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Nutrition and Food Sciences: MS, PhD

Nutrition and Food Sciences

The nutrition and food science program focuses on the chemical and biological components of food and the ways in which these ingredients affect health. Students learn the chemical, biological, microbiological, nutritional, engineering and economic aspects of food, as well as the social impacts of the foods people eat, including how they affect various issues, including economy, psychology, and culture.

Due to an increased awareness in recent years of how food directly affects the population’s health, there is a greater demand for professionals trained in nutrition and food science. The general public has begun to realize just how important it is to eat well-balanced meals. This means that the opportunities for careers in nutrition are at an all-time high.

Graduates in nutrition and food sciences can pursue the following careers:

  • Nutrition specialist
  • Food scientist
  • Research and development for food companies
  • Quality control and safety assurance work
  • Biomedical research
  • Work in secondary schools as a nutrition specialist
  • Pharmaceutical sales
  • Food sales and marketing
  • Quality assurance specialist
  • Product development scientist
  • Food technologist
  • Food production manager
  • WIC Nutritionist
  • Nutrition education
  • Food service manager
  • Patient services manager

Admission Requirements

Applicants are not required to have bachelor’s degrees in nutrition or food sciences, but they must have strong backgrounds in science and mathematics. There may be prerequisite courses needed for make up in some situations. These can be taken concurrently with graduate coursework and are determined on a case-to-case basis.

To be accepted to the program, it is recommended that applicants first contact a specific faculty member with whom they are interested in working. If the faculty member is accepting graduate students and agrees to work with the student, the student can then apply by completing the following application requirements:

Application Requirements:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Score at or above the 40th percentile on the GRE
  • Have a 3.0 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
  • Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation

International students have additional admissions requirements.

Admission Deadlines

The nutrition and food sciences graduate program has rolling admission, meaning the department will continue to consider and accept applications until the program is full. The time it takes to process an application is primarily dependent on the speed with which the School of Graduate Studies receives letters of recommendation, transcripts, and test scores. For most students, this process may take six to eight weeks. Applicants should plan accordingly.

Additionally, students may have better opportunities to receive funding if they apply in time for fall semester.

Program Requirements

PhD Qualifying Exams:

When a PhD student has completed the courses listed in their program of study, they schedule a meeting of their committee for the comprehensive examination. This is usually an oral examination, although committee members have the option of providing a written exam. Typically students will be asked questions related to their area of concentration and their field of research, but the comprehensive exam can also be used to test the student's overall knowledge of food science or nutrition.

Master's Degree Plan Option(s)

Students can receive the MS by pursuing the following option:

  • In the Plan A option, students complete graduate-level coursework and must write a thesis.

Financial Assistance

All students typically receive some kind of assistantship; however, the department will accept students who are self-funded if there are no available assistantships remaining.

The Gandhi Scholarship is also available on a competitive basis to support outstanding students during their graduate education in food science. Awards are available for entering master’s degree students, as well as for PhD candidates. Applications are due February 1. To obtain an application, visit the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences website or contact the department.

A variety of funding opportunities are available on the graduate school website.

Graduate students in the department receiving a 0.5 FTE assistantship may not accept additional employment without written permission of their major professor and the department head; this policy is to ensure that graduate students have sufficient time available to complete the academic requirements of their degree in a timely fashion.

Karin Allen, PhD, Utah State University
Associate Professor, Program Director
Department: Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences Department
Area: Food quality
Office: NFS 328A
Phone: (435) 797-1768

Luis Bastarrachea, PhD, University of Massachusetts
Assistant Professor
Department: Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences Department
Area: Food engineering
Office: NFS 307
Phone: (435) 797-4182

Charles Carpenter, PhD, University of Wisconsin
Department Head, Professor
Area: Muscle biochemistry and physiology, meat processing
Office: NFS 213
Phone: (435) 797-2103

Clara Cho, PhD, University of Toronto
Assistant Professor
Area: Nutrition and neurobiology
Office: NFS 303
Phone: (435) 797-5369

Carrie Durward, PhD, Penn State University
Assistant Professor
Area: Nutrition
Office: AGSC 225 D
Phone: (435) 797-2104

Korry Hintze, PhD, North Dakota University
Associate Professor
Area: Cellular and molecular biology
Office: NFS 304
Phone: (435) 797-2124

Heidi LeBlanc, MS, Utah State University
Extension Professor
Area: Food stamp program
Office: NFS 207
Phone: (435) 797-3923

