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Plant Breeding & Genetics concentration

See also: Course requirements for pbg concentration


Plant Breeding and Genetics students are passionate about improving current/creating new plant varieties to address growing concerns of food security, climate change, biofuels, and sustainability. By doing applied course work in classes, greenhouses, the field, and in labs, students gain experience and research opportunities as they work towards their degree. This, along with making amazing connections with teachers and researchers who are the leaders in their field, gives students in the plant breeding and genetics concentration a solid foundation to pursue higher education and career opportunities. These career opportunities span not just the private industry or public government/university sectors, but the option to work on a local, federal, or international level. Plant breeders have the unique opportunity to work anywhere in the world to help change the world for the better, one plant at a time.

“Plant breeders have the altruistic and lofty goal of changing the world for the better…Thing is, they can--and do!” –Dr. Jeff Doyle

Career Paths:

  • Academia: Research in the lab or the field (mostly field-based) and professorship
  • Biofuels: Creating carbon neutral fuel sources
  • Nutrition: Improving the nutrition of crops for food security and sustainability
  • Medicine: Creating new and improved resources for pharmaceuticals and natural medicine
  • Textiles: Improving crops used in textiles to be more sustainable, higher yielding, and higher quality
  • Agriculture: Address food security and sustainability worldwide, especially in developing countries, in either public or private sectors
  • Horticulture: Improving urban environments, creating beautiful ornamentals, and working with botanical gardens and arboreta
  • Pest/Disease Management: Studying diseases and pests to address growing resistance worldwide and improve crops’ resistance to either

Post-graduate Income Expectations:

Varies greatly based on location and position, $50k-$90k. Some experienced breeders in the industry can make up to six figures!

Education Required Beyond Undergraduate:

If you want to be a plant breeder or geneticist, you need to get a Masters or PhD. However, a B.S. in Plant Breeding and Genetics is a fantastic foundation for many different science fields (including medicine!) since students will gain a broad training in genetics, improved critical thinking skills, field work, experience, and research opportunities by the time they graduate.

Job Prospects:

Job prospects are looking good, especially with growing concerns about food security, climate change, sustainability, and agriculture/horticulture improvement.

What is innovative today:

  • Biofuels: Breeding willows to be carbon neutral sources of energy/fuel
  • Enhanced Nutrition: Farmers are now being able to grow crops with higher protein and nutrients to help address malnutrition
  • Food Quality: Creating more stable/longer shelf life crops
  • Genetic Engineering: Improvements in plant engineering to reduce breeding time and create needed plants on a greatly reduced timeline