New information following the change in COVID-19 alert levels.

Bachelor of Science (Plant Science)

Key facts

  • Available at Manawatū
  • Available for international students studying in NZ

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 right through to agriculture and horticulture.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Science parent structure.

What is it like?

Nearly all life on this planet is ultimately dependent on the primary productivity of plants. The study of plants is a fascinating investigation of the origins 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 - and ultimately our own survival.

Join a world-leading, relevant university

Massey is world-ranked and New Zealand’s No 1 university in agriculture according to the QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) rankings.

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 years of experience and have been consistently developing our courses over time to remain relevant for today’s employment opportunities.

Understanding the plant world

Studying the Massey University Bachelor of Science (Plant Science) will give you a solid understanding of the fundamental elements of the structure and function of plants. You will learn how plants grow and interact with their environment and how to apply this knowledge in both natural and managed ecosystems.

Investigate contemporary issues

With this degree you will also develop related skills in contemporary disciplines such as high-throughput gene sequencing and bioinformatics (analysis of nucleic acid and protein sequences using computers). This can assist in understanding evolution and biodiversity. You will play a vital role in helping us better understand everything from bioconservation issues to the effects of climate change.


Our graduates have an exceptionally high success rate of employment. They are praised by employers across a wide range of plant-based industries from agriculture to biosecurity, forestry and conservation for their knowledge of the entire scientific plant process such as understanding how plants grow, how seeds are formed, and what is needed in an environment for plants to grow.

Vital communication skills

A vital element of a scientific career is the ability to communicate your work clearly to future colleagues and employers. At Massey we help you gain the skills to emerge as a well-rounded effective communicator.


A major in plant science will give you a wide choice of courses alongside core plant biology courses. Plant science can lead to later specialisation at postgraduate level in either plant biology or horticultural science, subjects in which Massey University has well-established research strengths.

Earn more

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.


Some of the topics taught in the plant science major include:

  • Bioinformatics and genomics
  • Biological evolution
  • Ecology and conservation
  • Flora of New Zealand
  • Horticultural crop production and yield
  • Plant biodiversity
  • Plant biotechnology
  • Plant development
  • Plant ecology
  • Plant physiology
  • Plants and their uses (ethnobotany)
  • Postharvest horticulture

Award-winning facilities

Massey’s Manawatu campus hosts the only multi-function teaching laboratories in Australasia.

The labs, built in 2010, won a Best Practice Award for Innovation at the Association for Tertiary Education Management conference in Australia and was shortlisted for the international UKS-Lab awards.


For more information visit:

A good fit if you:

  • Are interested in working with plants
  • Enjoy the sciences
Emily Smith
Bachelor of Science (Plant Science)
Bachelor of Science with Honours (Plant Science and Microbiology)
PhD Candidate, Massey University - Studying to be a secondary teacher

“The best part of Massey, in particular plant science, is how passionate the lecturers are about their subjects…”

I chose to study at Massey University because it has a good reputation for having an excellent science programme. Also, my father studied here (PhD in plant science as well) and recommended it highly.

Lecturers bring their passion into lectures and labs and really engage the students. Lectures felt more like educated discussions rather than simply being told information. I took a different internship each summer break (AgResearch, Plant and Food Research, and Massey University). The Plant and Food internship led to a part-time job.

I also got involved in the Massey Horticulture Society, which gave insight into the more applied side of plant science through guest speakers and visits to growers. It was a great way to meet other students interested in plant science.

I’m intrigued plants are unable to move, and so must be able to change themselves quite quickly to adapt to their ever-changing environment.

If we are hot, we can just move into the shade, but if a plant gets hot, it must undergo a change in itself to endure the heat. The different ways in which a plant can do this are amazing.

My PhD is commercially sponsored by a Massey start-up technology company - BioLumic, and examines the changes a plant undergoes, specifically disease protection responses, upon reception of specific treatments of light.

When I finish my PhD I hope to continue doing research because it is very challenging and satisfying. It is like solving a puzzle, although sometimes the question you start with just leads you to more questions that need answers.


There is a steady demand for plant scientists. As a plant science graduate, you will have a wide range of career opportunities, including both pure 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 Landcare) as do the Department of Conservation and regional authorities.

Related areas of employment include:

  • Agriculture
  • Horticulture
  • Grassland science
  • Forestry
  • Plant breeding
  • Plant protection
  • Crop research
  • Plant conservation
  • Re-vegetation

You may also find employment in plant-based industries, primary and secondary teaching, technical work, business and in the media. Other possible careers include science management, administration, and science policy.

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