Michael Lefevre, PhD, University of California – Davis
Area: Nutrition
Office: BTEC 313
Phone: (435) 797-3821

Silvana Martini, PhD, University of Plate, Buenos Aires
Department: Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences Department
Area: Food science, sensory
Office: NFS 327
Phone: (435) 797-8136

Sulaiman Matarneh, PhD, Virginia Tech
Assistant Professor
Department: Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences Department
Area: Meat Science/Muscle Biology
Office: NFS 329
Phone: (435) 797-3114

Donald McMahon, PhD, Utah State University
Department: Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences Department
Area: Food science, dairy chemistry, technology
Office: NFS 248 B
Phone: (435) 797-3644

Ronald Munger, PhD, University of Washington
Area: Nutrition, epidemiology, and public health
Office: NFS 311
Phone: (435) 797-2122

Brian Nummer, PhD, Clemson University
Department: Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences Department
Area: Food safety, preservation, and storage
Office: NFS 321
Phone: (435) 797-2116

Mateja Savoie-Roskos, PhD, Utah State University
Associate Professor, MPH Program Director
Area: Dietetics
Office: NFS 207B
Phone: (435) 797-5777

Marie Walsh, PhD, North Carolina State University
Department: Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences Department
Area: Food science
Office: NFS 318
Phone: (435) 797-2177

Robert Ward, PhD, University of California – Davis
Associate Professor
Department: Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences Department
Area: Food science, bioactive materials
Office: NFS 322
Phone: (435) 797-2153

Heidi Wengreen, PhD, Utah State University
Area: Nutrition, epidemiology, dietetics
Office: NFS 307
Phone: (435) 797-1806

Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs

American Dietetic Association: The American Dietetic Association is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education, and advocacy.

Institute of Food Technologists: With members from virtually every discipline related to food science and technology, and from more than 100 countries around the world, IFT is a professional organization for those dedicated to the science of food. IFT’s professionals collaborate to address critical issues, such as hunger, malnutrition, and sustainability.

Labs, Centers, Research

Center for Advanced Nutrition: The CAN provides a multi-disciplinary venue for the discussion, discovery, and dissemination of information about the biological, physiological, and psychological mechanisms of proper nutrition. The scope of discovery is broad and falls into four distinct but overlapping focus areas: bioactive foods, nutrition and the brain, ingestive behavior, and personalized nutrition.

Center for Human Nutrition Studies: The "Center for Human Nutrition Studies" at Utah State University provides the organizational structure and logistic support for research scientists with interests in conducting clinical studies with an emphasis on nutrition. The Center, with a core staff consisting of experienced clinical researchers, community interventionist, research dietitian, clinic coordinator, laboratory research associate and support staff, coupled with an outstanding clinical facility and research kitchen, is designed to serve as a resource to Utah State University researchers in efforts to secure extramural research funding and industry contracts and partnerships. The Center also provides opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to gain experience in the design and conduct of human nutrition clinical studies. The Center is managed by the USTAR Applied Nutrition Research Team in conjunction with the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science and under the administrative oversight of the College of Agriculture.

Center for Integrated BioSystems: The CIB leads a progressive, interdisciplinary effort in research, core services, and education serving agriculture and life sciences. The CIB is where the first hybrid animal, a mule, was cloned, and was named one of “30 Awesome College Labs” by Popular Science magazine. The CIB has a research program with several active projects in diverse areas of life science that encompass plant, animal, and microbe functional genomics.

Utah Agricultural Experiment Station: The UAES is part of a network of researchers and facilities at the nation’s land-grant universities and is committed to improving agriculture and managing natural resources for the people of Utah. At research facilities on the USU campus and throughout the state, UAES supports hundreds of research projects that promote agriculture and human nutrition and enhance the quality of rural life.

Western Dairy Center: The Western Dairy Center conducts basic and applied research in dairy products and ingredients, and then transfers the results to the dairy industry. The center provides expert assistance in these important areas: fluid milk and ice cream, fermented products (cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, buttermilk), milk protein chemistry (coagulation, denaturation, separation), food engineering (membrane, extrusion and injection processing), genetics and bioengineering of lactic acid bacteria, ultra-high temperature and extended-shelf life products.

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Academic Advising

Tara Black
Assistant to the Department Head
Office: NFS 213
Phone: (435) 797-2102

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