Online Program with a Two-Week, On-Campus Residency


Master of Science in Plastics Engineering

Take your career to the next level with UMass Lowell's online Master's in Plastics Engineering. You'll gain in-depth experience in plastics materials, design and manufacturing to boost your professional opportunities.

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Next Start Date: September 6

Online Master of Science in Plastics Engineering

Pursue your master's degree online with one of the most respected plastics engineering programs in the world. UMass Lowell is an internationally recognized leader in plastics education, and this 12-course graduate program will provide you with the cutting-edge skills to advance your career in the plastics industry.

While the courses are delivered online, this program provides valuable hands-on experience at UMass Lowell's state-of-the-art laboratories through an immersive two-week on-campus residency. The knowledge and experience you will acquire in this two-week, on-campus session will prepare you for career advancement, and offer you unique mentoring and networking opportunities. This is the only program currently available in the United States in this discipline in this innovative format.

"UMass Lowell is among the nation's leading centers for plastics technology, and its Plastics Engineering helping to push new boundaries of how these versatile materials are used, produced and processed."
— The Boston Globe

Career Outlook

Jobs (2022)
% Change (2022-2023)
Median Earnings
Annual Openings
Source: Lightcast (2023) Target Occupations in New England

Key Takeaways

  • Gain an understanding of polymeric material systems, commodity, engineering, biodegradable and high-performance thermoplastics.
  • Learn common plastics manufacturing processes, including extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, thermoforming and rotational molding.
  • Discover the impacts of screw design and processing parameters on the conveyance, melting, devolatilization and mixing with single screws and compounding with twin screw extruders.
  • Prepare to lead the engineering practices associated with developing new plastic products.

Gain In-Demand Skills in Our State-of-the-Art Laboratories

Built into the online M.S. in Plastics Engineering program is a two-week, hands-on session at UMass Lowell's state-of-the-art laboratories where you will gain experience with the latest equipment in the industry. Our modern laboratories are sponsored by top companies in the plastics field and cover all areas of plastics manufacturing, design and materials including injection molding, extrusions, blow molding, process simulation, mold design and more. These cutting-edge labs are a reflection of UMass Lowell's long established leadership position in the field. In fact, UMass Lowell was the first in the nation to offer an accredited undergraduate program in Plastics Engineering in the United States.

Top Companies Hiring UMass Lowell Plastics Graduates

  • 3M
  • Apple
  • Boeing
  • Boston Scientific
  • DePuy
  • Freudenberg Nok
  • GE Appliances
  • GM
  • Honda
  • Keurig
  • Medtronic
  • Oakley
  • Polartec
  • PolyOne
  • Sterilite
  • Tesla
  • U.S. Army
  • And many more
From Our Faculty

"I get contacted almost weekly from companies in the plastics industry looking for UMass Lowell graduates to fill job openings. Our graduates are in high demand because of the quality of our program. We provide students with the theoretical foundations as well as hands-on experience. Employers know UMass Lowell graduates are ready to hit the ground running."

Amy Peterson, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Amy Peterson

Amy Peterson

One Success Leads to Another

Apply credits from lower credentials to higher ones. Our programs are designed to build upon themselves:

UMass Lowell offers several graduate certificate programs that can be counted towards UMass Lowell's Master of Science in Plastics Engineering.

Curriculum Outline

- Total Courses Required: 12 (33 credits)

Core Requirements (7 Courses / 18cr)

Electives (5 Courses / 15cr)

Select any five electives below:

Please note:
Up to two elective courses from other engineering departments may be substituted if approved by the graduate coordinator.
This M.S.E. in Plastics Engineering is a non-thesis curriculum track.
*PLAS.5731L is a 1-credit lab course with 6 contact hours that runs for 2 weeks on campus in the summer. Tuition for this course is calculated by multiplying the total number of contact hours by the current per credit tuition rate.

