Skip directly to: Navigation for this section | Main page content



Please note: These prerequisites only apply to the 10-week Professional Brewers Certificate Program and the 18-week Master Brewers Program.

Success on the Institute of Brewing & Distilling Diploma in Brewing Examination (IBD DBE) requires a sound background in biology, microbiology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, mathematics and engineering topics. Though a college degree in one of these areas is preferred, it is not necessary for admission to the program. Nevertheless, some relevant college-level work is required in the areas mentioned below for you to have a reasonable chance of passing the IBD DBE. The breadth of topics covered in the program and the examination is wide, and few candidates will be adequately prepared in all areas. All minimum prerequisites must be completed in advance of applying. Incomplete applications will not be considered for admission. You should have (a) adequate preparation in mathematics (precalculus) and (b) relevant preparation in at least two other areas listed below.

  • Biological sciences (e.g., biochemistry, cell (plant) biology/physiology or microbiology)
  • Chemistry (e.g., inorganic, organic or analytical)
  • Physics (e.g., heat and mechanics or process control)
  • Engineering (topics in mechanical and/or chemical engineering)

Practical brewing experience is not required for entrance into the program and will not substitute for adequate preparation in science.

Explanation About Course Requirements

Mathematics — The brewery engineering program does not require calculus for success, but competent and confident algebra skills are necessary. These skills are best described as “pre-calculus,” meaning the most advanced mathematics course before a calculus course may be taken. The engineering program and the practice questions from the IBD DBE provide a great deal of opportunity for computation in class and homework, and you should not be intimidated by this.

Biological sciences — These courses, along with chemistry, are the foundation of our brewing science studies, which is about two-thirds of the total effort. You should have completed courses that are general in approach, including cell structure and function, the chemistry and biology organelles and the cell components (e.g., proteins) and the biochemical pathways that drive the life of cells. Many general courses in this field are oriented towards health sciences or towards environmental issues, ecosystems and wildlife. These are not suitable preparation for this program.

Chemistry — Inorganic chemistry covering the nature of matter (e.g., atoms, chemical bonds, gases, liquids and solids, solutions, colloids and change of state) and the elements is a necessary start in this field. A similar introductory course in organic chemistry is also desirable as almost all of the molecules relevant in brewing are organic. You should understand nomenclature, structure, bonding/bonds and isomerism of organic molecules, the properties of functional groups on alcohols, esters, organic acids, aldehydes and ketones (including sugars) and aromatic compounds.

Physics — Physics is a fully acceptable substitute for engineering courses, and candidates without engineering course experience should complete some physics coursework. Physics courses on heat(temperature and thermal properties of matter and heat transfer) and mechanics (mechanical properties of matter, motion, work/energy, momentum, gas laws) are useful. Those on electricity, magnetism and light are not as useful. Process control courses are not a substitute for physics courses, but have their own value for parts of the curriculum.

Engineering — Candidates with engineering courses (whether or not a degree was granted) are likely to have adequate physics and math skills and probably a sufficient grasp of chemistry. Such candidates are often under-prepared in biology. If preparing for this program, you should concentrate on biology courses. Students without engineering preparation should concentrate on mathematics and physics.

Thinking about taking courses to satisfy these prerequisites and wondering what to take? Unsure whether your previous coursework meets the requirements? Please email course descriptions to our program manager, Melissa Marbach, for evaluation.