20 Best Value Packaging Engineering Programs [2024 Expert Ranking]

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packaging engineer degree

Selecting a subpar packaging engineering degree can leave graduates ill-equipped to tackle complex challenges and secure rewarding careers in the growing packaging engineering field. Here is the ultimate list of the best packaging engineering schools with cutting-edge facilities, comprehensive curriculums, and the best in class faculty that prepares you for success.

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20 Packaging Engineering Schools You Should Consider

Michigan State University, the first to offer a packaging program in 1952, continues to lead the way with its innovative research initiatives. California Polytechnic State University, San Jose State University, the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and Indiana State University leverage their locations in technology hubs to provide cutting-edge, interdisciplinary curricula and robust industry partnerships.

These schools offer hands-on, experiential learning opportunities, and a focus on sustainable packaging solutions. The degree programs consistently produce graduates who are well-prepared to tackle the complex challenges of the packaging industry. The following schools stand out as the nation’s premier destinations for pursuing a packaging engineering degree.

SchoolMinimum In-State Tuition FeeMinimum Out-of-State Tuition FeeAcceptance RateJob Acceptance Rate
Michigan State University$16,522$43,52283%94%
Indiana State University$9,712$12,62694%100%
California Polytechnic State University$12,924$26,97033%83%
San Jose State University$5,742$17,62284%95%
University of Wisconsin – Stout$10,701$14,55891%98%
Missouri University of Science & Technology$14,462$31,86281%95%
Purdue University – Northwest$9,299$13,09676%99%
University of Florida$6,380$28,65823%75%
Virginia Tech$12,698$30,86756%95%
Rutgers University$29,737$39,67268%82%
Dunwoody College of Technology$24,029$25,65988%95%
Rochester Institute of Technology$42,660$58,32471%88%
Clemson University$19,476$39,49851%83%
Northwood Technical College$11,997$16,400100%75%
Appalachian State University$8,081$23,07686%94%
Pittsburg State University$7,970$19,65494%95%
Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY)$6,170$16,75058%87%
Western Michigan University$14,594$18,21885%91%
The Packaging School$3,999$3,99985%88%
University of Memphis$10,344$27,32095%88%

ValueColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

1. Michigan State University

Michigan State University was the first school to offer a specialized program in packaging science in 1952. It was also the first to create a dedicated school for the packaging industry.

According to Kelsey Ludeman, an education expert with 15 years of experience in the education sector, “Michigan State University is a top-tier choice for students seeking a high-quality and high-value packaging degree program.”

“Under the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the university offers BS, MS, and PhD degrees through The Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) accredited packaging program.

Within the program, students engage with a thorough curriculum that explores different dimensions of packaging engineering, including materials science, design theory, production techniques, environmental sustainability, and logistics management. This holistic approach ensures that graduates are well-prepared to pursue various career paths in the packaging sector.”

Students in the MSU School of Packaging can earn a BS or MS diploma, as well as a rare PhD for those who wish to enter an academic or research career. At MSU, students get an education that includes keeping up with current changes and the most up-to-date technical knowledge. The programs also focus on human factors and environmental impact in terms of quality protection and damage prevention. 

As the first land grant public research university in the nation, MSU is noted among the strongest institutions for job market performance in the Midwest. With intensive attention from industry recruiters, you’ll have more employment opportunities to grow your career in the industry.

2. Indiana State University

Located in the small city of Terre Haute, Indiana State University emphasizes accessibility, making sure that any Indiana citizen who wants a quality professional or technical education can attend. The Scott College of Business is well-respected in the region, and the College of Technology has a growing reputation.

The College of Technology’s BS Packaging Engineering Technology is an industry-focused curriculum. It prepares students for both the technical demands of the field and the management aspects of leading projects. 

Top-of-the-line laboratories and experiential learning from knowledgeable faculty give students an excellent entry point into the packaging science field, from design and marketing to manufacturing.

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3. California Polytechnic State University

An internationally recognized model for technology, engineering, and applied science education, California Polytechnic State University is one of the leading institutions of its kind. With graduates highly sought-after by employers, Cal Poly has long been known as one of the best places for aspiring professionals heading into a scientific career. 

