Crafting ways to package a range of products, from food and cosmetics to electronics and consumer products, for transportation, storage, display, and presentation.
Packaging is increasingly related to total marketing concepts. It has an even greater dependence on new developments in materials and processes. Therefore, the industry requires management personnel with creativity and a strong background in business, engineering, and science.
The packaging science major prepares students for employment in areas such as package development, 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 exhibits dynamic growth and provides employment for thousands of professionals with wide-ranging skills and expertise.
The packaging science program at RIT is one of the most unique and respected in the country. One of only a handful in the nation to offer the program, the discipline provides students exposure to laboratory experience and real-life problem-solving. Embedded in the program is the required full-time co-op within a company. RIT is the only university in the country that requires all packaging science students to experience this opportunity. This allows students to develop their professional skills, expand their real-world experience, and most importantly broadens their industry contacts. Graduates are rewarded with highly developed skills, extensive materials background and initiative knowledge of their application.
RIT’s packaging science program was first established in 1972. It is an interdisciplinary degree that leads to either a bachelors or masters of science. RIT's relationship with industry leaders and the skills students obtain in development, sales, and purchasing results in professional careers within this multi-billion dollar industry. This relationship, along with the faculty being packaging professionals, ensures that students acquire the most current technological knowledge base.
The program is:
Career oriented-graduates are ready to enter directly into a position of responsibility.
Interdisciplinary-students become familiar with the many facets of packaging through courses in several RIT colleges.
Adaptable to a modified cooperative plan scheduled at the students’ convenience, following the development of appropriate skills.
Representative of industry needs, content developed with the assistance of an industry advisory board, consultants from the industry and educational specialists.
Cooperative education, or co-op, is an increasingly valuable integrated, co-curricular experience required by many programs in the College of Engineering Technology. Students gain real-world experience and make life-long professional connections while earning a salary, which may help offset college costs. Students are required to complete four co-op blocks. This typically includes one spring, one fall, and two summer terms, alternating periods of full-time study with full-time paid work experience in their career field. In some circumstances, other forms of experiential education, such as study abroad, research, or military service, may be used to fulfill part of the co-op requirement. Each student is assigned a co-op advisor to assist in identifying and applying to co-op opportunities.
Biotech and Life Sciences
Consumer Packaged Goods
Food and Beverage
Typical Job Titles
Packaging Engineering and Merchandising Manager
Package Engineering Technician
Packaging and Display Sales
Packaging Development Engineer
Packaging Project Management Engineer
Display Services Specialist
outcome rate of graduates
median first-year salary of graduates
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. Learn more about how co-op at RIT is designed for your success.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The Industry Advisory Board contributes professional and technical expertise to the packaging science major, which strengthens and develops the curriculum to reflect the dynamics and growth of the industry.
When new students come to RIT, they join the ever-growing Tiger family. For John B. Lawrence and his younger brother, Jared Lawrence, the Tiger family is more than just a proximal community; it’s also based on actual bloodlines.
Undergraduate students from packaging science, graphic design and industrial design worked over the semester to improve packaging and branding identity for Milwaukee Tools and its Shockwave power drill bits as part of the Packaging Systems class challenge.