)

English Language Proficiency

Applicants whose native language or language of instruction is not English must take the TOEFL or IELTS. Scores must not be more than two (2) years old. The TOEFL/IELTS requirement is waived for international applicants who have who have completed an undergraduate or graduate degree in the US.

For the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Exam, a minimum score of 80 is required. Students with TOEFL iBT scores of 104 or below will be required to take an additional ESL examination once they start their graduate program here to determine their level of English ability and whether they would benefit from additional ESL coursework at UC Davis. Students with a TOEFL Speaking section scores less than 23 will also be required to take and pass the UC Davis SPEAK test in order to be eligible to serve as a Teaching Assistant.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Exam - as an alternative to the TOEFL, you may submit scores from the Academic Modules of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) designed by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate and administered by the British Council worldwide. You are responsible for providing Graduate Studies with an official test report form showing the score you earned on your IELTS examination. Remember to order the TRF when you register to take the test. The minimum score required for admission to graduate study at UC Davis is 7 on a 9-point scale.

Commitment to Diversity

The Graduate Group in Food Science is fully committed to providing educational, research and social environments that are both rich in diversity of thought, and welcoming of cultural, religious, racial and individual differences, including gender expression and disabilities. Food is a fundamental necessity for all of humankind, but is selected, prepared, consumed and preserved differently in different cultures and geographical locations. Food also figures prominently in celebrations and other ceremonies of life. Sharing, understanding and appreciating the commonality of food as it is used both for sustenance and in ritual is a uniting, as well as enlightening endeavor. To participate fully in an enriching educational environment, no student should encounter any barriers to sharing or learning that might be caused by his or her individual heritage, background or social condition; individual differences are an asset, not an affliction. We therefore enthusiastically subscribe to the UCD Principles of Community, to “confront and reject all manifestations of discrimination, including those based on race, ethnicity, gender and gender expression, age, visible and non-visible disability, nationality, sexual orientation, citizenship status, veteran status, religious/non-religious, spiritual, or political beliefs, socio-economic class, status within or outside the university, or any of the other differences among people which have been excuses for misunderstanding, dissension or hatred.”