Training Programs Overview

VCIH offers intensive learning opportunities for students at every stage of herbal education. There are four years of training available, serving students just beginning their herbal journey, as well as those with considerable experience. We offer our 1-year Family Herbalist and 3-year Clinical Herbalist programs, as well as a 8-month program, Herbal Roots Apprenticeship. Herbal Roots provides a thorough introduction to folk herbalism and can be taken on its own or can serve as a prerequisite for our Family and Clinical Herbalist programs for students without prior experience or training.

If you are interested in shorter, less intensive courses, please see our community education.

Summary of Program Offerings

Herbal Roots apprenticeship: 8 months (beginner)

Family Herbalist training program: 1 year  (intermediate)

Clinical Herbalist training program: 3 years (intermediate – advanced)

With the addition of the Herbal Roots program in 2015, we increased the rigor of our Family Herbalist program, making it more appropriate for intermediate students with some prior experience or training. The Family Herbalist program continues to serve as the first year of the Clinical Herbalist program for those interested in pursuing more advanced studies and a career in herbal medicine. The curriculum in each of the four years is designed to build on the material in the previous year(s), while also standing independently, allowing students to engage at the level that meets their goals and experience.

Entry into the Family or Clinical Herbalist programs requires students to have some foundational experience or training, which can be satisfied through the Herbal Roots apprenticeship or a variety of similar programs in Vermont and beyond. Students who have documented prior training, experience or self-study may also apply for advanced placement into the second year of the Clinical Herbalist program, though open spaces are extremely limited. Student progression from year to year (or entry via advanced standing) is competitive and based on the demonstrated commitment and skill of each student.

All programs are hosted at our Montpelier campus and in the surrounding environs of Central Vermont. Classes for the Family and Clinical Herbalist programs run on the calendar year, beginning the third week in January and ending the second week in December. Classes for the Herbal Roots apprenticeship begin in March and end in November each year. There are two weeks off in April, two-three weeks off in August, and a week off for Thanksgiving.

Generally, Herbal Roots classes are held on Mondays (plus one weekend trip); the Family Herbalist program (aka the first year of the Clinical program) runs on Wednesdays; the second year of the Clinical program is offered on Thursdays and Fridays (with some field, apothecary and clinical observation work at other times); and the third year is held on Mondays and Tuesdays (with three clinical retreats and occasional clinical internship opportunities offered at other times).

Herbal Roots apprenticeship program—210 hours over 9 months

A stand-alone program for the beginning herbal student, this true apprenticeship-style year emphasizes hands-on, embodied learning and is ideal for those who are new to herbs, but keen to make them part of their daily lives. This course provides a thorough understanding of using herbs for self-care. During the Summer months, students spend half of each day with their hands in the dirt, learning to grow and harvest common herbs. The remainder of the day is spent preparing remedies and learning to use herbs to maintain health, as well as address common complaints safely and effectively. Additional topics include an introduction to the rich history of herbal medicine, fundamental energetic concepts, the science of nature, and basic physiology of body systems.

Students can choose to attend the program as a stand alone course, taking home a full kit of remedies, a strong skill set for self-care and a certificate of completion. The Herbal Roots Apprenticeship program meets on Mondays from 9am-5pm. Learn more

Faculty: Joann Darling and Netta Mae Walsh, with guest teaching from Betzy Bancroft and Larken Bunce

Family Herbalist training program—308 hours over 1  year

This program is geared for intermediate students who are interested in moving beyond self-care in order to serve their friends and families with their knowledge. Participation in the Herbal Roots apprenticeship or a similar foundational program is a prerequisite for joining this program. Building on the foundation of the Herbal Roots apprenticeship, the Family Herbalist delves more deeply into the sciences and arts of herbal medicine to better understand world energetic systems, botany, plant chemistry and human physiology. Students also spend time outdoors, visiting diverse Vermont ecosystems, working in the gardens, and preparing herbal products to be used in VCIH’s clinic. By the end of the year, students will have a solid foundation in herbalism, both theoretical and practical, while being prepared to confidently address common conditions of friends and family responsibly and safely.

Students completing this program receive a certificate of completion as a Family Herbalist and can choose to apply to continue with the second and third years of the Clinical Herbalist program if they desire. The Family Herbalist Training program meets on Wednesdays from 9am-5pm. Learn more

Core faculty: Betzy Bancroft, Kristen Henningsen; adjunct faculty: Larken Bunce, Lisa Olson, Ember Peters; Guest teachers: Laura Litchfield, Amy Goodman

Clinical Herbalist training program—1356 hours over 3 years

This comprehensive Clinical Herbalist training program prepares students for work as professional herbalists.  The curriculum of the Family Herbalist program serves as the first year of the Clinical Herbalist program. Students with prior documented experience can apply to be considered for advanced standing into the second year, though space is very limited (see the Admissions process for more information). The curriculum of the second and third years broadens the focus to develop students’ critical thinking and clinical skills, while examining more complex health conditions, social determinants of health and health justice, business development, teaching, and practice in an integrative medical model. Ultimately, students staff our community clinics, working with their own clients under supervision throughout the third year.

Students completing this program receive a certificate of completion as a Clinical Herbalist. The second year of the Clinical Herbalist Training program generally meets on Thursdays from 11am-6pm and Fridays from 9am-5pm (with one weekend camping trip and 1-2 Saturday classes) and the third year meets on Mondays from 1pm-8pm and Tuesdays from 9am-6pm (with 3 Saturday clinical retreats).

Year 1 — This year is a combination of hands-on skill development and didactic time in the classroom, providing more complex medicine-making skills, introductory coverage of phytochemistry and pharmacology, student-led skill sharing, holistic physiology, in-depth coverage of materia medica, and therapeutic approaches to common system dysfunctions. Learn more

Year 2 — This year will focus on understanding more complex system dysfunctions (both energetically and physiologically) as well as the social and ecological determinants of health, intermediate coverage of phytochemistry and pharmacology, developing critical thinking and clinical strategies, and grounding in the logistical and relational skills of a practitioner. Learn more

Year 3 — This year brings the learning from the first two years to the clinical relationship. In addition to continued study of complex health conditions and materia medica, the student will see clients under supervision in the community clinics, while also developing a business plan for their future work as an herbalist, and practice sharing their knowledge through community teaching. Learn  more

Core faculty: Betzy Bancroft, Larken Bunce, Kristin Henningsen; Adjunct faculty: Iris Gage, Laura Litchfield, Guido Masé, Julie Mitchell, Lisa Olson, Ember Peters