Frequently Asked Questions
Thank you for your interest in the Master of Science in Food Science at Mount Mary University. Courses are offered during each of two 16-week semesters in the fall and spring terms. Lectures will be online and can be viewed anytime during the week at the student’s convenience. On-campus and in-person class times will be offered in one 3-hour block on Saturday mornings only. All research can be done outside of scheduled class time and at the site of the student’s choice. Please read the following information carefully. If you have any questions, contact Anne Vravick, Ph.D., M.S. in Food Science Program Director, at email@example.com or (414) 930-3497 or a graduate admission counselor at firstname.lastname@example.org or (414) 930-3049.
When is the deadline for applications?
Applications will be accepted throughout the year; there is no specific deadline for applications. However, enrollment in the program and the start of classes are limited to the first day of the semester in August or January of each year.
What are the prerequisites to the Mount Mary M.S. in Food Science program?
College Algebra, College Biology, and College Chemistry (or a comparable course deemed appropriate by the Program Director) are admission requirements and must be taken prior to enrolling in the M.S. in Food Science. These three undergraduate courses are offered at Mount Mary University and can be taken on campus to complete these requirements.
Why is the GRE not required for applying to Mount Mary’s M.S. in Food Science program?
Research finds that standardized exams do not directly reflect the ability of potential graduate and adult students. Students are assessed by their undergraduate transcript(s), career goals statement, letters of recommendation and, if necessary, an interview with the Program Director.
Course Format Questions
When do courses start?
Course typically begin the last week of August for the fall semester and the third week of January for the spring semester. The start dates of your courses are listed on your class schedule in the online resource, My Mount Mary, and will be on the same start day as the regular fall and spring semesters.
How often do the courses meet?
Each class meets in-person and on-campus during one of the time slots of the 3-hour window on Saturday mornings. These sessions will be sometime between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Saturdays, excluding holidays. Most of this time on Saturdays will be spent in the laboratory performing experiments that reinforce concepts covered in lecture. Lectures will be taped and can be viewed online anytime throughout the week. Several Skype sessions will be scheduled for each class as well and will be determined based on student availability throughout the semester.
Do I need to do anything before courses start?
Yes. You must obtain your textbook and the course syllabus prior to the first class. Most of the classes have an assignment due the first Saturday of classes. Syllabi are available about two weeks before the start of the first class. Download a PDF copy in My Mount Mary (after logging in, under the MyCourses tab, click on the course name, then Syllabus). Please note that courses do not appear until two weeks before the course begins.
How much time will I need to spend on coursework?
Typically, students spend at least four hours on coursework for every 1 credit of class per week. Because Mount Mary M.S. in Food Science courses are three credits, you should expect to devote 12 hours to studying and coursework per week. You are spending less time in the classroom, so more responsibility is put on you to handle the independent study workload.
Will there be group work?
Group work may be part of the course, especially during laboratory sessions, but it will not comprise the majority of the coursework.
Do I need to attend all Saturday classes?
Yes. You are required to make a strong commitment to attending every Saturday class for the entire three hours and any sessions that are scheduled via Skype. If you are unable to attend a class, you must contact the instructor ahead of time, as you are responsible for making up missed work, obtaining class notes and arranging if you will be missing an exam.
The attendance policy is consistent across the M.S. in Food Science program. If you incur two absences, the instructor is required to lower your grade one letter grade (e.g. from a B to a BC). If you incur three absences, you will automatically fail the course unless you withdraw from it before the published deadline. Attending classes for half the time can add up to full absences, meaning attending two half classes constitutes one absence.
What happens if a Saturday class is canceled due to the school closing or instructor illness?
If a class is canceled, the class time must be made up. Your instructor will determine a makeup Saturday with the students on the first night of class.
What is the format for online lectures?
Lectures will be available for viewing on line at any time during the week according to the instructor’s syllabus. You may watch the lecture as many times as necessary, or pause and return to the lecture at any time. Some sessions may utilize Skype at an assigned time so that students can interact with each other and the instructor. Details and further requirements will be specified by each instructor prior to the start of each course.
