University of Hawaii Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences

Program Director: Dr. Yong Li, Graduate Chair

Contact: Dr. Yong Li, 1955 East West Rd, AgSci 216, Honolulu, HI 96822, Phone: (808) 956-6408, Fax: (808) 956-4024, Email:  

Degrees Offered: M.S. in Food Science (Ph.D. offered through Nutrition and Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering programs)

Areas of Concentration: Research projects span various areas including food chemistry, food processing, food engineering, food microbiology, food safety, and nutrition

Department Affiliations of Graduate Faculty: Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences

Program Description

Entrance Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree (BA or BS) from an accredited institution of higher learning
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Have taken one course each in organic chemistry, microbiology, biological science (in addition to microbiology), college physics, and biochemistry
  • Provide two confidential recommendations
  • GRE® scores (general test only)
  • Language requirements for foreign applicants only: TOEFL® score of 580 minimum or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 6.5 minimum (note: IELTS scores have a recommended two-year validity period)
  • Admission may be possible without prerequisites, in which case the student must complete deficiencies in the first year
Degree Requirements:
Plan A (Thesis): Student must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours, including:
  • At least 18 credit hours of course work, at least 12 credits numbered 600-798, excluding credits in FSHN 699 Directed Reading and Research and FSHN 700 Thesis Research
  • Two credits of FSHN 699 Directed Reading and Research
  • Ten credits of FSHN 700 Thesis Research with at least 1 credit taken in the final semester
  • Two credits of FSHN 681 Departmental Seminar
  • One credit in FSHN 701 Topics in Food Science
Plan B (Non-thesis): Students must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours, including:
  • At least 21 credit hours of course work, at least 18 credits numbered 600-798, excluding FSHN 699 Directed Reading and Research
  • Six to nine credits of FSHN 699 Directed Reading and Research
  • Two credits of FSHN 681 Departmental Seminar
  • One credit in FSHN 701 Topics in Food Science

Both options require passing an oral candidacy exam to advance to candidacy for the MS degree, and a final examination based on the thesis (Plan A) or Directed Reading and Research (Plan B).  All students are also required to have one semester of teaching assistant (TA) experience either as a paid TA or by participating in a graduate student instructional experience

Current Costs: Application fee: $70; Full time tuition per semester is $5,200 resident and $12,360 non-resident (2018-2019)

Application information and deadlines:

Financial Aid: Research and teaching assistantships are available on a competitive basis. Domestic and international students are eligible for tuition waivers (

Unique Aspects of Program: Our program offers small classes and highly individualized mentoring and research opportunities for graduate students. As we are located in Hawaii, a strength of our program is access to tropical resources and agricultural products. Our facilities are located at the flagship University of Hawaii campus and are equipped with research instrumentation and equipment for various areas of food research. As the University of Hawaii is an R1 land-, sea-, and space-grant institution, our graduate program is research-oriented, although we do offer both thesis and non-thesis options.

Faculty and Research Interests

K.K.H.Y. Ho - Food chemistry, food structure, bioactive compounds, colloids

S. Jun - Food engineering, food processing, food preservation, biosensing

Y. Li - Food microbiology, food safety, probiotics, prebiotics

J.P. Bingham - Peptide toxins, analytical chemistry, biochemistry

D. Borthakur – Plant-microbe interactions, plant biotechnology

Y.S. Kim - Growth physiology, muscle biology, meat science

Q.X. Li - Proteomics, analytical chemistry, environmental biochemistry and biotechnology

S. Nakamoto - Marketing of specialty crops and products, agribusiness management, agricultural economics, risk management

R.E. Paull - Plant Physiology, postharvest handling and storage of tropical fruits and vegetables

A.A. Saulo - Food safety, food allergy, food sanitation

W.W. Su – Biochemical engineering, plant cell culture, molecular biotechnology