Virginia Tech’s food science program is among the top 10 in the country, according to new degree rankings from higher education resource Successful Student.

The Department of Food Science and Technology placed ninth on Successful Student’s list of the 10 best bachelor’s in food science and nutrition programs in the country, and eighth on its list of best master’s in food science programs.

“We were very pleased to learn about this recognition,” said Joseph Marcy, head of the Department of Food Science and Technology. “Our department has grown dramatically in the last 10 years with new facilities, new faculty, and new options for our degree. While this growth is an exciting advancement for our department in its own right, it is also a clear expression of our department’s long-standing goal to give each student an excellent experience and a high-quality education.”

The list detailed the Department of Food Science and Technology’s varied curriculum, which covers topics ranging from food safety and foodborne illness to sensory evaluation and food product development. The department also provides students with a number of hands-on learning opportunities, including its new study abroad program that sends brewing students to Germany to learn about beer-making at Weihenstephan, the oldest continuously operating brewery in the world.

This isn’t the first time the department has received national attention. In 2017, its food and beverage fermentation degree option became one of only eight four-year beer-making programs in North America to be officially recognized by the Master Brewers Association of the Americas. Last fall, the department made headlines when it conducted a first-of-its-kind sensory study on American whiskeys, and in July, one of its alumni, Raúl Saucedo Alderete, was appointed head of AUPSA, the Panamanian government body responsible for the safety of the country’s food supply.

“Each year, nearly 100 percent of our students either have a job or are in graduate school within six months of graduation,” Marcy said. “We have always been aware of the success of our students and their rise to national prominence, but it is very rewarding to have this ranking bring independent evaluation to that. We are delighted at what our students continue to achieve.”

The Department of Food Science and Technology was established in 1968 with the goal of ensuring the quality, safety, marketability, and availability of the local and global food supply through excellence in teaching, research, and extension. It offers undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare students for exciting and satisfying careers in industry, government, and academia. The department’s undergraduate degree program consists of four degree options: science, food business, food and health, and food and beverage fermentation. It also offers master’s and doctorate degrees in food science and technology and an online master’s in agricultural and life sciences.

According to Successful Student, program and course quality, faculty, previous awards, other rankings, and overall academic reputation are all taken into account when ranking schools and degree programs.

“This ranking was developed in part from referencing our sister site AcademicInfluence.com, which ranks schools based on the academic influence produced by their faculty and alumni in the field of food science in publications and citations,” the report said. “Successful Student then looked at the programs themselves to determine the final order of the programs and ranked schools based on types of degrees offered, variety of coursework, and academic reputation.”

—Written by Alex Hood