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Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics

Administrative Unit:Horticulture
College/School: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Admitting Plans:M.S., Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.S., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor

Faculty:  Agronomy—Ane, Casler, de Leon, Jahn, H. Kaeppler, S. Kaeppler, Tracy; Biochemistry—Amasino, Bednarek, Sussman; Botany—Baum, Waller; Entomology—Brunet; Genetics—Doebley, Masson, Vierstra; Horticulture—Bamberg, Bethke, Goldman, Havey (chair), Jansky, Jiang, Krysan, Nienhuis, Palta, Patterson, Simon, Spooner, Weng, Zalapa; Plant Pathology—Bent, Halterman, Rouse; Statistics—Yandell


The program leading to the master of science or the doctor of philosophy in plant breeding and plant genetics provides a broad exposure in the various disciplines involved and specialization in a particular area.  The program is truly interdisciplinary with faculty participants from agronomy, biochemistry, botany, forest and wildlife ecology, genetics, horticulture, plant pathology, and statistics. Research areas include biochemical and molecular genetics, biometry, cytogenetics and cytology, genecology, genetics, plant breeding, and quantitative genetics.

The plant breeding and plant genetics program has been designated a UW System Center of Excellence. The 50–60 students majoring in the program come from throughout the United States and all over the world.  Faculty have included members of the National Academy of Sciences, endowed chair professors, and recipients of the National Council of Plant Breeders "Genetic and Plant Breeding Award." The University of Wisconsin leads the nation in the number of plant breeding programs and number of graduate students trained. Graduates are found in responsible positions with academic institutions, research institutions, and private companies involved in molecular to cultivar development work.

Doctoral Minor 

Ph.D. candidates in other degree programs who wish to pursue a doctoral minor in plant breeding and plant genetics must complete 10 credits of work with at least 2 credits from the plant breeding area and 2 credits from another area of the core curriculum. Also required are 2 credits of seminar (Agronomy/Genetics/Horticulture 957). Contact the program for more information concerning the minor.


A bachelor's degree from an approved institution, an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale), and an undergraduate major suitable for entering the proposed field are required. Normally, students will have had undergraduate training in the biological or agricultural sciences.  Satisfactory preparation for graduate study should include mathematics through integral calculus, chemistry through organic chemistry with lab, physics through light and electricity, and a comprehensive biology sequence. Additional course work in these areas may be required during the first year of graduate study if deficiencies exist.

For more information: Program in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics, 386 Horticulture Building, 1575 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-807-7391; kjones26@wisc.edu; plantbreeding.wisc.edu.