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Programs / Science / Food Science

Program Summary

The field of food science integrates knowledge from the disciplines of chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, nutrition, law, and economics. It includes areas such as food manufacturing, food composition, and food safety. All aspects of food development, production and distribution are regulated to ensure safety and quality of food. Food scientists work within this regulatory framework to develop, preserve, process, package, and distribute foods that are safe, desirable, affordable, and nutritious. Canada is a major contributor to the global food industry. Agriculture and agri-food systems account for 1 in 8 jobs in Canada (AAFC, 2016). Professionals with knowledge of the entire food production continuum are needed in all levels of government, the food industry, and research.

Food Science at Carleton is a unique and broad-based interdisciplinary program. Built on a strong science base, the program emphasizes the analysis of food in the context of food regulations. Ultimately, these elements are used to assess risk and evaluate food safety policies in the context of Canada’s dynamic food industry.

Experiential Learning 

Experiential learning is integrated at every level of study of the Food Science program. Science laboratories are a critical part of the program and start in first year. Pertinent outcome-based assignments, guest speakers, and field trips are incorporated in courses. A major Honours research project caps the degree, with the opportunity to collaborate with government laboratories.

Carleton’s location in the nation’s capital means that our programs and professors have strong links with government departments and agencies including Health Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the National Research Council of Canada.

Bachelor of Science (Honours)

Carleton’s Food Science program is a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree program. To complement your degree with relevant work experience, twelve months of co-operative education is available after the third year of study.

Course overview

In your first year, you will be introduced to relevant subjects, including biology, chemistry, mathematics and economics. An introductory course in food science provides an overview of the food industry (including production, processing, product development, packaging, chemistry, analysis and microbiology), as well as elements of risk assessment, policy formation and regulation.

Upper-year courses

In your second year, you will probe the sciences in more depth, with courses in cell physiology and biochemistry, genetics, organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, and nutrition. You will also be introduced to the regulation of the food industry, and sound principles of scientific writing. In the third year of the program, you will specialize more fully in the food sciences, with courses in food chemistry, analysis, packaging, engineering, and microbiology.

In your final year, you will focus on food safety, with courses in food quality control, risk assessment, and toxicology, from an analytical and regulatory perspective. You will also have the opportunity to undertake a major research project in food science. Working with one of your professors on a specialized topic, you will complete experimental work to support a thesis on a subject of interest.


Students registered in other programs who are interested in food science can take a 4.0 credit minor in Food Science.

The workplace

Careers in food sciences include food safety specialists, quality assurance managers, food product developers, analytical chemists, microbiologists, and policy analysts, to name but a few.

Graduate studies

Many Carleton Honours students pursue graduate studies either in Canada or abroad. Our undergraduate programs are excellent preparation for master’s and doctoral programs. At Carleton, graduate studies in Chemistry with a Concentration in Food Science are available. Students must be supervised by a Food Science researcher.

Professional programs

Many professional programs, including teaching, medicine, business and law, encourage well-rounded applicants from a variety of backgrounds to apply. An Honours Bachelor of Science degree provides a strong foundation for such training.

What students are saying about Food Science

The food science program at Carleton has truly opened my mind about what goes into the foods we eat. It is amazing how the basic principles of science can be applied in ingenious ways to enhance the shelf life, nutritional value and even the taste of the foods we love. The courses provide significant insight into the food industry and are very interesting. The professors are passionate about the science of food and encourage us to think independently. Food science is always growing and evolving with technology and I feel that Carleton’s food science program has prepared me to evolve as well.
Kristine Tuckey, Food Science student

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