Students who wish to study herbal medicine can find both certificate and full degree programs in the field. These programs are most commonly provided by private schools dedicated to alternative health education.
Schools with an Herbalist Program
These schools have accredited programs for herbalists at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including herbology and herbal medicine programs.
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Costs 2015-2016*|
|Southwest Institute of Healing Arts||Tempe, AZ||2-year, Private||Diploma, Associate's||$17,880 (annual tuition and fees)|
|Bastyr University||Kenmore, WA||4-year, Private||Bachelor's||$24,275 (annual tuition and fees)|
|Northwestern Health Sciences University||Bloomington, MN||4-year, Private||Certificate||$11,636 (annual tuition and fees)|
|Maryland University of Integrative Health||Laurel, MD||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctoral||$18,605 (annual tuition and fees)|
|Emperor's College of Traditional Oriental Medicine||Santa Monica, CA||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctoral||$15,858 (annual tuition and fees)|
|American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine||San Francisco, CA||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctoral||$16,393 (annual tuition and fees)|
|Southwest Acupuncture College - Boulder||Boulder, CO||4-year, Private||Master's||$69,891 (total program cost)|
|Midwest College of Oriental Medicine||Racine, WI, Chicago, IL||4-year, Private||Master's||$71,611 (total program cost)|
|Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine||Denver, CO||4-year, Private||Master's||$49,875 (total program cost)|
*Sources: School websites and the National Center for Educational Statistics
School Selection Criteria
There are several important considerations to keep in mind when choosing an herbal medicine school:
- Students should verify that the school is accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education and local accreditation commissions.
- Students may want to find out if the school offers an herb garden in which they can learn to cultivate and identify different herbs.
- For students who want to specialize their studies, it can be helpful to find out whether the school offers focused programs or concentration options in areas such as herbal retail management or botanical safety.
- Students should verify that they meet the minimum educational requirements for admission to a program; for instance, some certificate programs require students to be licensed health professionals. Master's degree programs only accept students who have already earned a bachelor's degree.
Associate's Degree Programs
At the associate's degree level, herbalism is most commonly offered as a concentration within a broader alternative medicine program, although there are a few schools that offer programs specifically in herbalism. These programs provide foundational education in the biomedical sciences, as well as an introduction to herbology and its use in alternative medicine. Students must also take general education courses in order to earn this degree. Some programs are available online.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Bachelor's degree programs in herbalism are rare, but there is at least one school in the country that offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree completion program for students who have already earned an associate's degree, but most undergraduates who are interested in the subject take courses as part of a complementary health or alternative medicine program. Full programs take four years to complete; degree completion programs can be finished in two years.
Master's Degree Programs
In master's degree programs in herbalism, students take advanced courses in which they learn about disease prevention with medicinal herbs, herbal manufacturing, herb identification, herb cultivation, the history of botanical medicine and sociopolitical perspectives of botanical medicine. Students may also have the chance to select a concentration, such as clinical herbalism or herbal product design. Prior to graduation, they may be required to submit a capstone project. Many programs are available in online or hybrid formats.
Certificate or Diploma Programs
Certificate and diploma programs are available at several different educational levels. Some provide a short series of introductory courses for aspiring herbalists who want to get an overview of the field. Others are for licensed health professionals, such as medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists or social workers, who want to augment their knowledge with studies in herbalism. There are also certificates available in specialized areas of the herbalism field, such as aromatherapy or herbal retail management.
Students who wish to become herbalists should look for accredited programs, which are available at multiple educational levels. It can be helpful to look for schools that provide hands-on training in herb gardens or provide specialization options.