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Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology (Plant Breeding)

Key facts

  • Available at Manawatū
  • Not all listed subject course options are on offer every year
  • Available for international students studying in NZ
  • Some courses are offered in block mode.

Be in demand

There is a shortage of applied plant breeders in New Zealand and overseas - you will be in demand in the industry. Many graduates have employment before they graduate.

Find out more about the Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology parent structure.

What is it like?

When you study the Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology (Plant Breeding) at Massey University you will become a member of a significant international scientific community responsible for global food security.

This plant breeding major is a unique qualification in New Zealand. This course will provide you with training in quantitative genetics & applied plant breeding methods, multisite experimental design, data analysis & interpretation, application of molecular tools in plant breeding and visits to field programs & interaction with applied plant breeders.

Take advantage of our globally renowned expertise

This course will be taught by highly skilled internationally recognised and active researchers with expertise in; plant genetic resources, quantitative genetics, applied plant breeding, plant molecular biology, evolutionary biology, systematics and taxonomy and plant physiology. During the course of your studies you will visit applied field programs and learn from practicing scientists and experienced field breeders.

A multi-disciplinary approach

The modern plant breeder is one who has not only to have a good understanding of genetics and plant breeding methods, but also know how to apply new tools such as molecular marker technologies and also interact with other significant disciplines such as agronomy, plant protection, plant physiology. This is why our course takes a multi-disciplinary approach. The students are taught the importance of a team approach to plant breeding. They are also given a global prospective of the significance of the international plant breeding community responsible for food security of the human population.

World-class equipment and facilities

As a plant breeding student you will have access to Massey’s world-leading equipment and facilities such as our extensive glasshouses and farms, molecule labs, the Dame Ella Campbell Herbarium, the Palynology Laboratory, Plant Growth Unit, Seed Testing Services, Massey Genome Service and the Manawatu Microscopy and Imaging Centre.

Relevant and topical

We work to ensure that our teaching fits with the changing environment, which means that you will emerge with a relevant qualification valued by potential employers.

During the course of your study you will get the opportunity to visit and work with organisations working on plant breeding, like the AgResearch Grasslands Research Centre, Plant & Food and SCION. Some of our students are able to conduct their projects at these organisations whilst undertaking their postgraduate study, benefiting their career and gaining real-word experience in the process. Masters and PhD students from Massey are often co-supervised by experienced scientists from these organisations, most of which are physically located very close to Massey’s Manawatu campus.

Why postgraduate study?

Postgraduate study is hard work but hugely rewarding and empowering. The Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology will push you to produce your best creative, strategic and theoretical ideas. The workload replicates the high-pressure environment of senior workplace roles.

Not just more of the same

Postgraduate study is not just ‘more of the same’ undergraduate study. Our experts are there to guide but if you have come from undergraduate study, you will find that postgraduate study demands more in-depth and independent study. It takes you to a new level in knowledge and expertise especially in planning, undertaking research, improving scientific skills and also presenting scientific information to an audience.

Complete in 1 year

This qualification shares many aspects of the Master of Science (Plant Breeding) qualification. However, this is a shorter qualification (can be completed in a year) and you will not undertake a research project. If you successfully complete this PGDipSc you can conduct a 120 credit thesis to achieve your MSc qualification. To progress to a PhD, you need to successfully complete a Bachelor of Honours or a MSc qualification.

A good fit if you:

  • Have an undergraduate degree in either plant science or related fields like genetics, agronomy or general agriculture
  • Would like to progress to a master’s qualification
  • Would like a career in plant sciences that involves applied field research and the application of molecular tools
  • Would like to work together with the seed industry and farmers
  • Would like to join an international group of professionals focused on global food production


You will gain the skills to work as a commercial applied plant breeder, work as a research scientist, continue into a PhD programme or work as an agronomist or agricultural advisor.

Highly sought after

Globally there is a shortage of plant breeders, so you will be in demand.

Earn more

A 2017 Ministry of Education publication The post-study earnings and destinations of young domestic graduates, found that in New Zealand earnings and employment rates increase with the level of qualification completed

World-leading lecturers and supervisors

The researchers involved in this programme are internationally renowned for their research and teaching and learning methods. You will be working with recognised plant breeding specialists, for example:

Associate Professor Zulfi Jahufer

Dr Jahufer has over 30 years experience in research and development in quantitative genetics & plant breeding. He has worked on projects in Europe, Australasia and Vietnam.

A key focus of his research has been studying the underlying genetics of plant persistence under moisture stress, a significant problem associated with climate change and the agricultural footprint.

In 2012 he received a Royal Society of New Zealand Senior Scholar Award for his work, and visited Lanzhou University in China, where he is now responsible for an annual three-week course in statistics and plant breeding.

Dr Jahufer is widely published in key journals including Crop Science, Field Crops Research, Euphytica, PLOS ONE and the Journal of Applied Seed Production. He is an associate editor of the PLOS ONE journal and the New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research.

As well as leading Massey’s plant breeding programme Zulfi is a senior research scientist at AgResearch Grasslands in quantitative genetics and forage breeding, where he plays a key role in integrating new molecular tools into conventional breeding strategies to improve the rate of genetic gain.

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