M.S. Degree Requirements

Water distribution and mobility in KiwiStudents will select a specific area of emphasis within food science and choose whether to complete degree requirements under Plan I (with thesis) or Plan II (by oral examination). The coursework required depends on these choices, although some courses are required for all students. The emphasis areas are:  

  • Chemistry/Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Processing 
  • Sensory Science 
  • Enology

A student can also design an individual emphasis area in consultation with the graduate adviser.    
All courses are described in more detail in the UC Davis catalog. 

Breadth Requirements

All students in the program must take (or have taken) formal coursework in food chemistry, food microbiology, and food processing. This required coursework is described below.

Food Chemistry—one course from each of these groups:

  • FST 103, FST 250, VEN 123  
  • FST 201, FST 202, FST 210, VEN 219  
  • Food Microbiology—the following must be completed: 
  • FST 104  
  • FST 104L (or VEN 128 for those in the Enology emphasis)  
  • Food Processing—the following must be completed 
  • FST 110A  
  • FST 110B  

Depth Requirements 

To satisfy the requirements of the selected emphasis areas, students must take (or have taken) at least 16 units of specialized courses approved by their adviser. These units must include the courses indicated below but cannot include course units used to satisfy the breadth requirements. 


FST 201  
FST 202 or FST210  
MIC 140  
MIC 150  
FST 204 or FST 205  

Processing—Students must take FST203 and two courses among the following: 

FST 202  
EBS 231, 233, 235, 237, 239, 265, 275, 297  
ECH 265 

Sensory Science: 

FST 107A  
FST 107B  
FST 207 or VEN 225  


VEN 123  
VEN 124  
VEN 125  
VEN 126  
VEN 128  
VEN 135  
VEN 219  

Individual Study: Students interested in designing an individual program should plan coursework equivalent in rigor to the requirements listed under the other emphasis areas. In addition, the completely planned program must be approved by the Student Welfare and Advising Committee and the Executive Committee of the Graduate Group in Food Science.  
Courses chosen to satisfy depth or breadth requirements may not be taken on a pass/no pass or satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis, with the exception of variable unit classes.

The inclusion of any variable unit courses toward these 16 units requires the approval of the Executive Committee of the Graduate Group in Food Science. 

(Abbreviations used:  BIS, Biological Sciences; CHE, Chemistry; EBS, Engineering Biological Systems; ECH, Engineering: Chemical 
Engineering and Materials Science; FST, Food Science and Technology; MAT, Mathematics; MCB, Molecular and Cellular Biology; MIC, Microbiology; NUT, Nutrition; PHY, Physics; PLS, Plant Sciences, VEN, Viticulture and Enology.)

Seminar Requirements:

All students must take 3 units of graduate seminar and give at least one oral presentation of research results. Two units must be selected from FST 290, FST 291, and VEN 290. The third unit of seminar is chosen with consent of the graduate adviser. Credit for the oral presentation may be earned by completion of FST 291. Students who do not take FST 291 must present a seminar based on their thesis or research project. Enology students may give their oral report in VEN 290.

Dissertation and other Requirements (Plan I or II):

Additional requirements for the M.S. degree will depend on whether a Plan I or Plan II program is being followed:

Plan I (Thesis) requires completion of a minimum of 30 units of upper division (100 series) and graduate (200 series) courses and a thesis based on original research approved by a thesis committee. Of the 30 units, at least 12 units must be in graduate courses in the major field, including a minimum of 3 units of graduate courses other than research and seminar.

The Plan I thesis committee consists of the major professor and two other faculty competent to provide research guidance in the scientific area of the thesis topic. The committee is nominated by the academic adviser and appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies. Plan I students should identify their major professor and establish their thesis topic by their third quarter of graduate study; the composition of the thesis committee should be discussed with their academic adviser soon thereafter. 

Plan II (Oral Examination) requires completion of a minimum of 36 units of upper division and graduate courses and, in lieu of the thesis, a research report and a comprehensive oral examination. Of the 36 units, at least 18 units must be in graduate courses in the major field, including a minimum of 9 units of graduate courses other than research or seminar.

The Plan II orals committee consists of four faculty who are chosen to represent at least three emphasis areas. The major professor cannot be a member of the orals committee. The committee members are nominated by the graduate adviser and appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies. Plan II students should identify their major professor by their third quarter of graduate study and discuss the composition of the orals committee with the academic adviser before the research project is completed.

The research report differs from the thesis in terms of research depth. Whereas, the thesis demonstrates proficiency in completion of a scientific investigation, a research report demonstrates proficiency in the execution of meaningful scientific experiments and in the written presentation of the results. In both cases, the major professor must approve the written document before the degree can be awarded.

The unit requirements for both Plan I and Plan II are the minimum requirements. To achieve the best possible education, students are strongly encouraged to take additional depth coursework as determined through consultation with both the major professor and academic adviser.