Plant Breeding Academy
Plant Breeding Academy
Plant Breeding Academy
University of California
Plant Breeding Academy

Policies & Procedures

The UC Davis 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 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.

Course goal:
This course 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.

Target audience:
The course is targeted primarily toward personnel currently involved in private 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.

Course format:
Participants will meet 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 during the course and via the internet between sessions with the course coordinator and instructors serving as mentors for participants over the two-year period.

Course prerequisites:
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.

Course level:
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. For topical course content, please see the curriculum page.

Homework expectations: Participants should plan for approximately 1 to 2 hours/week of homework between in-residence sessions, or no more that 15 to 20 hours per trimester. Assignments may include reading, problems or analyses. Quizzes and in session exercises are part of the curriculum. A case study analysis of a breeding program will be a required assignment prior to the final session.

Successful completion of the course:
Participants will be expected to attend all in-residence sessions, complete all assigned homework and pass periodic evaluations indicating academic mastery. Participants successfully completing the Academy will receive an official Certificate of Completion from the University of California, Davis.

Application and Admission: To provide a personalized learning environment, the program is limited to 20 participants. Applicants should complete the on-line form and separately mail or email a 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, academic standing (GPA or equivalent) 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.

: An academic coordinator will administer the logistics of the program, coordinate curriculum development, maintain the internet materials, and serve as a dedicated primary contact for participants between in-residence sessions.

Timeline: Instruction is conducted over the course of 22 months, with meetings generally separated by 3 months. Specific dates of instruction can be located on the course pages.

For more information: Contact Whitney Lowe at 


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