Cal Poly offers two distinctive programs in the packaging engineering field. Both programs are models for the field, with the high job market value of the Cal Poly name giving packaging professionals a lot of assurance going into their careers.

The BS in Industrial Technology and Packaging is a top interdisciplinary program bringing engineering, design, supply chain management, and entrepreneurship courses together. Meanwhile, the MS in Packaging Value Chain is a highly competitive, fully online graduate degree that pulls interdisciplinary courses. It prepares graduates for managerial and leadership roles, including packaging design, finance, and analytics. 

4. San Jose State University

A large, public research institution in the California State University system, San Jose State University is noted for its deep and very rewarding relationship with nearby Silicon Valley. SJSU sends more graduates to Silicon Valley than any other school in California. 

SJSU’s BS in Packaging is an exceptional major that brings together elements of nutrition and food science. It tackles packaging design, processing, materials, and the many demands that come with creating, packing, and shipping food. 

Such an intensive and thorough program in this area is rare. SJSU’s affordable tuition, both for California residents and non-residents, has given it a solid reputation as a value educational institution.

5. University of Wisconsin – Stout

Known as Wisconsin’s ‘public polytechnic institute’, the University of Wisconsin-Stout aims to bring affordable, accessible public education in engineering, applied science, healthcare, and other professional and technical fields to the people of Wisconsin. With this vision, Stout has quickly become one of the state’s most diverse, accomplished, and desirable institutions.

UW-Stout offers a BS in Packaging dedicated specifically to prospective engineers and designers. The program has been built on the needs of the industry, with an emphasis on analytical and problem-solving skills that use the available technology to its fullest potential. 

It offers the courses you need to focus on the technical aspects of packaging, from development and packaging design to testing packaging materials. The program uses hands-on, experiential learning.

6. Missouri University of Science & Technology

Missouri University of Science and Technology is noted for its model undergraduate research opportunities, including many award-winning engineering projects. It also has connections to the industry sector of the Midwest, giving locals a strong presence in the job market.

MS&T offers a BS in Engineering Management degree program that offers unprecedented flexibility and breadth. There’s no specifically named packaging concentration. However, the curriculum leaves room for specializations in areas like design, production management, packaging materials, design and integration, and quality assurance.

These courses are appropriate for a packaging design and engineering career. MS&T’s reasonable tuition rate and highly trusted reputation prepare graduates in this competitive field.

7. Purdue University – Northwest

Purdue University Northwest is one of the newest institutions in the Midwest, founded by a merger of Purdue Calumet and Purdue North Central in 2016. Its BS in Mechatronics Engineering Technology is a new paradigm program combining mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and manufacturing into a highly flexible degree. 

One of the benefits of this merger has been increased exposure for the Center for Packaging Machinery Industry. It’s a cutting-edge research institute dedicated to collaboration with industry partners, first established by Purdue Calumet’s College of Technology. This innovation provides the foundation for Purdue Northwest’s Mechatronics Engineering program.

Purdue Northwest’s technical labs offer students learning experiences with “real-world equipment”, which helps make them career-ready and attractive to potential employers. You’ll also have options for related paths in machine design and human/machine interface. It’s a program like no other from a university synonymous with excellence.

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8. University of Florida

One of the foremost public research universities in the South, the University of Florida is the state’s flagship land, sea, and space-grant institution. UF is a nationally respected leader in the sciences, including top-ranked programs in engineering, agricultural sciences, biology and biochemistry, and more. 

UF’s expertise in engineering, biology, and technology come together in their unique BS in Biological Engineering-Packaging Engineering concentration. It focuses on the aspects involved in the design and creation of food packaging, from computer design skills and materials to biochemistry and physics. 

As one of the largest research institutions in the nation, UF is most renowned for its groundbreaking programs in biotechnology. The University of Florida’s wide, strong connections to industry and business in the region promise a secure presence in a competitive job market for packaging engineers.

9. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Virginia Tech is widely recognized as one of the top public institutes in the nation. It’s notable for its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Pamplin College of Business, and the College of Natural Resources and Environment, one of the most respected and influential environmental science schools across the globe.

CNRE offers a unique BS in Packaging Systems and Design. It focuses on the growing need for environmentally responsible and sustainable packaging systems now and in the future. This exceptional program is built on the Center of Packaging and Unit Load Design, a specialized research center. 

