Ph.D. Programs

Ph.D. in Food Science

Photo Contest_Katherine SpeightOverview

The Ph.D. program in Food Science is designed for individuals with graduate or B.S. degrees in related sciences who want to gain more in-depth research and academic experiences in food science areas-related such as food safety, functional foods, food processing, sensory science, and food fermentation.

Ph.D. students enrolled in the program can pursue their specialization in the following fields of research interest:

– Food Chemistry
– Food Microbiology
– Food Engineering
– Food Processing
– Flavor Chemistry/Sensory Science

The faculty have been recognized nationally and internationally for their research achievements and teaching accomplishments. Under their mentoring, our Ph.D. students publish in prestigious peer-reviewed journals and present at national and international conferences. The scientific expertise of our faculty coupled with state-of-the-art facilities offer students a challenging research environment for the study of food ingredient functionality and rheology, the molecular mechanisms of foodborne illness and detection of foodborne bacterial and viral pathogens, the genetics and beneficial effects of probiotic microbes and lactic acid bacteria on human health, the science of brewery and dairy fermentation, the thermal/aseptic processing of foods, and the sensory and flavor chemistry of dairy and other ingredients.


Minimum Course Requirements for Ph.D. degree in Food Science:

(refer to Graduate Program Policies and Procedures for details)

Minimum Credits Needed on Graduate Plan of Work

(72) Ph.D.


unspecified (FS 895)


1 cr (FS 780)

Research Ethics

1 cr


1-3 cr (FS 885)

Core FS Courses (with minor)

‰¥9 cr

Core FS Courses (without minor)

‰¥15 cr

Optional Minor

6-10 cr

Dual Level FS Courses

6-8 cr

400-Level Courses


500 & 700-Level Courses


Transfer Credits

18-36 cr

Research Ethics: A Doctoral Plan of Work must include a course (minimum 1-credit) that has a major focus on research ethics. Suitable courses are listed on the Research Ethics program website. Students who can demonstrate equivalent exposure to research ethics topics may petition their Advisory Committee to waive this requirement.

Teaching: Ph.D. students must register for FS 885 (Doctoral Supervised Teaching) and serve as a teaching assistant for two semesters.

Core FS Courses: Most Food Science graduate courses are included in one of the following categories: Microbiology, Chemistry-Biochemistry, Nutrition, Engineering, and Processing Technology. A Ph.D. program must include courses from three categories. A course must be at least two credits to qualify as meeting a category requirement. Dual-level courses normally taken in an undergraduate Food Science major (FS 502, 503, 505, 506 and 521) do not fulfill the credit requirement in this category. Enrollment in a greater number of Food Science courses is encouraged.

Optional Minor: Credits for a minor are variable, depending upon the requirements of the minor department or program. A student will select the minor work from a single discipline or field that, in the judgment of the advisory committee, provides relevant support to the major field. However, when the advisory committee finds that the needs of the student will best be served by work in an interdisciplinary minor, it has the alternative of developing a special program in lieu of the usual minor. Courses used to satisfy a minor for a M.S. degree at NCSU may also count toward a minor in the same program on the Plan of Work for a Ph.D. Courses that are cross-listed with another department or program (e.g. FSA or NTR) may count toward the major or the minor, but not both.

Dual level FS Courses: Graduate students without a degree in Food Science must enroll for credit in two of the following courses: FS 231 (Food Engineering); FS 502 (Food Chemistry); FS 505 and FS 506 (Food Microbiology and Food Microbiology Lab); FS 521 (Food Preservation). Although FS 231 cannot be included on the Plan of Work, FS 502, 505, 506, and 521 may be used as elective credits to meet the minimum credit hour requirements.

400-level courses: Up to 6 credits of 400-level courses from OTHER departments may apply towards a Master’s Plan of Work. 400-level courses cannot be included on a Doctoral Plan of Work.

Transfer credits: The 72-credit hour requirement for a Ph.D. student may include up to 36 credits transferred from a relevant M.S. degree taken at NCSU (if there was no break between the M.S. and Ph.D. registration), or up to 18 credits transferred from a M.S. degree taken at another university.

FS 696 and FS 896

FS 696 (M.S.) and FS 896 (Ph.D.) are sometimes used by students who need summer registration for various reasons. Examples are: new students beginning a research project in the Summer I term; U.S. students who wish to avoid deduction of FICA taxes (~7.5%) from their stipend during the summer months. FS 696 and FS 896 cannot be included on the Plan of Work.

Research Areas

Graduate Courses by Category:


FS 510- Food Lipids: Issues and Controversies

FS 567- Sensory Analysis of Foods

FS 765- Polymer and Colloidal Properties of Foods


FS 741- Thermal Processing of Foods

FS 785- Food Rheology


FS 540- Food Safety and Public Health

FS 725- Fermentation Microbiology


FS 501- Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism

FS 555- Exercise Nutrition

FS 706- Vitamin Metabolism

Processing Technology

FS 530- Post-Harvest Food Safety

FS 522- Food Packaging

FS 553- Food Laws and Regulations

FS 751- Food Ingredient Technology In Product Development

General Food Science

FS 520- Pre-Harvest Food Safety

FS 526- Upstream Biomanufacturing Laboratory

FS 550- Food Industry Study Tour

FS 554- Lactation, Milk, and Nutrition

FS 557- Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods

FS 562- Post-Harvest Physiology

FS 580- Professional Development and Ethics in Food Safety

FS 780- Seminar In Food Science

Remedial Food Science (for students without a prior degree in the field)

FS 502- Chemistry of Food and Bioprocessed Materials

FS 505- Food Microbiology

FS 506- Food Microbiology Lab

FS 521- Food Preservation

Refer to NCSU Course Catalog for a complete list of Food Science courses and description. Browse FS-(Food Science) subject for the list of Food Science classes.


Internships can be a valuable educational experience and preparation for future employment. However, interrupting research progress for internships and coops often leads to a delay in the time required for the degree. In most cases there are limits to the number of semesters that research assistantships and tuition benefits can be paid. Some research projects involve industry cooperation, or opportunities to be involved in projects in remote locations. NC State offers special non-curricular training, such as Preparing the Professoriate, and Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching, through the Graduate School; participation in these programs can coincide with research and course work.



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“I am originally from Germany. I completed my B.Sc. program in Bio-and Process Technology at the Hochschule Furtwangen University. I did an internship (during my Bachelor €™s program) with Dr. Mary Ann Lila, as well as my Bachelor €™s thesis and got started with my graduate program at NC State in Food Science in the summer of 2012. I got really interested in Food Science, and especially the phytochemical/nutraceutical/food safety/food technology/health part when I was working in Dr. Lila €™s lab (at the Plants for Human Health Institute down on the North Carolina Research Campus) during my internship and later during my Bachelor thesis work. I like that our department is €œbig € yet not very big because I know most people at Schaub building, I have always rather liked places, where people know each other by name. It gives it a family feeling, and you are not just one anonymous person. I also like that the place is very vivid, so many things are going on, project-wise , lots of very talented people, moving forward together, trying to make a difference. I also like the rather friendly, casual get together. It €™s a good mixture of all. Academics at NC State are just excellent! I am working with great people, been working on a project collaborating with 3 different groups so to speak, 2 different universities. Great support from everyone. Club events are awesome too. I am starting my Ph.D. program in Fall 2014 because I love the program!” – Nathalie Plundrich