Product packaging is increasingly related to total marketing concepts. It has an even greater dependence on new developments in materials and processes as eco-friendly product packaging has emerged as a growing way for companies to reduce the environmental impacts and the ecological footprints of product packaging. As a result, the packaging industry requires professionals–packaging engineers, packaging designers, product developers, and more–with a strong background in engineering, design, and business to infuse the industry with creativity and innovation.
What is Packaging Science?
Packaging science is a dynamic major that integrates engineering, design, and business to develop and design product packaging for a range of consumer goods. Packaging engineers and packaging designers focus on understanding the packaging needs of a product and what it must accomplish. These needs can range from maintaining food freshness and safety, keeping products safe from damage during transportation, appealing to consumers at the point of purchase, communicating product information, sustaining transportation efficiency, complying with sustainable practices for post-use recycling and reuse, and more. It’s the role of packaging engineers and packaging designers to responsibility weigh these factors into the conceptualization, design, and development of product packaging.
RIT’s Packaging Science Degree
RIT’s packaging science degree is one of the most unique and well respected in the country. You’ll study course work in three key areas:
Engineering: Physics, packaging materials and biopolymers, shock and vibration, packaging for pharmaceuticals and medical products.
Two blocks of required cooperative education experience in the packaging industry is also part of the curriculum. RIT’s packaging science degree is the only program in the country that requires its students to complete cooperative education.
Jobs for Packaging Engineers and Packaging Designers
RIT’s packaging science degree prepares you for employment in areas such as package development, packaging design, sales, purchasing, structural design, production, research, and marketing. The major was developed as a result of a close and long-established relationship between the packaging industry and RIT. This multi-billion-dollar industry is experiencing dynamic growth and packaging engineers and packaging designers with wide-ranging skills and expertise are in demand.
Packaging Science Industry Advisory Board
The Industry Advisory Board contributes professional and technical expertise to the packaging science degree, which strengthens and develops the curriculum to reflect the dynamics and growth of the industry.
Packaging Science Career Fair
RIT’s Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education hosts a packaging science-specific career fair that connects packaging science majors with corporations, organizations, design firms, and more, who hire packaging professionals. During this day-long event, you’ll be able to network with company representatives and interview directly for open co-op and permanent employment positions.
Meet us on campus
We invite you to campus for an individualized tour experience.
What’s different about RIT’s engineering education? It’s the opportunity to complete engineering co-ops and internships with top companies in every single industry. You’ll earn more than a degree. You’ll gain real-world career experience that sets you apart.
Cooperative education, or co-op for short, is full-time, paid work experience in your field of study. And it sets RIT graduates apart from their competitors. It’s exposure–early and often–to a variety of professional work environments, career paths, and industries. RIT co-op is designed for your success.
In the packaging science degree, you will gain extensive career experience through full-time, paid co-op positions in companies that design and develop packaging for cosmetics and health products, pharmaceuticals and medical products, food and beverages, tools and equipment for manufacturing, toys and other consumer goods, and more. You’ll also develop your professional skills and broaden your industry contacts.
Companies that employ our packaging science students for co-ops include Colgate-Palmolive, CONMED, CooperVision, GlaxoSmithKline, Hammer Packaging, Hasbro, Honda of America Manufacturing, Inc., Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, Merck & Co., Inc., Milwaukee Tool, PepsiCo, Revlon, and Stanley Black & Decker, to name a few.
Karen Proctor, professor of packaging science, worked with faculty from graphic design and industrial design to provide students with a unique opportunity for collaborative design. Through these three...
General Education – Elective: Chemistry of Materials
The course will address three fundamental concepts of general chemistry by covering three aspects of all chemical reactions: kinetics, equilibrium and thermodynamics. Acid/base and oxidation/reductions will be discussed. The chemistry of metals, ceramics and synthetic polymers will be covered, including electrochemistry and a brief overview of organic chemistry. (Prerequisites: CHMG-121 or CHMG-131 or CHMG-141 or equivalent courses.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall, Spring).
