The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Ph.D. Requirements

Ph.D. Coursework

The following coursework should be completed to obtain a Ph.D. in Food Science. Specific classes are determined based on research interests and student needs, to be agreed upon by the student and advisor. 

A total of 21 graduate course credits and 18 dissertation credits are required to complete the degree.

For 21 graduate course credits,

  • Category 1: 9 credits from courses within the Department ≥600 level
  • Category 2: 2 credits Graduate Seminar (FS791A or FS792A, 1 credit each, 2 separate semesters)
  • Category 3: 1 credit Teaching Experience (FS796T)
  • Category 4: 9 credits from within or outside the Department ≥500 level 

The Graduate school requires two consecutive semesters of residency for graduation, fulfilled by registering and earning 9 or more credits in two consecutive semesters.

Additional Information

  • Student will need to consult the advisor for course selection
  • Category 2: At least 1 presentation (letter grade) seminar is required. Additional seminar can be either letter grade or SAT (no presentation) and this can be transferred if student completed MS degree at UMass. Seminar from other institution will NOT be transferred.
  • Category 3: All graduate students are expected to complete 1 credit teaching experience (FS796T). You will need to discuss with your advisor this requirement and the class will be assigned by Department Head/GPC.
  • Category 4: Suggested courses are one each from the following bullets unless evidence is provided that student has taken these courses in previous degree program(s).
A. Food Chemistry I, Food Chemistry II, or Food Analysis
B. Food Microbiology or Food Quality
C. Food Processing or Food Engineering
  • Category 4: Graduate students can use journal club credits, up to 2, toward their degree requirements, either letter grade or SAT.

Transfer Credits

  • 6 credits can be transferred from a BS degree, if they were not required for the BS degree.
  • Credits can be transferred from a MS degree to fulfill the 9 credits ≥500 level credits (category 4 above) and 1 credit of graduate seminar (category 2 above, only taken during MS degree at UMass Food Science). Transferred credits should be a subject appreciably different from the courses taken at UMass.
  • Your advisor must send a memo to the Graduate Program Director (GPD) with details of the courses to be transferred.

Required Forms

  1. Chair of the Comprehensive Exam Committee to send nomination to GPD.
  2. Advisor memo appointing dissertation committee to GPD.
  3. Signed prospectus/outline signature sheet to graduate school by candidate (At least 6 months before defense)
  4. Advisor memo announcing dissertation defense date to graduate school from GPD. (One month before defense)
  5. Signed dissertation signature sheet to graduate school by candidate
  6. Advisor to request a memo for results of defense to GPD with information of defense date, time, location and title
  7. Doctoral degree eligibility form to graduate school by candidate after completion of successful defense



Graduate School Handbook:


Updated August 26, 2019