Our Wellington and Manawatū campuses are open, Auckland remains closed at AL4. More information.
A crucial industry
Join the Bachelor of Science (Plant Science) at Massey - the only university in New Zealand where you can study and specialise in the full spectrum of plant science from molecular biology and evolution through to agriculture and horticulture.
- Undergraduate, NZQF Level 7
- 3 year(s) full-time. Available part-time.
- Available for international students studying in NZ
Nearly all life on Earth is ultimately dependent on the primary productivity of plants. The study of plants is a fascinating investigation of the history of life, the natural world and the future of life on Earth.
The Bachelor of Science (Plant Science) will help you understand the crucial biological processes that underpin the very basis of life on Earth. Studying plant science will give you a solid understanding of the fundamental elements of the structure and function of plants, how plants grow and interact with their environment, and how to apply this knowledge in both natural and managed ecosystems.
Our proud record dates back to 1927 when we offered New Zealand’s first degrees in agriculture and horticulture. As a student, you will benefit from our internationally-recognised capability and leadership in this area. Massey has over 50 years’ experience in plant-based sciences and has the largest number of plant scientists of any New Zealand university. We have decades of experience and consistently revise our courses over time to remain strategic for today’s employment opportunities.
Careers and further study
There is a steady demand for plant scientists in New Zealand and abroad. As a plant science graduate, you will have a wide range of career opportunities, including both pure research and applied work. Students often find employment at research institutes - four Crown Research Institutes employ plant scientists (Plant and Food Research, AgResearch, Forest Research (Scion), and Manaaki-Whenua Landcare Research) as do the Department of Conservation and regional authorities.
Related areas of employment include:
- grassland science
- plant breeding
- plant protection
- crop research
- plant conservation
- science management and policy.
A 2017 Ministry of Education publication, The post-study earnings and destinations of young domestic graduates showed that those who complete a qualification in a science, agriculture, technology, computer science, engineering or mathematics field of study have high relative earnings after they complete their study compared to the national median. Earnings can be substantially more than other graduates.
Following the completion of the BSc degree in Plant Science, many students continue into postgraduate study. Postgraduate study options open up more diverse employment opportunities and are usually a route to faster career progression and higher career earnings. Importantly, postgraduate studies in plant science offer the opportunity to carry out independent, cutting-edge research.
New Zealand is a great place to study. Massey University’s reputation is supported by our international rankings, accreditations and associations. We are rated five star plus by the QS World University Rankings.
Massey University has small class sizes, and our lecturers and staff are friendly and approachable.
As an international student, there are entry requirements that will apply to you. We recommend that you apply at least three months before your anticipated start date so your application can be processed in time. There are additional steps you will need to take. These include obtaining a visa and travel bookings if your study is to be in New Zealand.
All students must meet university entrance requirements to be admitted to the University.
There are no specific entry requirements for this programme, outside of university admission regulations. However there is some expected background knowledge.
Expected high school preparation
Knowledge gained in the following NCEA subject (or the equivalent in Cambridge International Examinations, International Baccalaureate, or similar) will give you the expected background knowledge to take this major. However, if you have not studied this subject we have a pathway for you to progress to your major (see below).
- At least 14 credits in NCEA Level 3 Biology
English language requirements
To study this programme you must meet Massey University's English language standards.
To be successful in your studies we recommend that you also have the following NCEA subjects (or equivalent). These will help your study in this major but are not essential.
Knowledge gained in the following NCEA subjects (or equivalent) will help you study in this major but is not essential.
- At least 16 credits in NCEA Level 2 Mathematics from the following list of standards: 91256, 91257, 91258, 91259, 91260, 91261, 91262, 91269
- At least 14 credits in NCEA Level 3 Chemistry
If it’s some time since you have studied Mathematics at school you can find out if you have the required background by taking this maths quiz.
Prior learning, credit and exemptions
For information on prior learning, exemptions and transfer of credit or other questions:
- review the Recognition of Prior Learning regulations
- contact us through the Enquire button on this page.
If you do not have the entry requirements
The following pathways will get you prepared to study this major. If you have not studied NCEA Level 3 Biology (or equivalent) take the following course first:
- 162.103 Introductory Biology
This course is available in the summer semester and will count towards credits in your degree.
If you are unsure whether you have the right background/subjects to study this programme, our tool will help you to figure out what you might need to do before starting your qualification.
