Frequently asked questions about the Food Science Certificate Program

Why was the Food Science Certificate developed?

The Penn State Food Science certificate program was established as a way to acknowledge and recognize individuals who have taken multiple outreach workshops or short courses offered through the Penn State Department of Food Science. Participants who seek a certificate work toward accumulating a minimum number of Continuing Education Units or "CEUs" This is one way to show current or prospective employers of your commitment to continuing education and that you have achieved a certain level of practical knowledge in Food Science and Technology.

Is the certificate the same as a degree in Food Science?

No, this is not a 4-year degree, and there is no relationship between CEUs and undergraduate or graduate academic credits. For each course, CEUs have been assigned consistent with policies in place by the Penn State Office of Outreach Programs. There are specific requirements for how many CEUs you must accumulate to obtain a certificate in either food safety, food processing and technology, or a dual certificate that covers both areas.  

I am not located in the United States. Can I work toward a certificate?

There are no restrictions in place for International students. However, it is important to consider that most of the courses are offered at various times of the year on the Penn State Campus or elsewhere in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Only one course is currently offered online at this time (Food Safety and Sanitation for Food Manufacturers)

I heard that there is an Online Graduate Certificate in Sensory and Consumer Science offered by the Food Science Department. Is this the same as the Food Science Certificate program?

No, the Online Graduate Certificate in Sensory and Consumer Science is offered through the Penn State World Campus and is intended for industry professionals who already hold a Bachelor’s Degree, or equivalent, in food science, nutrition, chemistry, biology, neuroscience, or other scientific disciplines. Non-Credit CEUs earned through the Food Science Certificate Program cannot be applied toward the Graduate Certificate in Sensory and Consumer Science. To learn more about the Graduate Certificate Program, You may visit the World Campus program website or send inquiries by email to

So, how much does it cost to earn a food science certificate?

There is no cost for applying; the only costs are those associated with fees charged for each short course or workshops.

Are there limits with regard to the length of time that has passed from when I first attended a workshop?

We have limited the time frame to courses taken in the past five years, although we will make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

How much time can one expect it to take to obtain a certificate?

Much will depend on how many courses you need to meet the CEU requirements, how often they are offered, and how often you can take them. We are hoping that most people will finish within a three year window.

Does the Certificate Program require outside work?

No outside work or assignments are required unless an individual course director specifically requires this.

Does the Certificate Program require exams?

Not outside what is required for the specific workshop that you attend. Some workshops have an exam associated with the class; others just require full attendance at each session of the workshop.

Are there on-line offerings that one can take as part of the requirements for the certificate?

We currently offer only one class in an on-line format: Food Safety and Sanitation for Food Manufacturers (FSSFM). However, several on-line courses are currently in development.

Can attendance at workshops offered by other Universities count towards the certificate?

Unfortunately, we are not able to do this.

Can someone obtain more than 1 certificate?

Yes, you can obtain more than 1 certificate as long as you take enough courses to fulfill the requirements for both certificates. In the event there are similar requirements for core courses, there is no need to take the course twice. The course(s) can be credited to the second certificate as well.

How do I "sign up" for the program?

You don't have to sign up. Once you arrive for your first course, just ask the course director and we will start to follow your progress.