Majoring in Marijuana: Best Colleges for Studying Cannabis

Majoring in Marijuana: Best Colleges for Studying Cannabis

We cover the ins and outs of the burgeoning cannabis industry. For students interested in becoming part of this emerging field, the opportunities are boundless.

Key Takeaways

  • Opportunities for a cannabis degree have grown in the past twenty years, thanks to the legalization and acceptance of the cannabis industry in the United States. Cannabis education is available in various degrees, from bachelor’s to graduate degrees. There are also certificates and courses available.
  • Some cannabis degrees and courses are offered online, while others are taught in a classroom. They cover topics like cannabis farming, cannabis law, and the cannabis business.
  • While some jobs in the sector require specialized cannabis courses and degrees, some don’t. Examples of jobs that do not need a degree include budtenders and trimmers.

The cannabis industry is in a state of steady growth. For students already with a background in subjects like business, law, chemistry, and plant biology, this growth represents great professional opportunity. And for students interested in taking a more direct route, a number of fully accredited colleges and universities now offer courses, certifications, minors, and even four-year bachelor’s degrees in cannabis studies. We’ve highlighted the top schools for studying marijuana - and as a bonus, we’ve included a ranking of the Top Cannabis Influencers and the Most Influential Books About Cannabis from the last half-century.

A few years ago, legalizing marijuana would have probably made our list of The 25 Most Controversial Topics. But times have changed. As of April 20th, 2021, medical marijuana is legal in 36 states. Of these, 16 states (and Washington D.C.) have legalized recreational marijuana. And according to a Pew Research poll from 2019, 91% of American adults believe that marijuana should be legal in some form, whether just for medical use (32%) or for both medicinal and recreational use (59%).

PrepScholar - Improve 240 points or more on your test
AD
PrepScholar - Improve 240 points or more on your test
AD

In other words, marijuana isn’t a controversy — it’s an opportunity. The cannabis business is booming, bringing in more than $13.6 billion in legal revenue for the U.S. in 2019, and generating more than 340,000 jobs. This may only scratch the surface of its economic potential. At the time of writing, marijuana remains a Schedule I illegal drug according to federal law. Economic and legal trends suggest it may only be a matter of time before marijuana prohibition is lifted throughout the United States.

Growing operations, legal dispensaries, cannabis supply chains, and practitioners of various therapeutic treatments are either in the midst, or on the verge, of realizing tremendous commercial potential. But realizing this potential demands real-world skills. So what does that mean for students who aspire to be a part of the green rush?

If you really want to be a part of the marijuana business, you’ll need an education. From cultivation to distribution, from business management to marketing — there’s a lot that goes into a multibillion dollar cash crop industry. If you’re curious how you can be a part of cannabis commerce, start by checking out colleges offering courses in cannabis, majors in marijuana, and degrees in dankness. Ok, that last one isn’t a real thing. But the point remains — what follows is a look at the best pathways to getting an education in marijuana and advancing a career in cannabis. And keep reading for our bonus lists featuring The Top Cannabis Influencers and The Most Influential Books on the Topic of Cannabis.

More About the Cannabis Degree Program

Years ago, obtaining formal education related to the marijuana industry was impossible. But today, thanks to acceptance and legalization, many colleges and universities are doing the unthinkable: offering cannabis degree programs and courses to anyone wanting to enter the cannabis sector.

There’s even an organization that helps students and workers in cannabis businesses, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA).

Even the most seasoned academic nerd may find it challenging to decide which cannabis education to pursue. Even if it may be slightly more expensive and time-consuming than you had anticipated, it is preferable to sit down and research which forms of cannabis education are worthwhile.

What To Expect with a Cannabis or Marijuana Degree

What You’ll learn

University degrees in cannabis offer a more thorough examination of the drug. Medical cannabis science degree programs provide opportunities to learn about subjects outside of cannabis and focus on specific cannabis-related issues, resulting in holistic and comprehensive cannabis education.

Cost

Cannabis degrees from universities are always more expensive than cannabis training school diplomas. University degrees generally take place in a classroom setting and cover a significantly wider range of subjects over several units.