General Education – Elective: General & Analytical Chemistry I
This is a general chemistry course for students in the life and physical sciences. College chemistry is presented as a science based on empirical evidence that is placed into the context of conceptual, visual, and mathematical models. Students will learn the concepts, symbolism, and fundamental tools of chemistry necessary to carry on a discourse in the language of chemistry. Emphasis will be placed on the relationship between atomic structure, chemical bonds, and the transformation of these bonds through chemical reactions. The fundamentals of organic chemistry are introduced throughout the course to emphasize the connection between chemistry and the other sciences. Lecture 3, Recitation 1 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
General Education – Elective: General & Analytical Chemistry I Lab
The course combines hands-on laboratory exercises with workshop-style problem sessions to complement the CHMG-141 lecture material. The course emphasizes laboratory techniques and data analysis skills. Topics include: gravimetric, volumetric, thermal, titration and spectrophotometric analyses, and the use of these techniques to analyze chemical reactions. (Corequisite: CHMG-141 or CHMG-131 or equivalent course.) Lab 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
General Education – Mathematical Perspective A: Calculus A
This is the first course in a three-course sequence (COS-MATH-171, -172, -173). This course includes a study of functions, continuity, and differentiability. The study of functions includes the exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions. Limits of functions are used to study continuity and differentiability. The study of the derivative includes the definition, basic rules, and implicit differentiation. Applications of the derivative include optimization and related-rates problems. (Prerequisite: C- or better in MATH-111 or C- or better in ((NMTH-260 or NMTH-272 or NMTH-275) and NMTH-220) or a math placement exam score greater than or equal to 50.) Lecture 5 (Fall, Spring).
General Education – Mathematical Perspective B: Calculus B
This is the second course in three-course sequence (COS-MATH-171, -172, -173). The course includes Riemann sums, the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, techniques of integration, and applications of the definite integral. The techniques of integration include substitution and integration by parts. The applications of the definite integral include areas between curves, and the calculation of volume. (Prerequisites: C- or better in MATH-171 or 1016-171T or 1016-281 or 1016-231 or equivalent course.) Lecture 5 (Fall, Spring).
Introduction to Packaging
An in-depth overview of packaging. The course will include historical perspectives of packaging. Students will explore the functions of packaging and the materials, processes, and technology employed to protect goods during handling, shipment, and storage. A brief review of container types, package design and development, and research and testing are presented, along with information about economic importance, social implications, and packaging as a profession. Students will research historical, current, and future packages to gain better insight into the world of packaging. Lecture 1 (Fall, Spring).
Packaging Design I
The course develops knowledge of engineering design graphics and skills of package structure design. Topics covered are basics of engineering design graphics, technical sketch, project plan, design matrix and computer aided design (CAD). Emphasis is given to use SolidWorks - CAD software to design typical packaging structures. The 10-week design project focuses on developing a packaging structure from an idea to a 3D virtual prototype. Lec/Lab 3 (Fall).
Packaging Design II
The course develops knowledge and skills in applying two computer software packages for packaging design: Artios CAD and Adobe Illustrator. Topics covered are builder and rebuilder, solid modeling and drawing, animation, coloring, and painting. Emphasis is given to create a typical paperboard based carton with a proper structure and color usage. (Co-requisites: PACK-101 or equivalent course.) Lec/Lab 4 (Spring).
General Education – First Year Writing: FYW: Writing Seminar (WI)
Writing Seminar is a three-credit course limited to 19 students per section. The course is designed to develop first-year students’ proficiency in analytical and rhetorical reading and writing, and critical thinking. Students will read, understand, and interpret a variety of non-fiction texts representing different cultural perspectives and/or academic disciplines. These texts are designed to challenge students intellectually and to stimulate their writing for a variety of contexts and purposes. Through inquiry-based assignment sequences, students will develop academic research and literacy practices that will be further strengthened throughout their academic careers. Particular attention will be given to the writing process, including an emphasis on teacher-student conferencing, critical self-assessment, class discussion, peer review, formal and informal writing, research, and revision. Small class size promotes frequent student-instructor and student-student interaction. The course also emphasizes the principles of intellectual property and academic integrity for both current academic and future professional writing. Lecture (Fall, Spring, Summer).
RIT 365: RIT Connections
RIT 365 students participate in experiential learning opportunities designed to launch them into their career at RIT, support them in making multiple and varied connections across the university, and immerse them in processes of competency development. Students will plan for and reflect on their first-year experiences, receive feedback, and develop a personal plan for future action in order to develop foundational self-awareness and recognize broad-based professional competencies. Lecture 1 (Fall, Spring).
General Education – Artistic Perspective
General Education – Ethical Perspective
General Education – Elective: Introduction to Organic Polymer Technology
The first part of the course covers the fundamentals of organic chemistry. The organization, nomenclature, structure, bonding and basic reactions of organic compounds will be discussed, in particular those concepts that are relevant to understand polymer chemistry. The second part of the course will introduce the nomenclature and classification of synthetic polymers. The reactions leading to the formation of relevant polymers, their chemical and physical behavior, and some of their many applications will be discussed. (Prerequisites: CHMG-121 or CHMG-131 or CHMG-141 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
This course is an introduction to the cooperative educational placement process at RIT, the programs in the department and RIT resources. Topics include engineering technology vs. engineering, review of resources available at RIT, the co-operative education placement process, and the ethical expectations of employers for co-op students and RIT during a job search. Seminar 1 (Fall, Spring).
