Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker® Program


The world of Wisconsin Cheese is the result of 175 years of quality and craftsmanship – a cheesemaking tradition that is the heart and soul of America's Dairyland. Rooted in the traditions of European cheesemaking, proudly nurtured by every generation since the pioneers, today Wisconsin is home to some of the finest craftsmen in the world. Wisconsin began and continues to advance the country's highest cheesemaking standards. Years ago, Wisconsin was the first state to grade its cheese for quality. Then Wisconsin was first to insist that a licensed cheesemaker oversee every pound of cheese made in the state. Now Wisconsin has more licensed cheesemakers than any other state. The latest chapter in this quest for excellence is the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker® program. It's the most ambitious and rigorous advanced training program in the country and the only Master program outside of Europe. Read on to learn more about Wisconsin's Master Cheesemakers and the art of our state: Wisconsin Cheese.


The Nation's First and Only Advanced Training Certification for Cheesemakers

Wisconsin's cheesemaking traditions were brought from Europe by the original pioneers. Those traditions, having been passed down over generations, are still very much alive today. Established in 1994, Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker certification continues this European tradition. The program is administered from the Center for Dairy Research located at the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, and is funded by the Wisconsin dairy farmers represented by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

The Requirements for Entry

  • Participants must be active, licensed Wisconsin cheesemakers with at least 10 years experience working at a plant which participates in the Quality Assurance Program.
  • They must have been making the cheese variety for which they seek certification for at least five years.

The Curriculum

Each cheesemaker must complete four required courses and three elective courses. Each cheesemaker must also complete a three-year apprenticeship for each cheese for which he or she seeks certification.

Required Courses:

  • Cheese Technology
  • Cheese Artisanship
  • Cheese Grading
  • Quality Assurance

Elective Courses:

  • Applied Dairy Chemistry
  • Business and Marketing
  • Process Cheese, Whey and Whey Utilization
  • Water and Waste Management
  • Milk Pasteurization and Process Control

The Apprenticeship

To demonstrate that they are a master in the art of making a particular cheese variety, the cheesemaker apprentice is required to submit samples of cheese for evaluation which is conducted by a designated committee to ensure cheese quality and consistency. The apprenticeship assures that those receiving the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker certification embody the skill and passion for cheesemaking that is Wisconsin's greatest heritage.

The Delicious Result

Once a cheesemaker achieves Master status for a cheese variety, they can designate on their labels that the cheese has been made by a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker. It's your assurance of the highest quality cheese you can buy.


Master CheeseMaker Directory