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Frequently Asked Questions

about the MS in Food Systems & Society program

What does it mean for this program to be cohort-based?
How long does it take to complete the program?
What does it mean for this program to be low-residency?
What are the entry requirements for this program?
What is the application process, and what materials should I submit?What should my statement of intent address?
What are you looking for in a writing sample? 
How much does the program cost?
Who are the faculty involved with the program?
Can I take courses with other departments in subjects of interest to me?
How many students will be in my classes?
What material will we cover in classes?
When are the program's intensives, how long are they and what will they include?
What is the research project, and what will it involve?
How will this program enhance my ability to secure a job in this field?How are the online classes delivered?


What does it mean for this program to be cohort-based?

There is one admission cycle in the fall of each year. Each cohort will take all of the required courses at the same time. A group of students will move through the program together, engaging and interacting to build a strong community to address social change in the food system. The aim is that students will work closely together during the program and beyond.



How long does it take to complete the program?

We anticipate that most students will complete the program by the end of the spring quarter of their second year. All students will take a minimum of six credits of required courses (includes the program's four intensives) in fall, winter and spring quarters and select four electives to take in consultation with their academic adviser.



What does it mean for this program to be low-residency?

The program combines online, seminar-style classes with in-person intensive sessions to provide you with a flexible and rich learning experience. Low-residency means that you can participate in the program from wherever you are located, because you will only be required to come to campus twice a year for the program's intensive sessions.



What are the entry requirements for this program?

A bachelor's degree in a relevant field with at least a 3.0 GPA (with flexibility for exceptional circumstances) is required, as is English-language proficiency. There are no specific prerequisite courses and no requirement that your undergraduate education be recent. Those who have experience working in the food system and other social change efforts are encouraged to apply.



What is the application process, and what materials should I submit?

A full list of the application guidelines is listed on our website. You will need to submit a completed application and fee, a statement of intent, a current resume or curriculum vitae, official transcripts, a writing sample and a minimum of two recommendation letters. The deadline for submitting your application is February 15th, 2014.



What should my statement of intent address? 
In 1000 words or less, your statement of intent should address why you want to pursue this program. Critically reflect on the personal and professional experiences that led to your interest in food systems and social change. 



What are you looking for in a writing sample?
Your writing sample can be written in an academic or popular format. What we are looking for is evidence of your ability and/or potential to develop key questions, construct reasoned arguments based on evidence and assess or analyze the significance of what you have presented. Your sample may be something you have already written or write for the purpose of this application.



How much does the program cost?

Check our tuition Web page for the most current information about tuition and fees. Additional expenses may include books and materials, appropriate technology, as well as travel, food and lodging for the program's four intensive sessions.



Who are the faculty involved with the program?

The program is chaired by Dr. Patricia Allen who joined Marylhurst in summer 2012 after 28 years at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Dr. Sean Gillon joined us in Fall 2013 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was a postdoctorate researcher. Electives will be taught by other Marylhurst faculty as well as adjunct faculty. 



Can I take courses with other departments in subjects of interest to me?

Required courses will be taken in the Department of Food Systems and Society. Electives may be taken through the FSS department or other departments with permission of your academic adviser and as long as they are online.



How many students will be in my classes?

Courses will be seminar-style with about 12-15 students. This small class sizes enables effective discussions and interactions. You will become part of a close knit learning and research community focused on social change in the food system.



What material will we cover in classes?

We continue to work on further developing the curriculum.  To get a sense of the courses you are likely to complete, please review our degree requirements page. 



When are the program's intensives, how long are they and what will they include?

The on-campus intensive sessions serve as a required course and will be three to five days long in the fall and spring quarters of each year. Students will visit campus a total of four times throughout the program. Each intensive serves as a foundation for collaborative learning with others in your cohort. In addition to regular faculty, we will have guest presenters, field trips and other activities that promote understanding and reflection about the food system. Students will also begin and continue to work on their individual research-based thesis projects.



What is a research-based thesis, and what will it involve?

Each student will develop and produce a publication- or presentation-quality thesis that contributes to the field of food systems and society. Students will engage with a subject or topic meaningful to them and relevant to social change in the food system. Topics will be developed in consultation with and approved by a faculty adviser. Each student's thesis/presentation will incorporate all the elements of the research process, including literature review, theory, research methods, analysis and evaluation.



How will this program enhance my ability to secure a job in this field?

The program is designed to increase broad understanding of social change in the food system. Students will expand their knowledge and ability to think critically about food system issues and solutions as well as enhance their communication, leadership, and research skills. They will benefit from collaborative learning and opportunities to connect with leading food systems scholars and practitioners.  While completing the program will not guarantee you a job, it will enhance the careers of those already employed in the food system as well as position students to pursue new opportunities within the field. 

Marylhurst University's Career Services team offers further resources and support on professional development, job support, internships and mentoring. 

 

How are the online classes delivered?
In the MSFSS program, we strive to use tools that enhance the cohort's ability to work collaboratively and create a scholar-practitioner community. Foundation and electives courses are delivered online through a combination of Moodle, our learning management system; Wordpress; and Fuze, a video conferencing program. Assignments may include online discussion, video seminars, academic papers, readings or group work.  

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