Where will I find the online lectures each week?
After logging into My Mount Mary, click on the MyCourses tab, choose the course name, then click on My Media Site. Any lectures assigned for viewing will found there.
Degree Requirements Questions
How many classes will I need to take each semester?
You can enroll as a part-time or full-time student. If you are enrolled as a full-time graduate student in food science, you will take three courses each regular semester, fall and spring. Two courses (3 credits each) each semester will cover important topics in food science, such as FSC 525 Food Chemistry and Analysis, FSC 535 Principles of Food Processing and Engineering, and FSC 551 Food Microbiology and Toxicology. The third course each semester is a Seminar (1 or 2 credits). Those students on the non-thesis track may need to take one or more of the courses in their concentration (Business or Education) in addition to these three courses each regular semester.
Can I take less than 3 courses each semester?
Yes, and keep in mind that it will take longer than 2 years to graduate and you may not be eligible for federal loans. If this is your preference, you may want to consider following the route of completing stackable certificates.
Thesis vs. Non-Thesis Track Questions
What sort of research is required for the thesis track?
The thesis track requires that you complete an independent, scientific research project that explores a question(s) regarding current topics in food manufacturing, processing, or development. The research requires the testing of a hypothesis by manipulating variables and collecting and analyzing data. Research may be conducted on campus at Mount Mary University or at the site of the employer.
Would I still do research if I chose to follow the non-thesis route?
The non-thesis track also requires that the student perform research; however, the research will be in the form of a literature review of current issues in food manufacturing, processing, or development. The final product of this research will be a manuscript that addresses a specific problem or issue in food manufacturing, summarizes findings in the literature, supports conclusive evidence, and recommends further research. It is recommended that the manuscript use knowledge and topics that coincide with the area of concentration chosen by the student (i.e., business or education).
What if my employer is concerned about proprietary information (e.g., formulations or processes) that might be a part of my thesis research?
Students are not required to publish research in a peer reviewed journal which would reveal any proprietary information. A non-disclosure agreement will be honored between the employer and Mount Mary University if requested.
Can I follow the thesis track AND get a concentration in business or education?
No, the student must choose either the thesis-track or the non-thesis track.
If I choose to follow the thesis track, how do I choose my research project and when will I do the research?
Before the end of the summer following the second semester, the student prepares the research plan for the master’s thesis. A written master’s degree research proposal must be presented to the committee and include background, justification, objectives and protocol for the proposed research. If you plan to complete the degree in the 2-year plan, it is recommended that the proposal be presented within one year of enrolling in the M.S. program.
If I chose to follow the non-thesis track, how do I choose the topic for my manuscript and when will I do the research?
Before the end of the summer following the second semester, the student prepares the research question for the non-thesis manuscript. A written proposal must be presented to the committee and include background, justification, and objectives for the proposed literature research. If you plan to complete the degree in the 2-year plan, it is recommended that the proposal be presented within one year of enrolling in the M.S. program.
Will I have a graduate committee?
Yes, whether you chose the thesis or non-thesis track you will have a graduate committee. The committee will consist of at least four members, including the student’s major professor, two Mount Mary University faculty members recommended by the major professor, and a fourth member recommended by the student from outside the department. This fourth member may be from his or her place of employment, someone particularly knowledgeable in the field of the chosen research, or a member of the faculty from the department of the chosen concentration (i.e., business or education).
Will I need to present my thesis to the graduate committee?
The student is required to present the thesis in a seminar at Mount Mary University or in a private, corporate setting. The candidate will also present and support his or her work to the student’s graduate committee and demonstrate a satisfactory knowledge of the research. A recommendation of a majority of the committee is necessary for a student to pass.
Will I need to present my non-thesis manuscript to the graduate committee?
The student is required to present the non-thesis manuscript in a seminar at Mount Mary University or in a private, corporate setting. The student’s graduate committee will be present at this seminar and will evaluate the student’s satisfactory knowledge of the research. A recommendation of a majority of the committee is necessary for a student to pass.