In addition, you must pay tuition. The proven way to reduce your expenses is to enroll in a part-time online cannabis degree program, but these aren’t always available and will primarily include on-campus classes.

Duration

Less time is required for cannabis certification programs at training schools than for cannabis degrees at universities. Depending on the cannabis training institution you choose, it can take anywhere from six days to six months to get a cannabis certification. Comparatively, a bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete, while an associate’s or master’s degree takes two.

Legitimacy

When considering obtaining a cannabis degree, it’s best to get it from reputable universities. Cannabis training schools or boot camps may not offer a scientific approach to cannabis and, frequently, are considered not authentic.

Top Medical Marijuana Career Opportunities

Budtender

Budtender, or marijuana salesperson, is one of the top career opportunities, especially for those who don’t have a formal education in the subject. As a medical marijuana salesperson, you’ll be assisting patients in selecting the best cannabis strains and products.

Bud Trimmer

It’s time to harvest mature cannabis plants once the growing season is done. Hand-cutting the cannabis bud from the plant is the job of bud trimmers. This entails cutting the buds swiftly and precisely following the brand’s specifications after eliminating the larger fan leaves.

Dispensary Manager

To assist medical patients in finding their medication, a medical marijuana dispensary manager must establish a skilled team of budtenders. Managers must emphasize staff training to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local laws.

Extraction Technician

With cutting-edge machinery, extraction specialists separate the cannabis resin from the raw cannabis material in a lab setting.

Master Grower

A commercial cultivation facility’s owner or principal operator could be a master grower. You are in charge of cultivating, overseeing, and harvesting cannabis plants at the end of the growing season as a master grower.

Back to Top

The Best Schools For Studying Cannabis

Now that you’ve been inspired by the impact that a few ambitious students can make on the world, check out a few colleges and universities offering legitimate pathways to a career in cannabis:

Back to Top

Undergraduate Degrees in Cannabis Science

  1. Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    6K

    Northern Michigan University

    Bachelor’s Degree in Medicinal Plant Chemistry

    Northern Michigan University is one of only three regionally accredited universities offering a full four-year degree program centered on the chemistry of cannabis. Northern Michigan notes that the changing legal landscape and the growing legitimacy of the marijuana business has created an increased demand for qualified professionals with an educational background in cannabis entrepreneurship. Northern Michigan’s Medicinal Plant Chemistry undergraduate degree is a four-year program requiring the completion of 120 credits — 30 to 40 in General Education; 89–91 in Required Courses in the Major.

    Students will learn the business and strategy surrounding medicinal plant production, analysis, and distribution.

    According to Northern Michigan, this rigorous degree program will provide a foundation in chemistry and plant biology and includes a final-year capstone experience — CH 420 Medicinal Plant Chemistry I and CH 421 Medicinal Plant Chemistry II — with a focus on experimental horticulture and analysis of natural products. Students can choose between two areas of focus — an Entrepreneurial Track focusing on business and accounting; and a Bio-analytical Track focusing on advanced topics in chemistry and biology.

    Photo Credit

    Kpotes — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

    Northern Michigan University’s Online Degrees

    BAS in Applied Science In Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Construction Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Loss Prevention Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Ski Area Business Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
    BS in Applied Workplace Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Clinical Lab Sciences/Laboratory Medicine
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    975/21

    Minot State University

    Bachelor’s Degree in Medicinal Plant Chemistry

    Minot State University is the second of three regionally accredited colleges to introduce a four-year undergraduate degree in cannabis. A concentration within the four-year Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, Medicinal Plant Chemistry focuses on the extraction and analysis of botanical products.

    As an undergraduate in this program, you’ll take challenging courses in chemistry, biology, physics, and calculus alongside a heavy emphasis on laboratory work. According to Minot State, you’ll be required to complete more than 600 hours of lab work in areas such as extraction, separation, and analysis of plant material chemicals and compounds.

    Minot notes that you’ll learn the theory, skills, and techniques necessary to work in the medicinal cannabis, hops, botanical supplements, and food science industries.

