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US (WI): New graduate certificate studies the science of cannabis

With the launch of the online Cannabis Science graduate certificate program, UW-Stevens Point is the first institution within the Universities of Wisconsin to offer the opportunity to become a leader in this fast-paced industry through courses designed and taught by UWSP professors who grow and study cannabis.

This graduate certificate is 100% online and provides participants with fundamental knowledge of the science of cannabis. From the history of cannabis cultivation, horticultural techniques and the plant's complex phytochemistry, students will gain the foundation and expertise to secure positions in a large number of related industries.

Anyone in the world can take part in the program, with undergraduate students at UWSP also having the opportunity to complete the graduate certificate concurrently with their undergraduate work.

Applications are now open for this fall. Students may enter the program in the fall or spring, with the ability to study part- or full-time and take advantage of the flexibility of mostly asynchronous courses.

Cannabis is a versatile and emerging crop with many industrial and medical applications owing to its diversity of chemical compounds and its strong natural fibers.

The legal cannabis industry is a $25 billion market and is projected to grow to $45 billion by 2025. For five years in a row, employment in the industry increased by greater than 27 percent with more than 280 new jobs created every day in 2022, according to Leafly Jobs Report.

"We want to help fill a need in this growing industry not only in Wisconsin, but in surrounding states as well," said Associate Professor and Department of Biology Chair Brian Barringer. "As a scientist and educator, it's not hard to notice the number of students who want to be involved and in studying cannabis; this is what spurred our interest in creating this certificate program."

The program was designed by expert faculty in the UWSP Departments of Biology and Chemistry who are immersed in cannabis-based research.

"One of the most distinguishing things about our program is that we have multiple faculty members at UWSP whose research programs focus on cannabis, and we collectively represent a wide variety of disciplines within the STEM field," said Barringer.

Program faculty, including Barringer and associate professors Ann Impullitti and Shannon Riha, are part of a larger research collaboration that was recently awarded a $175,000 grant to study the effects of cannabis in removing synthetic, toxic materials from soils.

Course topics include an introduction to cannabis science, the biology, ecology and horticulture of cannabis and cannabis phytochemistry.

Students must have completed both a college-level introduction to biology and introduction to chemistry course to be qualified for the program. Faculty of the program emphasize that the certificate is open to students of all majors and degrees who have an interest in the industry.

The program is the second addition to come out of UW-Stevens Point's Growth Initiative, an aspect of the university's strategic plan that has faculty working to create programming that meets the needs of today's professionals and the global economy.


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