Program at a Glance
- On Campus and Online
- Part-Time or Full-Time Study
- 16 Credits
- 4–16 Months to Completion
- 2 Core Faculty
- No GRE/GMAT
Explore the Intersection of Food Systems and Culture
Available on campus and online, the Graduate Certificate in Food Studies at Boston University’s Metropolitan College (MET) is ideal for students and professionals who are considering a career change or seeking to enhance their credentials. A good choice for those who may not be in a position to commit to a full degree program, BU MET’s four-course Food Studies certificate program can be completed on a part-time basis in one year by taking two courses per semester.
BU MET’s Food Studies program provides a solid foundation in food studies and provides valuable connections to a vibrant food-focused community of scholars and students. In addition, you have access to the Jacques Pépin Lecture Series, co-hosted by Boston University’s Programs in Food & Wine and the Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy program. You can also take advantage of the many academic and cultural resources in the Boston area, including lectures and conferences at other area universities and access to significant library and archival collections.
The Graduate Certificate in Food Studies offers an excellent foundation for a wide variety of careers in the field. See a list of positions held by our alumni.
Why Earn a Graduate Certificate in Food Studies at BU?
- Active Learning Environment: BU’s Food Studies courses offer interplay between academic research and critical thinking as well as exploring food through the senses—providing rare and exceptional range and depth to food studies scholarship. Courses are enhanced by regular guest lectures and special events.
- Engaged Faculty: In BU’s Food Studies certificate program, you benefit from working closely with highly qualified faculty who draw from active research and extensive field experience in all aspects of gastronomy: policy, history, anthropology, entrepreneurship, marketing, hospitality, journalism, and science. Culinary arts courses are taught by highly regarded working chefs and food professionals.
- Extensive Network: Study complex issues of gastronomy and foodways alongside peers with solid academic and practical experience, learn from faculty who have valuable contacts in the field, and benefit from an alumni community with strong professional connections.
- Student Support: Enjoy an exceptional student-to-instructor ratio, ensuring close interaction with faculty mentors and access to support.
- Valuable Resources: Make use of Boston University’s extensive resources, including the Center for Career Development, Educational Resource Center, Fitness & Recreation Center, IT Help Centers, Innovate@BU, Mugar Memorial Library, Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, Center for Antiracist Research, Initiative on Cities, Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground, George Sherman Union, and many others.
- Flexible Options: Study at the pace that works for you, evenings on campus or fully online. On-campus and online courses begin fall, spring, and summer.
- Track Record: Learn from the best—BU MET’s legacy in food studies goes back to 1991, when the Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy program was founded by Jacques Pépin and Julia Child, two legends of the culinary world.
A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Complex Study of Food
The Graduate Certificate in Food Studies is offered online and on campus through BU MET’s Department of Applied Social Sciences. In addition to the Food Studies certificate, BU also offers a Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy, available on campus. The master’s degree is ideal for those intending to develop a career based in the deeper academic investigation of food. The certificate is ideal for students seeking to explore a new field as well as professionals aiming to enhance their credentials and expertise.
Both the master’s track and graduate certificate can be tailored to focus on business, communications, history and culture, or policy. Graduates of our programs have gone on to pursue PhDs in related fields; teach; write for and edit food-centric publications; launch food businesses; open restaurants; become chefs; work in food marketing; research food trends; and work for nonprofit organizations. See a list of positions held by our alumni.
Graduate with Expertise
Boston University’s Food Studies graduate certificate will equip you with:
- Interdisciplinary and holistic approaches to the study of food through a liberal arts perspective.
- Advanced knowledge of social theory applicable to food studies.
- An ability to critically analyze current and foundational issues in food studies and food systems.
- Research skills in food studies and knowledge of qualitative and quantitative methodologies for interdisciplinary food studies research.
- Competence in the written and oral presentation of complex ideas and arguments in scholarly and professional contexts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Visit the Gastronomy program website for a list of FAQs about the Graduate Certificate in Food Studies and the MLA in Gastronomy program.
BU MET graduate certificate programs can serve as building blocks to a master’s degree. The Graduate Certificate in Food Studies shares specific courses with the on-campus Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy degree program, and certificate students may apply all 16 credits toward their degree requirements. Students may also earn academic credit by completing courses in the Cheese Studies, Pastry Arts, and Wine Studies programs. To be eligible for the degree, you must apply for admission and be accepted into the degree program. Consult with a graduate admissions advisor to learn more about these options.
Additional Food & Wine Programs
Open to the general public and industry professionals, Boston University’s Programs in Food & Wine include a variety of noncredit seminars, lectures, and certificates:
Graduate Certificate in Food Studies Curriculum
In addition to the below courses, students are also required to maintain an e-portfolio of the work they produce throughout the program. For more information, please visit this page.
