Herbalism Degree and Certification Program Options

Oct 13, 2019

Essential Information

Certificate and master's degree programs in herbal medicine generally focus on Chinese herbology and oriental medicine, teaching students about the properties of medicinal herbs and how they are used in treating illness. Students learn about the types of herbs used in medicine and may get a chance to grow them. Other courses cover the safe processing of herbs into medicines. Most programs, both certificate and degree, require internships that allow students to get hands-on experience. About 2-3 years of study is required for either type of program. Graduates may be eligible for certification in Chinese herbology. This requires training and/or experience and passing an examination.

Certificate in Herbal Medicine

A certificate program in herbal medicine provides instruction on the development and uses of various herbal techniques and items. These programs educate future health care professionals on the foundations of herbal medicine and its beneficial usage for ailments. Students can direct their concentration to the methods of Chinese herbology or herbal medicine. Through this type of certificate program, health care professionals will learn the uses of herbal products and the different herbs available, as well as how to use herbs and herb formulas to effectively treat patients. Students also explore the safe uses of herbs and toxicity. Entrance and exit exams must be taken in order to for students to enroll in and receive their certificate.

The curriculum of an herbal medicine certificate program includes didactic coursework in herbs and herbal formulas, as well as herbal applications. Case studies are utilized to research drug and herb interactions. In addition to classroom coursework, students will be required to complete an internship to gain hands-on experience dispensing and preparing herbal medicines. Typical courses may include:

  • Individual herbs
  • Foundations of wellness and health
  • Herbal pharmacy
  • Herbal formulas
  • Case analysis

Master of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine

Students can enhance their skills in herbal healing treatment by entering into a master's degree program in herbal medicine. Modern medicine techniques are combined with traditional healing methods in order for students to prescribe alternative treatment strategies. Within the program, learners gain an advanced theoretical understanding of health and wellness. They learn how herbs work with the body to restore health. The program examines over 300 herbs, as well as 150 herbal mixtures. Clinical studies are an integral part of this degree program so students can expect to have some type of hands-on training with various types of herbs.

Courses deal primarily with the cultivation and creation of herbal medicine, alongside the study of human health. Coursework covers herbal theory and treatments, materia medica and food therapy, as well as the following topics:

  • Advanced nutrition
  • Human biology
  • Herbal medicine
  • Chemistry
  • Holistic medicine

Popular Career Options

With a herbology certificate, graduates are qualified for careers in alternative medicine and research. Applicable job titles include:

  • Herbal entrepreneur
  • Herb cultivator
  • Researcher

Career and Salary Information

Graduates are qualified to work as an herbalist within a medical setting or as an entrepreneur who sells herbal medicinal supplies. According to, the median annual salary of an herbalist was $39,000 as of August 2019.

According to a National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) survey in December 2008, the usage of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has seen an increase in recent years. The number of adults who've used CAM has risen from 36% in 2002 to 38.3% in 2007.

Continuing Education

Certification programs are available through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for those that would like to become a Diplomate in Chinese Herbology. In order to qualify for this examination, graduates must complete a graduate or pre-graduate program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) or an apprenticeship in the United States. To gain certification students must pass exams in oriental medicine, Chinese herbology and biomedicine.

Those interested in pursuing herbalism studies can work towards a certificate or master's degree in herbal science. Popular career choices of graduates include an herbal entrepreneur or herb cultivator.

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