Skip to content

Careers in Food Science

Career Opportunities in Food Science

Are you interested in developing new delicious and nutrition food products? Are you interested in improving the safety of the world’s food supply? Do you like science and/or engineering? When you finish college do you want to have a career that pays well and is rewarding? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then perhaps Food Science is the right major for you. A food scientist applies chemistry, microbiology, engineering, and other sciences to the production, processing, preservation, evaluation, and distribution of food products. Food scientists help to ensure the availability of safe, convenient, desirable, and nutritious foods for the world’s consumers.

In terms of value of shipments, food processing is the largest manufacturing industry in the United States. Graduates of the UT Food Science program have career options in a variety of food industries, such as those producing dairy, meat, fruit, vegetable and cereal products. There are many employment opportunities, including positions in new product research and development, quality assurance and quality control, production management, marketing, food/flavor chemistry, microbiological food safety, food engineering, and sensory evaluation. There also are positions in state and Federal governments for food safety and quality inspection.

The demand for food science graduates by the food industry and regulatory agencies exceeds the available supply. Food science-related careers are among the top job prospects in the US and internationally. Salaries are highly competitive and are in line with professional degree subject areas. The national average starting salary for food science graduates with B.S. degree is in the $40,000-$60,000 range.


Left Float PhotoStudents majoring in Food Science  follow a curriculum leading to a science concentration or a pre-professional concentration. These curricula prepare students to apply basic scientific and business principles to manufacturing, processing, distribution and utilization of food products that meet the needs and desires of consumers. Course work emphasizes the basic principles of converting raw food materials into safe, acceptable consumer products. Course information on food commodities details processing of specific types of food products such as bakery, fruit and vegetable, dairy, and meat products. Students entering the program should have an interest in the sciences, such as chemistry, microbiology, and biology.

 Curricula for the pre-professional and science concentrations are similar, and differ slightly with regard to the level and number of basic science requirements. Students pursuing the pre-professional and science concentrations can earn the B.S. degree in Food Science after completion of the respective four-year programs. Additionally, the pre-professional curriculum allows students to be awarded the B.S. degree after three years in FST and the successful completion of the first year (two semesters) in an approved dental, medical or pharmacy program or the UT College of Veterinary Medicine. Although a B.S. degree is not required for admission to the Colleges of Dentistry or Medicine, most students accepted into these programs have earned a baccalaureate degree before admission. A B.S. degree also can be obtained before enrolling in a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program.

Non-majors can earn a minor in Food Science\ by taking 16 hours of prescribed courses in the department.


The department’s diverse and well trained faculty is committed to providing quality education for all students in the program. Areas of expertise include food chemistry, food engineering, food microbiology, food processing, and sensory evaluation. In addition, faculty interests include fruits and vegetables, meat products, and cereal and bakery products. The majority of departmental faculty members have won outstanding teaching and/or research awards.

As a freshman or transfer, each student is assigned a faculty advisor to help with program planning and career decisions. Advisors are readily available for these activities and can provide information on employment, internships, and financial aid opportunities.


Students in Food Science have access to up-to-date food chemistry and food microbiologylaboratories and specialized equipment for food processing and evaluation. Upon completion of a new Food Science Building, there will be specialized areas for processing fruits and vegetables, meat products, and bakery products. There is a computerized sensory evaluation laboratory used for both teaching and research. Students also are exposed to commercial food processing and handling operations via field trips and industry field experiences during their courses of study.

The UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources provides students with a campus area that houses all the agricultural classrooms as well as a separate library that offers collections and services for agriculture, veterinary medicine, and related biological sciences. Internet access is available in all classrooms and laboratories.

 Extracurricular Activities

The Food Science Club is an integral part of the department and is an affiliate of the Student Association of the professional society of food science, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). The club provides students with an opportunity to develop personal and professional relationships with fellow students, faculty, and people in the food industry. Through its annual fund-raising programs, the club helps support various projects such as travel to professional meetings, meat and dairy judging teams, field trips, seminars, and social activities.

Undergraduate students have the unique opportunity of participating in laboratory research projects with faculty and graduate students. Students can then participate in undergraduate research paper competitions on campus and at meetings of various professional organizations. Students may compete in the annual IFT Student Association College Bowl competition where UT is in the Midwest region with universities from Kentucky, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Active involvement in the Club and professional organizations offers students opportunities to develop leadership potential on both a local and national level.

Students may also participate in departmental activities. The Department sponsors Dairy Products and Meat Judging teams which travel and compete with students from other universities. Team members have opportunities to tour dairy and meat processing companies during their travel. Involvement with judging teams allows students to increase their expertise in food science while receiving academic credit.

The Department provides assistance and opportunities for students to participate in travel abroad. For example, past travel experiences have included study tours of Mexico, Thailand, Jamaica, Sweden, France, Germany, and Ghana. Additionally, students assist with departmental recruiting activities and career fairs on and off campus. Students are encouraged to participate in internships with food industry organizations, usually during the summer semester.

At UT, there are numerous leisure and educational activities available, including sports clubs, intramural sports, fraternities and sororities, and religious organizations. Participation in extracurricular activities is encouraged.


All applicants must meet the general University requirements for admission listed in the UT Undergraduate Catalog. Additional courses in science and mathematics are beneficial as preparation for study in Food Science.

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 adviser) to choose appropriate courses. Generally, most credits from the first two years of study at another institution can be applied toward the FST program.

Questions about admission to the University should be directed to:

The University of Tennessee
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
320 Student Services Building
Knoxville, TN 37996-0230
Telephone: (865) 974-2184 or toll-free in Tennessee 1-800-221-8657

 ​Financial Aid

UT’s tuition and fees are on par or lower than those of many other colleges and universities. Students in Food Science are eligible for General University Scholarships paying up to $7000 per year and for College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources scholarships ranging from $600 to $4000 per year. Over one-third of the undergraduate students in the College receive awards averaging $1000 per year. Several scholarships are designated specifically for FST majors.

IFT provides freshman/sophomore and junior/senior scholarships to encourage students to enter or continue in the field of Food Science. These scholarships are awarded on a competitive, national basis. Additionally, work-study opportunities may be available in the department with a faculty member or office staff.

Questions regarding eligibility and deadlines for specific scholarships may be directed to the Department Head. For information on additional sources of financial aid, please contact:

The University of Tennessee
Office of Financial Aid
115 Student Services Bldg.
Knoxville, TN 37996-0210
Telephone: (865) 974-3131


For further information about Food Science, contact:

Dr. Mark Morgan, Professor and Head
The University of Tennessee
Department of Food Science
2510 River Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-4539
Phone: (865) 974-7331 ​
Fax: (865) 974-7332

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.

Social Share Buttons and Icons powered by Ultimatelysocial