Virginia Tech® home

For students interested in graphic design

Picture of graphics

Picture of graphics

Are you interested in designing attractive and efficient packaging?

In the Virginia Tech Packaging Systems and Design program, you have the opportunity to learn about packaging design and put it into practice. Packaging design is classified into two main categories: structural and graphical design. Both areas are pillars in the knowledge of packaging designers. In the Packaging major, students will learn about a series of design software programs, such as Computer-Aided Design in Packaging (ArtiosCAD), Adobe Illustrator, and Photoshop. During their time in school, students will learn how to apply their design skillset, learned from courses, through working on class projects and/or student design competitions. Course projects are hands-on experiences focused on solving industrial packaging problems and are often sponsored by major packaging companies. Furthermore, student teams from the VT packaging program have won national student design competitions in the last a few years.

As a packaging designer, you will work alongside the product development process and will be the leader in packaging design projects. Packaging design entails decision making such as selecting the most appropriate materials and deciding on which graphical elements to use. Packaging designers can also work as structural packaging designers, focusing on the creation of innovative and effective packaging solutions, or they can work in the artwork development side as graphical designers. Structural packaging requires drawing and engineering skills as well as vast understanding of the materials, the products, and the processes. A graphic designer in packaging must work with their marketing teams to create attractive solutions that sell to pursue as your career, in the Packaging program at Virginia Tech, you will learn about the whole system in which packaging interacts. 

Three plastic bottles

Three plastic bottles

A typical day for a professional packaging designer includes extensive problem solving, using computer-aided design to develop or optimize packaging components, creating prototypes of solutions, and testing their efficacy.  A packaging designer is a hands-on professional whose skillset merges material science, graphic design, and engineering knowledge. As a student in the Packaging major at Virginia Tech, you will learn about all of these areas and work on multiple, large-scale projects to build a multidisciplinary portfolio throughout your stay in the program.

Professionals in the packaging field are commonly hired as packaging designers, packaging engineers, packaging scientists, and others. Students who have an interest in packaging design work for companies such as Newell Brands, PepsiCo, Unilever, Procter & Gamble or any other company who manufactures or uses packaging for their products. Their jobs focus on creating packaging that sells, as well as protects, the product and on doing it in a cost effective and sustainable manner.

Starting salaries range from $65K-$85K based on a recent alumni survey.

Transfer Credits:

The Packaging Systems and Design degree offers a lot of flexibility to transfer students to tailor their education and also to allow them to graduate on time. Our 32 free elective credits allow you to transfer classes that you already took and count it towards your graduation progress. This allows many students to graduate on time even after changing their major.

Example courses:

  • SBIO 2104 – Principles of Packaging
  • SBIO 2004 – Computer-Aided Design in Packaging
  • SBIO 2214 – Design Fundamentals of Packaging
  • SBIO 3104 – Packaging Design Applications
  • SBIO 4054 – Packaging Systems Design Practicum

Download the flyer

To learn more about the PSD degree:

Meet with our professional advisor to learn about the degree requirement and transfer credits.

If you would like to learn more about the Packaging Systems and Design degree, contact our academic advising center.

Dana McGuire

Dana McGuire

Dana McGuire

Academic Advisor, Sustainable Biomaterials and Assistant Director of Academic Advising
Dana McGuire 
138 Cheatham Hall