By CVO Staff
Published January 2016

Welcome to our ranking of the 30 best value food science degrees in the United States. These schools were selected from among 46 colleges and universities offering food science programs identified in the The National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator Database. Food science is a STEM field in which each of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics plays a crucial role. Food scientists work in every facet of the $600 billion food industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for food scientists is $58,610, but those with advanced degrees and experience in the field often earn over $100,000 per year. Earning a degree from one of the best food science programs can help students start their career off on the right foot. The main role of food scientists is to produce good food that is nutritious, and affordable, while satisfying demand — a task of increasing complexity in the modern age. The methodology behind our ranking of the best value food science degrees is detailed at the end of the article

#30. University of Maine

Orono, Maine
BS in Food Science and Human Nutrition

University of Maine
Website
Rating: 10

The University of Maine’s food science degree offers concentrations in food science, human nutrition and dietetics, and food management. The food science concentration is approved by the Institute of Food Technologists. Students who take the food science concentration often go on to graduate school at universities like Penn State, the University of Georgia, and the University of Illinois. The University of Maine boasts a 100% job placement for food science graduates, some of whom have gone on to work at companies like Kellogg’s, Campbell’s Soup, Givaudan Flavors, and Kerry Foods.

Tuition:$10,606
Average 20 yr. ROI: $260,200
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 94%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 3

#29. University of Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas
BS in Food Science

University of Arkansas
Website
Rating: 10

The three concentrations offered by the University of Arkansas food science degree are food and culinary sciences, food science, and food technology. The food science concentration is a science intensive, IFT-approved program. Students who want an international perspective can study abroad in either Beauvais, France, or Ghent, Belgium. The Arkansas Food Innovation Center presents students with a unique bridge to their community. Students involved with the AFIC get hands-on experience by running training programs and helping local entrepreneurs, farmers, and businesses develop new product lines.

Tuition: $8,210
Average 20 yr. ROI: $309,400
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 79%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 3

#28. University of Georgia

Athens, GA
BS in Food Science and Technology

University of Georgia
Website
Rating: 10

The food science degree at the University of Georgia is an IFT-approved program. The two areas of emphasis offered are business, and science, technology, and engineering. Some UGA food science alumni now work in positions like research microbiologist with the USDA, and senior program leader of food and product safety at Chick-fil-A. Other careers open to graduates of this program are quality assurance, food sales and marketing, and food law if the student decides to earn their law degree.

Tuition: $10,836
Average 20 yr. ROI: $329,100
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 95%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 2

#27. University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Lincoln, Nebraska
BS in Food Science and Technology

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Website
Rating: 10

University of Nebraska’s IFT-approved degree in food science prepares students for careers in food plant management, product development, food research, and education. The program doesn’t offer specific emphasis areas, which allows students the freedom to choose up to 11 credits of technical electives in agriculture, economics, accounting, chemistry, horticulture, nutrition, management, and marketing, and 5 credits of free electives, which provides them with some interdisciplinary options. UNL stresses the importance of internships, and students have been placed with companies like Nestle, Cargill, ConAgra, Schwann’s Foods, Wells’ Dairy Inc. and Farmland Foods.

Tuition:$8,170
Average 20 yr. ROI: $329,600
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 93%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 1

#26. California State University – Fresno

Fresno, California
BS in Food and Nutritional Sciences

CSU-Fresno
Website
Rating: 10

California State University offers concentrations in food sciences, culinology, and dietetics and food administration. The dietetics program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics and offers a unique post-baccalaureate internship program focused on health promotion and disease prevention. Dietetics internship students complete supervised work experiences at certain facilities in the area, including a veteran’s hospital, state prison, school district, private hospitals, and a diabetes outpatient program.

Tuition: $6,299
Average 20 yr. ROI: $329,700
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 79%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 3

#25. Kansas State University

Manhattan, Kansas
BS in Food Science

Kansas State University
Website
Rating: 10

KSU’s food science degree is approved by the Institute of Food Technologists. Kansas State offers concentrations in science, and food business and operations management. The science option prepares students for graduate study in food science programs and integrates well with pre-vet and pre-med study. Those taking the food business and operations management track must minor in business, agribusiness, or agricultural economics. KSU also offers one of the only online bachelor’s completion degrees in food science and industry.

