It is fair to say that cannabis has become ‘mainstream.’ Not only can you purchase it in its classic form, but there are also edibles, drinks, balms, topicals, and several other ways to consume it.
What you may NOT be aware of is how the industry’s growth is shaping the career prospects of tens of thousands of Americans. ‘Matriculating in marijuana’ is more prevalent than you may think because there are genuine ‘cannabis degrees’ that pave the way to real-world employment.
Although degrees in marketing, biology, and health care can set you up for a career in marijuana, it is now possible to complete a cannabis degree at a legitimate university. According to CNBC, students can walk into a job worth $70,000 immediately after completing certain programs. In this article, we look at five of the best institutions offering cannabis degrees.
First, however, let’s discuss whether you should focus on earning cannabis-specific qualifications.
Is a Marijuana Degree Worth It?
A few years ago, the notion of a marijuana college degree was considered ridiculous. It was deemed nothing more than a novelty. However, things have changed rapidly as a growing number of states have legalized medicinal and recreational cannabis. Marijuana is also fully legal in Canada.
These days, the cannabis industry is now a viable business opportunity. Estimates vary, but research from Cowen & Co. suggests that the market could be worth over $75 billion per annum in 2030. This rapid growth will inevitably lead to new jobs. Even now, companies are seeking marijuana chefs, cannabis extraction technicians, and grow masters.
An Increase in Legitimacy
There remain concerns over whether certain universities offering cannabis degree programs are reputable. However, it is becoming more apparent that the programs themselves have legitimacy.
Students at Colorado State University-Pueblo expressed interest in Cannabis Biology and Chemistry a few years ago. Soon enough, the university created a program. It is an extensive science degree that includes coursework focused on advanced biology and chemistry. Therefore, you can forget about taking on an ‘easy’ degree!
Cannabis qualifications are legitimate, but the ambiguous legal status of the plant can make choices limited.
One issue that colleges continue to face is the federally illegal status of cannabis. Academic programs relating to marijuana are legal, as long as they don’t involve the sale, possession, or use of the substance. However, colleges and universities have to constantly review their policies to ensure they remain within the law.
Another problem is that there are no accreditation agencies for marijuana-related education at present. This means there is no method of examining a school’s curricular offerings to confirm that the institution provides a high-quality education. Most ‘traditional’ employers won’t accept a degree from an unaccredited college.
What’s also noteworthy is the fact there are a few specialized cannabis-related degrees available now. Let’s look at one of the most interesting courses.
Schools that Offer Medicinal Plant Chemistry
You can effectively get into marijuana botany school by studying medicinal plant chemistry. It is a unique degree designed to support and enhance the growing cannabis, herbal extract, and pharmaceutical markets. It is a degree that prepares you to enter the laboratory or business sides of these industries.
In general, course work includes Chemistry and Biology, along with Bio-Analytical and Entrepreneurial tracks. Career opportunities for medicinal plant chemistry graduates include:
- Quality control/assurance
- Forensic chemistry
- Extraction, purification, and analysis of plant compounds
At present, only two educational institutions offer a four-year medicinal plant chemistry degree program. They are:
- Northern Michigan University
- Minot State University
If you’re keen on pursuing a career in cannabis, you have to determine whether it is worth proceeding with third-level education. Let’s check out a few marijuana degrees that could result in a qualification capable of getting you a decent job.
What Cannabis College Degrees Are Worth Getting?
First of all, you have to decide whether a cannabis degree is something you should aim for. If your goal is to work in pharmacology or cultivation, learning about the marijuana plant is essential. Therefore, coursework related to it will boost your chances of getting a job in the field.
However, if you hope to work in brand management or law, for instance, it is best to go down the ‘traditional’ route.
There’s no question that the marijuana industry needs labor, including qualified lab testing operators, pharmacologists, and cultivation managers. This could help boost the legitimacy of cannabis degrees in the future. In any case, here are a few qualifications potentially worth pursuing.
- Diploma in Commercial Cannabis at McGill University (Montreal, Canada).
- Master of Science in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics at the University of Maryland.
- Certificate in Regulatory Affairs for Cannabis Control at Clark University.
- Cannabis Law; part of the curriculum at Harvard Law School.
- Minor in Cannabis Studies at Stockton University.
As you can see, there isn’t a specific cannabis degree available from an accredited institution, barring medicinal plant chemistry, as mentioned above. However, you could study one of the following degree courses, which gives you the knowledge needed to get involved in the marijuana industry:
- Business Administration
- Criminal Justice/Law
Of course, you always have the option of going to a trade-specific school. We now outline five of the best educational institutions offering cannabis-related courses.
