M.S. or Ph.D?

Student in the lab

The Food Science Graduate Group confers both masters (M.S.) and doctoral degrees in Food Science. These degrees will provide the student with distinct educational experiences, and prepare him or her for different career objectives. Applications to the M.S. and Ph.D. programs are handled separately by the Ph. D. admissions committee. Based on the number and quality of applicants, admission to the Ph.D. program is generally more competitive than admission to the M.S. program.

 In general, an M.S. degree would be the best choice if:

  • a shorter time-to-degree is desired (typically 2 years) 
  • you want a graduate educational experience with a roughly even mix of coursework and research 
  • your career objective is to work in industry, at jobs closer to the applications or business side (e.g. product development, technical support) 
  • you are interested in tackling a broader array of research problems, with shorter timelines to completion 
  • you want a graduate degree to supplement other educational experiences 
  • you want to learn more about research before deciding on a Ph.D. objective

In general, a Ph.D. degree would be the best choice if:

  • you want a graduate educational experience with a majority research component 
  • your career objective is to work on industrial research 
  • your career objective is to teach at a college or university 
  • you are interested in indepth research, and problems with a longer timeline 

The decision about which degree program to apply to is not a final one. Once admitted to the Food Science Graduate Group for an M.S. or Ph.D. degree, it is possible to change one's degree objective. That requires a new application to the admissions committee. Applications from continuing students who were admitted to the M.S. program who desire to change to a Ph.D. objective will be evaluated in light of the current pool of new applicants to the Ph.D. program.