Missouri Southern State University cooking up new Food Science and Nutrition program

JOPLIN, Mo. – Missouri Southern State University will soon have a Food Science and Nutrition program, thanks to unanimous approval from the university’s Board of Governors.

MSSU has received a Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education to provide relevant courses in response to the growth of the food industry in the region. Students will gain experience in food science, quality control, safety, processing, analysis, packaging, food policies, regulations and quality assurance. 

“All of those things go into creating food products and making sure food products are of high quality and making sure the food products are safe,” MSSU Chair of Kinesiology Andrea Cullers told The Heartlander.

If you’re looking for a Food Science degree in Missouri, the University of Missouri-Columbia is your only other option.

After analyzing data, MSSU staff discovered a 13% national job growth in the food industry since 2021. The job market for Food Science and Nutrition in Missouri is projected to increase by 14% by 2030. The average yearly salary in the food industry is over $65,000.

“It is really exciting,” Cullers says. “We are somewhat a rural part of the state, so we have a lot of students who are from rural communities. Maybe they grew up on farms and are interested in food, science and agriculture. They may have been involved in consumer science programs at their schools or 4-H.

“This is a great opportunity for students in our region and the surrounding area to come to a smaller program with a smaller student-to-faculty ratio and have a lot of immersive hands-on learning opportunities.”

Most classes at MSSU have about 24 students or fewer. With fewer students in lab courses, faculty and students can develop stronger relationships, according to Cullers. Advisors will assist students with internships and enhancing their competitiveness in the job market, while preparing them for graduate school if desired.

Those who successfully complete the degree program will be equipped with the necessary critical thinking and analytical skills to identify challenges in food and nutritional sciences, actively contributing to the design and evaluation of solutions that propel the field forward.

“With the outstanding work already taking place on our campus related to health and life sciences, Missouri Southern is uniquely prepared to expand what we’re able to offer our current and future students through food science and nutrition,” Lisa Toms, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said in a press release. “We’re excited to be able to offer a new Bachelor of Science degree, especially one that is crucial to the future of our state and nation.”

Pending approval from the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development and the Higher Learn Commission, the new program will be available starting Fall 2024.

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