Herbal Studies Degree Programs with Course Curriculum

Explore herbal studies degree programs and course curricula. Learn about the prerequisites, popular careers and continuing education options for graduates.

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Essential Information

Herbal studies degree programs are most widely available at the master's degree level. While some programs exist in therapeutic herbalism and herbal studies, the most common degree option is in Oriental medicine, which is often combined with acupuncture training. Most herbal studies programs focus on the use of herbs in treating, healing and curing the body.

Goals of a program may include helping students to learn how to diagnose ailments, evaluate patients, identify the course of herbal treatment needed, prepare herbal remedies and administer herbal formulas correctly. Programs also usually aim to prepare students to recognize possible drug interactions and explain potential side effects. Experiential learning may take place in campus herb gardens or laboratories.

Education Prerequisites

The most common education prerequisite for entry into a master's program in herbal studies is a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution; typically, the undergraduate major doesn't have to be in herbal studies. Schools also usually require a minimum grade point average on all previous college coursework. Letters describing personal interest in the discipline may also be requested.

Course Topics

Most programs include an internship that allows students to become more familiar with herbal properties and creating herbal medicines through hands-on learning. Programs typically focus the curriculum on teaching students professional skills and providing a foundation of knowledge in herbology. The curriculum may also cover diseases, syndromes and other medical conditions. Courses may cover topics such as:

  • Oriental herbal medicine history
  • Legal and ethical issues in herbal medicine
  • Herbal pharmacology
  • Herbal phytochemistry (metabolism and plant chemistry)
  • Herbal preparation techniques
  • Herbal treatment methods
  • Herb combinations and formula categories
  • Herbal dosages
  • Food therapy
  • Botany and horticulture

Popular Career Options

Many Oriental medicine programs prepare students to work in acupuncture or in other natural medicine professions. Graduates may also use what they learn in a program to apply to their current profession in a healthcare setting. Herbal studies degree-holders may also work in the natural products industry. Career choices include:

  • Herbal quality control
  • Research
  • Academia
  • Herb product development

Continuing Education

Herbal studies master's programs can prepare graduates for professional certification, and programs combined with acupuncture studies may also prepare graduates to become licensed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 40 states use the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine's (NCCAOM) exam to determine if an aspiring acupuncturist meets licensing status (www.bls.gov). For this exam, individuals must be 18 years old or older, meet education requirements, complete a clean-needle course and agree to a code of ethics.

Individuals who've completed the combined program may pursue the NCCAOM's Diplomate of Acupuncture board certification. Those with knowledge in both acupuncture and herbs, as well as graduates of herbal studies-only programs, may also voluntarily earn the Diplomate of Chinese Herbology designation, also through the NCCAOM. These are both nationally recognized credentials.

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Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Eligibility and relevancy of sample programs below will vary by article and program
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (3 campuses)
    • California (16)
    • Colorado (3)
    • Florida (6)
    • Georgia (5)
    • Illinois (7)
    • Indiana (2)
    • Maryland (1)
    • Michigan (1)
    • Minnesota (1)
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    • Ohio (4)
    • Oklahoma (1)
    • Oregon (1)
    • Pennsylvania (4)
    • Tennessee (2)
    • Texas (7)
    • Utah (1)
    • Virginia (3)
    • Washington (3)
    • Wisconsin (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants to master's programs must have already earned a bachelor's degree. Applicants to doctoral programs must have already earned a master's degree.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Currently not accepting applications from Texas residents
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Master
        • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Admissions Requirements Vary By Campus
    School locations:
    • Arizona (4 campuses)
    • Colorado (2 campuses)
    • Connecticut (3)
    • Florida (5)
    • Illinois (3)
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    Classroom-Based Programs

    • Non-Degree
        • Esthetics (Skin Care)
        • Massage Therapy

    What is your highest earned degree?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants must have completed 12 college credits
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • California (19 campuses)
    • Washington (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    • Non-Degree
        • Certificate - Undergraduate: Nutrition and Wellness
        • Certificate - Health Administration

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Informatics and Illustration
      • Medical Residency Programs
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety

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