Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Department of Food Science and Technology

Program Director: Dr. Susan S. Sumner

Contact: Dr. Joseph D. Eifert, Graduate Committee Chair, Department of Food Science and Technology, Duck Pond Rd., Virginia Tech (0418), Blacksburg, VA 24061, Phone: (540) 231-3658, FAX: (540) 231-9293, E-mail:

Degrees Offered: MS, Ph.D., Online Masters Program

Associated Fields and Departments: The Virginia Tech Department of Food Science and Technology is involved in a number of different research areas including: Food Microbiology, Food Chemistry and Biochemistry, Quality Evaluation, Process and Product Development, and Food Engineering.


Program Description

Entrance Requirements: A B.S. degree from an accredited institution, a minimum QCA of 3.0, and minimum GRE scores (Verbal + Quantitative) of 1000 are required for consideration. Also, original copies of transcripts from all institutions attended, 3 letters of recommendation, and an application must be submitted. International students are required to submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Program of Study: M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are offered with emphasis in areas such as food microbiology, food chemistry, food safety, food engineering, packaging, fruit and vegetable products, sensory, dairy food products and processing, seafood products, enology, and meat and poultry processing and products.

Graduate Requirements: M.S. students must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours of approved course work, conduct research to complete a thesis and pass a final defense of the thesis material. Ph.D. candidates must complete a total of 90 hours of approved course work beyond a B.S. degree or 60 hours beyond an M.S. degree, conduct research to complete a dissertation, pass preliminary exams a final defense of the dissertation. All graduate students must also conduct yearly seminars, submit semester progress reports, and assist with teaching.

Statement of Costs: Tuition and fees for a 9 credit hour semester are approximately $7000 for in-state students and $11,000 for out-of-state residents. In-state students receiving graduate assistantships with tuition waiver pay approximately $700 per semester.

Availability of Financial Aid: Several highly competitive assistantships as well as fellowships are available.

Unique Capabilities: The Departmental facilities include well-equipped teaching and research laboratories as well as the following pilot plant facilities; sensory, dairy, red meat, poultry, enology, fruits and vegetables, and seafood. 

Faculty and Research Interests

Susan E. Duncan, Ph.D. ( Tennessee) Professor, Sensory evaluation of food and packaging, dairy food products and processing.

Joseph D. Eifert, Ph.D. (Virginia Tech) Associate Professor. Extension Specialist, Food microbiology and food safety, poultry processing, food laws and regulations

William N. Eigel, Ph.D. ( Texas A&M) Associate Professor. Coordinating Counselor, Career Advisor, Food biochemistry. Food proteins and enzymes.

George J. Flick, Jr., Ph.D. ( Louisiana State) University Distinguished Professor, Seafood technology/ Food chemistry. Chemistry, technology and microbiology of seafood products, food lipids and oils, institutional food products.

Michael L. Jahncke, Ph.D. (Cornell) Professor. Director, VA Seafood AREC Research, Seafood technology/ Food chemistry. Chemistry, technology and microbiology of seafood products, food lipids and oils, institutional food products.

Kumar Mallikarjunan , Ph.D. ( Guelph) Associate Professor., Food process engineering, physical properties of food materials. Deep fat frying, microwave cooking, edible film packaging and non-destructive sensors.

Joseph E. Marcy, Ph.D. ( North Carolina State) Professor, Food processing and packaging/ Food chemistry. Packaging integrity testing, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and aseptic packaging research.

Sean F. O'Keefe, Ph.D. ( Iowa State) Associate Professor, Food chemistry. Lipid and flavor chemistry.

Susan S. Sumner, Ph.D. ( Wisconsin) Professor. Department Head, Microbiology of food products, foodborne pathogens, and food safety.

Robert C. Williams, Ph.D. ( Tennessee) Assistant Professor, Food safety/ Food microbiology. Detection and control of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms in foods.

Kevin Zhou, Ph.D., ( Maryland) Assistant Professor, Functional foods, Food chemistry.

Bruce W. Zoecklein, Ph.D. (Virginia Tech) Professor, Grape and wine chemistry/ Wine technology. Analytical chemistry of grapes and wines. Secondary plant metabolites, grape aroma components and their precursors.