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Fermentation Science, M.S.

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The Fermentation Science master’s program at MTSU, a concentration in Professional Science, emphasizes the skills and experience that will prepare the next generation of professionals for the broad range of industries that employ fermentation to create end products, including the food, chemical, pharmaceutical, and water treatment industries.

  • Covers applied fermentation of specific types of food as well as the production of probiotics, bioprocessing, sensory evaluation, and food and industrial microbiology
  • Business core classes prepare students for professional careers
  • 36 credit hours total, including a capstone internship
  • Professional Internship takes place of thesis

What We're Doing

Valerie in lab

MSPS program extended skills, helped land job at Jack Daniels

Valerie Preston received her Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness with a minor in biology in May of 2018.  Immediately following, she enrolled in the MSPS program for Fermentation Science.  While working toward her undergraduate degree, she began working part time in the microbiology lab at Jack Daniels Distillery which quickly led to a full-time position. 

Valerie credits the MSPS program for extending her knowledge and skill set in the areas of microbiology and fermentation sciences and for instilling broader insight into the business aspects of her industry.  “My fermentation sciences education at MTSU immediately helped me become a more valuable employee and will serve as a stepping stone to a more accomplished career at the Jack Daniel Distillery,” she says.

Students use fermentation to create environmentally-friendly food packaging

Students use fermentation to create environmentally-friendly food packaging

Due to an increasing awareness of environmental problems involving waste management consumers are becoming more environmentally conscience when making purchasing decisions at the grocery store. They are beginning to demand, not only sustainably produced food products, but also food products with sustainable and environmentally-friendly packing. 

Fermentation Science Assistant Professor Keely O’Brien and her research group are exploring polysaccharides produced by some acetic and lactic acid bacteria during fermentation for use as a natural and biodegradable food packaging material.  Cellulose-kefiran films produced in the lab are expected to extend the shelf-life of food without the use of non-renewable petroleum-based plastics or chemical antimicrobial and antioxidant compounds.


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The range of careers available to you with an MSPS degree in Fermentation Science is literally as broad as the World.  Every country and every culture in the World utilizes fermentation to survive, so you can choose where you want to live as well as what you want to do when you get there.  Your advantage, once you complete this degree, is that most people aren’t even aware these career opportunities exist! In addition, if you get tired of working in one industry, your education and experience will allow you to shift into an alternative industry with ease.  The science of fermentation is consistent across all careers. Examples of industries you will be trained to enter include:

  • Fermented food production, including cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and all fermented dairy products; sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented vegetable products; beer, distilled spirits, and wine; bread, vinegar, pepperoni, pastrami and salami
  • Industrial chemical production
  • Industrial ethanol production (e.g. for addition to gasoline)
  • Pharmaceutical production
  • Probiotic production
  • Wastewater processing

Employers of MTSU Fermentation Science graduates include (to date):

  • Brown Foreman (Jack Daniel’s® and many other well-known brands)
  • Nashville City Winery
  • Pennington Distilling Company
  • Tennessee Craft Distilling

The Master of Science (M.S.) with a major in Professional Science includes a business core with specific concentrations in Actuarial Sciences, Biostatistics, Biotechnology, Engineering Management, Fermentation Science, Geosciences, and Health Care Informatics.

As a Master of Science in Professional Science (MSPS) degree, the Fermentation Science M.S. combines leading-edge, advanced science classes with graduate-level business management courses designed to enhance career success.  Instead of a thesis, students complete a complex, capstone internship.  Over 70% of our MSPS students receive job offers from their internship.

This degree is ideal for individuals looking to advance themselves within the management structure of companies employing fermentation to produce an end product.  The most effective managers in these types of companies are those who understand the science and technologies employed in the production of the products they produce and sell, as well as the critical business skills required to run the company.  No other degree offers these two different types of education and training in a single program.

For complete curriculum details, click on the REQUIREMENTS button to the right.

Professional Science, Fermentation Science Concentration, M.S.

