EmPLANT+, European Master program in plant breeding

January 14, 2022

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Location (s):

  • Austria
  • France
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Sweden
Vienna, Beauvais, Budapest, Milano, Valencia, Uppsala


The Erasmus Mundus Master Program in Plant Breeding – emPLANT+ – is a two years Master degree offered by a consortium of six leading European universities in the field of plant breeding, plant biology, seed technology and biotechnology in order to face the challenges of global changes such as population growth and climate change. The objective of emPLANT+ is to remedy to the lack of qualified highly skilled plant breeders on Master and PhD level with a training program that combines science, management, law, intercultural competence and language skills.


emPLANT+, European Master Program in Plant Breeding has been designed and is organized by a consortium of six European universities from six different countries: UniLaSalle Polytechnic Institute (France), Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences (Hungary), Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden), University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (Austria) and University of Milano (Italy).

emPLANT+ is the continuation of the emPLANT program (2017-2022) which is composed of 5 universities from five different countries: UniLaSalle Polytechnic Institute (France), University of Helsinki (Finland), Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden) and Ege University (Turkey). The program has trained 3 intakes of students: 2018, 2019 & 2020 and will end in 2022.

The complementarity of the consortium members in terms of specializations, working methods, climatic specificities and collaboration partners produces a program that could not be offered by one organization alone. The wealth of knowledge and expertise in the fields of plant breeding, plant biology, seed technology, biotechnology of emPLANT+ is unique in the world.

emPLANT+ aims at providing students interested in Plant Breeding with excellent training in science, management, law, languages and soft skills that are needed in this field by the Seed Industry and Research Institutes.


A recent report (Noleppa 2016) shows that innovation in plant breeding over the last 15 years increased productivity in EU arable farming by 74%. In addition, the study reveals that in the field of arable crops 3,4 billion tons of direct CO2 emissions have been avoided, 55 billion m3 of water have been saved and approximately 70 000 jobs have been created. This shows the significant contribution of plant breeding to achieve food/nutrition security and climate change goals in Europe and the world.

It is also noteworthy that the development and growth of this sector does not only occur in Europe and other developed countries, but there is a significant growth of the sector in developing countries, where the use of improved seeds is becoming a common practice.

As a reminder, in less than 25 years the world population is expected to rise to 9 billion people and agricultural production will need to increase by 70% to secure food supplied (FAO). That is why, at the global level, the Plant Breeding sector needs specialists with a high degree of training who know and are able to combine and apply the methodologies derived from conventional techniques with those of the new biotechnologies (molecular markers, In vitro cultivation, genetic transformation, etc.) for the development of new varieties.


The development and release of new varieties, along with associated activities, is one of the fields of technology with greater projection and foreseeable demand in the future. The market for seeds and other propagating materials is one of the most dynamic ones, the annual value of worldwide commercial seed production reaches €30 billion (Ragonnaud, 2013). It is estimated that plant breeding has generated 60% of crop plant productivity increases (Bradshaw, 2016), now with the integration of new tools of biotechnology the potential of this discipline has multiplied.

The plant breeder of today (and of tomorrow) needs to master concepts of traditional breeding and modern molecular breeding. In addition to having hands on expertise on growing plants, understanding their reproductive biology and knowing the possibilities and limitations of crossing-selection breeding, he/she needs to have skills in molecular biology, bioinformatics, advanced statistics and project management.

emPLANT+ consortium members aims to attract excellent students from all over the world by joining their forces to provide a multidisciplinary approach of traditional and biotechnology techniques, links with management and new technologies (bioinformatics, data management etc.) that is required for future MSc/PhD graduates to obtain a comprehensive and strategic understanding of complex breeding projects in an international dimension.


After graduation, students will work as technical and scientific managers of commercial or public breeding programs, on methodology, technology or cultivar development, in seed production and crop improvement, in R&D, in charge of legal questions linked to seeds in the seed/agro/food industry or pursue a PhD linked to breeding, crop production and plant biology.


emPLANT+ is a two year Master Programme of Excellence in the field of plant breeding and is composed of the following elements:

  • The Joint Integration Week (all emPLANT+ students together)
  • The first year of studies at ULS (France) or SLU (Sweden) or MATE (Hungary)
  • The Joint Summer Breeding Field Camp (all emPLANT+ students together)
  • The second year of studies at BOKU (Austria), UMIL (Italy), UPV (Spain) or ULS (France)
  • The Final Conference and Closing Ceremony (all emPLANT+ students together)

Two joint courses are taught each academic year.
The complete list of courses is available in the Course Catalogue section.

The programme structure is as follows:


The Consortium offers 9 mobility tracks to combine the specialisations and strengths of all partners. Preferred mobility track is asked in the application form.

Students must be hosted by two different universities of the Consortium and in two different Program Countries other than their own country of residence.


