University of Missouri MU Food Science College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
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Master of Science in Food Science

Thesis Option

General Requirements

  • The graduate student entering the M.S. degree program must demonstrate proficiency in the core courses of the undergraduate program in food science at MU.
  • At least 30 hours of graduate-level courses must be completed.
  • At least 15 hours must be in courses at the 8000 level or above.
  • Up to 40 percent of the required credit hours can be in research (FS 8090) or problems (FS 8085).
  • A Masters Degree Program Committee must be identified prior to approval of the research topic for the M.S. thesis and no later than the end of the second semester.
  • The final examination for the M.S. degree program will include the following components:
    1. Exit seminar presented to Food Science graduate faculty.
    2. Oral examination to demonstrate mastery of the course of study.
    3. Defense of the research presented in the M.S. thesis.

In addition to the departmental requirements, the Graduate School is requiring that all graduating students include a public abstract. The public abstract will be used by the Graduate School to record and track graduate students' research interests.

The process of receiving a Master of Science degree in Food Science from MU can be divided into several distinct steps. The student must also conform to any of the requirements and regulations of the MU Graduate School and the University of Missouri system. Applications are accepted at any time during the year.

Initial Steps

Before beginning the program of study:

Preparing the M.S. Program of Study

Finishing the M.S. Degree

Minimum Academic Requirements

A prospective M.S. student must have completed an approved course of study with a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a four point scale or its equivalent. This generally includes a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree program from an accredited university or equivalent experience.

In addition, prospective students must take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) no longer than five years prior to application to the M.S. program. The Food Science faculty prefers prospective M.S. students to have received a score of at least 1,000 on the combined score of the verbal and quantitative sections with neither section being below 400 and a minimum of 3.5 on the analytical writing section on the GRE.

Students who did not attend high school (or equivalent) where English was the language of instruction will be required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Generally, the minimum TOEFL score for acceptance into the Food Science Ph.D. program is 550 (paper-based), 213 (computer-based), or 80 for the internet-based version and 6.0 on the Academic IELTS. A score of 600 (paper-based) or 250 (computer-based) is recommended.

If the non-native English-speaking applicant has successfully completed one year of full-time post-secondary (college-level) study in a country where English is the native language within the past two years, then TOEFL or IELTS scores may be waived. One year of full-time enrollment is defined as completing the equivalent of at least 24 credit hours over 2 semesters at the undergraduate level or 18 credit hours over 2 semesters at the graduate level. English as a second language, intensive English, and/or remedial English courses cannot be included in the credit hour count.

Please note that although an applicant might have fulfilled the above conditions for a TOEFL/IELTS waiver for admission by the Graduate School, each graduate program reserves the right to require an applicant to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score. Please check with your academic program of interest for the programís TOEFL/IELTS requirements.

Acceptance

Students should assemble the appropriate documents to show that they have met the minimum academic requirements described above. In addition, they must complete a series of application forms for the University and the Food Science program. Details about admission to MU and graduate study may be obtained from the Graduate School site, including a master's time line: forms and requirements.

Once the application materials are assembled, all students should send them to:

Graduate Admissions
University of Missouri
210 Jesse Hall
Columbia, MO 65211-1300

Upon receipt of the documents, the Graduate Admissions committee will examine the application materials. Each application will be circulated to the Food Science program faculty. Faculty members will decide if they are willing to serve as a mentor for the student.

Students will be informed as to their provisional acceptance to the program usually within two months after receiving a complete application packet. Please note that provisional acceptance will only be given to students with an identified faculty mentor. Acceptance is contingent upon lab performance, GPA standing (greater than 3.0), and compliance with the division and University policies for graduate students, which will be evaluated at the end of every semester by the adviser.

Also, please note that acceptance does not imply that the student will receive financial assistance. If financial assistance is provided, the acceptance letter will include that information.

All the deadlines mentioned in the following paragraphs will be measured from the first day of classes in the first semester in which a student begins their M.S. Program of Study.

Identification of Proficiency Areas

While a basic goal of the M.S. program is to provide students with highly specialized skills and training in research methods, the Food Science faculty believes that it is important that M.S. students understand something of the breadth of the discipline as well.

The faculty has identified three "proficiency areas" in Food Science. The table below lists these areas and classes taught at MU that cover these areas.

Courses Covering the Proficiency Area
Chemistry and Analysis FS 7310, Food Chemistry and Analysis or
FS 7315, Food Chemistry and Analysis Laboratory
Engineering/Processing FS 3250, Food Engineering or
FS 7330, Principles of Food Processing or
BE 3180, Principles of Biological Engineering II or
BE 7160, Food Process Engineering I
Microbiology FS 7370, Food Microbiology and
FS 7375, Food Microbiology Laboratory

Successful M.S. students must demonstrate proficiency in at least two of these areas. There are two options for demonstrating proficiency:

  1. Successful completion of an appropriate course as an undergraduate, within the five years prior to beginning the M.S. program of study, as determined by the student's Program of Study Committee.
  2. Including an appropriate course from MU, or an alternate course approved by the M.S. Program of Study Committee, in a student's plan of study.