Saeed Foroudastan, Director
Master of Science in Professional Science Program
(615) 494-7618
Saeed.Foroudastan@mtsu.edu

For more information about the Fermentation Science concentration, contact:
Tony Johnston, Program Advisor/Coordinator
Fermentation Science Concentration
(615) 898-2421
Tony.Johnston@mtsu.edu

Suzanne Hicks, Internship Graduate Coordinator
Master of Science in Professional Science Program
(615) 904-8581
Suzanne.Hicks@mtsu.edu

The College of Basic and Applied Sciences offers the Master of Science with a major in Professional Science (M.S.) with six concentrations: Actuarial Science, Biostatistics, Biotechnology, Engineering Management, Fermentation Science, and Health Care Informatics.

The concentration in Fermentation Science offers preparation for students to assume management positions in industries throughout the state employing fermentation.

Please see undergraduate catalog for information regarding undergraduate programs.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Master of Science in Professional Science with a concentration in Fermentation Science requires

  1. an earned bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college in a relevant field such as agriculture, biology, brewing science, chemistry, food science, and microbiology and a commitment to developing the necessary analytic and program management skills and expertise required of today's fermentation professional;
  2. basic competency in word processing, electronic mail, library retrieval systems, presentation graphics, spreadsheets, and databases.

 Once accepted into the College of Graduate Studies, students in the Master of Science in Professional Science program may enroll for one semester before fully admitted to the program.

Application Procedures

All application materials are to be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies.

Applicant must

  1. submit application with the appropriate application fee (online at www.mtsu.edu/graduate/apply.php/). Once this initial application has been accepted, the applicant will receive directions on how to enter the graduate portal to be able to submit other materials.
  2. submit official transcripts from all collegiate institutions attended;
  3. submit three letters of reference to askgrad@mtsu.edu (or mail to College of Graduate Studies);
  4. submit an official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) report. A composite GRE score of 286 is expected for consideration for unconditional admission.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Science in Professional Science with a concentration in Fermentation Science requires completion of a minimum of 37 semester hours.

Curriculum: Professional Science, Fermentation Science

The following illustrates the minimum coursework requirements.

Core Courses (15 hours)

  • ACTG 6100 - Accounting and Legal Issues for Managers

    3credit hours

    Surveys accounting skills and legal perspectives necessary for managers without undergraduate business degrees to enter the businessworld. Will not meet the requirements for the M.S. in Information Systems, M.Acc. in Accounting, or the M.B.A. degree programs.

  • BCED 6820 - Managerial Communication

    3credit hours

    Analysis of communication theory and communication processes with emphasis on development of executive communication skills essential for understanding organizational processes from a holistic perspective. Covers organizational theory, behavior, and interpersonal communication from both a domestic and global perspective.

  • BCED 6910 - Internship Program

    3credit hours

    A supervised program of related work experience. Provides experiential opportunities for the application of the theoretical concepts learned.

  • MGMT 6740 - Leadership and Motivation

    3credit hours

    Issues in leadership and motivation in business organizations. An examination of the theoretical framework for leadership and motivation processes serves as foundation. Emphasis on practical issues and applications of leadership development and motivation.

  • STAT 5140 - Probabilistic and Statistical Reasoning

    3credit hours

    Prerequisite: Must be enrolled in the Master of Science in Professional Sciences program; graduate level. Focuses on probability and statistics concepts. Topics include binomial and normal probabilistic modeling; important statistical concepts such as confounding, randomization, sampling variability and significance; statistical testing of significant differences and associations; and design experiments to test research hypotheses.

Concentration Courses (22 hours)

Required Courses (16 hours)

  • BIOL 5510 - Food and Industrial Microbiology

    4credit hours

    Prerequisite: BIOL 2230/2231. Corequisite: BIOL 5511. Interaction between microorganisms and food; industrial processes of human importance .Three hours lecture and two 1.5 hour laboratory meetings per week.

  • FERM 5600 - Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Bioprocessing

    3credit hours

    Prerequisites: FERM 1000, BIOL 1120/1121, BIOL 2230/2231, and CHEM 3530/3531. Details on probiotics, prebiotics, their molecular mechanisms, commercial uses, and regulation and safety assessments of the effects of nutraceuticals on humans and animals.

  • FERM 6100 - Food Contamination, Safety, and Regulation

    3credit hours

    Prerequisites: FERM 1000, BIOL 1120/1121, BIOL 2230/2231, and CHEM 3530/3531. Current research in the study of the quality, safety characteristics, and health implications of processed, minimally processed, and raw foods. Topics include novel food processing technologies and microbial detection tools.