It includes strong academic support, small classes, and hands-on experience, including internships and employment opportunities. With an esteemed reputation, strong industry connections, and a specialized education second to none, graduates can trust their investment in this university.

10. Rutgers University

As New Jersey’s land-grant institution, Rutgers is best known for its agriculture and engineering programs. The School of Engineering is one of the most respected in the nation. It has more than a dozen dedicated research centers and numerous specializations, such as the exceptional Packaging Engineering program.

Rutgers offers BS and MS degree programs in Packaging Engineering. These focus on the interdisciplinary skills necessary to design, manufacture, and market packaging in a variety of fields. For working professionals already in the field, undergraduate and graduate certificates provide a lower-cost and less intensive credential for promotion and advancement. 

As one of the first engineering schools with a packaging specialization, Rutgers is a leader in a new and exciting packaging science field. It’s a trusted name in the higher education marketplace.

11. Dunwoody College of Technology

Dunwoody College of Technology is a highly respected institution focusing on career preparation and vocational training for individuals interested in highly technical fields like computer science, robotics, and machining. With Dunwoody College’s reputable associate degrees, you can enter the workforce quickly even without a bachelor’s degree.

Dunwoody College offers two Associate of Applied Science programs that could lead you to your chosen career path. The AAS in Graphic Design and Production makes use of Dunwoody’s top-notch printing and packaging science lab and 21st-century design studio for designing and producing packaging systems.

The AAS in Automated Systems and Robotics, in its own right, is designed according to the standards of the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) and the Institute of Packing Professionals (IoPP). This gives engineers everything they need for a career in design and management.

12. Rochester Institute of Technology

The Rochester Institute of Technology is known for its professional and career focus, including a model co-op education program that connects graduates to industry partners. A strong job market presence and RIT’s academic rigor makes for an all-around value.

RIT offers both BS and MS degrees. The BS in Packaging Science is recognized as one of the most effective in the nation. It combines hands-on laboratory learning with a co-op experience that can offer you employment opportunities.

The MS in Packaging Science is ideal for working professionals who want to earn credentials for advancement. It also suits recent graduates who are adding specialization to their degree. RIT graduates have a high level of job placement and a high ROI, making the institution a solid investment.

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13. Clemson University

As South Carolina’s land- and sea-grant university, Clemson University has been a pioneer in science education for the south. An aggressive expansion and investment over the 21st century have led to a steady rise in the national reputation of Clemson. 

Clemson offers BS and MS in Packaging Science programs. These are designed to give a varied interdisciplinary grounding in the science and business that go into creating packaging for products, food, health care supplies, and more.

The interdisciplinary programs draw on many of Clemson’s strengths, from food and biological sciences to health care and business. An accelerated program allows undergraduate students to earn their BS and MS combined in only five years. With strong corporate partnerships, Clemson graduates enter the job market with a distinct advantage.

14. Northwood Technical College

A multi-campus technical college based in northern Wisconsin, Northwood Technical College has a large impact on the state’s citizens. It’s responsible for providing the people of Wisconsin with an affordable and accessible means to earn the credentials and skills they need to enter this career field, and it has a track record of being really good at that.

Are you a student or a working adult who wants to start working in the industry without enrolling in a full four-year program? Northwood’s Associate of Applied Science degree in Automated Packaging Systems Technician is a low-cost commitment that can open the door to a rewarding career and increased expertise.

With hands-on learning from experienced experts, this program provides the technical skills necessary to enter the field at the technician level.

15. Appalachian State University

Part of the highly respected University of North Carolina system, Appalachian State University is a large public research institution with a deep connection to the mountain region of North Carolina. It commits to professional and technical education in the region.

Appalachian State spearheads an innovative approach with its BS in Graphic Communications Management – Print/Packaging Production. It’s a design-centered program emphasizing the visual, production, and distribution aspects of packaging. 

Combining art, technology, and management, the GAIT program prepares you for a wide range of career paths. It incorporates a community and global engagement component to foster responsibility and service.

16. Pittsburg State University

A small, regional public university in rural southeastern Kansas, Pittsburg State University has an important mission – meeting the educational needs of Kansans with low faculty-student ratios and strong academic support. Pitt State today plays a major role in helping the people of the region adapt to a professional and industrial economy.

