Master of Science (Horticultural Science)

Key facts

  • Available at Manawatū
  • Not all listed subject course options are on offer every year
  • Available for international students studying in NZ

Dig deeper into horticulture

Use Massey’s experts and world-leading facilities to develop your own ground-breaking research.

Find out more about the Master of Science parent structure.

What is it like?

With Massey’s Master of Science (Horticultural Science) you can take advantage of Massey University’s 80 years of research and teaching experience in agriculture and horticulture to create your own innovative research project. Massey University’s horticultural science programme is the most research focussed in New Zealand.

Take advantage of our globally-renowned expertise

Let our experts help you develop your own expertise. You will learn from, and research with, highly-skilled internationally-recognised and active researchers in horticulture, with a huge depth of knowledge and experience. Our current specific areas of horticulture research expertise include fruit and vegetable innovation, high-value plant products and services, applied plant and horticultural science and seed science and technology.

You will also be able to take advantage of Massey’s expertise across the sciences. We have a wide and relevant group of expertise within the university, from engineering and fundamental sciences like microbiology and biochemistry, to agriculture, environmental management and food technology and innovation.

This means no matter what your research interest you will have access to a broad range of experts to assist you develop your own research project.

Use world-leading equipment and facilities

As a horticulture student you will have access to our world-leading equipment and facilities such as our controlled environment plant growth facilities, the unique and extensive university orchards and state-of-the-art plant physiology and biology equipment.

Award–winning labs

Massey’s Manawatū campus hosts the only multi-function teaching laboratories in Australasia. The labs, built in 2010, won a Best Practice Award for Innovation at the Association for Tertiary Education Management conference in Australia and was shortlisted for the international UKS-Lab awards.

The facility is unique in Australasia in that it allows each laboratory to be tailored to accommodate a variety of disciplines. Technicians can do preparation in the dedicated technical area before moving this into the lab, which means students can spend more time doing lab practical work.

Be surrounded by the best

Massey University is a partner in the Joint Graduate School for Horticulture and Food Enterprise (with Plant&Food). Massey University is also home to ‘foodHQ’, New Zealand’s international centre for collaborative food research. FoodHQ is a collaboration between organisations including Massey University, AgResearch, AsureQuality, the Cawthorn Institute, SR, Fonterra, Plant & Food Research and the Riddet Institute. There is a breadth of horticultural research activities at Massey, including the work to understand the effects of light in improving crop production and quality, research on fruit crops such as kiwifruit and apples, Māori vegetable crop science, and plant disease.

Relevant and topical

We work to ensure that our teaching fits with the changing environment, which means that you will emerge with a relevant qualification valued by potential employers. Massey has strong links with industry, used to help our students find relevant and topical research projects.

Why postgraduate study?

Postgraduate study is hard work but hugely rewarding and empowering. The Master of Science will push you to produce your best creative, strategic and theoretical ideas. The workload replicates the high-pressure environment of senior workplace roles.

Not just more of the same

Postgraduate study is not just ‘more of the same’ undergraduate study. Our experts are there to guide but if you have come from undergraduate study, you will find that postgraduate study demands more in-depth and independent study. It takes you to a new level in knowledge and expertise especially in planning and undertaking research.

Complete in 1.5 years

Massey University’s Master of Science is primarily a 180 credit master qualification. This is made up of 90 credits of taught courses and a 90 credit research project.

A 240 credit MSc is also available if you want to do more in-depth research.

Or if you have already completed the BSc (Hons) or PGDipSc you can conduct a 120 credit thesis to achieve your masters qualification.

A good fit if you:

  • Have an undergraduate degree in a horticultural-related area
  • Would like to help develop innovative approaches to quality, nutrition, flavour, market access and sustainability in horticultural products
  • Are interested in a research-based postgraduate qualification
Jack Wilson
Current Student

“I was attracted to Massey because of its reputation in the agriculture and horticultural sector. The support from staff and my peers is incomparable, helping me have a low stress study environment…”

Coming from a strong horticultural background, I was confident that this was the area I wanted to focus on. Massey not only provides theoretical based content but prides themselves on getting students out into the primary sector, giving them practical experience as well as real life opportunities after study.

Some of the encouragement to study at a postgraduate level has come from the array of scholarships available to students. In particular, the opportunity to develop a relationship with Plant&Food Research (PFR) has allowed me to kick start my master’s project. This started as a summer internship, allowing me to gauge an idea around what life was like in the research space. This relationship then enabled me to continue into a research programme under the PFR/Massey Joint Graduate School of Horticulture and Food Enterprise.

My research is focused on apple production within New Zealand in terms of tree design and productivity. Future Orchard Planting Systems (FOPS) is a radical new concept for orchard systems aimed at maximising the productivity of New Zealand orchards across key fruit sectors. My research is looking into the physiological characteristics of this structure to understand how the light environment, fruit density and leaf characteristics influence fruit quality. This research has given me the opportunity to be involved with key players in our industry such as Plant and Food Research and T&G Global.

My goal after graduation is to take the skills I have learnt during my time at Massey into the industry through consultation. My plan is to experience horticulture in different parts of the globe which I can then bring back to New Zealand.


The Master of Science (Horticultural Science) is most suitable if you’d like to move into further research such as a PhD, or work for an organisation such as a crown entity in a research capacity.

Earn more

A 2017 Ministry of Education publication The post-study earnings and destinations of young domestic graduates, found that in New Zealand:

  • Young master’s graduates earn more than one and a half times more than the national median (five years after study)
  • Earnings and employment rates increase with the level of qualification completed
  • Five years after completion, the median earnings of young master’s graduates are 15% higher than for those with a bachelor’s degree.

World-leading lecturers and supervisors

Massey’s horticulture staff are internationally renowned for their research and teaching and learning methods. You will be working with recognised horticulture specialists, for example:

Dr Jason Wargent

Dr Wargent’s research is focused on understanding plant responses to environmental factors, within the context of increased sustainability and quality in crop production. His group’s research encompasses both fundamental plant science, and the application of that knowledge through commercialisation. 

Dr Wargent’s research into fundamental plant photobiology received a $300,000 Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand grant. Another piece of work is examining how to maximise returns across New Zealand horticulture sectors, including pipfruit, kiwifruit, wine production, and also manuka honey. The latter is currently funded by a Ministry of Primary Industries Primary Growth Partnership.   

One of Dr Wargent’s key interests is the role of sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) radiation in particular. Whilst plant responses to UV are numerous, comparatively little is understood regarding the possible exploitation of such endpoints to drive quality within modern crop production. He is the Chief Science Officer of BioLumic, a company looking at commercially exploiting a process of using LED lights and UVB light to produce stronger, healthier crops.

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