5 Best Master’s in Plastics Engineering in 2024

Written by Grad School Center Team We are a passionate team of experienced educators and advisors at GradSchoolCenter.com, dedicated to guiding students through their graduate education journey. Our experts, with advanced degrees across various disciplines, offer personalized advice, up-to-date program information, and practical insights into application processes.

Reviewed by David Krug David Krug is a seasoned expert with 20 years in educational technology (EdTech). His career spans the pivotal years of technology integration in education, where he has played a key role in advancing student-centric learning solutions. David's expertise lies in marrying technological innovation with pedagogical effectiveness, making him a valuable asset in transforming educational experiences. As an advisor for enrollment startups, David provides strategic guidance, helping these companies navigate the complexities of the education sector. His insights are crucial in developing impactful and sustainable enrollment strategies.

Updated: April 15, 2024, Reading time: 6 minutes

engineering student testing plastic molding machines

Find your perfect college degree

Grad School Center 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.

Plastics are necessary in today’s world. Among many other everyday products, it is used in toys, cars, packaging, home appliances, medical equipment, and electronics. Behind the scenes of these everyday items lies a complex world of Plastics Engineering, where scientists and engineers work tirelessly to innovate and improve materials, processes, and applications.

A Master’s in Plastics Engineering is a rare program usually covered in other major engineering areas like Materials Engineering and Polymer Science. This degree program offers advanced knowledge and skills in everything from revolutionizing product design to addressing environmental concerns. It also empowers you to develop and implement transformative Engineering initiatives in various sectors, including the automotive and healthcare industries.

engineer evaluating plastic components

Let’s take a look at the five best master’s programs in Plastics Engineering and what they have to offer:

SchoolProgramTuitionAcceptance RateStandout Program feature/sAvailable Online?
University of Massachusetts LowellMaster of Science in Engineering in Plastics Engineering$600 per credit hour85%– Affordable tuition
– Offers various graduate certificates
University of Wisconsin – MadisonMaster of Engineering in Engineering: Polymer Engineering$1,300 per credit hour29%– Access to the Polymer Engineering Center
– Can be completed 100% online
Pittsburg State UniversityMaster of Engineering Technology: Plastics Technical Emphasis$393 per credit hour94%Offers Thesis-based and Coursework-only pathwaysYES
Lehigh UniversityMaster’s in Polymer Science and Engineering$61,180 per year49.5%Majority of the faculty are active in various polymer science and engineering research initiativesNO
University of AkronMaster of Science in Polymer Engineering$462.50 per credit hour83%Houses the National Polymer Innovation Center (NPIC), one of the largest research centers in the fieldNO
Grad School Center 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.

5 Best Master’s in Plastics Engineering

University of Massachusetts Lowell

Lowell, MA

Master of Science in Engineering in Plastics Engineering

Tuition$600 per credit hour
Credit Hours36

The University of Massachusetts Lowell offers an advanced and research-based MS in Engineering program with a Plastics Engineering focus. This affordable 12-course graduate program in plastics education combines online learning with hands-on experience in state-of-the-art laboratories for career advancement and unique networking opportunities.

The curriculum helps you gain in-depth knowledge of polymeric material systems, engineering, and thermoplastics. Upon graduation, you’ll be familiarized with common plastics manufacturing processes, screw design, and processing parameters, preparing you to lead engineering practices.

One of the main features of this online Master’s in Plastics Engineering program is its versatility. You can pursue graduate certificates that go with the program and your interests. Here are some of the graduate certificates you can pursue:

University of Wisconsin – Madison

Madison, WI

Master of Engineering in Engineering: Polymer Engineering

Tuition$1,300 per credit hour
Credit Hours30

The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers a rigorous and competitive MEng in Polymer Engineering with a curriculum focused on addressing today’s plastic challenges. The program covers traditional plastics and specialty polymers, which have growing applications in biomedical, pharmaceutical, electronics, and nanotechnology.

This program is best for students who have full-time work because it can be completed 100% online. Despite its online format, you’ll learn from the same on-campus faculty and have the same opportunities as traditional students, including financial aid and access to the Polymer Engineering Center

Some of the required courses in this online program include Polymer Characterization, Engineering Design with Polymers, and Transport Phenomena in Polymer Processing. Students can customize their learning by choosing electives with the guidance of academic advisors.

Pittsburg State University

Pittsburg, KS

Master of Engineering Technology: Plastics Technical Emphasis

Tuition$393 per credit hour
Credit Hours33

Pittsburg State’s Master of Engineering Technology offers a specialized Plastics Technical emphasis where students delve into the intricacies of Plastics Engineering and the newest field technologies. It is intended for students seeking a terminal degree in Plastics Engineering. 

There are two options to earn the degree: a Thesis-based and a Course-based pathway. The thesis option prepares students for doctoral programs, while the course-based option focuses on practical skills for plastics industry careers without a research-intensive thesis component

Regardless of which path you choose to complete the master’s degree, you’ll delve into topics such as Composite Materials and Testing and Design of Experiments. Even if you are an online student, you’ll gain access to various networking events on campus. 

Lehigh University

Bethlehem, PA

Master’s in Polymer Science and Engineering

Tuition$61,180 per year
Credit Hours30

Lehigh University’s Master in Polymer Science and Engineering is an on-campus program designed for students seeking a research-intensive program (MS). It also offers a practical pathway (MEng). 

Qualified MS students will have access to collaborative research projects relevant to Plastics Engineering, including chemical engineering, materials science, and mechanical engineering. On the other hand, MEng students will have various opportunities for practical learning experiences, including internships and portfolio development. 

Lehigh’s polymer science and engineering faculty is known for their expertise and active research initiatives in various areas. The majority of its professors are engaged in emulsion polymerization, kinetics, latex surface properties, micromolding, and optoelectronics, among other initiatives. 

University of Akron

  Akron, OH

Master of Science in Polymer Engineering

Tuition$462.50 per credit hour
Credit Hours30

The University of Akron’s MS in Polymer Engineering is known for guiding students through study and research under faculty supervision. Advanced program courses include Rheology of Polymer Fluids, Polymer Chemistry, and Thermodynamics. 

In addition to its intensive curriculum, students will have access to one of the US’s largest polymer research and teaching centers, the National Polymer Innovation Center (NPIC). The school also offers a strong faculty dedicated to cutting-edge research, 21st-century education, and an accelerated pathway to graduation.

Although it is one of the best master’s degrees in Plastics Engineering in terms of academics, it may not be the best option for those seeking funding. 

Plastics engineer testing plastic injection molds

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Plastics Engineering? 

Plastics Engineering is among the rarest standalone programs in Engineering. It’s often under the umbrella of Engineering Technology and Chemical Engineering programs or Polymer Engineering. 

Plastics Engineering involves designing, developing, processing, and manufacturing plastic products. It involves disciplines like Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Polymer Science to create useful products. 

What do Plastics Engineers do?

Plastic engineers collaborate with clients from design to manufacturing to create efficient, cost-effective products while maintaining necessary properties and functionality. While specific job description will vary by position, the most common duties may include: 

How much do Plastics Engineers make?

The average annual salary of plastics engineers greatly varies on several factors. This includes industry, position, educational background, and geographical location. However, it is known that those who have completed a master’s degree will earn more than those with only a bachelor’s degree.

According to Zip Recruiter, the highest-paid plastics engineers are found in California, with salaries ranging from 81K to 104K. The national average annual salary of these engineers is $65,265.

Additional Resources:

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.