AUR’s Food Studies program examines the connections between the production, distribution, and consumption of food, focusing on sustainability criteria. Our graduates work in areas of food policy as well as with humanitarian organizations helping to meet food-related global challenges.

This is a cross-disciplinary program exploring the current practices of sustainable food production and consumption. Focus is given to investigating how we affect the Earth’s resources with our food choices. Experiential learning at a small-scale farm in the peri-urban area of Rome is an integral part of the program.​

What makes AUR's Food Studies program unique?

Professional networks

While this M.A. is fully accredited in the United States, the campus and the program are firmly rooted in Rome, Italy - a location widely viewed as the heart of food policy and sustainability developments. Rome serves as the headquarters of the United Nations agencies dealing with food security and sustainable development: FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organization), IFAD (the International Fund for Agricultural Development), WFP (the World Food Programme), and Bioversity International (a global research-for-development organization) are all based in the city.

Real experience

AUR’s close ties with the international institutions of Rome means that the topics studied on campus are frequently complemented by on-site visits and contacts with professionals where students have the opportunity to see the theory behind their specialization put into real-world action. A large proportion of our alumni have completed high-profile work experience placements with diverse organizations that reflect their career or research ambitions and specializations

Innovation & personalization

Innovative program structure and content, tuition tailored to the individual student, expert faculty, visiting scholars, and a diverse, international student body combine to form a learning experience you will not find elsewhere. The M.A. Food Studies at The American University of Rome has been recognized by both academics and industry employers as a unique program delivered in an extraordinary setting.


Career destinations

There are many organizations, both from the public, private and non-profit sector, that work in food and environment-related fields as well as humanitarian endeavors. Accordingly, well-trained professionals will find a range of fulfilling careers in this field. In balancing theory and practice, this Master’s program prepares students for employment in a variety of organizations for professional work as well as research in think-tanks, consultancy companies, or academia.

Lexi M., 2018.

Sr. Program Coordinator, SNAP-Ed program.

Victoria R., 2018

USAID's Office of Food for Peace, Washington.

Julia B., 2019

Sustainability Manager, Dairy Farmers of Canada

Sierra B., 2019

Global Donor Platform for Rural Development

Beth G., 2017

Emergency Reporting and Outreach Specialist, FAO

Eva R., - 2019

Wine Manager, Total Wine & More


An introduction to the MA in Food Studies

In this presentation, program director Professor Maria Grazia Quieti introduces the Master's in Food Studies: Policies for sustainable production and consumption at The American University of Rome. Also featured is AUR's Graduate School Admissions Counselor & Director of Financial Aid, Zoe Johnson, who answers questions relating to admissions procedures and funding opportunities.


Bethany talks about what drew her to AUR's Food Studies program

"I was drawn to the Food Studies graduate program at AUR because I’ve always had a strong desire to work in humanitarian aid. Through the years, my goals have changed in scope and grown more specific; after serving a tour in Afghanistan with the US Navy, I felt a deep obligation to learn more about Afghani people, and the Islamic worldview. I sought to widen the lens through which I understood Western interaction with the Islamic world, especially American foreign policy and the use of cultural diplomacy.

After leaving the Navy, I focused my Bachelor’s on Islamic World Studies as well as Peace, Justice, and Conflict. I began to consider the issues plaguing refugee camps near conflict zones, as well as the migrant camps throughout Europe, which have greatly increased with the post-9/11 fallout in the Middle East and North Africa. Consistent food and water supplies are top priorities for maintaining any quality of life in such camps; the opportunity to grow a sustainable source of food breathes new life into camps often bereft of the most basic human needs.

After completing my undergraduate studies, I spent the summer as an intern on a certified organic vegetable farm and learned about the production side of a small farming operation. I am at AUR because the Food Studies program will help me combine my skills and interests in sustainable food production and humanitarian aid within the Islamic world. I hope to use these skills to effectively implement small, locally grown food operations in the places that need it most."

Bethany Eigenfeld, AUR Master's In Food Studies student



Outstanding Internship Opportunities

An internship with a food-environment organization can be considered as part of the M.A. program and carries a value of up to three credits. Students are actively encouraged to undertake an internship (offered as an elective choice), as, upon completion of graduate study, work experience is invaluable in aiding students’ pursuit of their career goals.

