Oakton Leverages Cannabis Curriculum to Create STEM Pathway
(Dec. 11, 2019) A groundbreaking agreement between Oakton Community College and Northern Michigan University creates a first-of-its-kind educational pathway for students seeking to enter niche STEM areas of the emerging cannabis industry. The new transfer partnership creates a pathway from Oakton to NMU for students to earn a bachelor’s degree tailored to the cannabis industry. Representatives from both institutions formalized the agreement at a ceremony at Oakton’s Des Plaines campus Dec. 11.
“This pathway supports the medicinal cannabis industry’s call for workers with formal education and relevant credentials,” Oakton Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs/College Transitions Anne Brennan says. “The training that these programs provide will appropriately signal their preparedness to employers.”
Students who incorporate Oakton’s Cannabis Dispensary and Patient Care Specialist Certificate into an Associate of General Studies degree can now seamlessly transfer to Northern Michigan University and earn a B.A. in Medicinal Plant Chemistry, thanks to this new partnership.
“We are excited to be part of this partnership with Oakton,” said Robert Winn, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northern Michigan University. “Our Medicinal Plant Chemistry program, the first of its kind in the nation, will provide students with both analytical chemistry skills and a business foundation that will make them attractive to employers or give them the tools for starting their own business.”
This partnership follows the resounding success of the fall 2019 launch of Oakton’s patient care specialist certificate program — Illinois’ first community college health communications program focusing on medical cannabis. The 12-credit hour program prepares students to provide advice to and care for patients seeking medical cannabis as a treatment for a variety of ailments. Oakton’s curriculum also helps students gain a thorough understanding of the laws, regulations and business operations of the medical cannabis industry. More than 100 students are currently enrolled in the program, 10 of whom are expected to earn their credential at the completion of the fall 2019 semester.
Northern Michigan University’s Medicinal Plant Chemistry baccalaureate degree combines science and business courses to prepare students for a wide range of careers in the medicinal plant chemistry industry. This includes positions such as analytical chemist, biotechnologist, chemical engineer, environmental analyst, pharmacologist, research scientist and toxicologist.
Students who transfer from Oakton to NMU with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher will qualify for a $5,600 transfer scholarship, which reduces tuition to the in-state level.
Along with creating a path for students to earn a bachelor’s degree and succeed in the cannabis industry, Oakton also has plans to expand its curriculum locally to address the cannabis industry’s increasing workforce need. Pending state approval, Oakton will launch a Cannabis Transportation, Warehousing and Supply Chain Management Certificate program in fall 2020.
According to recent data from the cannabis research firm New Frontier Data, Illinois is expected to employ more than 63,000 cannabis workers in the state by 2025.
For more information about the transfer partnership with NMU or other medical cannabis related educational opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.