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's need, 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, 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. Most students complete this requirement during their first 2 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). Students are allowed to take an additional 1 credit of Teaching Experience with agreement from the advisor and this can be used toward total credit requirement as Category 4. Department Head will assign the course for Teaching Experience.
  • 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: As stated above, graduate students can use the second Teaching Experience credit for this category as well as journal club credits (up to 2) toward their degree requirements, either letter grade or SAT.


Transfer Credits

  • Maximum 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.

Continuous enrollment:

  • Students who completed all course and dissertation requirements should register for Continuous Enrollment (GRADSCH999) and pay the Program Fee.
  • Students with continuous enrollment and students who take less than 9 credits should request an override for full-time status by e-mailing Stacy (
  • This needs to be done each semester you enrolled for both US and non-US students.
  • More information can be found at

Required Forms

  1. Chair of the Comprehensive Exam Committee (4 faculty members) to send nomination (results of comprehensive exam) to GPD.
  2. Advisor sends e-mail to GPD requesting the appointment of dissertation committee (should include at least 1 outside member).
  3. Student submits signed prospectus/outline signature sheet to graduate school after completion of prospectus (At least 6 months before defense).
  4. Advisor sends e-mail to GPD for a memo with dissertation defense date, time, location and title of dissertation. This should be done at least one month prior to defense date.
  5. Advisor sends e-mail to GPD for results of defense, date passed, and committee names.
  6. Student submit the signed dissertation signature sheet and the Doctoral degree eligibility form to the graduate school after completion of successful defense.



Checklist for Food Science Ph.D. Student


Graduate School Handbook:


Updated Aug. 25th, 2021