Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New ag master’s: Science plus business

Jeff Culbertson

     Washington State University is offering the nation’s first online master’s degree that combines food science expertise with management education.
     “The new food science and management option in WSU’s Master of Agriculture program opens the playing field for people with a background in food science wanting to move into management,” said food science Professor Jeff Culbertson, above.
     Food scientists are in high demand nationally and internationally, he said. “We only graduate approximately 60 percent of the food scientists needed for the jobs available,” he said.
     The management section of WSU’s new offering includes courses on project management, bioethics, and personnel and human resource issues. The science portion includes course work that focuses on one of the most important issues in food science today – sustainability. More...      “Issues like converting traditional waste streams into profitable products in food production are huge for the industry right now,” Culbertson said. “Having employees with the knowledge and expertise to make those kinds of transitions makes sense for food production companies both economically and environmentally.”
     Other science courses in the degree address food safety, principles of environmental toxicology, biochemistry and molecular biology. Several courses are being offered in partnership with the University of Idaho.
     Altogether, those earning the degree must complete 12 credits in food science, 10 credits in statistics and research methods, and 8 credits of electives in management. Details are at
     WSU also offers a “Certificate of Proficiency” in food science online. Information about that five-course program is available at

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