The University of Massachusetts Amherst

M.S. with Thesis

Course requirements

  • The standard M.S. degree in Food Science involves the completion of total 30 graduate course credits. The minimum GPA (final) required for graduation is 3.0.
  • Students must get approval from their advisor on course selection.  
  • Students should complete the following courses from different categories:
    • Category 1*: At least 6 credits of Food Science courses at the 600- or 700- level are required excluding Thesis, Independent Study or Journal Club. One of the courses must be Research Methods (FS797R).
    • Category 2: One credit of seminar (FS791A) is required. 
    • Category 3: Minimum 6 to a maximum of 10 thesis credits. Maximum 9 thesis credits can be registered per semester. Register for thesis credits every semester (16 maximum credits, class + thesis credits per semester) until all are taken.

*Category 1: Typically, two 700-level Food Science courses are offered each semester. Each graduate course is usually offered once every two years except Research Methods (FS797R) is offered every Fall semester.

  • Students with a background in Food Science and previously took the following courses (or equivalent) need not repeat them but may enroll in other 500-level or above courses to fulfill their requirements.
    • Food Chemistry (FS541, FS542) or Food Analysis (FS581)
    • Food Microbiology (FS567) or Food Quality (FS590B)
    • Food Processing (FS561) or Elements of Food Process Engineering (FS575)

One course (3 or 4 credits, 400- level or above) may be from courses outside the Department. Note, if you take a 400- level course, this course must be outside the Department.  

  • Graduate students can take Teaching Experience (FS796T), an additional seminar with SAT (satisfactory grade, no presentation), or 1 credit journal club toward their degree requirements (either letter grade or SAT) toward their degree requirements (20 course credits). Note, the maximum journal club credits you can take is 2. 
  • Students should complete a thesis defense at the completion of their research project. The advisor may require a thesis proposal. The format of the proposal and thesis should be discussed with the advisor.

Credit transfer

  • Maximum 6 Graduate credits can be transferred from a BS degree or another MS degree, if they were not required for the respective degree. To transfer, you will need to submit a correct form to the Graduate School. These forms can be found at
  • For students completing 5-year BS/MS program (Accelerated Masters), an additional 6 credits can be transferred from the BS degree (double counted). Please submit a form for "Transfer credits, Accelerated Masters"
  • For students transferring unused credits from the previous MS program from another institution, please submit a form for ‘Transfer credits, External’. Transfer credits should be done in the 1st semester

Establish thesis committee 

Student requests advisor should send an email to GPD requesting the appointment of thesis committee (at least 2 faculty members including the advisor) at least one month before the final defense.

Defense notification

Student requests Moriah to send defense notification to all members of the department 1-2 days prior to scheduled defense.

After completion of defense

  • Student requests advisor to send e-mail to GPD for results of defense, date passed, and committee names.
  • Student submits the signed thesis signature sheet and signed Master’s degree eligibility form (ask Moriah for template and set up DocuSign) to the graduate school after completion of successful defense.
  • Student files thesis electronically to ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst 


Checklist for Food Science M.S. thesis Students


Graduate School Handbook:




Updated July 8th, 2022