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Food Business Master’s Degree - food truck


Lead the Food Industry with a Master’s Degree in Food Business

Your career success—and impact—in today’s food industry depends on a deep understanding of increasingly complex systems. That’s why you’ll find CIA graduates in nearly every corner of the food world, from research and development to health policy to environmental science. And, of course, food businesses.

In this one-of-a-kind business program, you’ll hone the skills you need to successfully assess market opportunities, pitch investors and senior executives, and spearhead the next food movement. And unlike general MBA programs, CIA’s master’s in Food Business combines decades of thought leadership in sustainability, innovation, wellness, and food ethics with traditional business topics such as leadership, finance, human resources, and marketing.

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Quick Facts

Next Start Date: Fall 2024

Program Duration: Two years

Total Credits: 30

Chat with a Food Business master’s student

Program Overview

Offered by CIA’s School of Graduate Studies, this master’s degree in food business equips graduates with the tactical skills they need to pursue their ambitions in food entrepreneurship. Your studies will cover a variety of business topics, including:

  • Examining global forces like shifting demographics, technology, a renewed focus on health and wellness, and the growing consumer demand for sustainability.
  • Focusing on design thinking, marketing and branding, product development, operations, law, real estate, food systems, and leadership that inspires high-performing teams.
  • Gaining invaluable insights from guest speakers in food and beverage, finance, marketing, operations, law, entrepreneurship, food concepts, and product development.
  • Begin with a short residency at CIA at Copia in Napa, CA and finish the program with the final residency at CIA in Hyde Park, NY, where you’ll present your ready-to-pitch business playbook.
  • Networking with thought leaders and attending the CIA-Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Menus of Change® conference during your mid-program residency at CIA in Hyde Park, NY.

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Who Should Apply

CIA’s master’s in Food Business degree is designed for business professionals looking to transition to the food industry as well as chefs and culinary professionals seeking to expand their career options and advance their careers. It is ideal for:

  • Entrepreneurs launching or expanding a food business
  • “Intrapreneurs” driving innovation and organizational change in larger, existing food, beverage, or hospitality companies
  • Executive chefs, food and beverage directors, and regional managers in contract foodservice, hotels, and restaurant groups, and distribution
  • Vice presidents, directors, and chefs in self-operated dining
  • R&D specialists and brand managers in consumer packaged goods companies
  • Menu developers for multi-unit and meal kit companies
  • Consultants for food, beverage, and hospitality companies
  • And anyone looking to disrupt the food space

Curriculum Overview

The two-year, 30-credit Food Business master’s degree program includes:

  • 27 credits in online courses covering subjects such as food systems, ethical leadership, business, and design thinking, as well as a capstone project developed with the help of faculty advisors and mentors.
  • 3 credits consisting of three short residencies at the California and New York campuses held before the start of your first semester, after the completion of your second semester, and as your final semester concludes.

See catalog for curriculum and course details.

Featured Faculty​​

Brooke Golden

Brooke Golden

Differentiation, Branding, and Packaging

Philip Colicchio, Esq.

Philip Colicchio, Esq.

Legal Strategies and Challenges for the Restaurateur


Kyleigh Wawak

Design Thinking for Food

Scott Allmendinger

Scott Allmendinger

Marketing and Brand Strategies for the Restaurateur


Learn In-person with Residencies

The asynchronous online learning format of the Food Business master’s degree program is supported by three in-person residencies.

  • Your cohort will gather for hands-on learning and immersive experiences in the major food hubs of Napa Valley and the Hudson Valley.
  • Meet with leading entrepreneurs and get a behind-the-scenes look at how running a business can innovate the food industry.
  • Attend the CIA-Harvard collaboration Menus of Change Leadership Summit and network with leading food industry leaders.
  • Collaborate with your fellow cohort members, who all share your passion for the food industry.

Develop Valuable Relationships with Mentors

Students in the Food Business master’s program receive exclusive access to one-on-one mentoring sessions with influential industry leaders in the world of food, including C-suite executives, finance experts, marketing professionals, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and more. You’ll gain valuable insights from real-world experts, including:

  • How to pitch to investors
  • How to create a memorable brand
  • How to navigate industry regulations

Learn More >

Jason Henderson, CIA Food Business Master’s Degree Mentor Network

Jason Henderson ’99, chef and president of Straight Path Consulting, LLC.

