What is Food Science and Technology
If you are interested in the quality and safety of food, have a special interest in science or engineering and would like an opportunity to work almost anywhere in the world, then you should consider majoring in food science and technology. A food scientist applies chemistry, microbiology, engineering, and other sciences to the production, processing, preservation, evaluation, and distribution of food products. Food scientists ensure the availability of a safe, acceptable, and nutritious selection of foods for the world’s consumers.
Food processing is one the largest manufacturing industries in the United States. Graduates of the program in food science and technology at UT have career options in a variety of food industries, such as dairy products, meat and meat products, fruit and vegetable products, and cereal products.
Career Opportunities in Food Science and Technology
There are many employment opportunities in food science and technology. Food scientists work for food processing companies or allied industries such as food ingredient, food equipment and packaging companies or government agencies. Food scientists perform as quality assurance supervisors, production managers, marketing representatives and food/flavor chemists. They also conduct new product research and development including sensory evaluation. There also are positions in state and federal government in food safety and quality inspection.
Salary Trends in Food Science and Technology
According to recent reports, food science-related careers are among the top job prospects for the twenty-first century. Salaries are competitive with most other professional subject areas. The national median starting salary for food science graduates with BS degrees is approximately $50,000. As with most jobs, salaries vary due to location, previous job or internship experience and job related technical skills.
High School Preparation
Students considering a major in food science and technology should have a high school program that emphasizes mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology. Computer and communication skills are also important. Students should consider business courses if interested in food plant operations management, technical sales and marketing.
How to Major in Food Science and Technology
All applicants must meet the general university requirements for admission listed in the UT Undergraduate Catalog or the Admissions Web site, http://admissions.utk.edu/undergraduate/ . Students who plan to transfer into the program from community colleges and other institutions are advised to contact the department and/or consult the current articulation agreement between the community college and UT (available from the community college advisor or on the UT web site A-Z Index under Transfer Articulation) to choose appropriate courses. Generally, most credits from the first two years of study at another institution can be applied toward the FST program. Prospective students are encouraged to schedule a visit to the Department of Food Science and Technology.
Requirements for Food Science and Technology
Students majoring in food science and technology follow a curriculum leading to either a science concentration, a business/technology concentration, or a pre-professional concentration. The science concentration curriculum is approved by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), the food science professional organization. Course work emphasizes the sciences and used as examples the basic principles of converting raw food materials into safe, acceptable consumer products such as bakery, crop, dairy, and meat products. Elective courses permit students to develop backgrounds in business with courses in accounting, business law, marketing, finance, transportation, and economics or in other areas of their choice. The business/technology concentration allows students to complete a minor in business or in another area such as Nutrition, Microbiology, Biology or Chemistry.
Curricula for the pre-professional and science concentrations are similar, but differ slightly with regard to the level and number of basic science requirements. Students pursuing the pre-professional and science concentrations can earn the BS degree in Food Science and Technology after completion of the respective four-year programs. Additionally, the pre-professional curriculum allows students to be awarded the BS degree after three years in FST and the successful completion of the first year (two semesters) in the UT College of Pharmacy program (Memphis) or the UT College of Veterinary Medicine. Although a BS degree is not required for admission to the Colleges of Dentistry and Medicine, most students accepted into these programs have earned a bachelor’s degree before admission.
Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships
Students are encouraged to participate in internships with food industry organizations, usually during the summer semester. A food science and technology curriculum requirement is practical training in food processing plants, food laboratories or state or federal regulatory agencies. The food science and technology faculty will assist students in securing industry internships or other practical experiences.
Highlights of Food Science and Technology
Students in food science and technology have the opportunity to participate in several extracurricular activities that enhance their professional and leadership skills. The Food Science Club is an integral part of the department and is an affiliate of the Student Association of the national IFT. The club provides students with an opportunity to develop personal and professional relationships with fellow students, faculty, and people in the food industry.
The department sponsors a dairy products judging team that travels and competes with students from other universities and also tour dairy operations. The department supports opportunities for students to tour a variety of food industries through classes and specific field trip courses to learn about career opportunities and observe food processing operations. Students are encouraged to perform research projects that can be presented at the UT undergraduate research fair or at professional meetings in food science, food chemistry, food microbiology and food engineering. In addition, the department provides assistance and opportunities for students to participate in travel abroad. Examples of past travel abroad include study tours to Thailand and Jamaica and industry work experience opportunities in Mexico.
Students are encouraged to participate in faculty-led study abroad programs sponsored by Students are encouraged to participate in faculty-led study abroad programs sponsored by CASNR, which include Thailand and Jamaica. Other UT faculty-led and semester abroad programs are offered through the Center for International Education. CASNR does offer some scholarships for CASNR students participating in study abroad programs. Students, faculty and staff participate in the annual Unity through Diversity Dinner held each fall. Some students select a minor in Modern Foreign Languages and Literature.
Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.
Academic Plan and Milestones
Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. Beginning with first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students entering in the Fall 2013 semester, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.
To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, go to http://catalog.utk.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=16&poid=6349
Food science information: http://foodscience.tennessee.edu/
Undergraduate curricula: http://foodscience.tennessee.edu/?id=undergraduate_curriculum
Food science classes: http://foodscience.tennessee.edu/prospective/undergraduate/
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For More Information
Dr. Jennifer Richards, Undergraduate Coordinator
The University of Tennessee
Department of Food Science and Technology
2510 River Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-4591
The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.