Special Notes

For students who have a B.S. in Plastics Engineering from UMass Lowell with a grade of B or higher in specific courses:

  • Students who have a B or higher in Polymer Materials I (PLAS.2010) and Polymer Materials II (PLAS.2020) are not required to take Advanced Plastics Materials (PLAS.5440). These students, however, must still meet the 33-course credit hour program requirement by substituting other Plastics Engineering graduate courses.
  • Students who received a grade of B or higher in Plastics Process Engineering I (PLAS.3770) and Plastics Process Engineering II (PLAS.3780) are not required to take Advanced Plastic Materials (PLAS.5780). These students, however, must still meet the 33-course credit hour program requirement by substituting other Plastics Engineering graduate courses.

For students who have a B.S. in Plastics Engineering from UMass Lowell or equivalent program:

  • Students may elect to test out of Advanced Plastics Materials (PLAS.5440) and Advanced Plastics Processing (PLAS.5780). These students, however, must still meet the 33-course credit hour program requirement by substituting other Plastics Engineering graduate courses.

Course Descriptions

Topics covered in this course include linear viscoelasticity, creep, stress relaxation, dynamic behavior, hysteresis, stress-strain response phenomena, principles of time-temperature superposition, rubber elasticity, failure and fracture mechanisms for polymers, and the effect of additives on mechanical behavior. Real life design examples are used to demonstrate the topics and concepts as much as possible. 3 credits.

Pre-Reqs: MECH.2110 Engin. Mechanics, MECH.2150 Plastics Process Engin. Lab I, MATH.2340 Diff Eq.s or MATH.2360 Engin. Diff Eq. or Grad. career students. (Pre-reqs are enforced only for undergrad plastics engineering students).

Relationships between polymer structure (chemical composition, molecular weight and flexibility, intermolecular order and bonding, supermolecular structure) and practical properties (processability, mechanical, acoustic, thermal, electrical, optical, and chemical) and applications. 3 credits.

26.202 pre-re or Grad Career.

This course covers the fundamentals of polymer foaming, processing methods, recent technologies, foam characteristics, and applications. Fundamentals cover the cell nucleation and growth mechanisms in foaming and the role of thermodynamics and kinetics. Batch foaming, extrusion foaming, foam injection molding, and bead foaming are discussed as the common processing methods. The characteristics and performance of polymeric foams, process-structure-property relationships, and the relevant applications in various industries also are presented. 3 credits.
This course reviews the theoretical principles and the engineering practice associated with the development of new plastic products. The course focuses on design practices for products that will be produced by conventional and advanced injection molding processes. Topics include design methodology, plastic materials selection, design for manufacturing, computer aided engineering, mechanical behavior of plastics, structural design of plastic parts, prototyping techniques, experimental stress analysis, and assembly techniques for plastic parts. 3 credits.

26.211 Engineering Mechanics, 26.218 Introduction to Design or Graduate career students. (Pre-requisites are enforced only for undergraduate plastics engineering students).

Adhesive joining of engineering materials. Surface chemistry, theories of adhesion and cohesion, joint design, surface preparation, commercial adhesives, Rheology, equipment, testing, service life, and reliability. 3 credits.
This course reviews the basic principles of design and formulation of water-borne, high-solids and powder resins used for the development of solvent-less "green" coatings and the use of bio-derived resins, mostly based on soybean oil and other renewable raw materials. The mechanisms and methods of curing and of polymerization for polymers used as coatings will also be covered. The basic principles of formulation of coatings will be introduced. Permission of instructor for Plastics Engineering Undergraduates seeking to take course as technical elective. 3 credits.
Polymerization and compounding of the commercial elastomers. Properties and test methods.Leading applications and methods of processing. 3 credits.
Business legal issues engineers encounter in practice, including contractual, products liability, and intellectual property issues. Business torts relating to product design, manufacturing and inadequate warning defects. Unreasonably dangerous products and strict liability. 3 credits.
This course reviews the historical developments of polymeric material systems, commodity, engineering, biodegradable, and high performance thermoplastics. Topics include their synthesis, structure, properties, and applications and there is also an overview of typical additives that are used to modify the properties of plastics. Knowledge of general and/or organic chemistry is recommended as a prerequisite for this course. . 3 credits.

