Correction: MPS Application Deadline is May 1

correctionApplication Deadline Now May 1

If you’ve put off applying to Cal Poly’s MPS in Dairy Products Technology program and fear you’re too late, there’s new hope.

Because inconsistencies in university publications regarding the program’s application deadline caused confusion among some prospective applicants, the university has decided to extend the deadline to May 1. Those who meet the May 1 deadline will now have until June 1 to submit letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and transcripts. Applicants who meet the new deadlines will receive full consideration.

We apologize for the confusion!

For information about the application process, visit

Questions about the program or the application process should be directed to:

Tom Photo 2015

Tom Johnson. Program Manager
MPS in Dairy Products Technology
(970) 215-3459 cell

Cheesey Facts, Figures, and Quotes (and an application deadline reminder!)

leap cheese

Applications for the Fall 2016 class of Cal Poly’s MPS in Dairy Products Technology program are due in one week.

Rather than ignite deadline panic among would-be applicants, I will devote this blog post to something more calming: cheese.

Behold the power of cheese. No other substance has been so inspirational for so many, and for so long. It has been estimated that a quarter of life’s pleasurable moments involve cheese in one way or another.

Let us now set aside our anxieties and take a moment to ponder the wonder that is cheese.

Facts and Figures

  • Cheese is old. In fact, cheese is older than the written word. Scientists in Poland discovered people were eating cheese some 7,500 years ago. Bits of cheese have been found in 4,000-year-old Egyptian tombs.
  • No one really knows who made the first cheese. According to legend, cheese was discovered accidentally when an Arabian merchant carried milk in a pouch made from a sheep’s stomach as he set out on a journey across the desert. The rennet (an enzyme naturally present in the lining of the animal’s stomach), combined with the heat of the sun, caused the milk to separate into curds and whey. When the merchant later opened the pouch and discovered what had occurred, he tasted the cheese (curd) and found it to be delicious.cheese_production_by_country_LatestYr
  • The Pilgrims carried cheese on the Mayflower when they made their voyage to the New World in 1620.
  • The first cheese factory was established in Switzerland in 1815. Prior to that date, cheese was made in small quantities on farms.
  • Mass production of cheese began in the United States in 1851, when Jesse Williams built a cheese factory in Oneida County, New York.
  • More cheese is produced in the U.S. than in any other country. American companies produce 11 billion pounds of cheese annually.
  • Cheese can be made from any milk. Commercial varieties are produced from the milk of cows, sheep, goats, buffalo, horses, moose, reindeer, yaks, donkeys, and even camels.
  • Serbian-Pule-Cheese
    Pule, a Serbian cheese made from donkey milk, costs $576/lb.

    At $576/lb, Pule is the world’s most expensive cheese. The crumbly delicacy is made from the milk of Serbian donkeys. Swedish moose milk cheese is the second most expensive, costing a mere $455/lb.

  • Vieux Boulogne is the world’s smelliest cheese.  Researchers used an “electronic nose” and a trained panel of sniffers to analyze dozens of worthy candidates. The soft, pungent cheese from northern France beat out all the competition.
  • Your cheese smells for the same reason your feet do. A type of surface-growing bacteria called Brevibacterium linens is responsible for the funkiness of both.
  • Cheese mites (microscopic insects that resemble spiders) infest the rinds of many common aged cheeses and help create the earthy flavor for which the cheeses are celebrated.
  • Casu Marzu, a Sardinian cheese, is infested with live maggots. To make the cheese, cheesemakers encourage flies to lay eggs in Pecorino cheeses. The eggs then hatch into charming maggots. The maggots release an enzyme that causes the Pecorino’s fat to liquify into a gooey, ready-to-eat, worm-infested mess. Yum.
  • Greeks eat the most cheese. The average Greek citizen consumes around 60 pounds of cheese every year, three quarters of which is feta.cheese_consumption_by_country_LatestYr
  • We eat a lot of cheese, too. The average American eats 34 pounds of cheese per year. That number is expected to increase to 36.5 pounds per person per year by 2026. Extrapolated over an entire lifetime? That’s literally a ton of cheese.
  • There are more than 2,000 varieties of cheese worldwide. France, Italy, and Great Britain each produce hundreds of unique varieties.
  • Mozzarella is the world’s most popular cheese. The majority of mozzarella produced is destined for pizza.
  • Mozzarella is Americans’ favorite cheese, too. The average American eats around 12 pounds of mozzarella annually. Cheddar comes in second at 10 pounds per person per year.
  • Pizza Hut is the world’s largest user of cheese. The company claims to use more than 300 million pounds of cheese per year, an amount that requires 360 million gallons of milk to produce. This staggering volume represents 3 percent of the U.S. milk supply and is equivalent to the milk of 170,000 cows.
  • The world produces more cheese than coffee, tobacco, tea, and cocoa beans combined.
  • Wisconsin once had a law requiring restaurants to serve a small amount of cheese and butter with meals in restaurants (effective from June 1935 to March 1937).
  • The top five cheese-producing states in the U.S. are Wisconsin (more than 2.4 billion pounds annually), California (2.1 billion pounds), Idaho (770.6 million pounds), New York (666.8 million pounds), and Minnesota (629.3 million pounds). These states account for 72 percent of the country’s cheese production.