    Photo Credit

    Minot State University

  3. #3

    Lake Superior State University

    Sault Ste Marie , MI

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/22

    Lake Superior State University

    Bachelor’s Degree in Cannabis Chemistry/Cannabis Business

    Lake Superior State University is the third of three accredited schools to introduce a bachelor’s degree in cannabis chemistry as well as four-year bachelor’s degree in the cannabis business.

    Lake Superior describes its bachelor’s degree in cannabis chemistry as the first degree program in the United States focusing on the quantitative analysis of cannabis related compounds and contaminants including THC, CBD, terpenes, etc. Lake superior notes that students can actually pursue this degree as either an associate (2-year) degree or a baccalaureate (4-year) degree. According to Lake Superior, students in this program may qualify for an American Chemical Society (ACS) degree.

    Lake Superior’s baccalaureate of science in cannabis business focuses on the entrepreneurial aspects of cannabis, and is geared toward the goals of future managers, supervisors, and business development leaders for commercial cannabis enterprises. The goal of the program is to instruct in basic business management principles with a specific orientation toward the cannabis business.

    Photo Credit

    Bobak Ha’Eri — Own work, CC BY 3.0

  4. Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    <1K

    Pennsylvania Institute of Technology

    Associate Degrees in Cannabis Horticulture and Cannabis Business

    Pennsylvania Institute of Technology is a private, accredited, not-for-profit college located in Media, Pennsylvania in the heart of Delaware County, PA just mere minutes outside of Philadelphia and Wilmington, DE. It is a small institution with a focus on individual student attention. Popular majors include LPN, Physical Therapy Assistant, Cannabis Horticulture, Cannabis Business, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Nursing, and more.

    PIT’s flexible, accredited and renowned two-year associate’s degree program in Cannabis Studies offers three pathways to choose from - Health Therapy, Business, or Horticulture. Students can attend classes in person on the sprawling campus in Media complete with a hands-on grow laboratory, or they can complete the degree entirely online from the comfort of their own home. (Not available in California)

Back to Top

Undergraduate Courses in Cannabis

  1. #1

    Stockton University

    Galloway , NJ

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1101/23

    Stockton University

    Minor in Cannabis Studies

    With New Jersey residents recently voting to legalize marijuana, the Garden State is an emergent front for both the ongoing legal debate on how best to approach decriminalization and for a new boom in growing and dispensary operations.

    Stockton’s interdisciplinary minor in Cannabis Studies provides a foundation for understanding the growing cannabis industry, and for evaluating employment opportunities within. The minor is composed of five required courses: Introduction to Medical Marijuana; Cannabis Law; Internship Preparation, including research and small business training; experiential learning internships in areas such as cultivation, retail, patient research, etc.; and an elective in an area such as Hydroponics, Social and Ethical Considerations of Business, or Economic Botany.

    Photo Credit

    Stockton University

  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    49%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    38K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1280/29

    University of California, Davis

    Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Physiology and Medicine

    Every Spring quarter since 2017, UC Davis has offered undergraduates access to a 100-level course called Physiology of Cannabis, which explores the ways that cannabis and cannabinoids affect the body.

    In Winter 2018, UC Davis also began offering a 400-level course called Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Physiology and Medicine. The course is aimed at students in the biological sciences with a focus on elucidating the physiological effects of cannabis and cannabinoids on human organ systems and on preparing students to communicate the benefits and drawbacks of medicinal marijuana in a medical context. The course examines the biology of cannabis, the history of its usage, possible therapeutic values, and the relative effectiveness of various medical applications.

    UC Davis also offers a graduate level seminar-style course called Cannabis Sativa: The Plant and its Impact on People.

    Photo Credit

    Daderot — Own work, CC0

Back to Top

Cannabis Certification Programs

  1. #1

    University of Vermont

    Burlington , VT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/28

    University of Vermont

    Cannabis Science and Medicine Professional Certificate

    The Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont offers this certification for medical professionals, dispensary personnel, and regulators. Housed in the Medical College’s Department of Pharmacology, this is the nation’s first professional certificate in the therapeutic use of marijuana. The 7-week online program offers a comprehensive look at the subject matter, including units on the history, business, policy, biology, effect, production, safety, pharmacology, and clinical research surrounding cannabis.

