Food Safety

The Food Safety program is designed for working professionals. Its interdisciplinary nature enables students to learn from accomplished faculty across agricultural, food and life sciences. This program expands scientific knowledge in food safety, quality assurance and risk assessment. Program graduates have been promoted into various levels of managerial jobs and executive-level jobs with worldwide companies.

The program is based on U.S. standards including Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principals and food safety laws and regulations. It emphasizes preventative processes, problem-solving skills, and the scientific foundations that drive industry standards like food microbiology, toxicology and epidemiology.

The courses are taught by the same U of A faculty who teach on campus.


Fall Courses

AGED 5473

Interpretation of Social Data in AG* 

FDSC 5223

Biosecurity in the Food Industry (Even years)

FDSC 5823

Principles of Food Microbiology (Even years)

AGEC 5713

Food Safety Law (Odd years)



Spring Courses

POSC 4033

Statistical Process Control (Even years)

POSC 5113

Food Toxicology (Odd years)



Summer Courses

PBHL 4613

Principles of Epidemiology

FDSC 5503

Food Industry Sanitation (Even years)

FDSC 5423

Foodborne Diseases (Odd years)



Offered Every Semester

ESRM 5393

Statistics in Education*


 * Students only need ESRM 5393 OR AGED 5473


NOTE: Schedule is subject to change

Required Statistics Courses (3 hours - Only ONE of these is required)

AGED 5473. Interpreting Social Data in Agriculture. The development of competencies in analyzing, interpreting and reporting the results of analyses of social science data in agriculturally related professions. Students will select appropriate analysis techniques and procedures for various problems, analyze data, and interpret and report the results of statistical analyses in narrative and tabular form. Offered fall semester. Instructor: Don Edgar.

ESRM 5393. Statistics in Education and Health Professions. Applied statistics course for Master's degree candidates. Includes concepts and operations for frequency distributions, graphing techniques, measures of central tendency and variation, sampling, hypothesis testing, and interpretation of statistical results. Offered every semester. Instructor: Xinya Liang.

Emphasis Area Courses (21 hours)

FDSC 5823. Principles of Food Microbiology. This web-based course is a study of the fundamentals of food microbiology to include its history, classifications, spores and their importance, and the most common and serious pathogenic food microorganisms. Fermentation, spoilage microorganisms and control methodology are also discussed. Offered fall semester of even years. Instructor: Kristen Gibson.

FDSC 5223. Food Biosecurity. This course is the study of the security of agricultural products and the protection of our food supply from intentional and accidental, domestic and international contamination. Offered fall semester of even years. Instructor: Kristen Gibson.

FDSC 5423. Foodborne Diseases. This course will introduce students to the major pathogens associated with foodborne diseases, their epidemiology, and approaches to outbreak investigation and control of foodborne illness.  An emphasis will be placed on understanding the relationships between the host, the etiologic agent, and the environment as they relate to disease causation. The student will gain knowledge through lectures, case studies, readings, and an individual project. Offered summer semester of odd years. Instructor: Kristen Gibson.

FDSC 5503. Safety and Sanitation for the Food Industry. This web-based course will provide an appreciation of the need for sanitation in food processing and increase the students' knowledge of sanitary techniques. Topics will include contamination sources, plant and equipment design, cleaners and sanitizers, HACCP, and food biosecurity. Also covered will be considerations in selecting, establishing and maintaining a sanitation program. Prerequisite: General Microbiology or Food Microbiology; General Chemistry. Offered summer semester of even years. Instructor: Kristen Gibson.

POSC 4033. Statistical Process Control in the Food Industry. Analysis of processing data related to compliance with regulatory limits, quality & safety limits and internal & external customer specifications. Emphasizes statistical process control chart development, including understanding data and chart selection, calculating statistical limits, and interpreting process performance. Offered spring semester of even years. Instructor: TBD.

POSC 5113. Food Toxicology and Contaminants. During this course, the student will learn basic concepts of food toxicology, study the different physiological processes involved in food borne intoxications, and learn about potential health problems associated with exposure to these compounds. Offered spring semester of odd years. Instructor: Dan Donoghue.

FDSC or POSC 500V. Special Problems Research. Original investigation on assigned problems in food safety. Course taken to complete the degree program. Instructor: Student's advisor.

Additional Coursework (6 hours)

AGEC 5713. Food Safety Law. This course provides students with an introduction to food law and policy, history of food regulation, the organization of federal food law and regulatory agencies, government inspection and enforcement powers, food safety standards, food labeling, food advertising and product liability. Offered fall semester of odd years. Instructor: Lauren Manning.

PBHL 4613. Principles of Epidemiology. Distribution and patterns of disease or physiological conditions within populations; an examination of the nature of epidemiological research. Prerequisite: Senior standing and BIOL 2013 and BIOL 2011. Offered summer semester of even years. Instructor: Ches Jones.


 Helpful information

Application deadlines for this program are April 1st for fall enrollment and November 1st for spring enrollment. All applications will be reviewed after the deadline. 

Detailed Application Information

This program timeline can be shortened. Please contact your academic advisor.

An oral or written examination and exit interview are required to fulfill degree requirements.

This program does not currently accept international students residing outside of the United States.

Program Contact

Kristin Seals
Programs Coordinator

 Program Cost

$500 Tuition

Tuition and fees per credit hour reflect fall 2018 rates for students studying completely online. If an online student takes a course on campus, tuition and fees will differ.

Program at a Glance

100% online

30 credit hours

Can be completed in 3 years or less

One course per semester - 9 credits per year


GRE exempt

Requires a 3-hour Special Problem course (self-directed study)

A cumulative GPA of 2.85 or higher

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