How far afield can a Food Science degree get before food employers stop considering its graduates?


I’m a professor in a program that offers a BS and MS in “Nutrition and Food Science”. To date, although the degree is quite diluted with classes outside the scope of traditional food science, it seems we’ve had very good success with employers taking our graduates seriously in applications for food science positions.

As a recent movement to better incorporate faculty expertise, and make something “visionary”, and “forward thinking”, etc., the department is considering shifting our program title to something more unique and comprehensive. Among the rough initial ideas considered:

  • Sustainable Food Production
  • Sustainability in Food and Wellness
  • Food Sustainability
  • Future of Food and Wellness
  • Etc…?

My concern has been that potential employers in the food industry will look at these on applicant’s resumes and say “that’s not food science… next applicant!”. But, to be honest, I really don’t know. Perhaps employers could find some of these appealing, forward-thinking and employable? I think perhaps the first one has the best shot at that.

I would really like for our department to be inclusive of all its faculty and create a good-spirited program, but I’m quite concerned we’d be negating our students’ ability to be qualified for jobs. I would very much appreciate other people’s thoughts and insights on this matter. Or if anyone has suggestions of what they’ve seen work, that would be great as well! Thanks so much!

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The place/ location where this course is happening have a major role to play.
It has been happening for awhile also. It can be noticed that there are few countries where the R&D of food processing/industry is focussed & located, and at these places the scope for food tech students are growing especially on the industry level. Generally it is always heard that UK got higher needs of food tech graduates as they have lots of food developments going on!!
The new theme of alternative proteins have been growing and suddenly there is huge requirement for experts with experience in meat , shrimp texture etc. There is also a relationship between the mechanical mixing / process towards the texture variation coming up in all category of food development (less earlier). Sustainability has taken a good step forward, while vegetarianism is going to go up while we require foods with good taste. Any topics related to sustainability related to water, food waste, health will continue. Personalized nutrition is highlighted similar to personalized medicine.
Food science degree has a greater portion of chemistry involved, and thus analytical chemistry students might still win/compete when it goes to jobs involving analysis, qc of foods, water, environmental + others. Food Science scope has to always keep changing and this is a big challenge we notice, for example the recent job scope of many companies is related to drinks which involve stabilizer, sweetner, emulsifier and so on, and a higher level knowledge in colloid science is required. Hence adapting to new needs of food trends will continue. Additionally with AI coming in, do we also have to incorporate data analytics to our syllabus. Relevancy and updating in food tech is something to look forward for all of us.

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