Molecular and Applied Plant Sciences majorFrequently asked questions

 Why study Molecular and Applied Plant Sciences?

Plants do not only provide the food, feed, shelter and energy to sustain our growing global population, they are also fascinating objects for basic research that aims at understanding the principles of life.

One of the most pressing challenge of our time is to combine a basic understanding of plant biology using models with the development of applications in crop species. This is only possible by educating scientists with a strong culture in molecular plant biology.

What is the focus of the study programme?

The major Molecular and Applied Plant Science (MPS) is a research-oriented degree program that provides students with an understanding of the manifold life processes in plants at biochemical, molecular, cellular and physiological levels.  The focus of the program is on the in-depth scientific investigation of the molecular mechanisms that control the processes of plant development and adaption to the environment.

The MPS curriculum covers a broad spectrum of topics.  Internal and external practicals will allow you to study the biochemistry, cell biology, physiology or developmental biology of plants using advanced equipment for high-end microscopy, genomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics.

Why study in Heidelberg?

Heidelberg is home to a very active community of plant researchers that are based at the Centre for Organismal Studies (COS). All researchers involved in teaching in the Major Molecular Plant Sciences are world renowned leaders in their fields that range from sulfur biochemistry, cell wall biology, cellular transport and trafficking systems, stem cell behaviour, root development and plant defences.

In this research environment, the MPS has developed into an internationally distinguished master program that provides students from around the world with an high-level education at one of the leading universities in Germany. The program is integrally taught in English and offers lectures and rotations in research laboratories. Already by the second semester students spend most of their time actively doing research.

MAPS students are internationally selected and form a small (max. 12) group fully embedded into the scientific life of the COS. Compared to other curriculum, MAPS students benefit from an inverted ratio of lecturers to students, leading to high quality mentoring of their progression.

Furthermore, Heidelberg offers a wide variety of science institutions as the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plans (Julius Kühn-Intitute), as well as the Max Planck Institute for Medial Research (MPIMF). During your studies you will have the opportunity to work in any of these institutions or take advantage of the biotech companies around to widen your research fields according to your interests. Working abroad is also highly encouraged.

Career Options?

Over the last 10  years, MAPS alumni have followed exemplary career paths in and outside of academia, illustrating that MPS training will not only qualify you for an academic career (in plant and in non-plant research areas) of the life sciences but also in the industry. Our alumni additionally secured job opportunities in management, policy and communication in governmental and non-governmental organisations or scientific journalism.

What our former students say

Rebecca Vázquez Kiesel, MAPS Class of 2012/2013

Master student in Marketing, Strategy & Leadership (Technical University Munich, Germany)

What I liked the most about the Master program was the small number of students  per professor/instructor. This created an ideal environment for the exchange of ideas, discussion and sharing of feedback. Furthermore, the professors involved in the program were always engaged in their teaching and accessible for further inquiries. Currently I am finishing a Master in Management for Scientists and supporting a Life Science startup in the area of business development as a working student. Even though I did not directly follow the path of a scientific career, the know-how I gained in the two years in Heidelberg is of extremely high value to me, both in my current work and for my future career aspirations in the Biotechnology industry sector.



Patrick von Born, MAPS Class of 2013/2014

PhD Candidate in the lab of  Prof. Jane Parker at the Dept. of  Plant-Microbe Interactions of the Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (Cologne, Germany)

When I started my Master’s studies I was struck by the young and academic vibe Heidelberg has. This atmosphere is also present on the natural sciences campus. Being on campus meant for me to find a vast diversity of research institutes spanning all kinds of research focuses - one of many advantages of studying natural sciences in Heidelberg. The Biology Master gives a broad basis for students from different fields and profits immensely from the mentioned diversity of working groups affiliated with the program. I’ve spent most of my time at COS and I enjoyed the institute’s familiar atmosphere. Truly interdisciplinary working groups offer real insights into life as a researcher and helped me to develop my research career both from a theoretical, as well as a practical aspect. What impressed me most though was the openness of all scientific leaders at COS to criticism and their effort to create a challenging and rewarding Master’s program. This program and the people driving it made a significant impact on my career choice. Currently, I’m a PhD candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany. I ask how plants recognise pathogens and initiate countermeasures in order to restrict pathogen growth.

Patrick von Born