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Herbal Medicine Degree Program and Certification

For those interested in a career using and creating herbal remedies, a degree in herbal medicine will prepare you. Read on to learn about the field, what degree programs are available, what curriculum is taught and what certifications are available.

What Is Herbal Medicine?

Herbal medicine is part of the alternative medicine or holistic healing ideology. In practice, it combines modern medical knowledge with the traditions of medicinal herbs. Herbal remedies include natural powders, pills, tinctures, teas and other body-care products used to treat illnesses and promote overall wellness.

Skills Taught Combining medical knowledge with usage of medicinal herbs, understanding of natural powders, tinctures, and teas to treat illnesses.
Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees. Also graduate certificates
Curricula Associates/Bachelors: General alternative medicinal theories, concentrated in herbal medicine like holistic nutrition
Masters: Lab and research methodology of learning herbal medicine such as disease theory and herbal harvesting
Graduate certificate programs: Shorter and focus on specific topics, like those included in Master's degree programs.
Certification NCCAOM Diplomate of Chinese Herbology, which is obtained through master's degree and written exams.
Median Salary (2018) $73,960 (for health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 13% growth (for health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Degree Programs Are Available?

A few schools offer associate's or bachelor's degree programs in alternative medicine with coursework in herbal remedies. However, graduate-level programs are more common. If you have a bachelor's degree, you can pursue a master's degree in acupuncture and oriental medicine; these programs often include extensive training in Chinese herbology. Graduate certificate programs in medical herbalism may be available as well; some of these programs are designed for licensed or certified healthcare practitioners. In most cases, herbal medicine programs are offered in a campus-based format; you can rarely earn a degree or certificate in this field online.

What Are Programs Like?

Associate's and bachelor's degree programs tend to be broad, teaching you general alternative medicine theories and practices with a concentration in herbal medicine. Some classes you may take include aromatherapy, holistic nutrition, herbal studies and product manufacture.

Master's degree programs, which can take up to three years, are more rigorous than undergraduate programs. These programs usually require lab and clinical hours and, in some cases, a research component. You can acquire in-depth knowledge of many herbs and learn to prepare your own herbal remedies for individual patients. Some concepts you may study include disease theory, herbal safety, herb identification, herbal pharmacology and herbal harvesting. Graduate certificate programs are often shorter in length and cover some of the same topics as master's programs.

What Kinds of Certifications Are Available?

The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is the only recognized regulatory agency for herbal medicine practitioners. In order to earn the NCCAOM's Diplomate of Chinese Herbology credential, you need to complete a master's-level program in Oriental medicine or Chinese herbology, as well as three written exams.