English language and foundation courses
If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, we have courses and programmes that may help.
- English Language Proficiency
- Foundation Certificate in Academic English
- Foundation Certificate in Advanced Academic English
- Full Foundation - Certificate in Foundation Studies
If you need to do a course before you start your programme, there may be options for you in Summer School.
Courses and planning
- Core courses – 90 credits
- Major courses – 120 credits
- Electives from the Schedule – 30 credits
- Other electives – 120 credits
Ensure that overall, you have:
- Not more than 165 credits at 100 level
- At least 75 credits at 300 level
You could replace some electives with a minor.
Courses for this specialisation
Planning your programme
If you study full-time, in your first year, you’ll take eight 15-credit courses, making a total of 120 credits.
If you wish to study over two semesters, you should aim for 60 credits per semester. You may be able to take some courses at summer school. Make sure you include courses that are prerequisites for the next level of courses you wish to study.
The first year structure is designed to provide you with a broad knowledge and skill set which will equip you to go on to more advanced courses in the second and third years.
Plant Science has similar first year core courses to several other majors available in the Bachelor of Science, allowing students to change their major before their second year. Note that changing your major may incur an increase in completion time.
Take these in any order:
- 247.113 Science and Sustainability for Science
- 161.111 Applied Statistics or 161.122 Statistics
- 124.103 Biophysical Principles or 160.101 Calculus or 160.102 Algebra or 160.104 Introductory Mathematics for Science or 160.105 Methods of Mathematics
- 120.101 Plant Biology
- 162.101 Cell Biology.
Take these in the order shown:
- one of 123.103 Chemistry for Modern Sciences or 123.104 Chemistry for Biological Systems
- 189.151 Principles of Soil Science
- plus choose one 100 level elective course. This can be from a subject area other than Science.
Students must pass at least 90 credits from the BSc Schedule A, including any compulsory courses, in their first 120 credits of study towards the Bachelor of Science.
200-level courses in the major
Take all four:
- 120.201 Diversity of plants
- 120.217 Plant, Cell and Environment
- 203.210 Genes, Genomes, and Evolution
- 196.205 Ecology and Conservation.
300-level courses in the major
Take all four:
- 120.303 Plant Evolution and Speciation
- 120.305 Comparative Plant Development
- 120.306 Plant Improvement
- 196.319 Plant Biotic Interactions.
Not sure of your major yet?
You can change to any BSc major at the end of your first year. Moving from the first year of plant science to one of the majors below is particularly simple, as the required first year courses are similar. By choosing your courses and electives carefully to cover both majors you could easily swap over at the end of first year. Changing your major may incur an increase in completion time.
- Chemistry (include 123.105; and 160.101 or 160.102 or 160.105 in your first year)
- Earth Science (include 233.105 in your first year)
- Ecology (include 199.103 and 196.101 in your first year)
- Environmental Science (include 233.105 and 196.101 in your first year)
- International Agriculture
- Zoology (include 199.103 and 196.101 in your first year).
Completing a minor is optional. Minors increase the breadth of your degree. They give you extra knowledge, attributes and capabilities.
A minor must be in a different subject from your major.
A Bachelor of Science (Plant Science) with a minor
You may choose a minor from any University undergraduate degree that has recognised minors. If the minor is from another undergraduate degree, the regulations of that programme will apply.
Some BSc minors that are particularly compatible with plant science include those shown below. Timetabling will prioritise these combinations to minimise clashes.
A Plant Science minor (for students who are studying a different degree)
If you are not studying a Bachelor of Science (Plant Science) and wish to complete a Plant Science minor see the BSc regulations for requirements.
Fees and scholarships
Fees and finance
Fees, student loans and free fees scheme
Your tuition fees may be different depending on the courses you choose. Your exact fees will show once you have chosen your courses.
There will also be some compulsory non-tuition fees and for some courses, there may also be charges for things such as study resources, software, trips and contact workshops.
Already know which courses you're going to choose?
If you already know which courses you are going to take, you can use our fees calculator to get an estimate of your fees.
Student loans (StudyLink) and Fees Free scheme
You may be eligible for a student loan to help towards paying your fees.
The New Zealand Government offers fees-free tertiary study for eligible domestic students. Find out more about the scheme and your eligibility on the Fees Free website. To use the site's eligibility checking tool, you will need your National Student Number.
Current and returning Massey students will find their National Student Number on their student homepage.
