Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why a certificate in applied sensory science?
  • The results of a UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education survey sent to members of the IFT Food Sensory Division and ASTM International, Committee E-18, indicate a clear need for professional development in the field of sensory science. Few universities offer more than one course in sensory science, let alone courses in consumer testing and applications. Those that do offer courses are often long on theory and short on application. This certificate is designed for working professionals interested in learning new techniques or brushing up on the theory behind current methods of sensory evaluation for both food and non-food products.
  • Why UC Davis?
  • The University of California, Davis, has long been a leader in sensory science and consumer testing and has a recognized faculty with considerable expertise. The impetus for the development of the certificate lies with the late Howard Schutz, Ph.D., founder and first chair of the IFT Sensory Division and emeritus professor at UC Davis. Schutz has been joined by Rebecca Bleibaum, M.A., an industry consultant with almost two decades in the sensory evaluation industry. Together, their combination of academic and real-world experience will assure that students receive cutting-edge information backed by the academic standards of UC Davis. Jean-Xavier Guinard, Ph.D., teaches the second and third courses. The first course is based on course materials from Michael O'Mahoney, Ph.D.
  • What is a certificate?
  • A certificate is a planned series of courses designed to give you mastery of a body of knowledge. This certificate consists of four courses. Each course is worth four quarter units of academic credit. The Applied Sensory and Consumer Science Certificate Program is at university-level and each course will last 10-11 weeks, with roughly four hours of material presented each week. As is normal in most upper-division college courses, you should expect to spend an additional two-three hours on reading assignments or project work for each hour of lecture.

  • What will the certificate cost?
  • Each course will cost $2,200, so you can plan to spend $8,925 (includes $125 certificate registration fee) to complete the certificate. Each course is equivalent in material to a four-unit graduate professional-level course. Unlike an industry short course that lasts a few days, these courses offer enough time for you to apply the material learned to instructor-evaluated assignments designed to test mastery of concepts and applications.

  • Enrollment policies
  • The refund processing fee for individual courses is $50 as long as refund requests are made within two weeks of the start of each course.

  • How does online learning work?
  • Online learning courses come in various forms. The common element that most online courses share is the student/faculty interaction via email and assignments submitted electronically. The courses in this certificate will combine synchronous and self-paced learning styles. The entire group, or cohort, will begin each course at the same time, and will be expected to complete particular lessons and assignments by specific dates. Course readings will primarily be in the form of journal articles that will be available from our online library. As long as you complete the course assignments and review lesson materials and course readings within the broad time outlines of the course, you can pace yourself through the material. One advantage of the cohort model is that you will be able to interact with your fellow students around the world via a course discussion board. We find that such interaction creates a synergistic energy not found in totally asynchronous courses in which each student is isolated from the group.

  • What kind of computer and internet connection do I need?
  • You will need the following as a minimum in order to easily access the course website:
    Internet Connections: You will need a stable connection to the Internet. A broadband connection is recommended.
    Browsers: A current, non-beta browser, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.
    Software and Computer Capabilities: The following requirements apply to most online courses:

    • Ability to view PDF documents
    • Ability to view Flash-based presentations
    • Speakers or headphones to hear presentation audio

    Email: You will need a current email account and address to take our online courses.

    Please note: The statistical software package used in courses two and three is not compatible with Windows VISTA Home.


  • Can I apply these courses towards a formal degree?
  • The short answer is "no," the longer answer, "perhaps." These courses are not identical to our upper-division undergraduate classes (primarily because they are more focused towards applications in real-world settings) and thus cannot automatically be substituted in a degree program at Davis. Circumstances differ from university to university and from major to major. It is certainly possible for you to petition a college to accept these courses in place of other courses, or for courses not offered at that particular institution. However, if you are attending this certificate program, you should not count on these courses being accepted towards a degree at UC Davis or at another academic institution.

    This certificate program is designed for those people who would directly apply the course information in a business or commercial environment as opposed to those working on a Master's Degree in sensory science which is more research and thesis oriented.

  • Can I use this program for certification?
  • Certification can only be given by professional organizations such as IFT, ASTM International or other internationally recognized organizations. Currently, this type of certification is not available. However, if it were to become available, this program would satisfy any educational requirements.

  • Can I take the courses out of sequence? What if I miss a course?
  • The four courses are designed to be taken in the order presented and build upon concepts and skills developed in previous courses. Unless you can demonstrate competence in one of the areas covered in this certificate, you should plan on taking all courses in the order presented. Each course is only offered once a year and missing a course may mean having to wait a year to complete the certificate. If you are not interested in pursuing the certificate, but are instead interested in a particular area (for example, consumer testing), you may enroll for the class on a space-available basis (that is, preference will be given to certificate enrollees) and with instructor permission. However, you are cautioned that the instructor will assume familiarity with material covered in previous courses and cannot be expected to provide private tutorials for students without sufficient background. You should complete the application form below and forward it along with a letter stating why you believe you are prepared to take the desired class.

  • How do I apply?
  • Complete the short application describing your current employment, educational background and previous college level statistics courses (at least one is required). If your application is approved, you will be asked to pay a one-time $125 certificate registration fee to enter the certificate program. After entering the certificate program you may then register for future courses directly with our registration office.

    The application deadline for the first course is September 15.

  • What if I have questions?
  • Please feel free to send an email with any questions about the program to