Tuition: $9,034
Average 20 yr. ROI: $372,400
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 84%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 2

#24. Michigan State University

East Lansing, Michigan
BS in Food Science

Michigan State University
Website
Rating: 10

Michigan State University’s IFT-approved food science degree offers concentrations in basic science, food technology, food packaging, and food business and industry. Some of the interesting courses students will encounter are food laws and regulations, immunology, agribusiness and food industry sales, and microbial genetics. Michigan State food science students have interned at over 29 major companies in the industry, including H.J. Heinz Co., Quaker Oats, Hershey Foods, General Mills, Tyson Foods, Nabisco Brands, Gerber Products, Little Caesar’s and Borden Incorporated.

Tuition: $13,200
Average 20 yr. ROI: $409,400
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 65%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 4

#23. Texas Tech University

Lubbock, Texas
BS in Food Science

Texas Tech
Website
Rating: 10

The two food science tracks offered by Texas Tech are industry and science. The industry option provides students with the flexibility to pursue a minor in business or nutritional science. Career opportunities for the industry concentration include food engineering, genetics and nutrition, and government positions with agencies like the FDA or USDA. The science option includes a minor in chemistry and functions as a pre-professional program for students interested in medical, pharmacy, dental, veterinary medicine, allied health, and law professions.

Tuition: $7,811
Average 20 yr. ROI: $429,700
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 75%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 2

#22. University of Delaware

Newark, Delaware
BS in Food Science

University of Delaware
Website
Rating: 10

The University of Delaware’s IFT-approved degree in food science provides students with three primary ways to take advantage of undergraduate research opportunities, as a volunteer, for a salary, or for credit. The summer scholars program provides top undergraduates the opportunity to conduct in-depth research with university faculty while earning a $3,500 stipend. UD also offers a very competitive winter term study abroad program (this year it is in New Zealand) where students take part in a three-credit international field experience, and earn four credits for a course called Topics in International Agriculture.

Tuition: $12,342
Average 20 yr. ROI: $466,600
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 84%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 2

#21. Clemson University

Clemson, South Carolina
BS in Food Science

Clemson
Website
Rating: 10

Students in Clemson University’s food science degree must choose between concentrations in food science and technology, or dietetics and nutrition. Dietetics students often pursue careers in community nutrition, public health nutrition, clinical dietetics, and sports/wellness dietetics. The food science and technology concentration is an IFT-approved program that offers further specialization in science, food and agriculture engineering, statistics and applied mathematics, food packaging, business, human nutrition, or culinary science.

Tuition: $13,446
Average 20 yr. ROI: $474,600
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 89%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 2

#20. Rutgers University – New Brunswick

New Brunswick, New Jersey
BS in Food Science

Rutgers
Website
Rating: 10

The Rutgers food science degree offers concentrations in general food science, management, and research. The research option is an IFT-approved program in which excellent students have the opportunity to study and do research abroad in countries like China and Finland. The research involves experimentation with microbes and chemicals, and exploring the way different cultures approach food science. Rutgers also offers a five year B.S./M.S. program which allows students to combine their food science degree with a M.S. in Food and Business Economics.

Tuition: $13,813
Average 20 yr. ROI: $518,800
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 71%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 3

#19. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Blacksburg, Virginia
BS in Food Science

Virginia Tech
Website
Rating: 10

Virginia Tech’s IFT-approved food science and technology degree offers concentrations in science, food business, and food and health. There is also a food biology option, which is offered through the Department of Biology. Virginia Tech provides undergraduate students with the option to involve themselves in research, either by creating their own project, or joining a faculty project. Some current faculty research priorities are food safety and health, food processing and packaging, muscle foods, and food chemistry, sensory analysis, and food quality.

Tuition: $12,017
Average 20 yr. ROI: $555,000
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 68%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 3

#18. Alabama A&M University

Normal, Alabama
BS in Food Science

Alabama A&M University
Website
Rating: 11

Students in the food science program at Alabama A&M University have the option to minor in chemistry, nutrition, or business. Alabama A&M has many distinguished faculty; Dr. Stylianos Fakas is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics, and Dr. Lamin Kassama has reviewed journals including the Journal of Food Science, Journal of the Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, and Journal of Food Process Engineering, and four others. Dr. Kassama was also a federal grant reviewer for the Department of Energy.