    The Larner College of Medicine also offers non-credit modules for independent completion on subjects such as Medico-Legal, Biology and Basic Science, Physiology and Pharmacology, Pain Syndromes, and Motor Disorders.

    Other opportunities to study cannabis at UVM include:

    • Professional Certificate in Cannabis Plant Biology, geared toward prospective dispensary personnel, growers, cultivators, extractors, and quality/compliance monitors, offered through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences;
    • Online Cannabis Science and Medicine Modules, composed of focused briefings on important aspects of cannabis science and medicine, with webinars on cannabis chemistry, pharmacology, and plant biology;
    • Cannabis Past, Present, and Future (Pharmacology 200): a 3-credit continuing education course offered through the Department of Pharmacology for students with an interest in understanding cannabis and its usage, as well as key concepts in the human physiology underlying the medicinal and general use of cannabis.
    Photo Credit

    AlexiusHoratius — Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

    University of Vermont’s Online Degrees

    BS in Health Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    53%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    44K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1326/30

    University of Washington

    Medicinal Cannabis and Chronic Pain

    An online training certification geared toward health professionals, the first module of this course serves as an introduction to cannabis and its medical uses, particularly in the context of Washington State law. A second module shifts the focus to the best clinical practices surrounding medicinal cannabis, ultimately providing students with the knowledge and background to effectively advise patients who are considering cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain. According to the University of Washington, course training may be completed for Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit.

    Photo Credit

    Punctured Bicycle — Own work, Public Domain

  3. Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Graduation

    16%

    Student body

    1K

    Olive-Harvey College, City Colleges of Chicago

    Cannabis Dispensary Operations Certificate

    The Cannabis Dispensary Operations Certificate prepares students to work in a licensed cannabis dispensary. Students will learn the basics of legally dispensing cannabis and will gain an understanding of the legal environment of dispensary operations in alignment with state and federal laws. Students will also acquire skills to educate cannabis clients as well as obtain the foundational knowledge to pursue additional careers in the cannabis industry.

Back to Top

Online Degrees and Certificates in Cannabis Studies

Unity College

New Gloucester , ME
Other Rankings

Bachelor of Science Sustainable Business Management Hemp Industry and Science

Unity College ’s Online Degrees

BS in Conservation Law Enforcement
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: None Reported
BS in Animal Health And Behavior
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Animal Science
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Captive Wildlife Care
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: None Reported
BS in Environmental Geospatial Technologies
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Environmental Health And Safety
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Environmental Health And Wellness
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Environmental Justice And Social Change
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Environmental Science
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: None Reported
BS in Environmental Science And Climate Change
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Environmental Studies
Degree Concentrations
  • Leadership And Communication
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Marine Biology And Sustainable Aquaculture
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Sustainable Business Management
Degree Concentrations
  • Adventure Ecotourism
  • Hemp Industry And Science
  • Renewable Energy
  • Sustainable Food And Farming
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Wildlife And Fisheries Biology
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: None Reported

Certificates

Other Rankings

Doane University’s Online Degrees

BA in Agribusiness
  • Required Credits: 123
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BA in Business Administration
  • Required Credits: None Reported
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BA in Liberal Arts
  • Required Credits: None Reported
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: None Reported
BA in Health Sciences
Degree Concentrations
  • Leadership
  • Pre-Health Professions
  • Required Credits: None Reported
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BSN in Nursing
Degree Concentrations
  • Rn To Bsn
  • Required Credits: None Reported
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online

Sullivan University

Louisville , KY

Cannabis Studies Certificate

Sullivan University’s Online Degrees

BS in Accounting
  • Required Credits: 180
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Hospitality Management
  • Required Credits: 180
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Human Resource Leadership
  • Required Credits: 180
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Business Administration
Degree Concentrations
  • Finance
  • Healthcare Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • Required Credits: 180
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Justice and Public Safety Administration
  • Required Credits: 180
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Cybersecurity
  • Required Credits: 180
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BS in Information Technology
Degree Concentrations
  • Cyber Security Professional
  • Network Support Administration and Security
  • Web Design and Application Development
  • System Support and Administration
  • Required Credits: 180
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
Other Rankings