us_cheese_production_variety_10yrFamous Cheese Quotes

  • “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” – Charles de Gaulle, former military leader and president of France
  • “Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” – G.K. Chesterton
  • “Age is of no importance unless you are a cheese.”  – Billy Burke, an Oscar-nominated American actress known to modern audiences for her role as Glinda the Good Witch of the North in The Wizard of Oz
  • “A corpse is meat gone bad. Well, and what’s cheese? Corpse of milk.”
    –James Joyce
  • “A cheese may disappoint. It may be dull, it may be naive, it may be overly sophisticated. Yet it remains, cheese, milk’s leap toward immortality.” – Clifton Fadiman, American writer, editor and New Yorker book reviewer
  • “The clever cat eats cheese and breathes down rat holes with baited breath.” – W. C. Fields, American comic actor
  • “The moon is made of a greene cheese,” wrote author John Heywood in 1546. But in 1546, “greene” meant new or unaged, not green in color.

Alright then. I’ve provided you with a few minutes’ worth of procrastination material and made myself hungry in the process. Now get back to work on your application! 

Instructions for applying can be found at

Questions about the program or the application process should be directed to:

Tom Photo 2015

Tom Johnson. Program Manager
MPS in Dairy Products Technology
(970) 215-3459 cell

MPS Applications Due in Two Weeks!

14 DaysIf you plan to apply to Cal Poly’s MPS in Dairy Products Technology program, it’s time to set aside an afternoon and kick it into gear.

Two weeks remain until the April 1 deadline for submitting your online application. Instructions for applying can be found at

Applicants who meet the April 1 deadline will have until May 1 to submit supplemental materials, including transcripts, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation.

Can’t decide whether to apply? Talk it over with current or former MPS students, professors, or industry leaders. Contact Program Manager Tom Johnson to arrange a phone call. Tom can be reached at (970) 215-3459 (cell) or at

Fifteen reasons you should consider applying:

  1. One-year Master’s program
  2. Paid internship
  3. Excellent salary potential
  4. Specialized training will jumpstart your career
  5. High job placement
  6. Stable, growing industry
  7. “Learn by doing” philosophy ensures practical, hands-on training
  8. Program includes leadership training (highly valued by employers)
  9. Noble profession (help feed the world!)
  10. MPS is the graduate degree of the future (Education Advisory Board)
  11. Cal Poly is the top Master’s level university in the U.S. (Forbes)
  12. San Luis Obispo is the Happiest City in America! (Oprah, Gallup)
  13. Cal Poly is the third best surfing school! (Surfline)
  14. San Luis Obispo has a fantastic year-round farmer’s market!
  15. San Luis Obispo is (almost) always 75 degrees and sunny!

Questions about the program or the application process should be directed to:

Tom Photo 2015

Tom Johnson. Program Manager
MPS in Dairy Products Technology
(970) 215-3459 cell

MPS is the degree of the future

all-degrees-pc-over-timeDemand for master’s degrees is skyrocketing, and the Master of Professional Studies is positioned to meet the needs of graduate students going forward, according to a recent report by the Education Advisory Board (EAB).

Increasing competition in the job market and increased earnings potential are driving forces behind the growth of master’s programs. The jobless rate for people with master’s degrees is significantly lower, and employees with master’s degrees earn an additional $12,000 per year on average, according to Bureau of Labor statistics.

“People with graduate degrees are the ones who have really seen their earnings go up,” says Andrew Hanson, a Senior Analyst for Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

In response, students have enrolled in master’s programs in record numbers. The number of master’s degrees awarded has risen more than 80 percent over the last 20 years, and this trend shows no signs of slowing. EAB predicts that by 2022, master’s degrees will account for nearly a third of all postsecondary degrees awarded. Much of this growth, however, won’t come from traditional master’s programs.

“The new growth will come primarily from professional master’s programs focused on specific job skills that help students gain a new job or advance in an existing position,” says EAB. “The fastest growth lies in niche programs that are customized to new and rapidly changing roles.” The most common type of professional master’s degree is the Master of Professional Studies, or MPS degree.

Traditional M.S. degrees provide students with a broad base of knowledge in a specific discipline. They tend to be research-focused, with an emphasis on preparing students either for research positions in industry or continuing their studies in pursuit of a Ph.D.

professional MastersMPS programs, on the other hand, combine academic mastery of a subject with a focus on developing practical skills that translate directly to the workplace. Most MPS programs include a field work component, providing students with valuable hands-on experience that prepares them to step into a role with an employer.

Additionally, MPS programs are nimble and can adapt quickly to meet students’ and employers’ needs in a rapidly changing economy. Because MPS degrees respond to emerging needs in the marketplace, graduates often find they have an advantage over candidates from traditional master’s programs.

“What really sets job seekers apart is having in-depth knowledge that no other candidates have,”says Lisa Geraci, a Senior Consultant for EAB. “That comes from the type of skills conferred in a very specialized master’s program. It’s no longer enough to be just a generalist.”