1 – Oaksterdam University
This cleverly named university is in Oakland, California, and has a horticulture program outlining everything you need to know about cultivating marijuana. From seed to harvest, this course has you covered. The detailed Business of Cannabis Semester teaches students how to start a marijuana business and ensure they operate within the law.
If you think it’s an ‘easy’ degree, think again! There are 27 courses to choose from in the Business program alone.
You can enroll on the official Oaksterdam University site. According to the institution, the only requirements are that you pay your tuition and are aged 18+. Semester classes for the two main live classroom programs are held once a week.
There are also 11 self-paced courses that allow you to learn according to your schedule. At present, four of these courses offer free enrollment.
2 – Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU)
FGCU now has cannabis studies options as part of its Integrated Studies Program. The goal is to take a scientific look at marijuana to ensure that the upcoming generation can determine the plant’s good, bad, and ugly aspects. There was an initial marijuana class that received an overwhelmingly positive review from students who were upset that it came to an end!
As Dr. Martha Rosenthal of the university points out, it is an educational course, and the institution is NOT encouraging drug use, nor are students ‘majoring in marijuana’.
The program will consist of several specialized cannabis courses as part of a general education class program. Graduates can build relationships in the legal marijuana industry and perhaps gain employment. The Integrated Studies degree requires 30 credits. Eighteen of these credits come from taking six of the available cannabis-related studies courses, all of which offer three credits apiece.
3 – The Trichome Institute
Also known as TI, this institution was created in Denver in 2014 to help improve the public’s knowledge of marijuana. It offers four specific courses:
- Professional Interpening
- Cannabis Consultant Training
- Extraction & Concentrates Fundamentals
- Cannabis for All
Each Trichome Institute course is exceedingly short. The Professional Interpening course is the longest, with a completion time of just 12 hours. You can purchase the first three courses for $249, while the Cannabis for All crash course is available on sale for less than $15. Alternatively, get all four courses for $399 or pay $479 for an Expert Bundle that includes cool tools such as a UV Magnifier and a Weed Wheel.
Although it lacks the ‘degree’ status of Oaksterdam University, it is a cheap and easy way to see if your interest in marijuana is genuine or a phase.
4 – University of Vermont
At this institution’s Larner College of Medicine, students now have the option to study various marijuana-related courses in the university’s Cannabis Science and Medicine certificate. It is primarily aimed at prospective medical professionals to help them study up-to-date research into the clinical applications of marijuana. You can earn the certificate in just seven weeks. Other options include:
- Professional Certificate in Cannabis Plant Biology
- Pharmacology 200: Cannabis Past, Present, and Future
- Cannabis Speaker Series (Online webinars)
- Community Medical School – Examining the Science of Medical Cannabis
The seven-week certificate course costs $2,250. To qualify, you need to be 18+ years of age, have a Bachelor’s degree, and finish a college-level foundational course in chemistry and biology.
5 – Northern Michigan University
NMU is offering one of the most detailed cannabis-related degree programs in the United States. As we mentioned above, it offers a degree in Medicinal Plant Chemistry. The program includes material on horticulture, marketing, biology, chemistry, and financial management. Within this major, there are also a few specific tracks, including one with a bio-analytical focus.
The versatility of this degree course is one of its biggest selling points. Even if you don’t move into the marijuana industry, the knowledge you gain will enable you to work in one of several industries. Not many people understand biology, accountancy, and chemistry! A total of 120 credits is required for this degree. You also need at least a ‘C’ in a chemistry course to apply.
Within two years of its formation, the Medicinal Plant Chemistry attracted enrolment of 230 students. If you fancy making the trip to Michigan to learn, bear in mind that the average first-year cost at NMU is over $16,000, a figure that falls to $10,000 for in-state pupils.
Final Thoughts on Cannabis Degrees
Finally, the dream of earning a degree in cannabis has become a reality. Alas, you have zero chance of graduating if you adopt the stereotypical ‘stoner’ work ethic. These are difficult courses, and you will only make the grade if you consistently work hard. One of the most impressive aspects of these degree courses is that they teach students real-world skills.
Even if they don’t enter the marijuana industry, having financial management ability and knowledge of biology and chemistry will place graduates in a strong position in the job market.
Going to university in the United States is an expensive business. An estimated 70% of American students graduate with significant loans, with the average borrower now in debt to the tune of approximately $30,000.
Those who would mock cannabis college have not taken a clear look at the college degree scene. Did you know that having a degree in Culinary Arts only earns you 2-11% more per annum than non-graduates when working as a chef?
Degrees such as Performing Arts, Fine Art, and Communications often don’t pay their way. In contrast, a cannabis degree could lead to a lucrative career in the marijuana industry. After all, how many college degrees help you earn up to $70,000 per annum in your first year or two after graduating?