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Herbal Medicine Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Herbal medicine is the study of holistic and herbal remedies as they relate to treating illnesses and ailments. Students may find specialized programs in this topic, or they may enroll in broader alternative medicine programs.

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Herbal medicine can be studied at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Institutions that offer these programs are usually privately funded and dedicated specifically to alternative medicine.

Schools with Herbal Medicine Programs

These schools offer programs that cover herbal medicine:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees 2015-2016*
Southwest Institute of Healing Arts Tempe, AZ 2-year, Private Diploma, Associate's $17,880
Bastyr University Kenmore, WA 4-year, Private Bachelor's $24,275
Northwestern Health Sciences University Bloomington, MN 4-year, Private Certificate $11,636
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine - New York New York, NY 4-year, Private Certificate, Master's $12,205 (undergraduate), $11,285 (graduate)
Maryland University of Integrative Health Laurel, MD 4-year, Private Master's, Doctoral $18,605
American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine San Francisco, CA 4-year, Private Master's, Doctoral $16,393
Emperor's College of Traditional Oriental Medicine Santa Monica, CA 4-year, Private Master's, Doctoral $15,858
Tri-State College of Acupuncture New York, NY 4-year, Private Graduate certificate, Master's $23,995
Midwest College of Oriental Medicine Chicago, IL, Racine, WI 4-year, Private Master's $71,611 (total program cost)

*Sources: School websites and the National Center for Education Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

There are a several important considerations to take into account when looking for herbal medicine schools.

  • Working professionals and individuals with other scheduling constraints may want to look for programs that allow for part-time or online studies.
  • Prospective students may want to check if the coursework involves any business training, since many herbal medicine graduates go on to work in herbal medicine shops and other businesses related to holistic care.
  • Students should make sure that the school is accredited, because it lets potential employers know that the student has received education adhering to national standards.
  • Students may want to look into the school's facilities, such as herb gardens or medication manufacturing laboratories, where they can gain hands-on herbal medicine experience.

Undergraduate Certificate or Diploma

Students who are looking for an introduction to herbal medicine can pursue an undergraduate certificate or diploma. In these programs, students become familiar with herbs through classroom studies and field studies. They also take basic biomedical coursework and learn how to apply their knowledge of herbs to clinical settings.

Associate's Degree Programs

Associate's degree programs specifically in herbal medicine are not available, but it is possible to choose the subject as a concentration within a broader associate's degree program in holistic health care. These programs cover the same foundational herbal medicine topics as undergraduate certificate programs, and they also include general education coursework. Graduates may pursue jobs as health coaches and educators.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

In bachelor's degree programs in herbal sciences, students learn about the identification, cultivation and medical applications of a wide variety of herbs. They also gain an understanding of cultural, historical and political issues surround the use of herbs for health. It is important to note that some programs in this field are only offered as degree completion programs, so incoming students may already need to have fulfilled general education requirements.

Master's Degree Programs

At the master's degree level, herbal medicine may be offered as a major or as an emphasis within a broader oriental medicine program. In these programs, students take advanced courses in herbal medicine as well as anatomy and physiology, botany and wellness coaching. Prior to graduation, students may be required to submit a capstone project. Some programs are available online.

Graduate Certificate

Graduate certificate programs in herbal medicine are typically designed for professionals who are already working in the field of alternative medicine, such as licensed acupuncturists, who want to augment their training with studies in herbal medicine. These programs provide a short series of courses, and they may allow for online or part-time studies in order to accommodate the needs of working professionals. Studies typically include a mixture of classroom-based coursework and clinical internship experiences.

Students interested in herbal medicine should look for an accredited program. Prospective students may also want to consider whether programs include training in business, modern science and Western medicine.

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