Tuition: $9,096
Average 20 yr. ROI: $219,200
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 96%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 3

#17. The University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Knoxville, Tennessee
BS in Food Science

University of Tennessee
Website
Rating: 11

The IFT-approved food science degree at the University of Tennessee offers concentrations in pre-pharmacy, science, and technology/business. The technology/business concentration lets students use electives in business law, accounting, marketing, transportation, and economics to develop a foundational grounding in business. The pre-professional program is is a 3+1 program designed to give students a significant head start in their professional study. Instead of completing the last year of food science, students can move straight into a pharmacy, medical, or veterinary program. Students are still awarded the food science degree after successfully completing their first year of professional study.

Tuition:$11,876
Average 20 yr. ROI: $325,200
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 95%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 3

#16. University of Idaho

Moscow, Idaho
BS in Food Science

University of Idaho
Website
Rating: 11

The University of Idaho’s food science degree offers concentrations in dairy foods management and processing. The processing concentration is an IFT-approved program. Food science students at the University of Idaho have interned at companies like Darigold, J.R. Simplot, Starbucks, Glanbia, and Kraft Foods. Graduates of the program have gone on to work at major industry companies like Stone Mill Foods, General Mills, and Heinz Frozen Food Company.

Tuition: $6,784
Average 20 yr. ROI: $325,900
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 94%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 2

#15. Oregon State University

Corvallis, Oregon
BS in Food Science and Technology

Oregon State University
Website
Rating: 11

The IFT-approved food science degree at OSU offers concentrations in general food science, fermentation science, and enology & viticulture. Fermentation science students will take classes like organic chemistry, fermentation microbiology, and brewing science. The enology and viticulture program is designed to provide students with a mastery of the end to end process of winemaking and includes courses like grapevine growth and physiology, principles and practices of vineyard production, and wine production, analysis and sensory evaluation.

Tuition: $9,122
Average 20 yr. ROI: $384,100
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 80%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 3

#14. University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida
BS in Food Science

University of Florida
Website
Rating: 11

The IFT-approved food science degree at the University of Florida has a near 100% job placement. The University of Florida has some distinguished faculty, lead by Dr. Douglas L. Archer, professor and chair of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department. Among Dr. Archer’s many notable accomplishments are having served as the deputy director of the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and Assistant Surgeon General. He earned three meritorious service medals and the distinguished service medal during his service.

Tuition: $6,313
Average 20 yr. ROI: $456,800
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 96%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 1

#13. Brigham Young University – Provo

Provo, Utah
BS in Food Science

Brigham Young University
Website
Rating: 11

Students in Brigham Young’s IFT-approved food science degree can choose between the food science technical track, and food industry management. BYU students can find mentored employment in the school’s quality assurance, food microbiology, and sensory labs, which means that even their on-campus job can be part of their learning experience. Graduates of this food science degree have found job placements at Mrs. Field’s Original Cookies, Sunkist, Rich’s Corporation, the USDA, and the FDA.

Tuition: $5,000
Average 20 yr. ROI: $615,700
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 68%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 2

#12. California State Polytechnic University – San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo, California
BS in Food Science

CalPoly San Luis Obispo
Website
Rating: 11

The IFT-approved degree in food science at Cal Poly’s San Luis Obispo campus offers advanced food science, applied food technology, and culinary concentrations. Alumni of the food science degree have found positions with companies like McKee Foods, Hilmar Cheese Company, Frito-Lay, and Derby Wine Estates. The Food Science and Nutrition Pilot Plant is one of the only university food production programs where students can work with staff to design and produce food that will be sold commercially. Products made and sold commercially by students include barbecue sauces, salad dressings, candy bars, and jams, and they’re always coming up with something new to try.

Tuition: $8,918
Average 20 yr. ROI: $669,800
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 47%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 3

#11. Mississippi State University

Starkville, Mississippi
BS in Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion

Mississippi State University
Website
Rating: 12

Mississippi State University’s Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion offers a food science degree with four concentrations. The IFT-approved science concentration can lead to jobs like research scientist, food engineer, or product development technologist and can also function as a pre-professional track . Processing/business can lead to jobs as a research chef, or quality control technician. Safety is the path for future veterinarians, and food microbiologists. Culinology graduates may find careers as corporate executive chefs, culinary directors, or research chefs.

