Ph.D. Degree Program


The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Packaging provides a broad education with specialized training in one of the areas of study such as: 

  • Product and/or package damage in the physical distribution environment
  • Barrier characteristics of packaging systems and materials
  • Quality preservation and storage stability of packaged products
  • Mechanical properties of packaging materials and systems
  • Distribution packaging
  • Packaging systems development and optimization
  • Medical/pharmaceutical packaging
  • Human factors in packaging
  • Packaging in business and marketing
  • Recycling
  • Environmental impacts of packaging

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the student must meet the requirements specified below.


To be considered for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in packaging, an applicant must submit scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test.

To be admitted to the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in packaging on regular status, a student must have:

  1. Completed a master's degree program in packaging, or in a related science or engineering area, for which a thesis was required, or a completed bachelor's degree in packaging or related science or engineering area with significant intensive research experience such as having peer-reviewed journal publications as the main author, or conducting several semesters of research work.
  2. A grade–point average of at least 3.4 for the bachelor's or master's degree program.
  3. Acceptable scores on the GRE General Test.

Provisional admission may be granted to an applicant who does not meet the above requirements but shows outstanding potential.

Guidance Committee

Each student must, with the approval and assistance of their major professor, form a guidance committee consisting of at least four regular faculty members (including the major professor), three must be School of Packaging faculty, and one must be from another department within MSU or from outside the MSU community with special approval. The guidance committee must be formed within the first two semesters of doctoral study. It will meet periodically as needed during the student’s course of study, preferably twice per year, including for administration of the comprehensive examination, and the final dissertation defense.

Program Requirements

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Packaging as of FS21 - The student must:                                                                                                                       

  1. Complete one of the following courses (3 credits):
  •                PKG        805        Advanced Packaging Dynamics    3 credits
  •                PKG        815        Permeability Shelf Life   3 credits
  1. Complete both of the following courses (7 credits):
  •                PKG        825        Polymeric Packaging Materials    4 credits
  •                PKG        860        Research Methods           3 credits
  1. Complete an additional 3 credits of 800-level Packaging courses excluding PKG 890.
  2. Complete 24 to 36 credits in PKG 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research.
  3. Pass both a written and an oral comprehensive examination.
  4. Complete a dissertation in one of the following areas of packaging: material science applications in packaging, food packaging, healthcare packaging, mass transport applications, or the dynamics and physical distribution aspects or human factors in packaging.
  5. Successfully defend the dissertation

Students are admitted to the PhD program only in the fall semester (late August) except in unusual circumstances.

Application materials must be submitted by October 15 for the following fall semester. Applications received after this date will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis as space in the program allows; submission of application on time is an important requirement for full consideration.

International students are encouraged to apply and submit requirements as early as possible or at least by the October 15 deadline. Applications submitted after this deadline should include all requirements, including official transcripts.

Applying to the PhD Program

Application Requirements for the Packaging PhD program:

  1. Apply to our program at
  2. Complete the School of Packaging Supplemental Application found at Supplemental PhD and upload it to your application.
  3. Request the registrar of each college or university attended to mail all records of any (Non-MSU) previous schooling (mark sheets, transcripts, diplomas, certificates, etc.) directly to the MSU Office of Admissions or the MSU School of Packaging Graduate Secretary. These records must show courses taken and grades earned and must be translated into English if the original records are in another language. These documents must arrive in an envelope sealed by the issuing university. Documents issued to students are not acceptable. If the transcript does not indicate that the degree has been awarded, a copy of the diploma is also required. If the degree has not yet been completed, this document must be provided at a later time.

    MSU Transcripts - please upload a copy of MSU transcripts to your application

    Admission to a graduate program requires completion of a level of education comparable/equivalent to a four-year U.S. bachelor’s degree. Normally, Michigan State University does not accept three-year bachelor’s degrees, diplomas or certificates as comparable to a four-year U.S. bachelor’s degree. Exceptions are made by the Office of Admissions in the case of Indian students who have earned both three-year bachelor’s degrees and two-year master’s degrees.Do not submit your only original transcript certificate, and/or diploma! The MSU Office of Admissions does NOT return any documents received in Central Admissions.
  1. Three (3) letters of recommendation.
  2. Official Graduate Record of Examination (GRE) Scores. Please request that ETS send your scores to MSU electronically. MSU code is 1465 and there is no subject code for Packaging; use the code for “other.”
  3. Admission is contingent on acceptance of the applicant by a faculty member willing to serve as the applicant’s major professor. Applicants are encouraged to correspond with faculty working in their areas of interest who they would like to have as their major professor, to let faculty know of their interest and qualifications. Acceptance by a major professor does not guarantee admission or funding. Go to for a list of faculty and their information.

    IN ADDITION to the above, international applicants must also provide:

  4. Statement of Financial Proof (Affidavit of Support)
  5. English-Language Scores - International students must take an English competency test (TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo, etc.) and have their scores sent by the testing agency to MSU Admissions. Test scores are valid up to 2 years prior to the start of the enrollment semester. For detailed information, go to

    The English-Language requirement is automatically waived if: 
    a. the applicant has been awarded a Bachelor's degree earned in the U.S.
    b. the applicant has been awarded a Master's degree earned at an AAU Institution on a U.S. Campus. For a  list of AAU members, go to of Support 

Important Links and Forms

For Advising and Information regarding the PhD program, contact:

Dr. Maria Rubino
Graduate Advisor and Professor
The School of Packaging
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1223
Telephone: 517-355-0172
Fax (517) 353-8999

For more information regarding the application process, contact:

Susan Barnaby
Graduate Secretary
The School of Packaging
Telephone: 517-884-9566