Frequently Asked Questions

About Admissions

About the Program

About Internships

About the Career

About the Cost of Attendance

About Housing

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What are the prerequisites for the MPS program?

We do not require that our students come from a specific background or field of study. We welcome applications from students from almost any discipline. It is helpful to have had some college-level biology and chemistry courses. In addition, we look for certain qualifications and traits:

  • College graduate
  • Analytical degree
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Leadership potential
  • Communication strength
  • Management aspirations

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Do I need a background in Dairy Science?

A Dairy Science background is not required for admission to the MPS program, nor is it even preferred. It is helpful to have studied some biology and chemistry. Beyond that, we seek a combination of skills and attributes.

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How important are grades in the admissions process?

Grades, while important, will be considered along with other traits that we find are usually possessed by successful dairy manufacturing operations leaders.

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Do I need to take the TOEFL exam?

International students must submit TOEFL scores unless their last degree was awarded from an institution that teaches in English.

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Do I need to take the GRE exam?

Yes. All applicants must submit GRE scores.

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Does the MPS program accept foreign students?

Yes. The MPS program welcomes foreign students, as long as they have the necessary credentials and are capable of taking instruction in English.

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What is the difference between an MPS program and an MS program?

Our MPS and MS programs operate cooperatively but serve different purposes and set students forth on different career paths. For a description of the differences between the programs, see the MPS Degree vs. MS Degree section.

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How long does the MPS program last?

The MPS program lasts one year. The program consists of three quarters (nine months) of intensive dairy science coursework, on campus in San Luis Obispo, followed by a three-month paid internship with a dairy processor.

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Can I begin the MPS program in January?

No. The MPS program operates under a cohort model. All students begin together in the fall and take the same classes together, in the same sequence.

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Can I take courses in other departments while enrolled in the MPS program?

While you are permitted to enroll in courses outside of the MPS program, our schedule is rigorous and fills most of our students’ available time. Should you choose to take outside courses, additional tuition and fees will apply.

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Can students from other departments enroll in MPS courses?

MPS courses are not available to students outside of the MPS program.

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Will I be able to do research while I attend the MPS program?

The MPS program is not a research program, and there will not be opportunities to conduct research while attending the MPS program.

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I studied dairy science as an undergrad. Will the MPS program duplicate what I have already learned?

We accept students with many different backgrounds. As a result, we start courses at an elementary level to ensure that all students are on firm footing. If you have studied dairy science, you may find that the first weeks of a course review what you have already learned.  However, our courses ramp up quickly to a graduate level and should quickly exceed the depth of your undergraduate coursework.

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How will I find an internship?

The MPS program operates in partnership with a dozen large dairy processing companies. Each company has agreed to provide at least one paid internship.  We are confident that if you enter our program, you will secure an internship.

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Can I complete my internship with another company?

Yes. You may complete your internship with a company of your choice, contingent on approval by the MPS faculty. International students are encouraged to consider international internships.

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Are the internships paid?

Yes. All MPS-approved internships will offer competitive wages. Current MPS students have accepted internships paying $20-30/hour.

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How will I find housing during my internship?

Most of our industry partners offer housing options to interns. Housing may be subsidized or free of charge.

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How is job placement for MPS graduates?

The MPS is a new program, so we do not have a track record of job placement. However, it is important to note that our program exists because of a real industry need. The dairy industry continues to grow, and many dairy processing companies face challenges in filling existing and anticipated openings. Our partners asked for our help in developing the MPS program to recruit and train students for management roles in dairy processing. They have invested in our program and want it to succeed.  They have already extended employment offers to many of our current students. Future employment prospects are excellent.

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How stable is the dairy processing industry?

The dairy processing industry is large, stable, and resistant to economic downturns. Dairy foods are staples and enjoy steady demand. The need for dairy protein as a nutritional supplement is growing worldwide. Experts project steady industry growth for at least the next couple of decades.

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How much does the MPS program cost?

The MPS program tuition for 2016-2017 is $20,000 per student.  This amount covers tuition and fees. There may additional costs, including books, licensure fees, supplies, and travel expenses, but these costs will likely be minimal. Please note that fees are under review and are subject to change for 2017-2018, or at any time without prior notice. This is a self-sustaining program; no state resources are used to support the program.

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Is there a difference between resident and out-of-state tuition?

No. All students pay the same tuition and fees.

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Does the MPS program offer scholarships?

The MPS program does not offer scholarships. The program does qualify for student loans. A limited number of assistantships and sponsorships may be available. If you are interested, please contact MPS Program Manager Tom Johnson at tjohns47@calpoly.edu.

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Can I work while attending the MPS program?

Many of our students work part time while attending the MPS program. The amount you will be able to work depends on your ability to keep up with coursework. Of our students who do work, most don’t work more than 10-15 hours per week.

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Can I live on campus while attending the MPS program?

On-campus housing is limited at Cal Poly. Most of our students find housing off campus.

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