Also known as herbal medicine, herbalism is the use of plants and plant extracts for medicinal purposes. Bachelor of Science programs in herbal science and natural health teach students about the effects of these herbs on health and wellness. A natural health program also includes the study of other naturopathic and phytotherapeutic disciplines.
Admission to these programs generally requires a GPA of at least 2.25 in general science prerequisite courses at an accredited postsecondary school. Some courses and programs are available online.
Bachelor of Science in Herbal Science
In this 4-year degree program, students learn directly from master herbalists about the properties and benefits of botanical medicine. Graduates are not qualified to treat any patients, but can distribute and make recommendations as to what herbs one might use.
The curriculum in this degree program focuses on the study of behavior and the application of plants in regards to natural medicine. Here are some examples of courses:
- Disease prevention
- Herb cultivation
- Medicinal herb health maintenance
- History of botanical medicine
- Herbal manufacturing
Bachelor of Science in Natural Health
This 4-year program consists of a broad range of natural health subjects. Students will learn about herbology and how it relates to other natural healing and lifestyle topics incorporated in naturopathic health studies. This program has specific courses in natural health and also encompasses the general education and other fundamental subjects. Therefore, a prospective student only needs to have a high school diploma or GED to enroll.
The curriculum in this program incorporates a wide range of naturopathic studies. Herbology is one of many disciplines including, holistic nutrition, homeopathy and studies on the immune system. Course topics in the program may include:
- General herbology
- Holistic health and lifestyles
- Natural health
- Holistic nutrition
- Sustainable living
- Study of antioxidants and enzymes
Students who complete an undergraduate program in herbalism are prepared for a variety of challenging and rewarding alternative medicine careers. Students may choose from such careers as:
- Quality assurance specialist
- Herb cultivator
- Production specialist
- Teacher of herbal medicine
- Herbal products representative
Graduates of natural health bachelor's degree programs have several career options. For example, they may pursue jobs as a:
- Writer on natural health subjects
- Natural health mentor or consultant
- Independent natural health food and supplement storeowner
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't list employment information for herbalists specifically, the organization does list the salaries of Chinese herbalists under 'health care practitioners and technical workers, all other'. The mean wages for these professionals was $56,400 as of May 2015.
Graduates of herbal science programs who want to advance their knowledge can earn a Master Herbalist Certificate, which provides a more in-depth study of multicultural herbal practices and the private practice of herbalism. Depending on the desired career, a student can also pursue graduate studies in a natural medicinal field. Programs include the Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the Master of Science in Nutrition and the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.
A natural health undergraduate program also prepares students for further education programs, such as a Master of Science in Natural Health, a Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition and a Doctor of Education in Holistic Health and Wellness. Upon completion of these programs, students could be eligible to practice naturopathic medicine and actually treat patients.
Students who pursue a degree in either herbal science or natural health have access to a number of herbalism careers and may even go on to pursue advanced degrees and become practitioners in the field of naturopathic medicine.