MLA in Gastronomy FAQ

Return to the MLA in Gastronomy program page.

What is the Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy?

Gastronomy, or food studies, exists under the liberal arts rubric because its subject matter encompasses the arts and humanities, as well as the natural and social sciences. Our understanding of the role of food in historical and contemporary societies and its impact on world civilization is a serious and important pursuit, especially when undertaken within specific, well-defined disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, economics, history, and nutrition.

What is Metropolitan College? Is it part of Boston University?

Metropolitan College is indeed part of Boston University. It is one of the University’s 16 degree-granting schools and colleges, with undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of areas. Courses are held at night to accommodate the schedules of people who wish to pursue further education on a full- or part-time schedule. Some programs are offered online or in a blended format.

What can I do with this degree?

Graduates of the program pursue many different careers—teaching at the college level, food writing (or an aspect of food publishing), wine and food consulting, various food businesses, and careers in tourism, to name a few.

Students range from professionals in the food business to career changers to recent college graduates. While individual research interests are varied, our students share an interest in investigating gastronomy in an academic environment and a desire to pursue a graduate degree in a field they love.

As with all graduate programs, students will be expected to read and analyze seminal and cutting-edge texts concerning food studies, conduct academic research, write papers, and participate in lively dialogue with faculty and fellow students. This interdisciplinary program will teach the student to view food through many different lenses—anthropology, history, literary criticism, art history, and the natural sciences, to name a few. The program also stresses experiential learning to further one’s understanding of food and wine through our fourteen-week Certificate Program in the Culinary Arts, our Wine Studies Certificate Programs, and our Cheese Studies Certificate Program.

Who are the faculty?

Courses are taught by faculty who hold advanced degrees, many of whom hold full-time appointments in departments throughout the University, or by instructors who are uniquely qualified through their professional positions and achievements.

Are there prerequisites to the program?

Each applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree and demonstrate an interest in pursuing academic study in the field of food studies. There are no specific prerequisites.

When are applications due?

The Gastronomy Program has rolling admissions; you may submit your application at any time. You are advised to apply at least three months prior to the start date of the semester you would like to attend.

Can I start the program at any time?

At Metropolitan College, you may take courses at any time without being admitted to a degree program (up to 8 credits). Once admitted, you may start the program in the fall, spring, or summer by simply registering for courses. Please notify our office when you are planning on registering, so that we may keep accurate records and advise you with your course selection. Fill out and return the registration confirmation form that you are sent when you are admitted.

Are most students part-time or full-time?

Most students are part-time and pursue the degree while working part-time or full-time jobs. Students wishing to study full-time may take between 12 and 18 credits.

Are the Gastronomy courses offered in the evening?

Yes, most courses offered through the Gastronomy program are on weekday evenings, typically from 6 to 9 p.m. However, students taking the Laboratory in the Culinary Arts attend class during the daytime. Also, students may take approved daytime courses in other graduate departments throughout the University.

Can I take Gastronomy courses before officially enrolling?

Yes, you can register as a non-degree student and take up to two Gastronomy courses (8 credits) in the program before officially enrolling.

Which courses are required?

Students must take 16 credits of required core courses, normally offered at least once per year:

  • MET ML 622 Survey of the History of Food (4 credits)
  • MET ML 641 Anthropology of Food (4 credits)
  • MET ML 701 Understanding Food: Theory and Methodology (4 credits)
  • MET ML 715 Experiencing Food Through the Senses (4 credits)

We recommend that students take MET ML 701 Understanding Food: Theory and Methodology during their first year in the program. This course introduces the theory and methodology of food studies using a multidisciplinary approach.

Find detailed descriptions on these core courses and other Gastronomy courses here.

What other classes can I take?

