In today’s marketplace filled with fake schools offering fake degrees that aren’t worth the cost of the paper and ink you’d have to expend to print it up yourself, you’ve got to wonder “How can I make sure I choose a legitimate program to invest my hard earned coin in? It’s not like there’s a “yelp” page for that right? Actually you’d be wrong, there are a bunch of yelp reviews on various schools, but that really doesn’t help you, does it?
There are several ways. Usually there is an alumni page with successful brewing professionals who have graduated their program. Nothing like a word of mouth testimonial from a fellow brewer (or several fellow brewers) to help clear up doubts.
You can start a thread on a craft brewing industry forum like ProBrewer and ask your community for input.
Then there are the industry credentials of the people who run the schools program.
These are all excellent ways to narrow your focus and make sure the school you choose will deliver the goods in education and respect for the diploma when you enter the job market.
There is one other way, I’m sure there are others but I can one come up with one more right now. The MBAA offers a certification to schools meeting their standards for certificates and degrees. The MBAA program is currently in transition and we will certainly share program updates with you as soon as MBAA shares them with us. Continue to watch ProBrewer for program updates.
The current program is outlined as follows:
Diploma and Certificate Programs
For Master Brewers Members, Students, and Learning Institutions
The Master Brewers Higher Education Committee is tasked with providing guidance to and a “pathway to recognition” for academic institutions that offer or are developing certificate or degree programs in fermentation science. Providing such industry-led guidance is particularly important because many institutions are either offering or exploring such programs and the brewing industry has a strong interest in developing a wide field of appropriately educated, future employees.
The committee has developed Master Brewers approved guidelines and learning outcomes for the successful development of academic programs for brewing and fermentation science—both for 4–year college-level programs and 2–year associate’s degree programs, as well as for certificate programs in brewing (either postgraduate or postsecondary school).
While the learning outcomes are similar for each, the following distinctions may provide insight into how the brewing industry would differentiate between graduates in each category:
- Four Year Program: A four-year college-level degree generally is required (along with other requirements) by the brewing industry for management-level jobs and is distinguished from a two-year associate’s degree in applied science by 1) a high degree of theoretical knowledge about the relationships between each of the following—fermentation, brewing raw materials, brewhouse engineering, packaging, and safety; 2) a strong ability to function as part of a brewery production team; and 3) a basic understanding of the business of brewing (e.g., inventory management). The minimum number of credits pertaining to “capstone” courses should be no less than nine (three courses). Graduates should be able to assist in the commissioning and/or day-to-day operation of a small, packaging brewery.
- Two Year Program: A two-year associate’s degree in applied science generally is required (along with other requirements) by the brewing industry for the entry-level brewhouse, packaging, and maintenance jobs and is distinguished from a four-year program by an emphasis on the practical application of skills pertaining to the day-to-day operation of a brewery or a set of functions within a brewery (e.g., packaging, engineering). The minimum number of credits pertaining to “capstone” courses should be no less than nine (three courses). Graduates should be able to use an entry-level position as a way to build on their education and practical experience (e.g., internship or lab experience) to advance, if desired, into higher-level positions.
- Certificate Program: A certificate in brewing is generally required (along with other requirements) by the brewing industry for the entry-level cellar, packaging, and maintenance jobs and is distinguished from a two-year program by its focus on a general overview of the brewing industry, providing an understanding of day-to-day brewery operations and basic principles used on the job (e.g., cleaning, sanitation, brewing science). The minimum amount of time recommended for a certificate program is 10–18 weeks, with time spent as an intern in a brewery either during or after the program. Completion of a certificate program in brewing should provide graduates with the ability to start in an entry-level brewery position.
Recognized Certified Programs:
The following programs have been recognized as meeting the approved guidelines and learning outcomes.
Appalachian State University Boone, NC – Fermentation Sciences program
Kalamazoo Valley Community College – Sustainable Brewing
Kwantlen Polytechnic University – Brewing and Brewery Operations
Metropolitan State University of Denver – Brewery Operations and Brewpub
Oregon State University – Food Science and Technology, Fermentation Science option
University of California-Davis – Food Science (Brewing Option)
Skagit Valley College – Cardinal Craft Brewing (Burlington, WA) for the postsecondary school — College Certificate or similar program
Southern Illinois University – Fermentation Science
University of South Florida St. Petersburg – Certificate in Brewing Arts
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University – Food Science & Technology, Fermentation Option
Colorado State University – Fermentation Science and Technology (FTS)
Pennsylvania College of Technology – Brewing & Fermentation Science Certificate program
Central New Mexico Community College (Albuquerque) – Certificate in Brewing Technology, Brewing and Beverage Management Program (2-year)
MiraCosta College Oceanside, CA – BrewTech Program
This MBAA certification should not be the end-all be-all in your decision process. It’s just another tool in your search for the right brew school for you. There are programs like Institute of Brewing & Distilling and the Siebel Institute of Technology who have over 100 years of experience in churning out competent brewing professionals. Programs like these are to brewing what Harvard is to law.
Good luck in your search!
You’ll find a list of schools and brewing programs on the ProBrewer Allied Trade Directory Here