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Program Overview

The demand for professionals with expertise in food safety science is growing rapidly. Students pursuing the Graduate Certificate in Food Safety complete three core science courses centered on foodborne pathogens, toxicology, and epidemiology plus one approved food safety-related elective. These courses are available to concurrent graduate students or to Lifelong Education students. The certificate courses are immediately applicable to students current positions while, at the same time, preparing them for future leadership roles within food regulation and industry. 

To earn the Graduate Certificate in Food Safety, you must complete 12 credit hours. 

  • Food Safety core science courses (9 credit hours) 
  • Elective course (3 credit hours) 

Why this certificate program? 

  • Obtain a transcript certificate from an accredited Big-Ten institution
  • Fully online, asynchronous study
  • Designed for mid-career/mid-management working professionals who are not seeking a degree
  • Consists of four 3-credit courses to equal a 12-credit hour program
  • Average time to certificate = 4 semesters or 16 months
  • Start with the certificate, decide if you would like to pursue the full MS degree
  • Accredited through: Michigan State University, Higher Learning Commission-North Central Association, AVMA Council on Education (COE) through the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Affiliate of the Professional Science Masters

Program Outcomes

After this program, students will:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of core food safety sciences including food borne microbiology, toxicology, & epidemiology
  • Lead food safety efforts to address new concerns such as allergens, preventive controls, food packaging, emerging food borne pathogens, antimicrobial resistance, and food safety culture
  • Solve food safety problems by identifying effective and efficient processes in an ever-changing food safety industry

Career Outlook

Graduates of our program typically move up or on in their respective field. Most of the people pursuing this certificate work in industry and others work in government or military positions and are non-degree seeking. 

Titles of Certificate in Food Safety alumni include: 

  • Quality and Regulatory Compliance Director
  • Food Safety Manager
  • SQF Coordinator
  • Quality Manager
  • Staff Veterinarian
  • Senior Scientist



  • VM 811Evolution and Ecology of Foodborne Pathogens3 Credits

    Foodborne disease is perhaps the most widespread health problem in the world and the available evidence indicates that biological contaminants are the major cause. In this course, we will examine the process of continuous changes in the relationship of foodborne pathogens to their environments from food to the human host. Major topics: Food as a substrate; Environmental factors; Storage and processing factors; Major pathogens: microbial, viral, parasitic and prion; Food pathogens management strategies; and Emergency management: natural, accidental, or intentional introduction. Semester: Fall, Spring, Summer

  • VM 812Food Safety Toxicology3 Credits

    The purpose of this course is to develop an understanding of the nature and properties of toxic substances in foods, the nature and magnitude of hazards they represent, and how the body reacts to the presence of these compounds. Major topics: Principles of toxicology applicable to food toxicants; Food allergy and sensitivity; Natural toxins in fish, plants, mushrooms; Environmental inorganic and organometallic food contaminants; Man-made organic food toxicants; Biotechnology derived foods. Semester: Fall, Spring

  • VM 831Foodborne Disease Epidemiology3 Credits

    This is a graduate level course in epidemiology in which most of the teaching examples regard foodborne disease. Most modules have a textbook reading, a PowerPoint lecture with audio, some outside readings and a discussion. Four of the modules break from this format and immerse the student in foodborne disease outbreak investigations. Practical field epidemiology is emphasized over statistical/analytical epidemiology. Students completing this course should be able to use the basic tools of epidemiology to conduct disease surveillance, outbreak investigation and disease control programs. Semester: Fall, Summer


  • VM 814Packaging for Food Safety3 Credits

    The course objective is to provide students with an insight into advanced packaging (technical and business) topics with a food safety focus. Real world applications and problem-solving exercises will help students build a framework for being creative and successful in their food safety future. Major Topics: MSU is applying an interdisciplinary approach to the specific packaging role in, and contribution to, food safety. The packaging process and the package itself are usually not part of the problem but often provides an opportunity for innovative solutions. Semester: Summer

  • VM 821Food Protection & Defense3 Credits

    Protecting and defending our nation's food supply requires an understanding of emergency management and critical incident protocol related to food systems. This multi-university, multi-faculty developed course in Food Protection and Defense is offered jointly by The School of Criminal Justice and the Online Master of Science in Food Safety Program. The course is team taught which leverages the expertise of faculty and industry leaders from around the United States to contain content that includes the most up-to-date issues, sources, perspectives, and scholarship on Food Defense and Homeland Security. Major topics: Unique focus areas include fundamentals of Homeland Security; Public-private partnerships for emergency preparedness; Supply chain, production and processing security; Packaging and transportation security; Evaluating food security programs; Restaurant and grocery store critical incident protocols; Economic recovery. Semester: Fall

