GRE Now Optional

Since the MPS program launched in 2013, no admission requirement has caused as much anxiety among applicants as the Graduate Record Exam.

Current and future applicants to the program can now rest easy; for the next five years, GRE scores will be optional and will not be required for an applicant to receive full consideration.

In past years, the MPS applicant review committee evaluated an applicant’s GRE scores alongside his or her transcripts, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and interview. The committee looked for applicants to score at or above the 50th percentile on the general test (in the top half of college graduates seeking admission to graduate programs).

With encouragement from the program’s industry partners, administrators within Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Science (CAFES) recently filed a request to waive the GRE requirement. Reasons for the request include:

  • The GRE has not proven to be a strong predictor of success in the MPS program
  • The MPS program is a non-thesis professional masters program designed to produce dairy plant managers, not academics or research scientists. The program differs considerably from the typical MA or MS program in that it is hands-on, and the skills tested by the GRE do not necessarily correlate with those important for success in the program.
  • Because the skill set required for success in the MPS program differs from typical masters programs, applicant reviewers have an elaborate screening process intended to identify those applicants whose probability of success is high.
  • The Industry Advisory Committee for the program has repeatedly stated that high GRE scores are not necessarily predictive of success in management positions the dairy industry.

Taking into account letters of support from the program’s industry partners, Cal Poly’s Director of Graduate Education recently granted the program’s request to forego the GRE requirement, awarding the program a five-year waiver to test the new screening process.

Applicants to the program are now encouraged to weigh for themselves whether their coursework and experiences suggest an ability to do graduate-level work. Applicants should keep in mind that while the program does have a hands-on focus, MPS students still must successfully complete rigorous scientific and quantitative coursework.

Students with strong GPAs, particularly in the sciences, may elect to skip the GRE. On the other hand, applicants with minimal exposure to the sciences, or who feel their performance in science and/or math classes does not reflect their true abilities, may wish to submit scores that bolster their competitiveness.

Applicants with questions about whether they should submit GRE scores should contact:

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

MPS graduates discuss program benefits in video testimonials

2014 MPS graduate Nauman Hayat discusses how the program helped prepare him for a management career at Hilmar Cheese Company.

Cal Poly’s MPS in Dairy Products Technology program released a pair of short videos today in which two MPS graduates discuss how the program prepared them for their careers in the dairy foods industry.

The videos feature MPS graduates Nauman Hayat and Ben Smith. Both now work at Hilmar Cheese Company in Hilmar, California.

After completing his undergraduate studies in Food Science at the University of Illinois, Nauman graduated from the MPS program in 2014.  Nauman now works as Technical Services Manager at Hilmar Cheese Co. in Hilmar, California, where he oversees quality and consistency of more than 1 million pounds of cheese produced daily.

Ben Smith completed his undergraduate studies in Food and Fermentation Science at Oregon State University before coming to Cal Poly. He graduated from the MPS program in 2015 and currently serves as Cheese Production Supervisor at Hilmar.

The videos are intended to put a face to the MPS program and help potential applicants gain insights into how the program can help them reach their career goals.

The videos can be seen here and here and will be added to the program website in the coming days.

Tom Photo 2015

For more information visit or contact:

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

MPS Field Trip Season is Underway

MPS students and faculty prepare to tour the Leprino Foods mozzarella plant in West Lemoore, California.

The MPS field trip season is underway, and students are benefitting from a unique opportunity to get an inside look at some of America’s biggest and best dairy processing facilities.

“It’s really interesting,” said MPS student Ana Garcia, a 2017 UC Davis graduate. “The scale of production is amazing, and it’s great to see how these products are actually made.”

Most Fridays throughout the fall quarter, students will travel by van to nearby facilities, where they will tour operations, receive lectures and tutorials, and interact face to face with managers in the dairy processing industry. The field trips are an annual occurrence as part of the MPS program’s DSCI 510: Dairy Foods Issues and Practices course.

Students and faculty will visit seven plants and one large-scale dairy farm this fall, providing them with insight into a wide cross section of the dairy processing industry. Field trip locations include:

  • DFA, Turlock, CA • Provolone and Mozzarella cheeses, whey protein concentrate and deproteinized whey
  • Leprino Foods, West Lemoore, CA • Mozzarella cheese, cheese blends, whey proteins, and lactose products
  • Safeway, San Leandro, CA • Fluid milk, chocolate milk, extended shelf life products, half and half, egg nog, juices, almond milk, bottled water
  • Hilmar Cheese Company, Hilmar, CA • Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby cheeses
  • Hilmar Milk Powders, Turlock, CA • Whey protein, lactose, milk powders
  • Hydrite Chemical, Visalia, CA • Cleaning chemicals, including CIP cleaners, manual cleaners, acid and alkaline products, sanitizers, processing aids, membrane cleaners
  • Land O Lakes, Tulare, CA • Butter, cheese, dry milk products, fluid dairy products, nonfat dry milk, whey and whey products
  • Maddox Dairy, Riverdale, CA • raw milk, genetics, corn, grains, wine grapes, almonds
Leprino Foods in West Lemoore receives around 220 tankers of milk per day and produces more than 1.1 million pounds of mozzarella cheese per day, 365 days per year.

