Food Studies Graduate Certificate FAQ

Return to the Food Studies Graduate Certificate program page.

Food studies, or gastronomy, 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. The Food Studies Graduate Certificate is meant to give graduate students an introduction and grounding in a liberal arts approach to studying food systems.

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.

The Food Studies Graduate Certificate is for people already working in food-related jobs, recent college graduates, or those who are considering changing careers. This certificate program is an excellent introduction to food studies and will help to deepen your knowledge of the cultural and social aspects of food. Students will also hone their critical thinking skills. While individual research interests are varied, our students share an interest in investigating gastronomy in an academic environment.

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.

Courses are taught by faculty with 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.

Applicants 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.

Applications for the Food Studies Graduate Certificate are considered on a rolling basis; you may submit your application at any time.

You may start the program in the fall, spring, or summer by simply registering for courses once you have been admitted. Fill out and return the registration confirmation form that you are sent when you are admitted so that we can complete the admissions process. We recommend that new students take MET ML 701 Understanding: Theory and Methodology, which is offered regularly and introduces the theory and methodology of food studies using a multidisciplinary approach.

Most students are part-time and pursue the certificate while working part-time or full-time jobs. Students wishing to study full-time may take between 12 and 18 credits. International students may need take the certificate on a full-time basis in order to qualify for a student visa. Please contact the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) for more details. 

Yes, most courses offered through the Gastronomy program are on weekday evenings, typically from 6 to 9 p.m.

To fulfill the 16 credits required for this certificate, you may choose from a variety of courses as indicated on the program page.

There is no specific order but students are advised to take ML 701 Understanding Food: Theory and Methodology at the beginning of their program of study.

You will be taking the same courses as the students in the MLA in Gastronomy. You will also be graded according to the same graduate school standards.

Upon completion of 8 credits, you may apply for admission to the MLA in Gastronomy. Please contact the Gastronomy program coordinator if you are interested in transferring. Students who meet all the MLA requisites and who have maintained a B average in their courses during the Food Studies Graduate Certificate are excellent candidates for the MLA in Gastronomy.

We are pleased to offer MET ML 631 Culture and Cuisine: France, which is an exclusively online class. Students also have the opportunity to take blended courses. These courses combine online communication with two or three face-to-face class meetings on campus at Boston University. The options for blended courses will 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.

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.

Tuition is set annually by the Trustees of Boston University and is subject to change. Please see our Tuition & Fees page for costs per credit.

Students in the Food Studies Graduate Certificate do not qualify for federal student loans. However, there are a number of possibilities for financing your education through private loans. For more information please contact Metropolitan College Graduate Financial Aid.

The Gastronomy program has limited resources for student financial aid. Students should contact the Student Employment Office and Boston University Human Resources to explore other opportunities.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Contact Ari Ariel, PhD, Faculty coordinator of Gastronomy Programs, at 617-358-1650 or