  • VM 824Global Food Safety3 Credits

    This course will cover the hazards, risks, and control that affect food safety, with a specific focus on global developments. Since a very significant proportion of most countries food supply is imported, it is really no longer possible to discuss food safety only at a national level. Major topics will include global distribution of food commodities; international trade of food commodities; international supply chain management; private and public food safety standards in a global context; global governance of food including international regulatory and advisory organizations, including a description of WHO and FAO activities; foodborne disease control in national, regional and contexts; social and cultural implications for foodborne disease control, including analysis of the US-EU divide; historical framework of international agricultural development, including analysis of the importance of collaboration of sectors such as Health and Agriculture; food scarcity; and food fraud. Finally the new, revolutionary potential of global detection and control of foodborne pathogens will be described. Semester: Fall

  • VM 825Quantifying Food Risk3 Credits

    The course objective is to provide the student with an awareness of the food protection risks that are a function of issues of food quality, food safety, food fraud, and food defense. The students are introduced to a method of quantifying these risks into one estimate. The estimate is supported by a robust and thorough method of defining the risks using the traditional HACCP concepts. Major topics: Risk assessment of food risks; Harmonizing an assessment across the food protection risks. Semester: Spring

  • VM 827FSMA/HACCP3 Credits

    Students will develop an understanding of US food safety requirements under the Food Safety Modernization Act, and understand the theory, development and application of food safety management systems based on HACCP. Course topics include: Food Safety Modernization Act; Food Safety Preventive Controls Regulation; Produce Safety Regulation; Intentional Adulteration, Third Party Audits, Foreign Supplier Verification; International Private Food Safety Standards; Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points; Food Safety Prerequisite Programs; Conducting a Hazard Analysis; Establishing Critical Control Points and Critical Limits; and Verification and Validation Procedures. Semester: Spring

  • VM 834Current Issues in Food Safety3 Credits

    VM 834 is an elective course that covers several current issues in food safety. The courses are designed to offer a condensed coverage of various topics of interest. The topics are organized into a self-paced format with minimal instructor or peer interaction and a maximum flexibility in scheduling and topic selection. Students can mix and match the topics of their choice, allowing them to take a variable number of credits (each class is one credit) within the semester. Semester: Spring, Summer, Fall (topics vary each semester). Topics include: Preventive Controls for Animal Food (with FSPCA certificate); Preventive Controls for Human Food (with FSPCA certificate); Beverage Safety; Dairy Safety; Food Allergens; Food Waste Recovery (Food Banks); Ingredient Safety; Meat Safety; Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs); Microbiological Troubleshooting; Pet Food Safety; Produce Food Safety

  • VM 840Anti-Counterfeit Strategy & Product Protection3 Credits

    The course objective is to provide students with an insight in the emerging corporate management function of "Product Protection" and of the growing area of anti-counterfeit strategy. The course will initially look into the overall strategy of the opportunity (crime), looking closer at categorizing the actions (types of counterfeiting, types of counterfeiters, etc.), and the victim (consumers and retailers, including consumer behavior research such as "what role can we expect the consumer to play in authentication"). The food related topics of food fraud, economically motivated adulteration, and intentional adulteration are addressed. Major topics: MSU is applying an interdisciplinary approach with the focus areas of Anti-Counterfeit; Diversion; Tamper-Resistance; Theft deterrence; Supply chain security; Criminal justice/ tamper-resistance; Criminal justice/ anti-counterfeit; and other advanced topics and solutions. Semester: Summer

Admissions and Requirements

To be accepted to this program, you must have:

  1. A bachelor's degree

  2. Previous work experience


  3. Official transcripts from all previous schools

To apply to this program:

  1. You will need to be a current graduate student at MSU or a graduate level Lifelong Education (LGL) student to pursue the Certificate in Food Safety. Anyone with at least a  bachelor's degree can apply to MSU as a graduate level LGL student. What happens after I submit my Lifelong application? Process takes approximately 3-4 days, on average Completed applications will be reviewed by the MSU Lifelong Education office, located in the Registrar’s Office. Notification from the Registrar’s office typically occurs 24-48 hours after application is submitted. You will receive an email with your MSU Personal Identification Number (PID) and Personal Access Number (PAN), as well as instructions on how to set up your MSU NetID. Your MSU NetID and password will enable you to access the enrollment system and the online learning platform, Desire2Learn (D2L). Before enrolling, you will need a course override (permission code). Please send an email to with your PID number, your choice of course, and the semester you wish to enroll.
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Key Dates

Spring Semester

Application Deadline

September 15, 2020

Summer Semester

Application Deadline

January 15, 2021

Fall Semester

Application Deadline

April 15, 2021

Tuition & Fees

In State Tuition

  • $9,429
  • Total

Out of State Tuition

  • $12,084
  • Total


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