Tuition: $7,140
Average 20 yr. ROI: $281,300
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 94%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 4

#10. Oklahoma State University – Main Campus

Stillwater, Oklahoma
BSAG in Food Science

Oklahoma State University
Website
Rating: 12

Oklahoma State University’s food science degree offers concentrations in food safety, industry, meat science, and science. Some of the careers OSU students have pursued are food toxicology, fats and oil research, flavor chemist, cereal scientist, and market researcher. Ashley Harris is a great example of an OSU food science alumnus. She is an operations manager at Schreiber Foods, and the chair of the Network of Women Business Leaders. Ashley also serves on the board of the Women in Business community organization.

Tuition: $7,442
Average 20 yr. ROI: $348,500
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 89%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 4

#9. University of Missouri – Columbia

Columbia, Missouri
BS in Food Science and Nutrition

University of Missouri
Website
Rating: 12

The University of Missouri food science degree offers business, science, enology, and culinary concentrations. The science option is IFT-approved. Enology students might be interested in the study abroad opportunity called French Agriculture, Viticulture, & Culture. The program is two months long and worth nine credits if the student opts into the second month internship. Students earn six academic credits in international agriculture and natural resources. The internship counts for three credits in international agriculture, food, and natural resources.

Tuition:$9,433
Average 20 yr. ROI: $364,500
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 81%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 4

#8. California State Polytechnic University – Pomona

Pomona, California
BS in Food Science and Technology

Cal Poly Pomona
Website
Rating:12

The food science degree at Cal Poly Pomona is designed to meet IFT standards, and offers science and technology, business, culinology, and pre-professional concentrations. Some of the most interesting jobs students can pursue who choose the science concentration are in food engineering and consulting. Graduates have worked for some of the most prominent government and international organizations, including the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, World Health Organization, and World Bank.

Tuition: $6,904
Average 20 yr. ROI: $559,100
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 69%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 4

#7. University of Maryland – College Park

BS in Nutrition and Food Science

University of Maryland College Park
Website
Rating: 12

The food science degree at the University of Maryland is approved by the Institute of Food Technologists and prepares students for careers in ingredient management, research, teaching, and production management. Students will take courses like nutritional genomics, special problems in food science, and foodservice operations. Some successful UMD food science graduates have become leaders at companies like BakeCo LLC and Coca Cola, and government organizations like the US Department of Agriculture.

Tuition:$9,427
Average 20 yr. ROI: $561,000
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 73%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 3

#6. Purdue University – Main Campus

West Lafayette, Indiana
BS in Food Science

Purdue
Website
Rating: 12

Purdue University’s IFT-approved degree in food science offers a minor in pet food processing, and concentrations in food chemistry, structure, function foods for health safety and microbiology, and food processing and technology development. The pet food processing minor features courses like biology companion animal, applied animal nutrition, and companion animal management. Recent graduates from Purdue’s food science program have found jobs at Kraft Foods, Land O’Lakes, Mars Petcare, General Mills, and Anheuser-Busch.

Tuition: $10,002
Average 20 yr. ROI: $591,700
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 67%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 4

#5. University of Massachusetts – Amherst

Amherst, Massachusetts
BS in Food Science

UMass Amherst
Website
Rating: 13

The UMass food science program, founded in 1918, is one of the oldest in the country. The bachelor’s in food science is IFT-approved and offers specializations in food science in technology, food safety, culinary science, and food health and wellness. Some of the interesting courses students may take include statistics for the social sciences, food-borne diseases, elements of food process engineering, and the biology of food in human health. The culinary science concentration is designed for students who have already completed a 2-year culinary arts degree. The program allows them to earn their bachelor’s in food science in three years.