Pittsburg State’s BS in Technology in Graphic Communications offers a concentration in Print Media and Package Design. It’s oriented toward the technical requirements of creating and distributing the graphic elements of packaging. 

It emphasizes flexible basic knowledge that can be adapted to a variety of career paths, including design, research, sales, and management, giving graduates entry into this growing field. Pittsburg State’s low tuition rate, in turn, makes for a quicker return on graduates’ time and money.

17. Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY)

One of the first institutes for fashion, graphic design, and business, the Fashion Institute of Technology is a respected part of the State University of New York system. FIT’s reputation guarantees students a place in the competitive New York marketplace, with many graduates working for some of the best-known companies.

FIT’s BFA in Packaging Design is a highly competitive, influential, and innovative degree. It emphasizes applying research, analysis, and creative thinking to branding, consumer behavior, and marketing trends to create effective packaging.

FIT’s strategic location in the city of New York makes it one of the most well-connected institutions for art and design. Its prominence and reputation has brought them the most experienced faculty and promising professionals in the nation.

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18. Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University is recognized as one of the top military-friendly institutions. WMU is also known for its excellent academic support, with small classes, close personal mentorship from professors, and ample opportunities for hands-on research for undergraduates.

WMU offers two related degrees. The BSE in Paper Engineering focuses on the chemistry, processing, and development of the paper industry. You’ll learn to incorporate elements of environmental science and recycling technology into new forms of packaging, papermaking, and manufacturing. 

The BSE in Engineering Design, on the other hand, emphasizes computer modeling, testing, and design to improve manufacturing. Both feature hands-on research and internships and can be used as a stepping stone into a high-order career.

19. The Packaging School

Developed by faculty from Clemson University, the Packaging School is an innovative and entrepreneurial online community that seeks to bring together professionals in the packaging science field for education, networking, and discussion. This licensed program has already proven itself with graduate hires by numerous corporations and businesses throughout the region.

As the exclusive licensee of a professional packaging science curriculum developed at Clemson University’s acclaimed program, the school offers an affordable, 12-course, fully online program in the packaging industry

The curriculum is designed specifically to help working adults earn credentials for a career change, advancement in their current packaging-related career, or to help working professionals network and update their knowledge. 

20. University of Memphis

The University of Memphis is a major part of life and culture in the city, with a strong regional reputation for excellence and innovation. As one of Tennessee’s first higher learning institutions, U of M is central to professional and technical education in the state.

It offers a graduate certificate in Packaging Engineering. It’s designed for working engineers who want credentials for advancement, working professionals in another field looking for a career change, and those who want a specialization. 

This nine-credit certificate program gives you a grounding in the basics, including design, distribution, and hands-on research opportunities. It’s an affordable and convenient way to make a change or open up a career path in the industry.

What is Packaging Science and Engineering?

Packaging science and engineering is an interdisciplinary field that combines scientific, technological, design, and business concepts to develop packaging materials and solutions. It encompasses the entire lifecycle of packaging, from raw material production and conversion to design, distribution, recycling, and reuse. 

The study involves principles of materials science, engineering, graphic design, regulations, and business aspects such as marketing. It covers everything from the boxes and bags enclosing our food to the complex and critically important means for transporting hazardous materials.

Other programs focus on the design aspect of packaging, with aspiring professionals finding themselves housed in graphic design or business and marketing schools. Others may be in chemistry programs (such as paper engineering) or food and agriculture (for food packaging programs). New, alternative certification options are beginning to appear as well.

Packaging Science and Engineering Degree Levels

While packaging science programs offer various higher educational levels, the bachelor’s degree is the most common. Still, you can choose from other options depending on your budget, location, and availability.

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Are you a working professional looking to enhance your skills or explore a career transition? A certificate may be the perfect fit for you because of its focused training in specific areas of the field. Averaging three to seven months, you’ll gain foundational knowledge in packaging design, materials, or regulations. 

Certificates from colleges or trade schools offer a cost-effective way to gain knowledge and credentials in packaging science without committing to a full degree program. They can also serve as a stepping stone towards further education or as a complement to a degree in a related field.

Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree equips you with foundational knowledge and practical skills for entry-level positions in the industry. During the two-year degree program, you’ll get to learn concepts like materials, design principles, manufacturing processes, and quality control. 

