The University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy plans to offer an online undergraduate certificate program in therapeutic cannabis studies, responding to the growing demand for skilled workers in one of the nation’s fastest growing industries.
At a rate of 22% a year, job growth in the therapeutic cannabis industry is exploding, and is anticipated to create more than 500,000 jobs by 2022. The rapidly expanding industry requires a skilled workforce with a specialized knowledge base. URI’s online, four-course program — the first of its kind in the nation — aims to meet that need. The online delivery model will allow for the flexibility necessary to accommodate students nationwide, as well as working professionals.
The certificate program offered through the College’s Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences department is delivered by leaders in natural product research, including phytocannabinoids such as CBD. The certificate consists of four 3-credit courses each lasting seven weeks, including Foundations of Cannabis Studies, Cannabis Product Development, Cannabis Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, and Cannabis Therapeutics.
The first course will acquaint those students with a limited science background to the key chemical and pharmacological principles necessary to successfully continue their studies. The remaining courses will develop core competencies in natural product separation and analysis, safe product development and manufacturing, and the evaluation of the therapeutic potential of cannabis. The virtual laboratory experience will introduce students to state-of-the-art equipment for cannabis chemistry analysis and testing of cannabis-related products.
“Being one of the first undergraduate certificate programs in therapeutic cannabis studies in the country, the University will be leading the scholarship of this growing field to improve scientific rigor and address public health and safety concerns,” said Professor Navindra Seeram, chair of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “The skills developed through the certificate program will prepare students for the evolving and expanding therapeutic cannabis industry. Students who complete the certificate will be highly competitive in several areas.”
The overall goal of the program is to provide graduates with an in-depth knowledge about the safe production and dissemination of cannabis-related information and products for qualified patients. It is aimed at many diverse positions in the industry, including sales, brand ambassador, laboratory technicians, quality compliance/assurance, dispensary management and product development and manufacturing.
“It is geared toward people who are in the business or want to be in the business but may not have the foundational science background,” said Jill Firtell, assistant director of online program development. “These classes are steeped in pharmacology and therapeutics, taught by professionals from the College of Pharmacy. This program gives them the education they need to be knowledgeable in all aspects of the therapeutic cannabis field. It’s a really exciting program; there aren’t a lot of them out there.”
Students successfully completing the course will earn a 12-credit certificate. Visit the undergraduate certificate in cannabis studies website for more information and to apply. Applications for classes beginning in the fall are due Aug. 4.
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