Cannabis Degrees: The New HIGHer Education
With the onset of the cannabis industry taking over the US job market and as more of the modernized states continue to legalize and destigmatize, it should go without saying that educational institutions have begun dipping their toes into the ability to offer students the option to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees in various aspects of cannabis. Considering the astronomical rate at which the cannabis industry is growing (and creating jobs), it should serve as no surprise that even high-school aged kids are starting to prepare for long-term roles in the canna-space by tailoring their undergraduate degrees to serve as a useful tool. That’s why we decided to take a moment and share some info with you on the latest and greatest cannabis degrees, the new HIGHer education.
University of Maryland School of Pharmacy - Graduate Degree
This program is the first of its kind in the US. The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy is just about to graduate its first class of students from its Master of Science (MS) in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics program. This is a standard two-year MS program that utilizes both online and in-person methods. An excellent choice for someone who has a solid undergraduate foundation (or career) in another field and wants to establish a formal education in the cannabis space. The program states that “students are provided with the knowledge they need to support patients and the medical cannabis industry, add to existing research, and develop well-informed medical cannabis policy.” Based out of the Rockville, MD campus, students will certainly walk away from this program with a newfound canna-confidence that will very likely open many doors down the road. This is certainly a program that we would recommend checking out if you’re interested in furthering your education beyond undergrad degrees. It should be noted that this program does not touch any aspects of growing/horticulture.
Northern Michigan University
If horticulture and chemistry is more up your alley, NMU now provides students with the option of garnering a Medicinal Plant Chemistry degree. The beauty of this degree is that it basically comes with a built-in backup plan in case you ever change your mind about the cannabis industry. With an NMU degree in Medicinal Plant Chemistry, were you ever to decide that you want to break-off into a different career path that perhaps isn’t cannabis facing, you would have the benefit of still maintaining a relevant degree (assuming you stay in the plant chemistry space). This seems like an awesome program for the chemistry-geeks out there (much love to them!). The only downsides being a pricey (but comparable to many institutions) out-of-state tuition of around $16,000 for the first year and the fact that you’re going to need a heavy coat for those northern Michigan winters.
Lake Superior State University
If the out-of-state tuition price scared you off from NMU or if you want something that is a little more business focused, LSSU is probably worth looking into. The first notable aspect that caught our attention is the fact that LSSU charges everyone the in-state tuition for this program. Secondly, this undergrad program was designed to prepare students for the business operations side of the industry (which is something that many companies are in dire need for). According to LSSU’s program goals, “graduates will be able to think critically & analytically about the legalization of cannabis and its effects on employment, policy, and the economy, prepare a business canvas, pitch deck, and marketing plan for startup cannabis businesses, and explain, analyze, and compare and contrast state, federal, provincial and international laws related to growing, distributing, selling, and marketing cannabis products.”  If you’re shopping around for your first (or second) undergrad degree, Lake Superior State University is absolutely worth checking out. Additionally, if you like the school and cannabis, but business isn’t your thing, they also have a cannabis chemistry program.
University of Vermont
Although the program offered at the University of Vermont isn’t technically an undergrad or graduate program, we were so impressed with their course offerings that it felt disingenuous to not give them a mention. UVM provides canna-lovers the opportunity to earn various certifications in the weed biz. The online programs are designed to provide students with either a “Cannabis Science and Medicine Professional Certificate” or a “Professional Certificate in Cannabis Plant Biology”. According to UVM, the first certificate is “for medical professionals, dispensary personnel, and regulators” and the latter being tailored for “dispensary personnel, growers, cultivators, extractors, and those involved in quality control and compliance.”  These are only two of multiple options the school provides in the cannabis space. There’s also the added benefit of the programs being online, which means knocking out the learning modules in your PJ’s!
…But, Wait! There’s More!
While we’ve covered the heavy hitters above, there are countless institutions incorporating cannabis minors and cannabis-based courses these days. At the time of writing, there were several dozen colleges and universities that had created courses (not necessarily full programs or degrees) that revolved around cannabis. For example, the University of Denver has established a course dedicated to the business side of cannabis and Harvard University now has a course titled “Health Effects of Cannabis”. Additionally, don’t underestimate certain programs just because they don’t necessarily fall into the accredited institution category. Places like Oaksterdam University provide prospective students with a huge selection of both live classroom format programs (Business of Cannabis & Horticulture) as well as self-paced courses that are focused on a wide gamut of cannabis subjects. Some of these courses even provide certifications and are relatively affordable when compared to some other programs.
If there is even remotely a chance of you hitting the books in the near future, regardless of institutions that you’re considering, we recommend reaching out to the program director or coordinator and asking for more info on the program(s) as well as any sample material they can provide. This is the best way to not only get your foot in the door with the administration, but you’ll have a head start on what to expect in the event that you are accepted into a program. Lastly…don’t forget to send your mother a photo from your first day at school, she wouldn’t have it any other way!