Scheduled classes vary from semester to semester and from year to year, and include the following:

MET ML 611 Archaeology of Food in Ancient Times
MET ML 612 Pots and Pans
MET ML 614 Food Philosophy
MET ML 621 Researching Food History
MET ML 622 History of Food
MET ML 631 Culture and Cuisine: France
MET ML 633 Readings in Food History
MET ML 638 Culture and Cuisine: New England
MET ML 641 Anthropology of Food
MET ML 642 Food Ethnography
MET ML 652 A Comprehensive Survey of Wine, Spirits and Beer
MET ML 653 Mastering Wine: Skill Development
MET ML 654 The Wine Trade – Global, National and Local Perspectives
MET ML 671 Food and the Visual Arts
MET ML 672 Art and Food
MET ML 681 Food Writing for Print and Media
MET ML 692 Cultural Tourism
MET ML 700 Laboratory in the Culinary Arts
MET ML 701 Understanding Food: Theory and Methodology
MET ML 705 Artisan Cheese of the World
MET ML 715 Experiencing Food Through the Senses
MET ML 720 Food Policy and Food Systems
MET ML 722 Special Topics: Food Activism
MET AD 741 The Innovation Process: Developing New Products and Services

In addition to courses offered by the Gastronomy program, each term there is a list of approved graduate courses offered through other campus departments. These courses are in history, anthropology, sociology, economics, communication, media, travel, business, public policy, and other applicable areas. For example, if your interest is in Japanese food and culture, you may find a Japanese history course in which you can explore food topics.

Can I transfer credits from another institution, or take classes on a pass/fail basis?

You can take up to 8 credits as a waiver. In other words, certain courses can be counted as credits toward the degree for up to 8 credits on a pass or fail basis will not have in impact on your GPA. These courses include (1) those taken at other institutions, which have been approved by the Gastronomy coordinator, with the exception of culinary arts courses taken at other institutions; and (2) some Gastronomy and Lifelong Learning certificate programs taken prior to being admitted to the MLA (further coursework and examinations may be required). The instructor and the Gastronomy coordinator must approve courses if they are taken as pass/fail credits. Please contact the Gastronomy coordinator for more information.

Can I get credit toward the degree for culinary programs completed elsewhere?

No, credit may not be applied toward the degree for previous formal culinary training outside of the Boston University Certificate Program in the Culinary Arts.

Can I complete this program online or away from Boston?

The course MET ML 631 Culture and Cuisine: France is frequently offered online. Students also have the opportunity to take blended, “eLive” courses. These courses combine online communication with two or three face-to-face class meetings on Boston University campus. The options for eLive courses change every semester, but past examples include MET ML 711 The Many Meanings of Meat, and MET ML 622 Survey of the History of Food. Online and eLive courses will be noted on the BU University Class Schedule as EL, or you may contact our office to learn about distance education options each semester.

If necessary, there are several ways to reduce time spent in Boston:

  1. Transfer up to two graduate level courses (8 credits) to the degree as course waivers (Pass/Fail). Prior approval is mandatory and students must earn a B- or better. Credit transfer is dependent on course hours. Official transcripts, course descriptions, and syllabi must be submitted.
  2. Enroll in a Directed Study course. Once in the program, students may work with a faculty member to complete a Directed Study project on a topic relevant to the program. Directed Study may also take the form of an internship. Directed Study courses may be completed off campus. Students are expected to communicate with faculty on a regular basis via email and phone. These projects must be approved in advance by the Gastronomy coordinator.
  3. The Master’s Thesis or Graduating Project may be researched and written wherever you choose. However, it must be coordinated with a full-time BU faculty member and approved by the Gastronomy coordinator.

What other courses can be taken at Metropolitan College toward the MLA degree?

The following courses are offered through Metropolitan College’s Lifelong Learning. Gastronomy students may take these courses for credit:

  1. A full-time 14-week Certificate Program in Culinary Arts, MET ML 700 (8 credits). For students without previous culinary training, this program offers hands-on kitchen experience covering the classical French foundations of cooking as well as various ethnic and regional cuisines, bread and pastry, production cooking, sanitation, and other gastronomic topics.
  2. A 4-credit class MET ML 698 Culinary Arts Cooking and a 4-credit class MET ML 699 Culinary Arts Baking. These classes are offered in the Summer Term and are run in the evening.
  3. The Cheese Studies Certificate Program, MET ML 651 (2 credits). This program is offered evenings through our Seminars in Food, Wine & the Arts. Taught Ihsan Gurdal, owner of Boston’s acclaimed cheese shop Formaggio Kitchen, the course meets eight times, including a day trip to observe farmstead cheesemaking. To earn two credits toward the degree, students must pass an exam with a grade of B- or better and write a paper on a relevant topic.
  4. Wine Studies Certificate Programs, MET ML 651 (2 credits), MET ML 652 (4 credits), MET ML 653 (4 credits), MET ML 654 (4 credits). We offer four levels of wine study. Instructors include: Masters of Wine Sandy Block and Bill Nesto, as well as Stacy Woods and Kimberly Kuborn.

