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Graduate Programs

Packaging Science (MS)

The Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences (FNPS) Program offers areas of study leading to three graduate degrees: Food, Nutrition and Culinary Sciences Master of Science (MS), Packaging Science Master of Science (MS) and Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The PhD and MS (thesis) are research degrees that require a dissertation and thesis, respectively. The MS (non-thesis) is a terminal degree that may be suited for students who will pursue a career in business, education, or other areas that do not require substantial research experience.

  • Specialization & Research Emphasis

    Areas of specialization within FNPS are aligned with those of the major advisor (advisory committee chair). The most common areas of specialization include research topics in:

    • Food Microbiology
    • Food Chemistry
    • Food Product Development
    • Food Engineering
    • Human Nutrition
    • Food Packaging
    • Packaging Materials
    • Packaging Design
    • Packaging Dynamics
    • Packaging Logistics
  • Admission Requirements

    (in addition to Graduate School requirements

    We require that all students have a faculty member agree to act as their major advisor prior to acceptance. For entering MS students, Bachelor of Science in a Food, Nutrition or Packaging related discipline is desirable, but not required. GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores are required for application. Prospective major advisors may petition to waive this requirement. A duly justified request to waive the GRE requirement should be addressed to the Graduate Program Coordinator. Waiver requests from the applicant will not be considered. Students typically complete a MS before moving to a PhD degree program. The FNPS Program does not accept students into the PhD degree program directly from a BS degree.

    Dates and deadlines

    The FNPS Program has rolling admissions, and accepts students for the Spring, Summer and Fall semesters. Applications are considered year-round for all semesters with the final deadline of acceptance prior to the last day to register for classes.

  • Requirements for Degree

    The Plan of Study is tailored to each student’s needs and interests and must be approved by the advisory committee. There are several required core courses in the different programs, but all students are expected to be proficient in experimental design, statistical analysis, and in areas relevant to their research topics. Students may be required to correct deficiencies in their academic background by auditing or by enrolling in supplemental courses.

    Record Keeping
    Students must keep accurate records of experiments, along with data, and analyses. These records should be duplicated regularly and be available for inspection by the advisor or the advisory committee. It is the student’s responsibility to make back-up copies of data and maintain them to avoid loss due to any reason including theft or computer failure. Photographic records should be included as needed. The student must leave these records, including electronic files, with the advisor upon graduation or departure from the program.

    The Graduate School requires a minimum of 30 hours beyond the bachelor’s degree for any Master of Science degree. A minimum of 24 credit hours of non-research coursework and a minimum of six credit hours of thesis research are required for a Master of Science thesis degree. At least one-half of the total graduate credit hours required by the advisory committee, exclusive of thesis research, must be selected from courses numbered 8000 or above.

    MS students are required to register for Seminar (FNPS 8510) for one semester. Seminar taken during the master’s degree does not count toward the two required for the doctoral degree.

    Minimum Degree Requirements

    MS in Packaging Science - Thesis
    Total Credit Hours: 30
    Coursework: 24 credit hours
    Course Required: FNPS 8510
    Thesis Research 8910: 6 credit hours
    Exam Required: Final Oral Thesis Defense

  • Financial Information

    The most common mechanism of support is a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA). Interested students are encouraged to contact prospective advisors regarding GRA availability and eligibility. These assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis directly by the Principal Investigator of each research project.

    Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA) are sometimes available but are much less common than GRAs. In some cases, students may have the opportunity to combine GRA and GTA support.

    Assistantships for master’s students (thesis option) will normally extend for a maximum of two years. The same applies to fellowships awarded to master’s students by the department.

    Assistantships for doctoral students will normally extend for three years beyond the master’s degree. The same applies to fellowships awarded to doctoral students by the department.

    Continuation of assistantships and fellowships is contingent upon satisfactory academic performance (3.0 GPA), satisfactory performance of assigned duties associated with the assistantship/fellowship, as well as funding.

    Applications from students who have not been in communication with their prospective advisor before applying to the FNPS Graduate Program are rarely successful.

    A few fellowships and merit-based scholarships are also available to be awarded on a competitive basis. Prospective advisors should inform interested students of these opportunities as appropriate.


    No Program-specific Fees apply to the FNPS Graduate Program.

  • Job Placement

    The FNPS Program graduates help producers and consumers face critical challenges in areas such as food safety, food quality, food security, nutrition, packaging development. Our graduates are employed by:

    • Colleges and Universities (Research/Teaching/ Extension)
    • Food Companies
    • Consulting Companies
    • USDA-Agricultural Research Service
    • USDA-Inspection Service
    • Packaging Companies
    • Hospital and School Systems
    • Testing Laboratories
  • Contact Information

    Dr. Feng Chen
    Interim Department Chair
    222 Poole Agricultural Center
    Phone: 864-656-1211

    Dr. Paul Dawson
    Graduate Program Coordinator
    226 Life Sciences Facility
    Phone: 864-656-1138

    Ms. Kimberly Collins 
    Administrative Coordinator 
    223 Poole Agricultural Center
    Phone: 864-656-3397

College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences
College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences |