Bachelor of Science in Herbal Sciences

A woman looks at herbs in the lab.

Quick Facts


Kenmore, Washington campus

General Requirements

  • 90 transferable quarter credits (60 semester credits).
  • 2.5 cumulative GPA or higher,
  • Grade C or better in all basic proficiency and science requirement courses

Length of Program

2 years, full time

Tuition and Financial Aid

Career Opportunities for Graduates

  • Herbal industry representative, consultant, formulator, manufacturer or manager
  • Quality assurance specialist
  • Teacher/instructor at an herbal school
  • Production and processing specialist
  • Researcher
  • Herb cultivator or wildcrafter
  • Work in the health/wellness/supplements/cosmetics industry
  • Preparation for graduate studies in natural medicine, ethnobotany, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, phytotherapy, botany, horticulture, pharmacognosy, pharmacology, medicine, nursing or nutrition

See examples of how our graduates use their herbal sciences degrees.


This program does not lead to a clinical license and therefore does not qualify graduates to treat patients without further training in clinical diagnostic skills, such as a medical graduate program. 


Bastyr University's herbal sciences degree completion program trains professionals who can respond to the growing demand for herbal medicine experts. This is not a clinical degree program and does not qualify graduates to treat patients medically. By studying with master herbalists, students undertake a thorough and scientifically rigorous education. Graduates complete the program in two years and are prepared to enter the herbal products field directly, begin work as botanical medicine experts or pursue further education in related areas.

Study Herbs in an Academic Environment

The program curriculum, facilitated through our School of Naturopathic Medicine and Department of Botanical Medicine, includes such study areas as:

  • Botanical identification of medicinal herbs
  • Disease prevention and health maintenance using medicinal herbs
  • Learning to cultivate herbs
  • Cultural, historical, sociopolitical and economic perspectives on botanical medicine 
  • Herbal manufacturing and quality assurance

In the past, herbalists were either self-taught or trained through certificate programs or apprenticeships. This program brings much-needed academic credentials to the field while also offering a traditional, holistic study of herbs. The curriculum provides students with a deep foundation in current research methods, preparing them for direct employment as an herbalist in the herbal products field. 

Herbal Program Features

  • Bastyr University's 51-acre campus — set next to the 316-acre Saint Edward State Park — is the perfect outdoor classroom for studying plants throughout the seasons. The park features miles of wooded hiking, running and biking trails and offers many opportunities for nature study.
  • Expert faculty coupled with a strong academic advising program.
  • Hands-on curriculum which equips students with real-world skills in evaluating and maintaining quality control of herbs, thus preparing graduates for direct employment in the herbal products field.
  • A 44-hour practicum helps students transition confidently to the workforce, providing a valuable interface with herbal manufacturers, growers, wildcrafting experts, practitioners and researchers.
  • Bastyr Medicinal Herb Garden features more than 350 species of Western and Chinese herbs. The garden allows students to learn to grow herbs year-round, harvest herbs for classroom study or for making herbal products, and fulfill relevant work-study hours.
  • An on-campus herb lab allows students to hone their skills in herbal medicine making.
  • Innovative classes such as Northwest Herbs and Herbs and Food.
  • A variety of study abroad/away options in Costa Rica, Italy, as well as in the U.S.


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Looking for a low-cost alternative to completing your prerequisites? See which courses can be fulfilled through the Alternative Credit Project.

Entering undergraduates must have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA with a grade of C or better in all basic proficiency and science requirement courses. Exceptional applicants who do not meet this minimum requirement will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Prior to enrolling, students must have completed 90 quarter credits (60 semester credits), including a minimum number of credits in the basic proficiency, science and general education categories. 

Note: students may apply to the program while completing prerequisite coursework.

Basic Proficiency and Science Requirements

English literature or composition9 quarter credits
General psychology3 quarter credits
Public Speaking3 quarter credits
College Algebra4 quarter credits
General chemistry I & II
(science major level with lab)
8 quarter credits
General cell biology (science major level with lab)4 quarter credits
Botany3 quarter credits

General Education Requirements

Natural science8 quarter credits
Arts and humanities15 quarter credits
Social sciences15 quarter credits
Electives18 quarter creditsThe number of elective credits may vary depending upon the exact number of quarter credits earned in the other prerequisite categories. Total prerequisite credits must equal at least 90 quarter credits.

Want to know which classes fulfill these prerequisites? Check these lists:


Basic science courses within the herbal sciences program include anatomy, physiology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, pharmacology and disease processes. These courses serve as a foundation for understanding the human body and provide students with the necessary skills and competency to pursue course work in their chosen field.

The basic sciences faculty leads students beyond the simple learning of scientific facts  to integrate systematically the information from basic science disciplines into a unified model of human organization and function. Problem-solving, clinical cases and examples are an integral part of the basic science curriculum.

Expected Learning Outcomes

The Department of Botanical Medicine has established the following expected learning outcomes for the Bachelor of Science in Herbal Sciences programs:

  • Identify most commonly used medicinal plants utilizing botanical, organoleptic and analytical methods of identification and their medicinal indications and actions.
  • Convey understanding of current political issues and trends pertaining to herbal industry as well as history of traditional use of herbs in medicine.
  • Produce commonly used herbal preparations and discuss their potential in medicinal applications.
  • Analyze herbal products using knowledge of pharmacognosy and QAQC test methods and apply this analysis to potential research applications.
  • Develop sound foundations in the sciences that prepare the student for science based industry or graduate level study such as ethnobotany, pharmacology, pharmacognosy, clinical graduate work, research, herbal product development and QAQC, bulk herb supplier or herbal agriculture.
  • Exhibit knowledge of safety parameters for use of medicinal plants.

The attached PDF is the proposed curriculum for students starting in Fall 2019. Please note that changes to the curriculum may still occur before the start of the Fall 2019 academic year. For the 2019-2020 course catalog, click here

PDF icon 2019-20 BSH.pdf

Study Away and Abroad

The herbal sciences program is enriched by the study away programs that offer some of the most powerful, formative experiences of our students' education.

Herbal Medicine in Italy

Early September (every other year)

Students examine plants at roadside.This two-week intensive explores the history, folklore and culture of herbal medicine. Students learn about plant identification, medicinal preparations and clinical applications, talking to herbalists, botanists, teachers and others who love plants and plant medicine. Students travel to three regions – Sansepolcro in the region of Tuscany, Salerno in the region of Campania and Colipardo in the region of Lazio. The group visits herb companies, herb museums and gardens. Yoga classes are woven throughout the course to help maintain balance and centering.

Coordinator: Robin DiPasquale, ND, RH (AHG)

Botanical Studies in Costa Rica

Students examine Costa Rican stinging nettle. Photo courtesy Jenn Dazey.Winter (every other year)

Over 10 days, students explore botanical medicine in jungle canopies, rivers, mountains and ocean beaches. The group visits herbal farms, preservation gardens, jungle wilderness and sustainable communities. Students meet with long-time folk herbalists and world-renowned modern permaculturists, learning about herbal medicine, Latin American culture and holistic land stewardship.

Coordinator: Jenn Dazey, ND, RH (AHG)

Appalachia Field Course in Herbal Medicine

Late June (every other year)

Vista of Blue Ridge Mountains

This 10-day course explores traditional early-American uses of native plants and experiences the music, scenery and culture of the Appalachian hills in Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina and Georgia. Students visit the homes of families who have been herbal wildcrafters since the 1700s, along with the Great Smoky Mountains, the Land of the Waterfalls scenic area and many historical sites. Students learn plant identification, harvesting and traditional medicine-making.

Coordinator: Sheila Kingsbury, ND, RH (AHG)

Plant Identification & Medicinal Field Botany

Summer quarter every year (three weekends)

Lush island in tidal deltaStudents spend three weekends camping and hiking in Washington state's Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges learning botany, plant identification and medicinal uses of native plants.

Coordinator: Eric Yarnell, ND

Herbal Medicine Throughout Oregon

Late June (every year)

Herbal medicine foraging in Oregon / photo courtesy Karen McCoyStudents spend seven days camping, hiking and touring herb farms and herbal production companies. The focus is on developing a deeper understanding of herbal medicine through the Oregon herbal community. Students car pool to the cities of Williams, Eugene and Sandy and set up base camps, then head out to day trips to woods, fields, farms and production facilities.

Coordinator: Crystal Hamby

Cascade Herb Experience

Instructor with students out in a field studyingOne weekend in summer quarter (every year)

Students spend a weekend learning to identify native plants in the North Cascade mountains near Mount Vernon, Washington. They also learn from a local herbal wildcrafter how to harvest native medicinal plants sustainably and how to make medicine from them.

Coordinator: Crystal Hamby and Suzanne Jordan

Kenmore Campus Location

The 51-acre Bastyr University campus, nestled among fields and woodlands on the northeast shore of Lake Washington, is uniquely suited for the study of natural health sciences.
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