Note that problems courses, readings and research hours cannot be used to fulfill proficiency requirements.

Selection of a M.S. Program Committee

Students, in consultation with their primary faculty mentor, need to select faculty members to serve as their M.S. Program Committee within 12 months of starting the course of study.

An acceptable M.S. Program Committee must include at least three graduate faculty members at least two of whom must be from the Food Science program including the adviser chair. At least one committee member must be a graduate faculty member from MU, but outside of the Food Science program.

Other members of the M.S. Program Committee may come from outside the MU graduate faculty with special permission of the Graduate Dean. These members are usually individuals with specialized expertise critical to the success of the student's research program.

The chair of the M.S. Program Committee will be the student's principal faculty mentor (major adviser).

The members of the M.S. Program Committee, led by the major adviser, will actively participate in the education of the student. This committee is responsible for:

  • Evaluating the student's completion of proficiency requirements.
  • Developing the plan of study.
  • Guiding the research activities.
  • Overseeing the writing and defense of the thesis.
  • Administering the final examination.
  • Maintaining high standards of scholarship and ethical behavior.
  • Administering correction and disciplinary actions when necessary.

When the M.S. Program Committee has been chosen, the student should submit a completed Request for a Thesis Committee form (form M-2) to the graduate coordinator. The coordinator will submit the completed form to the director of graduate studies and the graduate dean.

Should it become necessary to change the composition of the M.S. Program Committee, a Graduate Student Change of Committee form (PDF) must be filed with the graduate coordinator.

Development of the Plan of Study

The student and the major adviser, in consultation with the M.S. Program Committee will prepare a plan of study. This generally should be done within 12 months after entering the program. The sooner the plan of study is prepared, the easier it is to complete in a reasonable length of time. The plan of study includes a list of the formal courses, readings, problems, research hours and seminars that the students will use to fulfill the requirements for the M.S. degree.

MU requires a minimum of 30 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate degree for the M.S. degree. If approved by the student's M.S. Program Committee, this may include up to six hours of graduate credit transferred from another university or from another campus of the MU system.

In general, the Graduate School does not accept correspondence or extension course credit earned at any other campus. However, a student may take up to eight hours of correspondence courses that are authorized for graduate credit and offered through the UM Center for Distance and Independent Study. Courses to be taken for graduate credit must be approved by the graduate dean, and the enrollment form has a place designated for the graduate dean's signature.

As a minimum, the M.S. Program of Study should include the following:

  • FS 8402, Research Methods (2 credits)
  • FS 8087, Seminar (2 semesters of 1 credit each)
  • Statistics (3 credits)
  • FS 8090, Research (6 credits)
  • Two 8000-level courses, not to include readings (such as FS 8415) or problems (FS 8085) (at least 6 credits)

Additional hours may come from Food Science courses numbered 7000 or above or courses from other MU departments numbered 7000 or above. Research credits (FS 8090 may not exceed 40 percent of the total hours required in the M.S. Program of Study.)

Classes chosen to fill the plan of study may include those needed to fulfill proficiency areas. Other courses should be chosen to strengthen the student's ability to do research in his or her specific area. Once the Plan of Study has been developed, the student should submit the Plan of Study for the Master's Degree form (M-1) (PDF) to the graduate coordinator. The coordinator will submit the completed form to the director of graduate studies and the graduate dean.

Completion of the Plan of Study

A student must substantially complete the course work outlined in the plan of study (exclusive of research, problems or readings courses) to the satisfaction of the M.S. Program Committee and the Graduate School before taking the final examination.

In some unusual circumstances, it may become necessary to change a Plan of Study after the student and the M.S. Program Committee have developed it. The M.S. Program Committee must approve any substitutions, deletions or modifications of a student's Plan of Study. The student's academic adviser should inform the graduate program coordinator, in writing, of any necessary changes as soon as possible to assure that the proper paperwork is filed with the graduate dean.

Successful academic progress on the plan of study includes an acceptable grade point average (GPA). For graduate work, the Food Science program faculty and the MU Graduate School require all students to maintain at least a cumulative 3.0 GPA (on a four-point scale). A student receiving a cumulative or semester GPA of less than 2.0 is subject to immediate dismissal from the Food Science program and MU.

