Program Description

The Master of Professional Studies in Dairy Products Technology program trains students with scientific, engineering, food, and agricultural backgrounds for leadership and management roles in the dairy foods manufacturing industry. This innovative, one-year master's degree includes coursework in dairy chemistry, dairy microbiology, plant management, project management, leadership, sustainability, and other areas critical to effective dairy plant management. Through the use of experiential and project-based learning, students will develop the essential knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the international dairy foods industry.

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Program of Study

Graduate students in the MPS in Dairy Products Technology program are required to complete a prescribed course of study designed to give them an understanding of dairy science and manufacturing, industry structure, unit operations, sanitation, quality control, and regulatory requirements. In addition, students will develop the leadership skills and experience needed to manage and guide teams in a dairy processing environment. Three quarters of on-campus course work are followed by a one-quarter internship related to dairy foods manufacturing. To graduate with the MPS in Dairy Products Technology, students must then pass a comprehensive examination.

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MPS Degree vs. MS Degree

Our MPS and MS programs operate cooperatively but serve different purposes and set students forth on different career paths. The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Dairy Products Technology program is designed to prepare students with analytical and critical thinking skills for careers in supervision or management at large-scale dairy processing operations.

The MPS is not a research program. Many of our students have minimal exposure to dairy science but have exhibited an interest in dairy and have demonstrated management potential.

The MPS is a one-year graduate degree program. Our objective is to train managers rather than career scientists. We provide our students with nine months of intensive coursework in dairy science, on campus in San Luis Obispo, and then match students with our industry partners for a three-month paid internship.

The MPS is a non-thesis masters degree program. Students must pass a comprehensive examination to graduate.

Below is a summary of the differences between the MPS in Dairy Products Technology program and MS in Agriculture program with specialization in Dairy Products Technology:

Length One year Two years
Thesis Required No Yes

Oral or comprehensive

Exam Required

Yes Yes
Paid Internship Required Yes No
Research Track No Yes
Management Track Yes Maybe

Graduates of the MPS program might begin their careers on the processing floor or within departments such as Research and Development, Sensory Evaluation, or Quality Assurance, but their ultimate roles will likely be supervisory.

Employers might rotate our graduates through a variety of departments and business units to help them gain an understanding of the organization as a whole. For graduates of our program, technical skills and knowledge will be important early in their careers, but over time, "people skills" and leadership abilities will play an increasingly important role.

If your goal is to develop a career as a scientist focused on research and development, food safety, sensory evaluation, or quality assurance, you might instead consider Cal Poly's excellent MS in Agriculture program with specialization in Dairy Products Technology. The MS is a more traditional research-focused program that culminates with a thesis project.

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