Will my thesis need to be published?
After successful presentation of the thesis to the graduate committee, the student must submit the final copies of the thesis within six months to the university; however, if the company with which the student is employed requires that the thesis remain confidential due to the inclusion of proprietary information, the final copies of the thesis will remain the property of the student and the employer. Publication in a peer-reviewed journal is not required; nevertheless, the quality of the thesis research is expected be high enough for publication in a food science journal should the student and employer chose to do so.
Professional Development Certificates
What is a professional development certificate?
At Mount Mary, we recognize that working professionals have many responsibilities and that your time is limited. For this reason, we are also offering the degree as three stackable professional development certificates: Food Processing Chemistry (FPC), Food Safety and Toxicology (FST), and Food Science Research (FSR). Each professional development certificate is 7-13 credits, each of which can stand alone or be combined to complete the entire M.S. in Food Science. As long as you satisfactorily complete the 3 certificates within 7 years, you will earn the M.S. in Food Science.
What if I only want to complete one professional development certificate?
There is no requirement to complete all three certificates unless you plan to earn the M.S. in Food Science degree. Some students may feel the need to complete only one certificate for continuing education credits and career advancement. You may return and complete another certificate at any time as long as you begin the second certificate within 3 years of the completion of the first certificate.
What if, after I complete one certificate, I decide to complete a second certificate?
After completing one certificate, you will be eligible to return to complete a second certificate within 3 years of completion of the initial certificate. Keep in mind that if you would like to stack the certificates and earn the full M.S. in Food Science degree, there is a time limit of 7 years to complete all 3 certificates.
Can I complete only the Food Science Research (FSR) certificate with a concentration in Business or Education?
No. You may enroll in the FSC or FST certificate in any order; however, you must have completed both of these certificates in order to enroll in the FSR certificate.
Will I receive a diploma after every professional development certificate?
After successful completion of each certificate, you will receive recognition of the credits with a document that verifies your course work and your standing as a student at Mount Mary University. You will receive a diploma after the successful completion of all three professional development certificates.
Will my employer recognize the certificate as valuable to my career?
Each employer is different and we recommend that you talk with your employer or HR department. At Mount Mary University, we provide a quality higher education for our students and believe that all graduate credits earned by a student will improve their career and make them a more valuable employee. Further education in food science is important in increasing knowledge about the world of food production and is an investment in the employee.
Tuition & Financial Aid Questions
How much is tuition?
Please view graduate tuition and fees information.
How can I finance my M.S. in Food Science at Mount Mary?
Graduate students may be eligible for federal loans as long as you intend to complete the M.S. degree. Those who are completing only one or two certificates without the intent to complete the M.S. degree may not be eligible for federal loans. To apply, you will need to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Additionally, many employers offer tuition reimbursement. You should talk with the Human Resources Department at your company.
Other Common Questions
Who are Mount Mary M.S. in Food Science students?
Mount Mary is proud to educate a diverse group of women and men. Our students are motivated to earn their M.S. in Food Science in order to seek promotion at their current employer, change employers or careers, or better operate their own small business.
Who are the Mount Mary M.S. in Food Science instructors?
One professor is a full-time professor in the Food Science program and has extensive industry experience; other full-time professors in the Sciences Department have extensive knowledge in Chemistry, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Physics, and Engineering. Additional instructors are professionals in the food industry who have several years of experience in their respective teaching fields. All instructors hold master's or doctoral degrees.
How long does it take the average M.S. in Food Science student to graduate?
If a student takes three courses per term (7 credits) and conducts research during the summer semesters, he/she will graduate in two years. Prerequisite courses and taking courses part-time lengthen the time to graduation.
Can I take more than the three required courses in one semester?
You are only required to take 6 credits each semester to be considered a full-time graduate student. Taking more than 6 credits is allowed; however, students are encouraged to contact the Program Director before enrolling in extra courses per term.