(Two courses/4 credits)
Choose at least two courses from the following:
MET ML 622 History of Food
History is part of a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to food studies. Knowing where our food comes from chronologically is just as important as knowing where it comes from geographically. Historical forces bring our food to the table and shape the agricultural practices, labor arrangements and cultural constructions that make meals possible. We will read, research and write food history to explore the ways in which the history of food has shaped our world today, paying careful attention to structural inequalities that restrict food access. We will examine ways in which contemporary questions and problems inform historical inquiries and vice versa. Readings and projects in this course will typically focus on one geographic region but as a class we will be taking into account global connections and influences. The course material is organized both chronologically and thematically, with subthemes such as race, urbanization and industrialization. Students will learn about historical methodology and apply it to their own research. [ 4 cr. ]
MET ML 641 Anthropology of Food
This course introduces students to the anthropological study of food and to the concept of food as a cultural system. In this cross-cultural exploration, we will examine the role of food and drink in ritual, reciprocity and exchange, social display, symbolism, and the construction of identity. Food preferences and taboos will be considered. We will also look at the transformative role of food in the context of culture contact, the relationship between food and ideas of bodily health and body image, food and memory, and the globalization of food as it relates to politics, power, and identity. Effective Spring 2021, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Ethical Reasoning, Social Inquiry I, Research and Information Literacy. [ 4 cr. ]
MET ML 701 Introduction to Gastronomy: Theory and Methodology
This course is designed to introduce students to current and foundational issues and methods in food studies and gastronomy. Through readings, discussions, and research, students will gain familiarity with major topics, issues, and debates in the field. They will become proficient at identifying and putting into practice different methods in food studies research and in understanding how to communicate across disciplines. This course will give Gastronomy students a better understanding of the field as a whole. While providing an overview and methodological toolbox, it will act as a springboard in to areas of specialization of the course. [ 4 cr. ]
|A1||IND||Elias||PSY B49||W||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
MET ML 715 Food and the Senses
This course is an interdisciplinary exploration of the sensory foundations and implications of food. We will study the senses as physical and cultural phenomena, the evolving concepts of terroir and craft, human nutritional and behavioral science, sensory perception and function, and the sensory and scientific aspects of food preparation and consumption. Understanding these processes, constructions and theories is key to understanding a vast array of food-related topics; cheese-making, wine-tasting, fermentation, food preservation, culinary tools and methods, cravings and food avoidance, sustainability and terroir, to name just a few. [ 4 cr. ]
|A1||IND||Ryan||PHO 202||R||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
(Two courses/4 credits)
Choose up to two electives. Courses vary by semester and include, but are not limited to, the following examples:
MET ML 565 Food Marketing
The course applies the fundamental concepts and tools of marketing and brand management to the food industry, with a particular focus on the burgeoning New England culinary scene. This class will focus on marketing throughout key stages of the food-to-table supply chain, from raw ingredients and processing equipment in early production stages, through immersive culinary experiences targeted to distinct consumer segments. An additional emphasis of the course will be on marketing food products vs. services, and the strategic challenges and strategies that each portion of the food industry requires. [ 4 cr. ]
MET ML 623 Food and Public History
Students will examine interpretive foodways programs from museums, living history museums, folklore/folklife programs, culinary tourism offerings, "historical" food festivals, and food tours to compare different approaches to public histories of food. Through several case studies, students will examine mission statements, interpretive goals, and different methods of communicating with the public. Guest lectures and field trips lay the groundwork for a final project in which students develop a proposal for an interpretive food history program for an area museum, tour program, or public history program. Course offers opportunities for focused inquiry, hands-on research, and creative thinking. [ 4 cr. ]
MET ML 626 Food Waste: Scope, Scale, & Signals for Sustainable Change
Food waste is a hot topic but not a new one. Some wasted food is the sign of a healthy system-- if there were exactly enough calories produced to meet each of our needs, there would be mass starvation, riots, and hoarding as we all scrambled to get our share. But by some estimates, food loss and waste account for nearly 40% of the food produced. How much wasted food is too much? At the same time this food is wasted, food insecurity is everywhere, even on BU's campus. Is all wasted food "trash?" Need it be? Why is food wasted and where along the supply chain is it wasted? What are the ethics of donating surplus food/waste/trash of those who have too much to those who don't have enough? This hybrid course explores the history, culture, rhetoric, and practicalities of wasted food, from farm, through fork, to gut (is overeating a form of food waste? What about wasting micronutrients by converting them to ultraprocessed foods?). Each week includes readings, discussion, application activity; and several weeks will include a guest lecture from a food system practitioner. Students will develope practical solutions in a final project. [ 4 cr. ]
MET ML 629 Culture and Cuisine of the African Diaspora