Among the most significant advantages of an MPS program is the opportunity for students to interface directly with industry representatives while still in school. Many MPS programs partner with companies to develop a curriculum that is relevant to a specific industry. Company representatives often help deliver lectures, open their facilities for tours, and provide students with internships. Students leave the program with a list of industry contacts, an advantage they carry with them as they move into the workforce.

To learn more about Cal Poly’s Master of Professional Studies in Dairy Products Technology, or to apply for admission, visit

IMPORTANT NOTE: April 1 is the application deadline for the class of 2016-2017. Students who meet the application deadline will have until May 1 to submit supplemental materials, such as transcripts, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation. To apply visit

Questions? Call, text, or email me anytime. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tom Photo 2015Tom Johnson. Program Manager
MPS in Dairy Products Technology
(970) 215-3459 cell

What’s the MPS Program’s Return on Investment?

return on investmentI recently had a conversation with an MPS applicant who was attempting to calculate the financial benefit she might realize from attending the MPS program. In other words, she wanted to know how much better off she would be should she join the MPS program rather than enter the workforce straight out of college.

Essentially this student was grappling with Return on Investment, which is a measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment, or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. ROI measures the return on an investment relative to its cost. To calculate ROI, the benefit (or return) of an investment is divided by its cost, and the result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio.

Ratios are good for comparing different investment opportunities, but a student considering graduate studies really needs to know the benefit of investing in a graduate education versus entering the workforce and not investing in anything – and she’d probably like to know the dollar figure rather than a ratio.

This is a topic I cover in general terms during the information sessions I deliver on campuses across the country. I show Powerpoint slides detailing average salaries for the various degree types (B.S., M.S., MPS, and Ph.D.), and the MPS degree comes out looking very good. The potential boost in salary resulting from the MPS degree is real and significant. When coupled with the short duration of the program, the MPS program is among the more efficient ways to increase employability and boost lifetime earnings.

While I know this to be true, I have never worked up the numbers to determine just how good a deal the program is. This seemed like a good time to do just that.

In order to create a model, some assumptions need to be made. In my presentations, I assume that the student is graduating with a B.S. in Food Science. Without graduate school, she will earn approximately $44,000 annually (IFT, 2015). She will enter the workforce immediately after graduation and will work her entire career without pursuing a graduate degree.

Annual difference in earnings with graduate degree. Source: Quartz/

Should she earn an MPS degree, I’ll assume she’ll earn $70,000 annually (2015 average). I’ll also assume that the salaries in both scenarios will remain constant over time. I won’t delve into income tax rates, inflation, loan interest rates, or other intangibles. Instead, I’ll take a crude but useful look at the financial benefit of attending the MPS program. And I must provide the caveat that there is no guarantee that a given MPS student will obtain employment in her field at a particular salary.


  • Salary without graduate school: $44,000 (IFT, 2015)
  • Salary with MPS degree: $70,000 (2015 average)
  • MPS Program Duration: 1 year
  • Pay during MPS internship: $25/hr x 400 hours = $10,000 (estimate)

MPS Costs

  • Tuition and fees: $24,000 (estimate)
  • Living expenses: $1,200/month x 9 months = $10,800 (estimate)
  • Lost salary: $44,000 (no employment during program)
  • Total Costs = $78,800

MPS benefits

  • Pay during internship: $25/hr x 400 hours = $10,000 (estimate)
  • Salary differential: $26,000/year ($70,000 – $44,000)

Years to recoup investment = $78,800 (cost) – $10,000 (internship) = $68,800 net cost / $26,000 salary difference = 2.646 years

10-year benefit = 7.354 years x $26,000 difference = $191,200 benefit (assumes break even after 2.646 years)

20-year benefit = 17.354 years x $26,000 difference = $451,204 benefit (assumes break even after 2.646 years)

Difference in unemployment rate by level of degree. Source: Quartz/

From the numbers, we see that it would take about two and a half years for the student to recover the cost of earning an MPS degree, and after that, she would be ahead by approximately $26,000/year. This is an amazingly quick payback, due in equal parts to the salary bump, the program’s paid internship, and its short duration. After 20 years, our student would be nearly a half million dollars ahead. 

But these numbers likely understate the benefits of an MPS degree. The advantages associated with earning any graduate degree don’t end with beginning salary. The difference in salary between those with graduate degrees and those without increases over time. Employees with graduate degrees tend to rise higher and faster within an organization. What’s more, unemployment rates for those with graduate degrees is 4-6 percent lower than it is for those with undergraduate degrees only, or essentially half the rate in the current economy.

I encourage you to think of a graduate degree as an investment in your future. Your job is to assess the attractiveness of this investment opportunity. Play with the numbers above. Poke holes in my assumptions and come up with your own conclusions. I think you’ll agree that the MPS degree is an efficient way to boost your career and is among the more sound investments choices you can make.

Questions? Call, text, or email me anytime. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tom Photo 2015Tom Johnson. Program Manager
MPS in Dairy Products Technology
(970) 215-3459 cell