Majoring in Genetics and Plant Biology

From oxygen to food to shelter to energy to shade, plants provide us with virtually everything we need to survive and to thrive. Genetics and Plant Biology (GPB) majors study the distribution and diversity of plant life from the sub-molecular to the organismal level. There is important work for those who want to unravel the mystery of genes, bring expertise to medical school, teach the next generation of biologists, or to devise ways to feed the world! The opportunities abound and await your discovery.


Genetics and Plant Biology (GPB) combines traditional plant sciences (physiology, biology, anatomy) with more recent biological disciplines (genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry) to study the role of plants in the global environment. The discipline emphasizes the study of plants from the molecular/genetic levels to the organismal level, including applications to biotechnology. Electives in the major are organized into five tracks: (1) biotechnology and bioenergy; (2) plant diversity and evolution; (3) plant genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics; (4) plant microbe interactions; and (5) experimental plant biology. Offered by the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology (PMB).

What will I study?

Lower division courses provide a foundation in biological and physical sciences as preparation for advanced study at the upper division level. Most courses offer laboratory classes that focus further on the subject matter and introduce students to the latest techniques in genetics and plant biology.

How much coursework is required?

Most GPB majors take about 2-3 courses per semester towards their major, so they have flexibility to add elective courses from outside the major, sometimes culminating in a minor or second major. If you have interest in English or Music or Economics or Languages or even another science program, the Genetics and Plant Biology major and its advisors encourage you to pursue the diverse education you desire. Many of our students also study abroad for a semester and even a year (with good planning).

What can I do with this major?

The Genetics and Plant Biology major is very flexible. It mimics the requirements for medical school and other health science professional schools while also preparing you for graduate school in a number of fields. If you want to work right after school, you'll find that the experience you gain in laboratory research and the challenging courses will be invaluable on your resume.


Undergraduate Advisor: Jennifer Halpert

260 Mulford Hall
University of California 
Berkeley, CA 94720-3100

Faculty Advisor: Mary Wildermuth