Ph.D. Programs

Graduate students in our department can choose from Ph.D. programs in Food Science and Nutrition Science.

Ph.D. in Food Science

Graduate faculty in the Food Science program identify, develop, and apply concepts, theories, and emerging methodologies from the fundamental disciplines of chemistry, engineering, microbiology, bioprocessing, nutrition, and sensory science, to the investigation of critical issues in food and biological systems, components, products, and processes.

Students with degrees in any of the life science, agricultural, and engineering disciplines, as well as food science majors, are able to design challenging graduate programs that will prepare them for successful careers in the food, pharmaceutical, and bioprocessing industries or in academia.

Ph.D. in Nutrition

The Ph.D. program in Nutrition is administered through an Interdepartmental Program consisting of faculty from four departments: Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Science, Animal Science, 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences and Poultry Science.

Research activities are as diverse as the Nutrition faculty and range in level from the molecular to the whole animal, from the individual to the community. Students majoring in Nutrition are affiliated with and housed in one of the departments listed above. The choice of department, as well as faculty adviser, depends on the research interests of the student.

Recent Doctoral Dissertations from The NC State University Food Science and Nutrition Programs

To see examples of the exciting research projects our students have been engaged in, search the NC State Library’s on-line repository by discipline.

Graduate Admissions Procedures

Students must use the on-line application procedure on the Graduate School home page. Food Science should be listed as the desired major on the application. A research speciality may also be listed as an option.

The application must include:

  • A personal statement including the area of research interest or long term goals and a summary of the student €™s background and experience
  • Transcripts from all universities attended (unofficial copies my be uploaded)
  • Three letters of recommendation (can be submitted electronically from contact information you provide)
  • Graduate Record Examination score (no minimum score is used in isolation to disqualify applications)
  • Foreign applicants must also provide a TOEFL score (80 total with all sections at least 18 on Internet-based test being the lowest acceptable €“ 213 on computer-based test) or IELTS (score of ‰¥ 6.5 on all parts)

Action on admission will not occur until all documents have been received. If an applicant qualifies for admission, the Director and the Graduate Admissions Committee will circulate the application to the faculty in the applicants research interest area to find any who are willing and able to serve as an adviser. Applicants for M.S and Ph.D. degrees are encouraged to contact faculty with similar interests to discuss research advising prior to application and list those individuals in their personal statement. The adviser €™s agreement or recommendation is needed prior to the department making a recommendation to the Graduate School for final admission. Qualified applicants who are not selected for Ph.D. admission due to lack of space in the program may defer their application to the next semester.

The number of qualified applicants to our program generally exceeds the number of students we are able to admit. Qualified applicants are notified of the following options:

Contact Faculty in Your Area of Interest
Brief descriptions of our departmental research programs are available on our webpage. We encourage you to contact faculty in your area of interest and ask if they are seeking new graduate students. In some cases a faculty member may be willing to advise a student who is able to support their own living and tuition costs. Often faculty are not looking at applications if they do not have full funding and your contact may get their attention

Visit Campus
We would be happy to arrange for you to meet with our faculty and tour our facilities. The faculty can provide additional information about their research, their expectations, coursework, and the availability of an assistantship in their program. Contact Juliebeth Briseno at to coordinate a visit.

Consider a Non-Thesis Degree

Students who are not able to identify a research program for the thesis may consider admission to our non-thesis Master of Food Science/Nutrition graduate program. The program requires 36 credits of coursework and completion of a 4 to 6 credit independent project. Some students in this program are able to change to the M.S. program if they connect to a faculty member research project. However, we cannot guarantee that outcome. Contact us if you are interested in this option.

Assistantships and Fellowships for research degrees are awarded on a competitive basis of M.S. and PhD degrees. No separate application is required for assistantships from the department. Asssistantships are usually awarded on an annual basis with renewal based on satisfactory progress and availability of funds. Faculty usually seek candidates for their research assistantship positions when they are sure of the award, but most commonly between February and May. Note that this is earlier than the our €œpreferred application deadline € for US students for Fall admission posted on the Graduate school website.


Ph.D. students are eligible to receive research assistantships based on the individual’€™s qualifications and funding availability. For more information, please contact Dr. Jon Allen (Director of the Graduate Program) or Ms. Juliebeth Briseno (Graduate Administrative Support).

A Diverse Student Body

Students with degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Nutrition, Engineering, Poultry Science, Animal Science, and Horticulture have earned advanced degrees in our department. Graduate students in the department also come from diverse geographical and cultural backgrounds. Approximately three-quarters of our graduate students come from the US and one-quarter from the rest of the world. Students have the opportunity to enrich their knowledge of other cultures and gain insights into scientific inquiry at the international level.

Professional Development

Students are encouraged to be active in organizations that represent their professional interests such as the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). Many of our graduate students also take advantage of  opportunities to develop their career interests and leadership skills through participation in the Food Science Club, Nutrition Club, or Graduate Student Association. These enrichment activities combined with the outstanding talents of our students have led to many prestigious awards and fellowships from national and international honor societies and professional organizations.

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