Packaging Metals & Plastics
The study of packaging materials from extraction through conversion and production, physical and chemical properties and uses. Emphasis is on plastics and metals used in packaging and other component materials. Recognized standard testing procedures are presented and students gain practical experience in the operation of various testing instruments, interpretation of results, and evaluation of properties and performance characteristics. (Co-requisites: PACK-101 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3, Recitation 1 (Fall, Spring).
Packaging Paper & Glass
The manufacture, physical and chemical properties, and uses of common packaging materials. Emphasis is on paper, paperboard, wood, glass, and pressurized packaging systems used in packaging applications. Standard testing procedures will be presented as well as instruction on testing equipment operation, data interpretation, evaluation of properties, and performance. (Co-requisites: PACK-101 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3, Recitation 1 (Fall, Spring).
A detailed study of primary packages that includes the history, manufacturing processes, characteristics, and applications for containers in direct contact with the product. Structural design, chemical compatibility, and suitability of container for intended use are analyzed for basic container types. Students practice structural design and testing of prototype containers. Primary emphasis is on flexible paper, foil, plastic, and laminated materials and on selected processing techniques. Topics to include folding cartons, heat seal technology and test methodologies, permeability theory, modeling, and empirical testing. (Prerequisites: PACK-151 and PACK-211 and PACK-212 or equivalent courses.
Co-requisites: PACK-152 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3, Recitation 1 (Fall, Spring).
This course is a detailed study of primary packages. History, manufacturing processes characteristics, and applications for containers in direct contact with the product. Structural design, chemical compatibility, and suitability of container for intended use are analyzed for basic container types. Students practice structural design and testing of prototype containers. Primary emphasis is on rigid paperboard, glass, plastic, and metal containers. (Prerequisites: PACK-151 and PACK-211 and PACK-212 or equivalent courses.
Co-requisites: PACK-152 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3, Recitation 1 (Fall, Spring).
General Education – Natural Science Inquiry Perspective: College Physics I
This is an introductory course in algebra-based physics focusing on mechanics
and waves. Topics include kinematics, planar motion, Newton’s laws,
gravitation; rotational kinematics and dynamics; work and energy; momentum
and impulse; conservation laws; simple harmonic motion; waves; data
presentation/analysis and error propagation. The course is taught using both
traditional lectures and a workshop format that integrates material traditionally
found in separate lecture, recitation, and laboratory settings. Lab 4, Lecture 2 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
General Education – Elective: Introduction to Statistics I
This course introduces statistical methods of extracting meaning from data, and basic inferential statistics. Topics covered include data and data integrity, exploratory data analysis, data visualization, numeric summary measures, the normal distribution, sampling distributions, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. The emphasis of the course is on statistical thinking rather than computation. Statistical software is used. (Prerequisite: MATH-101 or MATH-111 or NMTH-260 or NMTH-272 or NMTH-275 or a math placement exam score of at least 35.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
General Education – Environmental Elective†
General Education – Global Perspective
General Education – Social Perspective
General Education – Scientific Principles Perspective: Microbiology of Health and Disease
An introductory course in microbiology including its history, significant contributions to medicine and history, as well as a survey of microbiological organisms as they relate to disease, industry and biotechnology. (any course in Biology) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Principles of Marketing
An introduction to the field of marketing, stressing its role in the organization and society. Emphasis is on determining customer needs and wants and how the marketer can satisfy those needs through the controllable marketing variables of product, price, promotion and distribution. (This class is restricted to undergraduate students with at least 2nd year standing.) Lecture 3, Recitation 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Technical Communications (WI)
An introduction to the principles of effective written technical communication for the packaging professional. Topics include memos, business letters, summary activity reports, technical proposals, and research papers. Open only to packaging science majors. (Co-requisites: First Year Writing (FYW).) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Packaging for Distribution
An exploration of different shipping, storage, and use environments common to various products and packages. Structural design of shipping containers for product physical protection and methods for testing and predicting package performance are studied. Package converting processes will be studied to reinforce the economics of efficient and sustainable package design. (Prerequisites: PACK-311 and PACK-312 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3, Recitation 1 (Fall, Spring).
Dynamics and Protective Packaging
The course defines the factors involved in assessing the potential damage to packaged items resulting from impact and vibration forces in the handling, transport and storage environments. Students will be instructed in the use of basic shock and vibration test equipment, apply standard test protocols and develop specific testing protocols from measured field data. Based on data generated from testing activities, students will develop cushion designs to protect sensitive product components. (Prerequisites: PACK-421 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3, Recitation 1 (Fall, Spring).
