European PBA FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the UC Davis European Plant Breeding Academy? The UC Davis European Plant Breeding Academy is a professional development course teaching the principles of plant breeding to address the reduced numbers of plant breeders being trained in academic programs. It is targeted toward people who are currently involved in plant breeding or wish to become plant breeders, but who lack sufficient knowledge of genetics, statistics and breeding methodology to direct a breeding program. The format is designed to allow participants to maintain their current positions while learning the theory and practice of plant breeding. Participants will meet at UC Davis and throughout Europe for three 6-day weeks per year over two years (six sessions). Readings and exercises will continue between sessions via internet to allow participants to maintain their current positions while being involved in the Academy. At the end of the two-year course, participants are expected to have the skills and knowledge to manage an independent plant breeding program.

What are the goals of the Academy? The Academy will develop the participants' skills and abilities in genetics, statistics and plant breeding to enable them to become independent breeders or more valuable contributors to larger breeding programs.

Who is the target audience? The course is targeted primarily toward personnel currently involved in breeding programs who lack the academic background in genetics theory and practice to advance as independent breeders. Current breeders who desire a refresher course or would like to broaden their expertise are also potential participants. Persons who have a background in biological or plant sciences who wish to become plant breeders would also benefit from this course.

What is the format of the course? Participants will meet at locations throughout Europe and at the University of California, Davis for three 6-day weeks per year over two years (six sessions). This will allow participants to continue in their current employment while being involved in the course. The format will be a combination of lectures, discussions, practical experience and lab/computer sessions. Homework and exercises will be conducted via the internet between sessions with the course coordinator and instructors serving as mentors for participants over the two-year period.

What are the prerequisites for the Academy? Knowledge and/or experience equivalent to a Bachelor of Science degree in biology or related field and some experience in plant breeding is expected. A working knowledge of basic genetics and statistics, such as completion of introductory courses in these subjects, is also expected; a brief review of the principles of these subjects will be included in the course. The course will be taught in English.

At what level will the course be taught? The Academy will provide training in plant breeding equivalent to that obtained in a Master of Science program. It will provide greater depth in the specific subject matter of plant breeding but possibly less breadth that some MS programs require. As participants will not be enrolled in a formal degree program, they would not be eligible for a graduate degree. However, the Academy program may be recognized by graduate institutions, at their discretion, as equivalent to formal university courses for transfer credit.

What is the expected time investment for PBA students between sessions? PBA students should plan for approximately 20 hours per trimester. Investing less than that amount (<15 hours) could diminish a return on student investment into PBA. Homework and assignments may include reading, problem solving and analyses. A case study analysis of a breeding program (referred to in class as the "final project") will be a required assignment prior to week 6 - graduation. 

What is required to successfully complete the course? Participants will be expected to attend all in-residence sessions, complete all assigned homework and pass periodic evaluations indicating academic mastery.

Is there a degree or certificate awarded at completion of the course? As participants will not be enrolled in a formal degree program, they will not be eligible for a graduate degree. Participants successfully completing the Academy will receive a certificate of completion from the Plant Breeding Academy. 

How do I apply to the Academy? Applicants should complete the online application and upload their resume in order to be considered for enrollment. Applicants' background and experience will be reviewed to ensure they meet the minimal requirements before acceptance. Applicants must have a Bachelor of Science degree (or demonstrate equivalent professional experience) and have taken introductory courses in statistics and genetics. Practical experience and rationale for participation in the Academy will be evaluated. Among applicants meeting the program requirements, acceptance will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Acceptance is not secured until the first year's tuition is received. To provide a personalized learning environment, the program is limited to 20 participants for each two-year session.

How will the Academy be administered? The UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center will provide the administrative home for the Academy. An academic coordinator dedicated to the Academy will administer the logistics of the program, coordinate curriculum development, maintain the internet materials, and serve as a primary contact for participants between in-residence sessions.

How do I pay the tuition? Payment procedures will be provided to applicants following acceptance into the Academy. Various methods of transferring funds are available.

Where can I get more information about the Academy? Contact Whitney Lowe at