Students at Doane University in Nebraska may be happy to learn that the university is expanding its cannabis studies program this fall.

The school was an innovator with its curriculum by adding a self paced online course that covers everything about hemp plant cultivation to the business of hemp in November of 2019.

The entry-level courses, offered as part of Doane’s contribution to an extensive library of massive online open courses (MOOCs) remain the only classes available on the topic maintained by edX, the online education tool.

“It became immediately clear to me, based on the success of the certificate program, we really needed to deepen the academic side of what we were offering,” said Andrea Holmes, a professor of chemistry. Holmes is the director of cannabis studies in Doane’s School of Integrative Learning.

Holmes said the initial classes offered through DoaneX didn’t allow for a deep dive into the topic the way she initially envisioned. The professor had taken a sabbatical in 2018-19 to learn more about the cannabis industry.

The new cannabis studies program at the university will gives students a new slate of seven elective classes — from the “History of Cannabis” to the “Agronomy of Hemp,” to courses on “Medicinal Cannabis” or “Cannabis Testing Methods.”

“There are so many fields in this industry that need to be covered in-depth,” Holmes said. “It’s absolutely critical we offer these types of courses because they loan more academic credibility to the student through their transcripts or qualifications when they go to get jobs.”

The courses will each allow students to earn three credit hours.

Holmes said she’s planning to put a proposal for a full degree program before the Faculty Council later this fall.

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