This course begins with an overview of government laws and regulations applicable to the packaging industry. Students will then gain the hierarchical impact that regulations have on the global supply chain, quality systems, patent innovation, and workplace safety. (Prerequisites: (PACK-301 and PACK-302 ) or (PACK-311 and PACK-312) or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
General Education – Elective: Introduction to Statistics II
This course is an elementary introduction to the topics of regression and analysis of variance. The statistical software package Minitab will be used to reinforce these techniques. The focus of this course is on business applications. This is a general introductory statistics course and is intended for a broad range of programs. (Prerequisites: STAT-145 or equivalent course.) Lecture 6 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
General Education – Immersion 1
General Education – Elective
Study of food products, common methods of processing and preservation, impact on quality and nutritional value of the product, and the relationships with common packaging methods and distribution practices. Students required to deliver a project to support the objectives of this course. (Prerequisites: PACK-311 and PACK-312 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3, Recitation 1 (Fall).
Packaging for Marketing and End Use
The interrelationship between packaging and marketing, detailing how the retail consumer package can be used as a marketing tool. Concentrates on a systematic approach to developing an optimum package for a given product to meet the demands of the retail market and end user. Students gain practice in the development of a complete package system. (Prerequisites: PACK-421 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3, Recitation 1 (Fall, Spring).
Choose one of the following:
A survey of operations and supply chain management that relates to both service- and goods- producing organizations. Topics include operations and supply chain strategies; ethical behavior; forecasting; product and service design, including innovation and sustainability; capacity and inventory management; lean operations; managing projects; quality assurance; global supply chains; and the impacts of technology. (Prerequisites: STAT-145 or MATH-251 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Packaging Supply Chain
Market structures are analyzed in order to develop an understanding of how packaging relates to the general economy. Students will learn how market traded derivatives are utilized to protect against price volatility of packaging raw materials, utilization of Purchase Price Cost Analysis to predict packaging pricing and price movements. Packaging contract analysis and packaging pricing formula based pricing will be studied. Students are instructed in the use of basic pricing reference materials for research purposes. (Prerequisites: PACK-421 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Choose one of the following:
Gravure and Flexography
Students will explore gravure and flexography technologies, and learn to evaluate applicable designs. Extensive hands-on experience is included. Students will create pressure sensitive label designs, take command of a flexo press, and print labels. Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Spring).
Digital Print Processes
Students who take this course will understand how digital printing technologies work, what they are capable of doing, and how these technologies are used commercially. Students will analyze the factors driving the explosive growth of digital printing, including how the economics of digital and conventional printing compare. The concepts taught in the classroom are reinforced through hands-on labs and field trips to digital printers and equipment suppliers. This course is cross-listed with PPRT-641; students may receive credit for MAAT-541 or PPRT-641, not both. (Not if PPRT-641) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall).
Students who take this course will understand how package-printing technologies work, and how they are used to print bags, labels, cartons, cans, boxes, and bottles. Students will apply a packaging printing workflow to produce labels and folding cartons of their own design. Finally, cost analyses of package printing using various technologies is discussed. This course is cross-listed with PPRT-688; students may receive credit for MAAT-558 or PPRT-688, not both. (Degree-seeking undergraduate students. Students may not take and receive credit for MAAT-558 and PPRT-688. If you have earned credit for MAAT-558 or you are currently enrolled in PPRT-688 you will not be permitted to enroll in MAAT-558.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Spring).
General Education – Immersion 2, 3
Total Semester Credit Hours
Please see General Education Curriculum (GE) for more information.
Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.
Students must complete two blocks of cooperative education in addition to course work.
† Students may choose one of the following environmental elective courses: Concepts of Environmental Science (ENVS-101), Environment and Society (STSO-220), or Environmental Policy (STSO-421).
For all bachelor’s degree programs, a strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. Generally, this includes 4 years of English, 3-4 years of mathematics, 2-3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies and/or history.
Specific math and science requirements and other recommendations
3 years of math required; pre-calculus recommended
Chemistry or physics required; biology recommended
Technology electives desirable
Transfer course recommendations without associate degree
Courses in business, mathematics, science, liberal arts, statistics, or computer science
Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer
Business administration, marketing, management, graphic arts, engineering science, liberal arts with math/science
Analytical thinking, complex problem solving, creativity, resiliency, and flexibility are among the top skills needed for emerging careers by 2025. Anticipating these rapid changes in the workplace—further accelerated by lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic—RIT is seizing on the opportunity to guide students to “new economy majors” that are multidisciplinary, transformative, and future-focused.
The RIT student-designers on Team Frears placed second in the 2020 Paperboard Packaging Student Design Challenge for their packaging designs of a toolkit for educators to be distributed by the national program Trees into Cartons, Cartons into Trees, (TICCIT).