Tuition:$13,443
Average 20 yr. ROI: $433,300
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 90%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 4

#4. Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College

Baton Rouge, Louisiana
BS in Nutrition and Food Sciences and BS in Food Science & Technology

Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical college
Website
Rating: 14

LSU’s bachelor’s in food science features concentrations in nutrition health and society, dietetics, nutrition science with pre-med, and food science and technology with both pre-med and non-pre-med options. The food science and technology is an IFT-approved program. Graduates of LSU’s program have been employed by NASA, Dreyer’s Ice Cream Company, Folger’s, Smucker’s, Gerber, Proctor and Gamble, Pillsbury, Riviana Foods, the USDA, and the FDA.

Tuition: $8,750
Average 20 yr. ROI: $410,300
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 94%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 4

#3. Iowa State University

Ames, Iowa
BS in Food Science

Iowa State University
Website
Rating: 14

Iowa State’s IFT-approved bachelor’s of food science offers five minors: culinary science, food and society, food safety, food science, and nutrition. The food and society minor focuses on how food science can help alleviate major social issues through classes like food and the consumer, societal impacts on food systems, world food issues, and issues in food and society. Students in the culinary science minor will take courses like advanced food preparation, quantity food production management, and scientific study of food.

Tuition: $7,731
Average 20 yr. ROI: $447,700
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 87%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 5

#2. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

St. Paul, Minnesota
BS in Food Science

University of Minnesota
Website
Rating: 14

The University of Minnesota’s IFT-approved food science degree offers concentrations in advanced food technology, nutrition, chemistry, microbiology, and biochemistry. Food science majors can participate in any study abroad program offered by the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences and use the credits to fulfill elective slots. There are fourteen short term programs, three semester programs, and one international internship. The programs take place in a diverse array of locations including France, Thailand, Kenya, India, Ecuador, Bahamas, England, and Panama.

Tuition:$13,560
Average 20 yr. ROI: $485,500
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 78%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 6

#1. North Dakota State University – Main Campus

Fargo, North Dakota
BS in Food Science

North Dakota State University
Website
Rating: 16

North Dakota State tops our list of the best food science programs according to value. NDSU’s IFT-approved bachelor’s in food science offers emphases in food safety, microbiology, sciences, business and management, engineering, nutrition, and processing. Students will have the opportunity to intern at companies like General Mills, Hormel, ConAgra, Roman Meal, and American Crystal Sugar. Graduates of the program often fill positions at these and similar companies, working in areas like product development, quality control, food inspection, or sales and marketing.

Tuition: $7,940
Average 20 yr. ROI: $410,300
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 88%
Number of Concentrations, Tracks, or Minors: 7

Methodology

Our ranking system for determining the best value food science program in the United States was simple. We awarded points based on four categories: low tuition, high return on investment, a high percentage of students receiving financial aid, and the number of minors, concentrations, or areas of emphasis offered by the school. Each of these categories contributes to the value of a program.

Tuition: Up front cost is one of two major factors in student borrowing. With student debt at an all time high, many students are looking for ways to graduate with as little debt as possible. Low tuition can drastically reduce student debt.

Financial Aid: The higher the percentage of students receiving financial aid, the more likely any individual student will be to receive some form of financial aid. A high likelihood of receiving financial aid, combined with a low tuition, works to reduce overall expenses.

Return on Investment: These figures give a rough guide as to the success of students graduating from the school over the following 20 years of their life. ROI was used to break ties in this list, with the better ranking going to the school with the higher ROI.

Minors, Concentrations, and Emphases: Transferring schools can be a major expense. Often schools have different requirements for majors and students lose credits in the process. It’s not unusual for students to extend their education by a semester or more by transferring schools. Schools with plenty of options provide students with the ability to switch between minors and areas of emphases without transferring schools, thus saving them money.

Below is the outline of our ranking system detailing how points were awarded to schools.

Tuition Points:

Under $10,000: 3 Points
Under $20,000: 2 Points
Under $30,000: 1 Point

Students Receiving Financial Aid:

60%: 1 Point
70%: 2 Points
80%: 3 Points
90%: 4 Points

20 Year Average Net Return on Investment Points:

$200,000: 1 Point
$300,000: 2 Points
$400,000: 3 Points
$500,000: 4 Points
$600,000: 5 Points

Minors, Concentrations, and Emphases Points:

One Point Per Minor or Concentration

Sources

The return on investment figures were sourced from Payscale.com

The tuition information was sourced from The National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator Database

This concludes our ranking of the 30 best value food science degrees.

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