For more information about these courses, or to register, please contact the office of Lifelong Learning at cularts@bu.edu or 617-353-9852, and indicate that you are a Gastronomy student.

If I want to do the Certificate Program in the Culinary Arts, will I be able to take other classes at night?

Yes, it is possible to take other classes at night while taking part in the Culinary Arts program during the day. However, culinary students do occasionally assist with evening cooking demonstrations offered through BU’s Seminars in Food, Wine & the Arts. Students enrolled in both the Culinary Arts program and evening classes should prioritize attending class over helping at events.

What is the tuition price difference between part-time and full-time students?

Metropolitan College tuition can differ from semester to semester and year to year. For updated costs, please visit our Tuition & Fees page. Students taking over 11.5 credits are considered full-time and pay higher tuition.

What is the total cost of the program?

That will depend entirely on how you complete your requirements. Since you may transfer courses to the degree, complete one or more of our certificate programs and take regular graduate classes, it will add up differently for each student. Tuition is set annually by the Trustees of Boston University and is subject to change.

Can I get financial aid through Metropolitan College?

Graduate students may qualify for a number of loans, including federal student loans. Questions should be directed to Metropolitan College Graduate Financial Aid.

Do any of these programs count toward federal student loans?

Yes, if you are enrolled in the MLA program and taking 6 credits or more per semester, you may apply for federal loans. Please contact Metropolitan College Graduate Financial Aid.

What financial assistance is offered through the Gastronomy program?

Our department offers a limited number of graduate assistantships for students per term. Students are eligible to apply for an assistantship after completing a semester in the program. The assistantship covers most of the tuition of one course in exchange for 10 hours per week of work. Duties include support of academic research and other projects in the Gastronomy program and Lifelong Learning office.

Are there tuition benefits for Boston University employees?

Yes, employees of Boston University receive tuition remission that covers up to two graduate courses per term. There are some minimal costs and tax implications involved. Information can be found on the BU Human Resources website. This is an excellent program and a number of Gastronomy students have enjoyed their employment on campus while pursuing their studies.

Which libraries are available to me?

The Boston University library system maintains multiple resources that support the research interests of students. BU employs two librarians whose expertise is in gastronomy. Learn more about the library’s gastronomy texts, click here.

In addition, the Boston area is rich in library resources. Gastronomy students have access to the Schlesinger Women’s History Library on the Harvard Campus. The Schlesinger has a renowned collection of historic culinary books, diaries, letters, and cookbooks. The Boston Public Library is also a terrific resource. Please see the BU Library to obtain a Boston Library Consortium (BLC) card.

Do students eat in class?

Yes, we frequently eat in class. Cooking, sharing and hospitality are major elements of experiencing food culture. Students and faculty alike bring theme-related dishes to class to share during breaks. Other courses take food-related field trips or have meals together outside the classroom. We learn much about our fellow students including what good cooks they are! Gastronomy students also occasionally dine out together in a local ethnic restaurant, have wine and food gatherings, and keep in close touch with departmental activities and events through the BU Gastronomy Google Group.

Can I attend events offered through Seminars in Food, Wine and the Arts?

Yes, Food Studies students are welcome and encouraged to attend events and seminars through BU’s Lifelong Learning. These include lecture series sponsored by the Jacques Pépin Fund for Scholarship in Food Studies that feature some of the world’s finest scholars in food studies. Food Studies students are offered a reduced price on selected offerings and events.

Are there advisors?

Yes, in addition to the coordinator of our program, faculty members throughout Boston University act as advisors on Directed Studies, Theses, or Graduating Projects.

To whom should I direct my questions about courses and academic issues?

Contact Mary Beaudry, PhD, interim program coordinator of the MLA in Gastronomy, at 617-358-1650 or beaudry@bu.edu.