Students falling below a 3.0 cumulative GPA in any semester will be put on academic probation for the following semester. If at the end of the first probationary semester the student's cumulative GPA is greater than or equal to 3.0, the probationary status is removed. If the cumulative GPA has not reached 3.0, the student is allowed one more probationary semester.

Failure to achieve a cumulative 3.0 GPA in two successive probationary semesters will result in the immediate dismissal of the student from the Food Science M.S. Program. Unsatisfactory academic performance may also result in a student being dismissed from the University.

The Graduate School has a comprehensive policy covering the requirements and procedures to be followed when it becomes necessary to dismiss a student. They also have developed procedures for appeal of any decision by the Food Science program faculty. Students should consult the Graduate Catalog for further details.

Reasonable Rate of Progress

Every M.S. student will be evaluated annually for satisfactory progress by their major adviser as required by the Graduate School (see termination, dismissals, extensions and appeals).

Satisfactory progress includes adherence to a suitable timeline for completing the M.S. as described in this document, and adequate academic performance as described in Completing the Plan of Study (above.) The major professor will inform the Director of Graduate Studies as to the outcome of the evaluation on or before Sept. 1 of each year.

It is important to note that a reasonable rate of progress towards the M.S. degree is required. The M.S. degree must be completed within eight years after beginning. In unusual circumstances, it may be necessary to extend the time required to finish the degree. In these cases, the candidate requiring additional time must submit a request for extension prior to the expiration of the applicable period.

On petition of the student together with their major adviser, the director of graduate studies in the Food Science program may endorse an extension of time. A request for an extension of time must be submitted to the Graduate School for approval. Students who take more than five years to complete the M.S. may be required by the Food Science faculty to retake some or all of their course work.

Completion of a Research-Based Project

All M.S. students are required to develop and execute a research project. Most students will begin their research project shortly after beginning their Plan of Study. The research project is a collaborative effort between the student, the major adviser and the M.S. Program Committee. A successful project will involve research and scholarship that will significantly contribute to an increased understanding of Food Science.

The project must demonstrate the student's capacity for conducting research. All M.S. students are required to meet with their committee members to discuss their research project. Students are expected to maintain the highest standards of ethical behavior while engaged in research at MU. Plagiarism or falsification of data will result in a student being immediately dismissed from the program and MU.

Preparation of the Thesis

A thesis based on the student's own research must be reviewed and approved by the student's M.S. Program Committee. The thesis must be submitted to the graduate coordinator and the student's Program of Study Committee at least two weeks prior to the final examination. Specific regulations regarding completing and filing the thesis are outlined in Guidelines for Preparing Thesis and Dissertations.

After the major adviser approves the student's thesis, the document should be submitted to the remaining members of the M.S. Program Committee for their approval. (Note: after successfully defending the thesis, the student will make any needed adjustments in format and corrections/clarification based on input from the M.S. Program Committee.)

Exit Seminar

Shortly before the final examination, the M.S. student must prepare a seminar on his or her research. The seminar must take place when MU is officially in session and has to be announced at least two weeks prior to the scheduled date and is open to the general University audience. The members of the M.S. Program Committee should attend. The seminar may be scheduled immediately prior to the final examination for convenience.

Submission of Manuscript for Publication

All M.S. students are required to prepare at least one manuscript for publication to a refereed journal. The student's M.S. Program Committee must judge this manuscript acceptable for publication. A copy of the manuscript, signed by the M.S. Program Committee members must be submitted to the graduate coordinator along with the Report of the Master's Examining Committee (form M-3).

Final Examination

After the student's exit seminar has been presented, the M.S. Program Committee will conduct a final examination. The candidate should be prepared to defend their research and discuss any related areas.

A report of the examination, carrying the signatures of at least three members of the committee, must be sent to the Graduate School before the deadline preceding the anticipated date of graduation. For the thesis to be considered successfully defended, the student's M.S. Program Committee must vote to pass the student on the defense with no more than one dissenting or abstaining vote.

All final examinations are open to the general faculty. The Food Science program will announce final exams to appropriate colleagues within and outside the program. The final examination must take place when MU is officially in session and the candidate must be enrolled at MU at the time of the examination.

A final copy of the thesis must be submitted to the Graduate School electronically. A final bound copy of the thesis must be submitted to the department. Specific instructions are provided in the Guidelines for Preparing Thesis and Dissertations.

Finally, the student should assure that the form M-3, "Report of the Master's Examining Committee" is submitted to the graduate coordinator as soon as possible. The coordinator will submit the completed form to the director of graduate studies and the graduate dean.

Additional Considerations

Credit Toward a Second Master's Degree

A student who has completed one M.S. degree at MU or elsewhere may use a maximum of eight hours of credit earned in the previous program toward a second master's degree. This requires the recommendation of the student's major adviser and approval by both the director of Food Science Graduate Studies and the Graduate School.

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