Examine the Role of Food in Culture and Society

Established in collaboration with Jacques Pépin and Julia Child, the Master of Arts (MA) in Gastronomy at Boston University’s Metropolitan College (MET) is a unique, multidisciplinary program that encompasses the arts, the humanities, and the natural and social sciences. Students in the program examine the role of food in historical and contemporary societies from a variety of perspectives, leading to careers in media, policy, enterprise, and academia, among others.

Program at a Glance

  • Online and On Campus
  • Part-Time or Full-Time Study
  • 40 Credits
  • 12–24 Months to Completion
  • 2 Core Faculty

Make a Difference in the Future of Food Studies

The decade ahead is a critical time for those devoted to the study of food. The effect of COVID-19 on the food industry has been devastating—but is also driving innovation. Experimentation with contactless experiences and technology-driven systems in food service, repurposing streets and sidewalks for al fresco dining, new approaches to food delivery and supply chains, and a rise in sustainable urban agriculture are changing the ways humans interact with food, with each other, and with traditions based inside the home and via online communities.

On a deeper, ongoing level, the food industry is also confronting the pernicious legacy of institutional racism, recognizing that bias has permeated food business practices, culinary research, and cookbooks and other media over time. By recognizing the omission of diverse cultures and voices, those in the field of gastronomy can play a role in changing the course of history through inclusion and the amplification of experiences and stories that have otherwise been ignored and overlooked—enriching the field and providing a more accurate picture of food and the role it plays in culture.

The master’s degree in Gastronomy at BU MET is an opportunity be at the forefront of these important societal changes as a critical thinker who can research and document contemporary and historical issues through the lens of food and food customs. Graduates of the program will see new careers developing in the field that reflect historical social changes and civil rights practices, and will be well-positioned to take on challenging new roles.

Available on campus and online, Boston University’s Master of Arts in Gastronomy program offers a rigorous, interdisciplinary approach to food studies that pairs opportunities for experiential learning in culinary arts laboratories, wine studies courses, and classroom lab activities with a core curriculum based in the liberal arts. You will hone the critical and analytical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills necessary to tackle today’s complex food issues, while developing a deep understanding of food in the context of arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.

The interplay of research, reading, and writing about food, combined with the process of exploring food through the senses, gives the program exceptional depth. You will engage with distinguished scholars and academic departments across BU’s many schools and colleges, as well as with renowned visiting faculty and notable food industry professionals and thought leaders—developing the practical and theoretical expertise required for working in food-related industries, governance, and non-profit organizations.

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What Do My Career Options Look Like with a BU Master’s in Gastronomy?

Gastronomy & Food Studies Career Outlook

Gastronomy & food studies career options.

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BU MET’s Gastronomy master’s program offers four optional focus areas:

  • Business & Entrepreneurship is ideal for students who are interested in pursuing a career that joins food and commerce. Courses in this concentration develop the managerial, financial, and marketing skills needed for a successful career.
  • Communication offers a critical analysis of food and culture in print, film, photography, television, the visual arts, and digital media. Courses examine the portrayal of food in media, past and present, with an emphasis on writing and communications.
  • Food Policy combines the study of food history and culture with an activist’s dedication to changing the world and provides the social-scientific background to influence and direct public food policy, particularly in the areas of nutrition, food security and food justice issues, community development, and environmental sustainability.
  • History & Culture explores the many facets of food across cultures over time. Through analysis and critical thinking, students will gain the research and writing skills necessary to synthesize information, providing valuable life and career skills.

In addition, you have access to the Jacques Pépin Lecture Series, co-hosted by Boston University’s Programs in Food & Wine and the Gastronomy program.

“What was great about my time in the Gastronomy program was how interdisciplinary it was. We learned about various aspects of the industry—from anthropology, to history, to the senses—and I also took food marketing classes. We got a better understanding of the industry as a whole. And now I’m able to use that to understand how consumers interact with their food when I’m advising entrepreneurs on what their packaging and product will mean to a consumer.”Natalie Shmulik (MET’13), CEO, The Hatchery

Why Earn a Master’s in Gastronomy at BU?

  • Active Learning Environment: BU’s Gastronomy 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 Gastronomy master’s program, you benefit from working closely with highly qualified faculty who draw from active research and extensive field experience in all aspects of food studies: policy, history, anthropology, marketing, entrepreneurship, hospitality, journalism, and science. Culinary arts courses are taught by highly regarded working chefs and food professionals.
  • Experiential and Sensory: BU MET is proud to be the only school in the country with a graduate food studies program that offers the unique option to gain hands-on experience through wine studies courses and a state-of-the-art culinary arts laboratory.
  • 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.
  • Julia Child Student Writing Award: In honor of the late Julia Child, up to three awards per semester are given to enrolled Master of Arts in Gastronomy students for outstanding work in a course.
  • Support to Present at Conferences: Students who have papers accepted for conferences can receive up to $300 in travel funds to attend.
  • 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 Gastronomy master’s degree program was founded in 1991 by Jacques Pépin and Julia Child, two legends of the culinary world.
  • Merit Scholarships: All applicants are automatically considered, and admitted students are nominated based on eligibility.

A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Complex Study of Food

The Master of Arts (MA) in Gastronomy is offered through BU MET’s Department of Applied Social Sciences. In addition to the MA in Gastronomy, BU also offers a Graduate Certificate in Food Studies, available online or on campus. This certificate is ideal for students seeking to explore a new field as well as professionals aiming to enhance their credentials and expertise. The master’s track is ideal for those intending to develop a career based on the deeper academic investigation of food.

Both the master’s track and graduate certificate can be tailored to focus on business, communications, history and culture, or policy. Graduates of the MA program 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 Gastronomy master’s degree will equip you with:

  • Advanced knowledge of social theory applicable to the study of food.
  • An ability to critically analyze current and foundational issues in food studies and food systems.
  • Proficiency in 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 MA in Gastronomy program and the Graduate Certificate in Food Studies.

Certificate-to-Degree Pathway

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 MA in Gastronomy program, and students holding the certificate may apply all 16 credits toward their degree requirements. Students in the master’s program 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:

Gastronomy Faculty

Tuition & Financial Assistance

Competitive Tuition

Our part-time rates are substantially lower than those of the traditional, full-time residential programs yet provide access to the same high-quality BU education.

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Comprehensive Financial Assistance

Our services include scholarships, graduate loans, and payment plans.

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Get Started

Please visit the BU MET admissions page for details on how to apply, financial assistance, tuition and fees, requirements for international students, and more.

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