Associate degrees often include hands-on training through labs and internships. They prepare graduates for roles such as packaging technicians or production assistants. The associate level provides a more comprehensive introduction to the field compared to a certificate while still being a relatively short-term commitment.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is the most common and comprehensive educational path for aspiring packaging professionals. During the four-year program, you will gain a well-rounded understanding of the scientific, engineering, and business aspects of your chosen field. 

You get to study advanced topics like sustainable packaging, supply chain logistics, and regulatory compliance. Bachelor’s programs frequently offer opportunities for research, internships, and specialized concentrations. Graduates are prepared for a wide range of careers, from package design and development to production management and marketing.

Master’s Degree

Master’s degree programs in packaging engineering dive deeper into specialized areas like materials science, distribution systems, or product-package compatibility. 

Students often engage in research projects, collaborating with industry partners to solve real-life challenges. This educational level enhances technical expertise and problem-solving abilities. It’s a great stepping stone for applying for roles such as senior engineers, research scientists, or senior-level managers.


Do you want to become a thought leader who can drive innovation and shape the industry? A doctorate is the highest level of education in the field. It prepares you for careers in research, academia, or executive leadership roles in the industry. 

Doctoral programs focus on cutting-edge research and the development of new technologies, materials, and systems. You can contribute original research and gain expertise in areas like sustainability, smart packaging, or regulatory affairs.

Top-Paying Careers for Packaging Science Program Graduates

Whether the program focuses on the science of packaging or the visual packaging design and selling of products, packaging science is a highly rewarding and stable career. On average, a packaging science graduate can earn an annual salary of up to $78,000. 

However, this still depends on your specific job, education, and experience. These are the top-paying careers you can pursue with a packaging engineering, design, or science degree.

  • Packaging director (average $141,453)
  • Packaging manager (average $94,520)
  • Senior packaging engineer ($91,552)
  • Project manager ($79,280)
  • Packaging engineer ($73,546)

Methodology: Ranking the Top Packaging Engineering Science Schools

The packaging industry is the third largest industry on the planet. With so much potential and endless opportunities, it can get overwhelming to find the perfect degree program.

That’s why Value Colleges has researched this resurgent and growing field to find the best values out there today. To determine value, Value Colleges relies on three main data points:

  • Affordability (IPEDS Annual Undergraduate Tuition – non-resident rate used)
  • Reputation (U.S. NEWS Score)
  • ROI (U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard salary data)

Schools were issued a bonus point if the institution was an Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI) partner school. PMMI is the foremost organization for packaging professionals, including equipment manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers.

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Related Questions

Is Packaging Science or Engineering a Good Major?

Packaging science or engineering is an excellent major choice for individuals who want to combine science, engineering, and business principles. It has a growing emphasis on sustainable packaging, product safety, and supply chain efficiency. This major offers numerous career opportunities across various industries, including food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, and logistics.

What Are the Most Popular Majors Related to Packaging Science?

The most popular majors related to packaging science include industrial and management engineering, mechanical engineering, and engineering design. These fields share a strong focus on the principles of engineering, design, and manufacturing processes.

What Are the Student Demographics of Packaging Science Majors?

Data USA reveals that about 76% of white students take up packaging science or related fields. Asians follow at 8%, Hispanic or Latino at 8%, and Black or African-American at 3%.

How Hard Is Packaging Engineering?

Packaging engineering is a challenging field that requires a strong foundation in various disciplines, including materials science, chemistry, physics, and engineering principles. You’ll need to combine technical expertise, creativity, and problem-solving skills to produce efficient and sustainable solutions for the diverse needs of this field and industries.

What Does a Packaging Engineer Do?

Packaging engineers are responsible for developing and testing materials, designs, and systems that protect and preserve products during transportation, storage, and distribution. They analyze factors like product characteristics, environmental conditions, and supply chain logistics. These allow them to create cost-effective and user-friendly solutions that comply with regulatory standards.


Graduates from these elite institutions are highly sought-after by employers for their exceptional technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and deep understanding of the best packaging practices. If you enroll at any of the educational institutions on this list, you are guaranteed to get full access to renowned faculty, state-of-the-art labs, and extensive networking opportunities with industry leaders.


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ValueColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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