Majors & Minors​ in the Department of Food Science

What is Food Science?

Simply stated, food science is the study of food. Food scientists are the people who turn raw agricultural crops like corn, wheat, rice, soybean, potatoes, tomatos, sugar, cocao, coffee beans, hops, barley, and more into the safe delicious foods and beverages consumers buy at grocery stores and restaurants. Have you ever wondered about the processes involved to get the food on your table?

What is Fermentation Science? 

Fermentation is an industrial process by which microorganisms, particularly bacteria and yeasts but also plant and animal (eukaryotic) cells, are used to generate useful end products. Fermentation processes are diverse from traditional food and beverage fermentations to industrial processes that produce biofuels and refined chemicals to proteins and antibodies in the biopharma industry to improve health. In the food and beverage industry, fermentation is used to create products such as sour dough bread, cultured milk and yogurt, cheese, beer, wine, kimchi, sauerkraut and novel food ingredients like soy leghemoglobin (heme) which gives the meaty flavor and texture to plant-based protein products. With advances in biotechnology, fermentation is an important process used in the pharmaceutical industry to make products like insulin. More and more people are interested in our human body's fermenter, our gut, and how our gut microbiome impacts our health. Many of today's challenges with feeding a growing global population, advancing medicines, and creating alternative bio-based energy sources sustainably will be solved using fermentation science. 

Is Food Science the right college major for me?

If you can answer YES to some of these questions, talk to our food science academic advisor, Allie Kingery,, about a bachelor's degree in food science and schedule a visit. Durng the fall semester 2020 visits will be virtual. 
  • Do you like food?
  • Do you  like science?
  • Do you wonder how food is made?
  • Do you like to create foods and beverages?
  • Do you want to help people have access to safe, nutritious, delicious, affordable food and beverages?
  • Are you interested in biology, chemistry, engineerning, technology, food safety, food security, food processing, culinary arts, nutrition, medicine?
  • Are you interested in food law, regulations, policy?
  • Do you like to solve problems?

Is Fermentation Science the right college major for me? 

  •  Do you like science, chemistry, biology, microbiology, and engineering? 
  •  Do you want to work in industries tackling some of our biggest societal challenges? 
  •  Are you interested in the food, beverage, biopharmaceutical, biofuels, and/or biotech industries? 
  •  Are you interested in producing protein from microbial sources?

What types of jobs do Food Scientists have?

Food scientists have many career paths such as product development, research and development, quality assurance, food safety, food law, food policy, food supply chain, procurement, sales, and more!  Some of our bachelor's dgree graduates continue their education and pursue medical school, law school, or business school.  Check out the Purdue Food Science Careers in Food Science page for more information about food science jobs, salary, alumni profiles. You can also contact Purdue Department of Food Science Careers Coordinator, Laurie Van Keppel,

What type of jobs do Fermentation Scientists have? 

Fermentation scientists can be involved with the design and execution of experiments and processes, manufacturing operations of fermentation processes, quality assurance and safety of products, and regulatory and compliance affairs. Contact Purdue Department of Food Science Careers Coordinator, Laurie Van Keppel, for more information.

Are Food Scientists in demand in the job market?

YES! As the largest industry in the United States, food processing employs nearly 2 million people and accounts for more than 16 percent of the country's gross national product. Consumers drive the industry as they seek healthy, convenient, and affordable foods and beverages to purchase. As the industry strives to meet consumers demands, the job market for trained food scientists grows. The need for food scientists continues to grow particularly during times of economic lows and the current COVID-19 pandemic. Purdue's Department of Food Science is recognized word-wide for training food scientists from around the globe.

Are Fermentation Scientists in demand in the job market? 

YES! In 2020, the market size of industrial biorenewable products, produced largely by microbial fermentation, was $475 Billion and has grown recently at a compound annual growth rate of ~20%.  Every year, more fermention scientists are needed to fill the jobs created in this growing sector.

What is the average salary for a Food Scientist?

The U.S. national average for an entry level bachelor's degree food scientist is ~$60,000 per year. As food scientists grow in their careers, they can expect to earn over $100,000 per year.

What is the average salary for a Fermentation Scientist?

The U.S. national average for an entry level bachelor's degree food scientist is ~$60,000 per year. As fermentation scientists grow in their careers, they can expect to earn over $100,000 per year.

Are there Department of Food Science scholarships?

The Purdue Department of Food Science offers ~20 scholarships specifically for students pursing the food science or fermentation science bachelor's degree. Every year over 50% of our students receive scholarships totaling over $500,000! Our students are also eligible for scholarships from Purdue University, Purdue College of Agriculture, and many external scholarships from food and beverage companies and organizations. Check out the Purdue Food Science Scholarship page for more details and how to apply.

Food Science and Fermentation Science Bachelor's Degree Majors

 Plans of S​tudy 

Purdue University's Food Science bachelor of science degree program and Fermentation Science bachelor degree program each consist of 120 credit hours that can be completed in 8 semesters on the West Lafayette, Indiana campus. The Purdue University catalog lists the detailed requirements and list of food science courses. Note: the Fermentation Science major is new as of fall 2021 and will be added to the university catalog soon.

Minors Offered within the Department of Food Science Pl​ans of ​Study 

What types of experiences outside of courses do Department of Food Science students typically have?

Students within the Department of Food Science at Purdue University can have part-time jobs with the Food Science Department Pilot Plant, Sensory Evaluation Laboratory or faculty research laboratories. There are many part-time jobs on and near campus. Over 90% of our students do at least one paid summer internship. Some students choose to do an international experience which can vary from a one-week experience to a semester or year study abroad. There over 900 extracurricular student clubs and organizations at Purdue. For details about the food science organizations, take a look at our Campus Life web page.

How much does it cost to attend Purdue University?

For the most current information, please refer to Purdue University Undergraduate Admissions website.

Ready to Apply?

Go to the Purdue Admissions website to apply.

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Department of Food Science, 745 Agriculture Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-8256

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