  • FERM 6700 - Consumer Motivation and Sensory Evaluation of Fermented Foods

    3credit hours

    Prerequisites: FERM 1000, CHEM 2030/203 or CHEM 3010/3011, and CHEM 3530/3531 or permission of instructor. Fundamentals of sensory evaluation of food and sensory-driven consumer motivation leading to the purchase of fermented foods. Scientific methods of sensory evaluation introduced and practiced and their use in determining critical factors in consumer purchase decisions discussed.

  • FERM 6450 - Industrial Applications of Fermentation

    3credit hours

    Prerequisites: FERM 1000, CHEM 2030/2031 or CHEM 3010/3011, and CHEM 3530/3531 or permission of instructor. Discussion of industrial applications of fermentation used to produce a broad range of products including medicines, flavors, aromas, pigments, organic acids, and vitamins.

3 hours from the following:

  • FERM 5560 - Applied Fermentation: Biomass and Biofuels

    3credit hours

    Survey of fermentation as a means of bioenergy production, downstream processing to purify bioenergy, the range of biofuels produced by various biomass (e.g. grains, algae, and renewable sources) and mathematical evaluation of product recovery and energy balance.

  • FERM 5570 - Applied Fermentation: Milk, Meat, and Grain

    3credit hours

    Prerequisites: FERM 1000, CHEM 2030/2031 or CHEM 3010/3011, and CHEM 3530/3531 or permission of instructor. Practical applications of fermentation to produce dairy, meat, and grain products. Lecture and laboratory exercises provide real-world experience in the production of these products.

  • FERM 5580 - Applied Fermentation: Fruits and Vegetables

    3credit hours

    Prerequisites: FERM 1000, CHEM 2030 or 3010, and CHEM 3530 or permission of instructor. Practical applications of fermentation to produce fruit and vegetable products. Lecture and laboratory exercises provide real-world experience in the production of these products.

3 hours from the following:

  • MBAI 6905 - Applied Business Analytics

    3credit hours

    (Same as BIA 6905.) Prerequisites: BIA 6000 and MBAI 6835 or BIA 2610 and BIA 3620; permission of department. An applied approach to the understanding, development, and application of prescriptive and data analytic tools to model and analyze business data. A hands-on focus utilized with both commonly-used spreadsheet software and specialized business intelligence software for the student to develop skills for self-service business analytics.

  • ET 6870 - Engineering Management Systems

    3credit hours

    Prerequisite: Graduate standing. Advanced topics related to engineering management systems with a focus on innovation implementation for technical products, technical processes, and for business models in a technical environment. Implementation strategies integrating current and emerging technologies into manufacturing, health care and service industries. Components needed for the construction of new venture business plans to create new technology businesses and jobs.

  • ET 6390 - Productivity Strategies/Lean Systems

    3credit hours

    Prerequisites: Graduate standing and ET 3910 or consent of instructor. Topics include the human element (supervisory and teamwork skills), the theoretical aspect (laws and science covering service and production systems), and the practical aspect (tools for lean operational systems implementation). Theoretical and practical methods needed to complete a required industry/business project and obtain a certification in Lean Manufacturing.

  • ET 6190 - Six Sigma  3 credit hours  

    ET 6190 - Six Sigma

    3credit hours

    Prerequisite: MATH 1530 or equivalent or consent of instructor. The Six Sigma methodology is defined as a comprehensive and flexible system for achieving, sustaining, and maximizing business success. Through class instruction, simulations, and hands-on projects, students will be able to identify and focus on customers' critical-to-quality (CTQ) characteristics and solve problems using the define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC) process and its associated tools. A Green Belt certification will be awarded upon successful completion of an industry/business Green Belt project.

Contact Information

Dr. Tony V. Johnston
Program Advisor / Coordinator
Tony.Johnston@mtsu.edu
615-898-2421

Dr. Saeed Foroudastan
Program Director
Saeed.Foroudastan@mtsu.edu
615-494-7618

Who is My Advisor?

Dr. Tony V. Johnston
Program Advisor / Coordinator
Tony.Johnston@mtsu.edu
615-898-2421

Suzanne Hicks
Internship Coordinator
Suzanne.Hicks@mtsu.edu
615-904-8581

Mailing Address

School of Agriculture
MTSU Box 5
1301 East Main Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

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