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

This course covers the basics of elastomer processing. Topics include mixing, Rheology, extrusion, injection molding, compressing molding, and curing as it applies to elastomers. 3 credits.
A systematic approach to inventing new medical devices. The class details the process of validating medical needs including market assessment and the evaluation of existing technologies; basics of regulatory (FDA) and reimbursement planning; brainstorming and early prototyping for concept creation. Course format includes expert guest lecturers and interactive practical discussions with faculty. Students will prepare a medical device proposal and presentation. 3 credits.
Critical analysis of current methods of medical device manufacturing, focusing on processing and performance considerations. Includes discussion of different production methods, material selection considerations, biocompatibility, leachables and extractables, device sterilization, and sterile packaging. 3 credits.
This course provides graduate students hands-on experience with plastics processing and characterization techniques. Students formed parts of products using multiple extrusion processes, injection molding, blow molding, and thermoforming. These products then are characterized for their mechanical, thermal, and other characteristics using standard test methods. This is the first in a series of two courses that, combined, cover the same content as PLAS.5730 Graduate Polymer Laboratory. In this course, students fulfill the hands-on experience portion on an accelerated manner. 1 credits.

Anti-req: PLAS.5730.

This course provides graduate students experience with reporting results from laboratory processing and characterization in a professional manner. This is the second in a series of two course that, combined, cover the same content as PLAS.5730 graduate Polymer Laboratory. In this course, students take the data collected in the first part of this series and create written reports of the results. 2 credits.

PLAS.5731L Graduate Polymer Laboratory I, and Co-req: PLAS.0010 Safety Lecture, and Anit-req: PLAS.5730 Graduate Polymer Lab.

A comprehensive study of the history, current and future rents within biomedical devices and their applications. Students will be introduced to research techniques used to analyze the different classes of biomaterials. An overview of typical host reactions such as inflammatory response and their evaluation will be touched upon. 3 credits.
This course provides an integrated approach to mold engineering which includes the interrelationships of polymeric materials, engineering principles, processing, and plastics product design. Major topics include cost estimation, mold layout and feed system design, cooling systems, structural design considerations, and ejector system design. Analytical treatment of the subject matter is given based on the relevant rheology, thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid flow and strength of materials. 3 credits.

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

This course reviews the common plastics manufacturing processes, including extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, thermoforming, and rotational molding. After the review, the course focus shifts to the impacts of screw design and processing parameters on the conveyance, melting, devolatilization, and mixing with single screws and compounding with twin screw extruders. This course also includes an overview of die designs, multi-shot and gas assist injection molding, film stretching and methods for heating and cooling in plastics processing. 3 credits.
A comprehensive review of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) technology. Physical and chemical nature of the various classes of TPE's will be considered with emphasis on mechanical and rheological properties relevant to engineering applications. 3 credits.
This course investigates the waste management solutions for different types of plastics. Both traditional and emerging recycling methods will be highlighted. Accumulation of plastic waste in the natural environment and the toxicology of plastics as well as their additives will be discussed, Further, analysis methods and instrumentation to characterize recycled plastics, and the differences in virgin polymers and recycled polymers will be introduced. Potential degradable, biodegradable or biobased alternatives will be reviewed along with the concepts of life cycle assessment and Green Chemistry for designing the most sustainable plastic materials. 3 credits.
Survey of the rapidly expanding technology field of rapid prototyping. Technologies to be considered include stereolithography, laminated object manufacturing, selective laser sintering, fused deposition modeling, and solid ground curing. 3 credits.
The course provides guidance about plastics manufacturing as an integrated system with broadly applicable analysis in three areas: 1) machinery, 2) controls, and 3) operations. The machinery topics include heating/cooling, hydraulics/pneumatics, electric drives, and sensors. The controls topics include signal conditioning, data acquisition, machine controllers, and related control laws. The operations topics include process characterization, process optimization, quality control, and automation. The course is developed to support plastics processing engineers and others involved with plastics manufacturing who are performing process development, research, and machine design. 3 credits.
A comprehensive approach to all elements of Color Technology focused on needs for future plastics engineers. The course includes theory of color vision, instrumental color measurement and tolerancing, chemistry and processes of commercial dyes and pigments, their testing in polymers, failure modes and elements of industrial color matching. Special attention will be given to weatherability of color formulations. 3 credits.
This course explores advanced concepts and new developments in polymer manufacturing. It is designed for students with prior courses and/or experience in polymer processing. 3 credits.