A good fit if you:
- want a wide variety of career opportunities, ranging from pure research to applied plant science
- are interested in making a significant impact on global issues, including climate change and sustainability.
Accreditations and rankings
Massey is world-ranked and New Zealand’s No 1 university in agriculture according to QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) rankings.
Massey University is ranked by QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) as one of the top 400 universities in the world for biological sciences.
Massey University is ranked No.1 in New Zealand for agricultural science by ShanghaiRanking's Global Ranking of Academic Subjects.
Key information for students
Compare qualifications and academic information across different New Zealand institutions.
Review this important information before you apply for this programme. This gives you full details of the rules and regulations about what you need to study and what you must achieve in order to graduate with this qualification. That includes structure, courses and requirements. These regulations should be read in conjunction with all other Statutes and Regulations of the University including the below.
Applying and enrolling
Applying for the programme
Check you are ready
If you are ready to apply, have a look at our application checklist. It will help you get prepared with what you need. Please also check the entry requirements carefully before you apply.
Choose your programme and click on Apply now
You will apply for the programme using the Apply now button on this page. You’ll also choose your specialisation (major, subject or endorsement) if applicable.
Some programmes have additional requirements such as the submission of a portfolio or CV. Click on Apply now and you will be able to submit those documents as part of the application process.
Receive and accept an Admission Offer of Place
You will receive an Admission Offer of Place when you have been accepted into the programme. You need to accept this before you can enrol in your courses. International students also need to pay their fees at this point.
Enrolling in courses
You’ll then get access to your own student homepage (also known as the student portal). This is where you can enrol in courses. Any updates on your application or enrolments will also be on your student homepage. Make sure you check this regularly.
When you choose courses, ensure you check for any requirements that apply including:
- prerequisites (courses you have to do before the one you are enrolling in)
- corequisites (courses you have to do at the same time as the one you are enrolling in)
- restrictions (courses that you cannot enrol in if you are completing or have completed another identified similar course)
- location – for instance some distance-based courses still have an on-campus element, so double check that the way the course is taught is suitable for your situation.
Each of our courses has its own webpage where you can find this information. You can use our course search to find course pages.
More information on courses is in the ‘Courses for this programme’ section on this page.
You can find information on application due dates and semester dates on the key dates page.
We look forward to welcoming you to Massey!
If you have any questions, contact us through the Enquire button on this page.
What are courses and credits?
What are courses and credits?
Each Massey programme is made up of courses (in some tertiary institutions they are called ‘papers’).
You will have some compulsory courses and some you can choose from.
Each course is worth a certain amount of credits (often 15 credits, but this does vary). You must gain a set number of credits to be able to graduate from this programme.
There may also be some rules about which courses you need to pass to progress to the next year, or stage, of your study (known as progression). There are also courses you must pass to graduate with a specialisation.
- See the ‘Courses for this programme’ section for the list of courses.
- Courses search
Understanding course numbers
The first three digits of our course numbers show you which subject the course is about.
The second three digits show you the level and course ID number. For instance:
- sub-degree courses are '0' (i.e. xxx.0xx)
- undergraduate study begins at 100-level, (i.e. xxx.1xx)
- as you progress through 200- and 300-level courses this number changes to 2 and 3 respectively. The higher the number that starts the second three digits, the higher the level of study
|Subject area||Level||Course ID number|
Electives are courses that are not compulsory. Certain guidelines are usually provided on courses you may take. Elective courses contribute to the programme, but not to your major or specialisation.
Workload and time management
Use this tool to help determine how much time you will need each week to complete your studies.
For returning students, there may be changes to the majors and minors available and the courses you need to take. You can go to the section called ‘Transitional Provisions’ in the Regulations to find out more.
There is a webpage with information on changes that took place in 2020, which may affect you if you are a current BSc student.
In some cases the programme or specialisation you enrolled in may no longer be taking new enrolments, so may not appear on these web pages. To find information on the regulations for these programmes go to the Massey University Calendar.
Please contact us through the Enquire button on this page if you have any questions.
Scholarships and awards
Scholarships related to this programme
- Colin Aiken Plant Breeding Bursary
- Gosling Ornamental Horticulture Bursary
- John Ayers Summer Scholarship
- School of Fundamental Sciences Summer Scholarships
There are a number of scholarships available for new and current students. They could relate to your situation, achievement or interest.