Professional Certificate Cannabis Studies

University of Rhode Island’s Online Degrees

BA in Communication Studies
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
BSN in Nursing Rn To Bsn
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
Back to Top

Pursuing Other Degrees To Prepare for a Career in the Cannabis Industry

Of course, there are countless other pathways to a career in cannabis that don’t require you to major in marijuana. A bachelor’s degree in business administration could prepare you for a career managing a growing operation, dispensary, or supply chain. A legal studies degree could make you a powerful advocate for policy changes surrounding legalization and decriminalization. And studying chemistry and plant biology could make you an expert witness in cannabis court cases.

You could also pursue a certification through a wide range of career schools such as Oaksterdam University, Clover Leaf College, and THC college. However, be sure to do your due diligence before pursuing a non-accredited degree or certification. As the cannabis career sector grows, a number of for-profit education institutions have seized on the opportunity. Be sure that any degree or certification you pursue comes from a school with a strong public reputation and a track record of producing employable graduates. And approach with caution any certification or degree program without regional accreditation.

To learn more about accreditation, check out our College & University Accreditation Guide.

Interviews with Cannabis Experts

Interested in hearing from top Cannabis Influencers in this emerging field? Check out the Academic Influence interviews below…

Jed Macosko’s Interview with Alex Rogers

Full Transcript | Watch on YouTube

Karina Macosko’s Interview with Alex Rogers

Full Transcript | Watch on YouTube

Jed Macosko’s Interview with Allyn Howlett

Full Transcript | Watch on YouTube

Karina Macosko’s Interview with Allyn Howlett

Full Transcript | Watch on YouTube

The Top Cannabis Influencers

The cannabis business may be growing, but many of the most familiar influencers in the business have been repping weed since well before it achieved four-year degree program status. Using our Ranking Analytics to measure the permeation of influence across both academic and popular culture, we yielded this list of individuals who have had a major influence on the visibility, popularity, image, legality, or prohibition of marijuana during the period between 1960 and 2020.

The list includes major legalization activists and spokespersons, pop culture figures closely associated with cannabis consumption and a number of figures who have notoriously taken steps to maintain or expand the prohibition of marijuana as well as impose greater legal punishment on those guilty of violating marijuana prohibition rules.

Top 20 Cannabis Influencers
RankPerson
1Marc Emery
2Bob Marley
3Jon Gettman
4Jack Herer
5Howard Marks
6Tommy Chong
7Dennis Peron
8Ed Rosenthal
9David Nutt
10Harry J. Anslinger
11Doug Benson
12Jeff Sessions
13Snoop Dogg
14Steven Hager
15Bob Barr
16Robert C. Randall
17Cheech Marin
18Paul McCartney
19Cindy Fazey
20Willie Nelson

Most Influential Books About Cannabis

A number of books have had a major impact on the public perception of marijuana, as well as the legal arguments surrounding either its decriminalization or prohibition. Using our backstage Ranking Analytics tool, we measured the influence of all texts on the subject of marijuana to determine the most influential books on the topic. The result is a mix of non-fiction texts advocating for marijuana legalization; non-fiction texts advocating for marijuana prohibition; memoirs from those with extensive experience in cannabis usage, distribution, and the legal consequences of these activities; and several texts whose reputation emanates from their eye-opening exploration of the psychotropic effects of marijuana and other mind-altering substances.

Top Ten Most Influential Books About Cannabis
RankPerson
1The Emperor Wears No Clothes
2The War We Never Fought
3The Hasheesh Eater
4On the Road
5Mr. Nice
6The Greening of America
7The Botany of Desire
8The Doors of Perception
9United States Code: Title 21
10Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

If you’re interested in a career in cannabis, but you’re not sure you want to major in the subject, there are a number of more traditional angles you could take, from pursuit of a degree in plant sciences or legal studies to a degree in business administration or medical science. Check out these top colleges and get started on the path to a profitable career in cannabis.

Connect with Prepory for college admissions counseling
AD
Connect with Prepory for college admissions counseling
AD

0 Comments

Want to leave a comment? Then sign up now!