Program Requirements

To be recommended for a University of Massachusetts Lowell master's degree, candidates must satisfy all of the general requirements below, plus any additional requirements that may be required by the department through which the program is offered. Any additional requirements for this program are either listed below or may be found in the University's Graduate Program Catalog.

General Requirements:

  • Students must complete the program of study designed by the Department in which they are enrolled and approved by the University.
  • Satisfactory grades in all subjects offered for the degree must be earned. See Academic Standing.
  • All financial obligations, including tuition, fees and expenses, must be satisfied as evidenced by completion.
  • Upon completion of all their courses, graduate degree candidates must submit a signed Declaration of Intent to Graduate (DIG) form to their coordinator. The coordinator will apply them in SIS, Graduation Tracking.

Graduate Program Policies

In applying for a degree program or registering for courses, each student assumes full responsibility for knowledge of and compliance with the definitions, regulations and procedures of UMass Lowell as set forth on our website. For additional information, please refer to the Graduate Program Policies found within the UMass Lowell Graduate Catalog.

Tuition & Fees

Tuition at UMass Lowell is typically half the cost of private colleges, and our online tuition is among the lowest in the nation. Tuition for online programs offered through the Division of Graduate, Online & Professional Studies is the same whether you live in-state, out-of-state or outside of the U.S.

Summer 2023 Tuition

Cost Per Credit Cost Per 3-Credit Course*


Online† $585 $1,755
Online Business** $655 $1,965
Online IT and Engineering*** $600 $1,800
Online Education $470 $1,410
Online Education for Ed.D. and Ph.D.† $495 $1,485
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*If the number of contact hours exceeds the number of credits, tuition is calculated by multiplying by the total number of contact hours.
***Applies to CHEN, CIVE, EECE, ENGN, MECH, PLAS and MSIT courses.
†Rate will increase slightly in Fall 2023

Additional Costs

Term Registration Fee $30
Late Fee $50
Graduate Engineering and Business Degrees and Certificate Applications $75

Please note: Tuition and fees are subject to change.

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Admissions Requirements

  • B.S. in Plastics Engineering or a related engineering or science field
  • Pre-requisite math requirements of Differential Equations

Applying into a Graduate Degree Program

All applicants must submit:
  • An application
  • An application fee
  • A statement of purpose
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • GRE temporarily waived
  • Resume
    Required for certain programs such as the Master's in Business Administration and the Master of Science in Health Informatics and Management

Graduate Program Admissions Requirements

Admission to all graduate programs at UMass Lowell is contingent upon successful completion of a bachelor's degree. In many cases, applicants may register for a course before formally applying to the program; however, students requiring financial aid may want to wait until they have been formally accepted into the program to ensure that their course(s) will be covered. Contact UMass Lowell's Office of Graduate Admissions if you have questions about the application process.

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Questions Regarding Your Graduate Application?

Email or call 800-656-4723 (for U.S. students) or 978-934-2390 (for international students).

For General Assistance:

For general questions about registering for courses or to find out who the advisor is for your graduate program, call 800-480-3190. Our admissions and advising teams are here to help!

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