Sierra Berardelli's experience with the Cocoa of Excellence Programme

Over the course of eleven weeks, I completed an internship working with the Cocoa of Excellence Programme. My interest was piqued to intern with this organization because of the tropical agriculture research conducted by CIAT. My previous experience studying tropical ecology in Panama and Costa Rica felt relevant to the research conducted by the Alliance, particularly on tropical agriculture.

The Cocoa of Excellence competition strives to safeguard cocoa diversity by celebrating diverse flavors and quality globally while showcasing smallholder farmers and bringing know-how to the industry through developed cocoa evaluation tools. After researching the program and examining the social media platforms of CoEx, I was given the role of taking over social media. In addition to creating and managing social media content, I also assisted with various communications work.

I strongly believe that this internship has better prepared me for entering the professional workforce by giving me hands-on work experience and allowing me to experience what it is like to work with an influential organization in the food and agriculture industry that deals with sustainability, rural development, climate change, and food security— concepts that I am currently studying while completing the Master of Science in Food Studies at The American University of Rome (AUR).


Program Information

Program objectives
The goal of this 15-month, U.S.-accredited master’s degree program in Food Studies is to provide students with specialized knowledge and practical skills relating to the food system at all levels – from the local to the global – through an international lens. The program hones students’ critical thinking and independent research capabilities while cultivating the expertise and transferable skills necessary for the graduate student to pursue a profession in the field or continue to further study.

  • A social science curriculum focused on the food and agriculture system, its sustainability, ethics, governance, and policies
  • Experiential learning through work on a farm and contacts with professionals with a wealth of international experience and active engagement with Italy’s vibrant food/farming community and its rich food culture and agriculture
  • Courses that recognize the value of practical skills and offer opportunities to combine theoretical learning with hands-on experience
  • Appreciation of the worldwide societal concerns regarding the choices facing humankind in relation to feeding an increasing world population, including the pressures exercised on natural resources and the world’s biodiversity, public health and the spread of obesity, the persistence of under-nutrition, and the impact of climate change
  • An understanding of the interdependence of nations in terms of food production and consumption and the ways in which governments, the business industry, and civil society are dealing with these issues through policies, programs, and regulatory frameworks.

The 15-month M.A. program consists of six core courses, four elective courses, and the thesis. The total number of credits is 36, of which 30 credits are for coursework and six are for the thesis.

Upon completing the program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a high level of knowledge of the contemporary food system, the main factors impinging on sustainable food systems, production and distribution, and consumption at the global level and relate them to individual countries’ situations
  • Evaluate the nexus between food production, food consumption, and the environment
  • Assess critically nutrition from public health and environmental perspectives
  • Analyze the main policies and regulatory frameworks related to food and their implementation at international and national levels
  • Examine and compare the main tenets of food-induced rural development policies and programs in both developed and developing countries, with particular reference to Italy within the European context
  • Appraise the macroeconomic environment and government policies impinging on the sustainability of food production and consumption
  • Perform financial analyses, budgets, and forecasting in the food sector
  • Write professionally about food across different media

Beyond course-specific skills and knowledge, students will acquire academic and transferable skills, including

  • Conduct research by framing a research question, identifying and applying the appropriate quantitative or qualitative methods
  • Analyze and present basic statistical data in a clear and effective way
  • Communicate persuasively both orally and in writing, in different contexts and situations, including research paper writing and thesis defense


Experiential learning at the Center for Agro-ecology and Social Agriculture (CASA)

CASA is an action research project and a small-scale farm run by Silvia Paolini, an agronomist and organic farmer; it grows olive trees, and fruit trees, and produces a variety of vegetables, aromatic and officinal plants, and edible wild herbs for direct selling on the farm. It is adjacent to the old Roman Appian Way in the Appia Antica Regional Park, easily and rapidly reachable by public transport. Through the MA in Food Studies partnership with CASA, there are many opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience with the farm, including

  • Support for agricultural activities
    Planting and harvesting of crops, management of shrub and tree species, aromatic and officinal species in the open field.
  • Agroecology and circular economy
    Development of regenerative agriculture strategies, compost, bocashi and biochar production and use, implementing biodiversity corridors.
  • Social agriculture
    Support for social farming activities (supporting young people with frailty in the course of horticultural therapy, onotherapy, community building).
  • Economic sustainability
    Farm management, marketing and communications, financial accounting, support to direct sales, market analysis and development.