The field trips offer a rare glimpse into a hidden world to which few have access. For students in the MPS program, companies open doors that are usually closed to outsiders due to confidentiality and food safety concerns. Entering the plants requires signing nondisclosure agreements and adhering to strict sanitation and safety protocols.

On October 20, the class visited Leprino Foods in West Lemoore, California. As the largest mozzarella plant in the world, the company receives around 220 tankers of milk and produces about 1.1 million pounds of mozzarella every day.

Students enjoyed a one-hour lecture from Leprino Plant Manager Rob Tuttrup. In addition to explaining his role as manager of a 1,000-employee operation, Tuttrup provided students with personal anecdotes and career advice. Afterward, he led the group on a two-hour tour of the plant, which one student remarked was “as big as a small city.” Students then had the opportunity to ask questions of managers from various departments and learn more about the responsibilities, challenges, and rewards associated with different company roles.

Safeway QA manager Manjeet Kaur lectures MPS students about product quality and safety initiatives at the company’s San Leandro plant.

On October 27, the class visited Safeway’s San Leandro, California. plant. The plant produces fluid milk, chocolate milk, extended shelf life products, half and half, egg nog, juices, almond milk, and bottled water.

Two MPS graduates now working for Safeway, Haley Imhof and Mailyne Nguyen, provided plant tours and offered firsthand accounts of what MPS students can expect after graduating and entering the dairy processing industry.

Imhof manages the plant’s procurement process, purchasing around $1.5 million of ingredients and supplies every week. She also takes orders for the plant’s products and helps determine production volumes. “It’s fun to see our products in the stores,” said Imhof. “I’ve checked products in the marketplace, looked at the codes on the package, and said ‘yeah, we made that.’ And I know exactly when we made it and who was responsible.”

Nguyen is a product development manager and has helped launch a number of products that are now sold throughout Safeway’s retail chains. She recently helped develop a new ice cream line that is distributed through the chain’s retail stores. “It’s rewarding,” said Nguyen. “It’s hard work, but it feels good to develop products that so many people enjoy.”

MPS graduate and Safeway procurement specialist Haley Imhof discusses milk receiving protocols with a group of MPS students.

“Having MPS students visit the plant is valuable for us, too,” said Safeway plant manager James Mancuso. “At this point, I think we’ve hired MPS graduates into every one of our divisions, including operations, product development, food safety, ingredient sourcing, and quality assurance.”

Today MPS students will visit two Hilmar plants: a 1.4 million-pound-per-day cheese plant in Hilmar, California, that the company claims is the largest cheese plant in the world; and a whey processing plant in Turlock, California.

After a Veteran’s Day break, field trips will resume November 17, when students will visit the country’s largest butter plant, a Land O Lakes facility in Tulare, California, where nearly two thirds of the country’s butter is made.


Tom Photo 2015

For more information visit or contact:

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

Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2018

The application period for Cal Poly’s Fall 2018 MPS in Dairy Products Technology program is now open. Applications will be accepted through April 1, 2018.

The program utilizes a rolling admission process, whereby applicants are evaluated and notified about admission status throughout the application period.

In order to apply, applicants must submit:

  • Online application, including statement of purpose
  • Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
  • 2-3 letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • GRE scores (optional)
  • International students must submit TOEFL or EILTS scores unless their most recent degree was taught in English

More information about the application process can be found here.

Questions about the application process should be directed to Program Manager Tom Johnson at (970) 215-3459 or

Cal Poly’s Master of Professional Studies in Dairy Products Technology program trains students with scientific, engineering, and agricultural backgrounds for leadership and management roles in the international dairy foods industry. This innovative, one-year master’s degree program includes coursework in dairy chemistry, dairy microbiology, plant management, project management, leadership, sustainability, and other areas critical to effective dairy plant management. Students complete nine months of coursework, on campus in San Luis Obispo, followed be a three-month paid internship with one of the program’s industry partners. Our partners include Land O Lakes, Starbucks, Tillamook, Kraft, Leprino, Hilmar, Dean Foods, DFA, and others. No dairy or food experience is required. Starting salaries for our graduates average $65,000-80,000.

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

Congratulations to the Class of 2017!

From left to right: Jeannette Arabit, Katy Lowe, Harry Kalsi, Chris Vamos, Baheeja Zaitoun, Mitchell Ng, Annie Liu, Grace Smith, Kristal Kung, Annette Janwatin, Desiree Diaz, Eric Swift, Katie Smoot, Jing Jiang, Byron Ramirez. Absent: Maureen Lencki, Alex Mazakas, Cheng Chen.