Alumni Spotlights

Student at his Culinary Institute of America graduation.

CIA Advantage

The Culinary Institute of America has been educating successful food industry professionals for decades, helping to launch and advance thousands of careers. As a graduate of CIA, you’ll have lifelong access to career resources—including job listings, and Career Fair and networking events. Additionally, you’ll instantly become a member of a 50,000-strong influential professional network of CIA alumni, paving the way for unparalleled career opportunity. Your network will consist of CIA grads who are shaping today’s food industry, including:

  • Roy Choi ’98, pioneer of Korean fusion food trucks, published author, TV show host
  • Chieyen Meachem ’15, food and beverage manager, operations support resources, Marriott International


What They Are Saying

“The master’s in Food Business program was the preparation I needed for the next phase of my career. The professional and person networking opportunities along with a solid and robust curriculum refreshed my skillset and has already proven valuable to my career trajectory.”
Andrea Heinly, master’s in Food Business

Andrea Heinly, CIA student in the online master’s degree in Food Business program.

“The Food Business master’s program is helping me gain knowledge and insight in order to build a solid foundation for my business endeavors. The program has opened my eyes to new ideas, new ways of thinking, and the ability to connect with industry professionals on all levels.”
Tayo Adeboyejo, master’s in Food Business

Tayo Adeboyejo, CIA online master’s degree in Food Business student.

Featured Articles

Five Tips on Becoming a Food Entrepreneur

Five Tips on Becoming a Food Entrepreneur

Do you want to run a successful food business? As a food entrepreneur embarking on your own venture, you’re sure to experience both triumphs and tribulations. Let these helpful tips from bakery owner and CIA alumnus Scott Martley inspire you on your own path to business ownership.

Read more >

Getting into Food Product Development

Getting into Food Product Development

If you’re motivated to get into the world of food product development, furthering your education might be a vital next step on your career path. Dig into the different kinds of programs that can help you get there, plus three tips for creating a successful food product.

Read more >

How to Maximize Your Food Business Profits

How to Maximize Your Food Business Profits

Running a profitable food business isn’t luck—it’s a science. Whether you’re just starting to put together your business plan or you’re a veteran restaurant owner, these valuable tips can help you maximize your profits and move towards creating a healthy, sustainable business.

Read more >


Read more blog articles >


Frequently Asked Questions

You must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. institution or hold an international equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. If your first language is not English, you must complete an English proficiency examination.
No—CIA does not require GMAT or GRE submittals for master’s degree program applicants.
No—the online master’s degree program has been designed for distance delivery. Other than the required short residencies (four to six days), students should be able to complete the program from any location with an internet connection. 
While the academic rigor of the online master’s degree program does require commitment, we believe the workload and pacing will allow most students to achieve a reasonable work/life/study balance. Students will be enrolled in in two, 3-credit hour courses per 15-week semester. Study time is flexible; students can spread class work across multiple short study sessions or fewer blocks of longer duration to make their schedule needs. Assignments and associated timelines will vary by course and will be clearly outlined in the syllabus provided at the start of each course.
No—food industry experience is always a plus, but is not required as long as your application conveys more than a casual interest in the food business.
CIA’s online master’s in Food Business has been intentionally designed to be delivered in an environment where students bond and develop into a learning community over the two years. While extraordinary circumstances will be treated on a case-by-case basis, serious candidates are expected to make every effort to stay on pace and progress with their original cohort. 
No—the Food Business master’s degree program will focus on mindsets, skill sets, and tool sets of significant value to entrepreneurs and innovators in a wide variety of professions in the food industry. Future owners and/or leaders in foodservice operations of all kinds will benefit from the courses taught by professors and seasoned industry experts. 

Contact our Graduate Admissions Team

CIA Graduate Admissions Team

Robert Tremblay ’10
Associate Director—Graduate Admissions

Rebecca Rein
Graduate Admissions and Enrollment Counselor