Prerequisites | UC Davis Extension

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

While a degree is not required for acceptance to this program, college-level work in the subject areas listed below is required for success in the program. All minimum prerequisites must be completed in advance of applying. Incomplete applications will not be considered for admission. You must be able to provide transcripts documenting the math requirement and at least two other subject areas:

  • Mathematics: pre-calculus
  • Biological sciences: microbiology, cell physiology or biochemistry
  • Chemistry: general, organic, inorganic or analytical
  • Physics: heat and mechanics or process control
  • Engineering: topics in mechanical or chemical engineering

Practical brewing experience is a plus, but is not required for entrance to the program. Those who cannot document successful completion of the minimum academic prerequisites will not be admitted to the program. Such students should prepare at least one year before entering the Master Brewers Program by taking appropriate courses at a local college.

Explanation About Course Requirements

Mathematics — (i.e., pre-calculus); The brewery engineering program does not require calculus for success, but algebra skills are necessary for calculating (e.g., fluid flow and heat exchange). These skills are usually described as “pre-calculus,” meaning the most advanced mathematics course before a calculus course. The engineering program provides ample opportunity for computation, and you should not be intimidated by this.

Biological sciences — (i.e., biochemistry, microbiology or cell biology); Such courses, along with chemistry, are the foundation of our brewing science studies (e.g., malting, mashing and fermentation), which is about two-thirds of the total effort. You should choose courses that are general in approach, include cell structure and function, cell components (e.g., proteins enzymes and carbohydrates) and the biochemical pathways that drive the life of cells. Students with a good biology background should focus on physics/math preparation.

Chemistry — (i.e., second semester of general chemistry or beyond); Inorganic chemistry covering the nature of matter (e.g., atoms, chemical bonds, gases, liquids and solids, solutions, colloids and change of state) is useful. A similar introductory course in organic chemistry is also desirable because most all of the molecules relevant to brewing are organic. Ideally, you should understand nomenclature, structure, bonding/bonds and isomerism of organic molecules, and the properties of functional groups on alcohols, esters, organic acids, aldehydes and ketones as these compounds are important in intermediary metabolism and in beer flavor.

Physics — Physics is a very useful foundation for our 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. Courses on electricity, magnetism and light are not applicable. 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 for our program. However, such candidates are often under prepared in biology and should concentrate on biology courses.

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.