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Programs / Science / Food Science and Nutrition

Program Summary

Knowledge of food and nutritional science is required in order to make decisions on such issues as food irradiation, the genetic modification of foods, food contamination by micro-organisms and toxic compounds, and food preservation.

The modern job market for food professionals demands people that have technical skills as well as an understanding of regulatory and policy issues. People with both sets of skills are in demand by all levels of government and by the private sector.

Food Science and Nutrition at Carleton University is distinct from other university-level food science programs in the country. The Carleton program provides a solid science base in chemistry, biology and biochemistry with a strong emphasis on assessment, management and communication of risk in food safety. As a graduate of the program, you will not only be a skilled and knowledgeable scientist, you will also have the ability to assess risk and formulate policy. No other program in Canada offers this unique blend of science, economics, risk assessment and regulation.

Hands-on experience

At Carleton, we believe you should gain real-life experience as soon as possible. That’s why you will be taking experimental lab courses beginning in your first year. It is also why we provide a number of other valuable hands-on opportunities, such as summer internships and co-operative education possibilities to all our Science students.

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

 Bachelor of Science (Honours)

Carleton’s Food Science and Nutrition program is a four-year Honours Bachelor of Science degree program.

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 and organic chemistry. A Principles of Nutrition (FOOD 2001) course allows you to gain an understanding of digestion, absorption and metabolism of nutrients. You will also examine disorders such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

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. Courses in economics and statistical modelling round out your studies.

In your final year, you will study food quality control, risk assessment and toxicology. 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.

Minor

Students registered in other programs who are interested in food science can now take a 4.0 credit minor in Food Science and Nutrition. A minor will give you a foundation in another area of study and will appear as a notation on your diploma.

First-year experience

Carleton introduces you to issues of contemporary science in Seminar in Science (NSCI 1000), a first-year seminar course. You will attend six special lectures given by prominent Canadian researchers, as well as small group seminars led by a professor who acts as both your mentor and teacher.

Through assignments, presentations and discussions, you will develop the analytical and communication skills needed for success in the world of science.

The workplace

There is a demand in Canada for food science graduates with a wide range of knowledge of the entire food production continuum, as well as regulatory and policy-making expertise. Graduates of the program will be eligible for membership in the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology and will be well qualified to work for the federal government and other agencies, as well as in industry and research. Careers in the food science and nutrition sectors include positions as quality assurance managers, consumer product officers, food technologists and food safety specialists, 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.

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 and Nutrition


The food science and nutrition 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 and Nutrition student