The foodways of the people displaced from the African continent are interwoven with many societies, cultures, and cuisines across the globe. In this course, we will study five geographic regions of Africa; north, central, east, west and south. The list of the countries that encompass each region will follow. Cookbooks, maps, songs, poems, and even some folklore will be used as texts to analyze and add context to the history of the people of the diaspora. This course will have real, and courageous, and respectful conversations including race and power and how those two elements are embedded into the food systems in North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean and Europe. We will trace ingredients that came with the enslaved people and track their integration into cuisines and cultures (agriculture, pop culture, aquaculture etc.) as a collective group and then independently as a capstone course project. [ 4 cr. ]
MET ML 630 Cookbooks and History
What can cookbooks and recipes tell us about an individual? A community? A culture? What does the language of the recipe say about systems of knowledge and ways of thinking about the world? The movement of ingredients and food technology? The transmission of cooking knowledge? Does the analysis of historical cookbooks have contemporary applications? In this course, students will consider these questions through a survey of historical cooking texts and in-class exercises. We will examine cookbooks as a source of culinary history and a window into the changing material culture, practices, spaces, and relationships associated with food preparation and consumption. In addition, students will examine cookbooks and recipes as social documents that reveal the presence of social and economic hierarchies, networks and alliances, and political, economic, and religious structures. We will also examine these documents as cultural texts that reveal the construction of ethnic, gendered, and other identities. Students will study and analyze a selection of cookbooks from different historical periods and geographic regions leading to a final project and paper. [ 4 cr. ]
|A1||IND||Metheny||CAS 320||M||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
MET ML 632 History of Wine
In this course we explore the long and complex role wine has played in the history of human civilization. We survey significant developments in the production, distribution, consumption and cultural uses of grape-based alcoholic beverages in the West. We study the economic impact of wine production and consumption from the ancient Near East through the Roman Empire, Europe in the Middle Ages and especially wine's significance in the modern and contemporary world. Particular focus is on wine as a religious symbol, a symbol of status, an object of trade and a consumer beverage in the last few hundred years. [ 4 cr. ]
MET ML 636 Culture and Cuisine: Italy
There is no such thing as Italian food. This statement is confirmed by the uniqueness and locality of the foods of Italy. This course will introduce students to regional Italian foods, taking into account geography, historical factors, social mores and language. There will be an emphasis on identifying key food ingredients of northern, central, and southern regions, and how they define these regions and are utilized in classic recipes. In addition, the goal will be to differentiate the various regional cooking styles like casalinga cooking versus alta cucina cooking. [ 4 cr. ]
|E1||IND||Esposito||CAS 114B||S||10:00 am – 3:00 pm|
MET ML 655 Planning a Food Business
Whatever type of food-related business you want to start, you will need expert advice to plan and launch. This course will guide you through the process of developing and realizing your business idea. Guest speakers from the food industry will share hands- on knowledge and insights. In this section you will focus on writing a business plan utilizing the Lean Canvas methodology (leanstack.com). Grading is based on attendance, participation and completing a Lean Canvas. [ 4 cr. ]
|A1||IND||Ward||PSY 212||T||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
MET ML 671 Food and Visual Culture
An extensive historical exploration into prints, drawings, film, television, and photography relating to food in the United States and elsewhere. Examines how food images represent aesthetic concerns, social habits, demographics, domestic relations, and historical trends. [ 4 cr. ]
|SA1||IND||Palmer||FLR 123||MW||5:30 pm – 9:00 pm|
MET ML 681 Food Writing for the Media
Students will develop and improve food-writing skills through the study of journalistic ethics; advertising; scientific and technological matters; recipe writing; food criticism; anthropological and historical writing about food; food in fiction, magazines and newspapers. [ 4 cr. ]
|A1||IND||Julian||STH 441||M||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
MET ML 714 Urban Agriculture
Growing food in urban contexts raises interesting questions about food access, nutrition education, perceptions of public spaces and the place of nature in the urban environment. This course focuses on urban agriculture in Boston and a number of case studies from around the globe. Students visit gardens, learn basic cultivation skills through hands-on activities, and study the social and cultural sides of urban agriculture, as well as the political and city planning aspects of urban agriculture projects. 4 cr. [ 4 cr. ]
|SB1||IND||Nowak||FLR 123||TR||5:30 pm – 9:00 pm|
MET ML 720 Food Policy and Food Systems
This course presents frameworks and case studies that will advance participants' understandings of U.S. and global food systems and policies. Adopting food-systems and food-chain approaches, it provides historical, cultural, theoretical and practical perspectives on world food problems and patterns of dietary and nutritional change, so that participants acquire a working knowledge of the ecology and politics of world hunger and understand the evolution of global-to-local food systems and diets. Global overview of world food situations will be combined with more detailed national and local-level case studies and analysis that connect global to local food crisis and responses. [ 4 cr. ]
Under special circumstances, certificate courses may be substituted with prior approval of the academic advisor.