The three tracks at ULS, SLU and MATE are similar and still complementary, setting the basics in terms of plant biology, breeding methods and biotechnological tools:

> ULS:

  • The courses introduction to seed business, plant reproductive system and relational databases are unique at ULS
  • The education at UniLaSalle is focusing more directly on plant breeding, including plant genetics and practical aspects of plant breeding
  • The track at ULS will be more attractive for candidates interested in applied plant breeding and seed business

> SLU:

  • Parts of the course plant-microbe interaction are unique at SLU
  • Education at SLU is focusing slightly more on basic plant biology, including plant genetics and biology subjects of importance for plant breeding
  • The track at SLU will be more suitable for candidates interested in fundamental research and will target students with a high interest in biology


  • Parts of the course molecular genetics are unique at MATE
  • Education at MATE is focusing slightly more on basic plant biology, including plant genetics and biology subjects of importance for plant breeding
  • A short internship is mandatory at the end of the year
  • The track at MATE will be more suitable for candidates interested in applied research


The four different tracks at BOKU, UMIL, UPV and ULS will provide the students with the opportunity to specialise:


  • Offers you the possibility to select some courses in a panel
  • Education at BOKU is focusing slightly more on genetic tools
  • The track at BOKU will be more suitable for candidates interested in fundamental research


  • Parts of the course Marketing to breeding and Developing of crop ideotype are unique at UMIL
  • Education at UMIL is focusing slightly more on applied breeding
  • The track at UMIL will be more suitable for candidates interested in applied research

> UPV:

  • Courses are more focused on ornamental and legume crops
  • Courses are in Spanish
  • Education at UPV is focusing slightly more on genetic tools
  • The track at UPV will be more suitable for candidates interested in fundamental research

> ULS:

  • Parts of the courses Seed contracts, Marketing & logistics, Modelization and phenotyping are unique at ULS
  • Education at ULS is focusing slightly more on seed production and phenotyping tools
  • The track at ULS will be more suitable for candidates interested in applied research and seed business
  • An internship made in a company between the first and second year is mandatory
  • The Master Thesis is compulsorily conducted at ULS research units


All courses at BOKU, SLU, MATE, UMIL and ULS are taught in English, courses at UPV are taught in Spanish.
SLU, MATE and ULS offer Spanish courses to prepare students who select UPV for a B2 level for their stay (level B1 is compulsory at application stage).
All partners offer local language and culture courses to promote their academic success and facilitate their social and cultural integration.

At ULS, to obtain the emPLANT corresponding Master’s degree, all students must obtain a B1 level in French. Courses of French language are offered at ULS during the whole year as well as an official test at the end of the year. But ULS encourages the students to start learning basic French before coming (especially if you come only for the 2nd year, basic French is mandatory before coming).


Each student who succeeds the mandatory evaluations and who validates 120 ECTS, minimum 30 ECTS per semester, will receive a double degree, (i.e. the master’s degree of the year 1 institution and the master’s degree of the year 2 institution).
The degrees awarded are:

  • Institut Polytechnique UniLaSalle: Ingénieur diplômé de l’Institut Polytechnique UniLaSalle, spécialité agronomie et agro-industries – Engineering Master Degree in Agronomy & Agro Industry
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences: Masterexamen med huvudområdet Biologi – Degree of Master of Science with a major in Biology
  • Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences : Mezőgazdasági biotechnológus – MSc in Agricultural Biotechnology
  • Universitaet Fuer Bodenkultur Wien (BOKU): Master of Science
  • Universita Degli Studi di Milano: Laurea Magistrale in Scienze delle Produzione e della Protezione delle Piante – Master of Science in Agricultural Science, Crop and Plant Sciences
  • Universitat Politècnica de València: Master Universitario Erasmus Mundus en Mejora Genética Vegetal por la Universitat Politècnica de València

All students will receive the diploma supplement of each university of their mobility track.
Degree issuing universities will also provide the student with an ECTS transcript of records with the grades and credits obtained.

Opportunity is About:


Candidates should be from:

Description of Ideal Candidate:


If you are interested in applying for the Erasmus+ Master Programme in Plant Breeding, please check if you meet the requirements below:

  • Awarded Bachelor of Science degree (min. 180 ECTS) in Agriculture/Agronomy, Plant Biology, Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Master 1 Genetics, Molecular Biosciences or related relevant fields
  • OR students in their last Bachelor year
  • Language proficiency:
    • B2 in English except when English is your mother tongue. If not, please provide one of the following documents:
      • Official English test:
        • TOEIC: minimum 785 points
        • IELTS: minimum 6.0
        • TOEFL: 577 paper-based, 233 computer-based, 90 internet-based (20 written)
        • Cambridge: Certificate of Advanced English
        • etc…
      • Or a University letter attesting English is the medium of instruction of your higher education
    • Spanish: for those applying to UPV in year 2, a level B1 is needed by the beginning of the second year (not required at the time of application). Official test: DELE, ALTE, etc…
  • Application received before the end of the deadline
  • Application form filled out in English
  • Application containing all requested elements and documents


Deadline: January 14, 2022

Cost/funding for participants:

In applying to the emPLANT+ Master program during the first call (from Oct to mid-Jan) you automatically apply for an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD) scholarship.

In applying to emPLANT+ during the second call for application (from mid-Jan to end of Feb) you apply as a self-funding student.

Two different types of EMJMD scholarships are awarded:

  • Scholarships for Program Country students
  • Scholarships for Partner Country students (see below the exception for 12-months residency rule) which include some scholarships for students coming from targeted region of the world

To see how EMJMD scholarships are awarded, please refer to the selection procedure section.

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