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MSc Plant Sciences

Course Description

MSc Plant Sciences

The Plant Sciences programme has been designed to help meet the worldwide demand for scientific expertise in the development of plant and crop production and farming systems.

Programme summary

Plant Sciences deals with crop production ranging from plant breeding to the development of sustainable systems for the production of food, pharmaceuticals and renewable resources. It is linked with a professional sector that is highly important to the world economy. The programme focuses on the principles of plant breeding, agro-ecology and plant pathology and the integration of these disciplines to provide healthy plants for food and non-food applications. Technological aspects of crop production are combined with environmental, quality, socio-economic and logistic aspects. Students learn to apply their knowledge to develop integrated approaches for sustainable plant production.


Crop Science
Sound knowledge of crop science is essential to develop appropriate cultivation methods for a reliable supply of safe, healthy food; while considering nature conservation and biodiversity. An integrated approach is crucial to studying plant production at various levels (plant, crop, farm, region). This requires a sound understanding of basic physical, chemical, and physiological aspects of crop growth. Modelling and simulation are used to analyse yield constraints and to improve production efficiency.

Greenhouse Horticulture
Greenhouse horticulture is a unique agro-system and a key economic sector in the Netherlands. It is the only system that allows significant control of (a-) biotic factors through protected cultivation. The advances in this field are based on technological innovations. This specialisation combines product quality with quality of production and focuses on production, quality- and chain management of vegetables, cut flowers and potted plants.

Natural Resource Management
The development of sustainable agro-ecosystems requires understanding of the complex relationships between soil health, cultivation practices and nutrient kinetics. Other important aspects include the interactions between agriculture and nature, and competing claims on productive land worldwide. Natural Resource Management provides knowledge and tools to understand the interactions between the biotic and abiotic factors in agro-systems to facilitate diverse agricultural demands: bulk vs. pharmaceutical products, food vs. biofuel, conservation of biodiversity, climate change, and eco-tourism.

Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources
Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources ranges from the molecular to the population level and requires knowledge of the physiology and genetics of cultivated plants. Plant breeding is crucial in the development of varieties that meet current demands regarding yield, disease resistance, quality and sustainable production. The use of molecular techniques adds to the rapid identification of genes for natural resistance and is essential for accelerating selection by marker assisted breeding.

Complete Online Master
In September 2015, Wageningen University started the specialisation "Plant Breeding" as the first complete online Master of Science. For more information go to http://www.wageningenuniversity.eu/onlinemaster.

Plant Pathology and Entomology
The investments made in crop production need to be protected from losses caused by biotic stress. Integrated pest management provides protection by integrating genetic resistance, cultivation practices and biological control. This specialisation focuses on the ecology of insects, nematodes and weeds, and the epidemiology of fungi and viruses, including transmission mechanisms. Knowledge of plantinsect, plant-pathogen, and crop-weed relations establishes the basis for studies in integrated pest management and resistance breeding.

Your future career

Graduates in Plant Sciences have excellent career prospects and most of them receive job offers before graduation. They are university-trained professionals who are able to contribute to the sustainable development of plant production at various integration levels based on their knowledge of fundamental and applied plant sciences and their interdisciplinary approach. Graduates with a research focus are employed at universities, research institutes and plant breeding or agribusiness companies. Other job opportunities are in management, policy, consultancy and communication in agribusiness and (non-) governmental organisations.

Alumnus Maarten Rouwet.
“I was born in Germany and raised in the East of the Netherlands. After high school I applied for the Bèta-gamma bachelor at the University of Amsterdam where I majored in biology. After visiting the master open day at Wageningen University I knew that the master Plant Sciences had something unique to offer. In my master, I specialised in plant breeding, an ever so interesting field of research. I just started my first job as junior biotech breeder of leavy vegetables at Enza Zaden, a breeding company in Enkhuizen. One of my responsibilities is to identify resistances in wild species of lettuce and to implement these in breeding programmes of cultivated lettuce.”

Related programmes:
MSc Biosystems Engineering
MSc Biotechnology
MSc Biology
MSc Forest and Nature Conservation
MSc Organic Agriculture
MSc Plant Biotechnology.

Visit the MSc Plant Sciences page on the Wageningen University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Enrolment in a MSc Programme at Wageningen University requires: A BSc degree (or equivalent) in a field of science relevant to your selected programme +A Grade Point Average (GPA) for this BSc of at least 70% of the maximum grade +Fluency in English, both written and spoken +Good skills in mathematics and/or statistics + Basic computer skills (Microsoft Office: Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook; use and structure of the Internet; RSI-prevention)

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