The truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first, it is ridiculed. In the second, it is opposed. In the third, it is regarded as self-evident. —Arthur Schopenhauer

People often have concerns about accreditation and wonder how they can find an accredited school with which to study clinical herbalism, traditional naturopathy, or holistic nutrition so they can become legitimately certified to practice.

It is interesting to note that the public is generally unfamiliar with the subtleties of accreditation, certification, and licensing, especially as it relates to holistic medicine practitioners and alternative educators, like Rockwell.

Accreditation is truly the crux of contention in the world of herbal studies and natural health.

This is because everyone wants the most credible education they can get —but accreditation is a complicated subject.

As a potential student, it can take a lot of time and effort to unravel the truth about it all by yourself. Here at Rockwell, we take pride in our unparalleled transparency for schools of this class and type. We do our best to explain accreditation so you can make informed decisions.

Breaking Down Conventional Accreditation…

Prospective students should know that in the United States, there are two mainstream types of accreditation that are legitimately sanctioned and approved by the US Department of Education, which include specialized or programic.

This is further broken down into national, regional, and sometimes religious. You can read more about those here. Generally speaking, the most significant aspect of accreditation allows conventional, or more mainstream colleges, to qualify for state and federal funding which help to keep large universities running.

Additionally, because higher education can be so darn expensive, the accreditation ‘stamp of approval’ also allows college students to apply for financial aid through the FAFSA, aka the Federal Application for Student Aid. 

This type of accreditation guarantees educational requirements are met for certain types of professions that require licensing, such as lawyers and medical doctors —and helps assure that certain general credits are transferable between colleges.

However, what few people don’t realize is that aromatherapy, iridology, traditional naturopathy, and clinical herbalism are all unregulated professions within an unregulated industry —and therefore, do not require licensing.

For this very reason, schools who offer educations within these career fields do not qualify for conventional accreditation as approved by the US Department of Education, —nor do their students qualify for federal student aid.

This leaves one last form of accreditation which is completely unregulated and unsanctioned by the US Department of Education. 

Professional Accreditation

Because they don’t qualify for conventional, mainstream accreditation, most natural health schools commonly utilize what is known as ‘professional’ accreditation.

This is done primarily to appear more credible, which procures more students and secures more profits —but it’s very confusing as a potential student to decipher what it even means, so let’s talk more about that.

For starters, any accreditations you see attached to an alternative educator, like the ones below, are professional in nature only and not approved by the US Department of Education.

The major issue with conventional vs. professional accreditation is that these schools utilizing professional accreditation rarely explain the difference, leaving students confused in the process —many of whom mistakenly assume the professional accreditation is sanctioned and approved by the US Department of Education when, in actuality, it’s not.

Additionally, professional accreditation has a lot of detractors. It is controversial, scholastically speaking. You can read more about what has been termed ‘fake accreditation’ here and here.

Please keep in mind that we have nothing against these organizations.

However, due to the public stigma, we choose not to participate, as we do not wish to be lumped in with the schools accused of utilizing ‘fake accreditation’.

Another such concern is credibility of the accreditor.

Conventional accreditors, as approved by the US Department of Education, go through a lengthy process —whereas professional accreditors can be anyone who sees a business opportunity. While many of these organizations may be well intentioned, it’s just too controversial in an already controversial industry.

Additionally, the few times we inquired about getting professional accreditation, rather than ask to verify our program specifics, we were simply asked to send a fee.

Of course, that was a while back, and after reading this article, they have updated their services to appear more legitimate, but there was a time when they simply asked for a check and it just did not feel sincere or authentic to our founder. 

It seemed too easy, like ‘pay to play’, and left her with some discerning questions, such as, how useful, reliable, and authentic is professional accreditation really, anyway?

And, if you dig around, you will soon discover that only ‘naturopathic’ schools participate.

There are absolutely NO grass-roots herbal medicine schools who participate. 

You can see this echoed through course offerings by Susun Weed at her Wise Woman University. She is a world renown, pioneering herbalist herself and her school is proudly unaccredited, we might add. 

Additionally, Susun is flat out against licensing herbalists, and here’s why.

This is just one of many examples of herbal schools who do not participate in pay to play accreditation. We believe that by participating in ‘professional’ accreditation, it kind of perpetuates this myth that alternative educators should try to compete on the same playing field with mainstream, conventional colleges. 

That being said, and as a well-established school, we stand with our herbal educator allies and choose not to be listed with these organizations. 

Until holistic medicine becomes a regulated industry and a system is in place to offer licensing to holistic medicine practitioners, Rockwell will operate as an independent holistic medicine school. 

By declining to participate in professional accreditation, Rockwell is able to avoid the controversies of professional accreditation. The truth is, when it comes to the study of holistic medicine, one’s educational choices are paramount and should be based on quality and affordability vs. claims of ‘professional accreditation’.

Lastly, some of the same agencies who offer professional accreditation do also offer board certification, which is a different thing altogether.

We have been informed by all professional accrediting agencies and board certification organizations that our students are always welcome to apply for board certification, whether we are accredited with them, or not.

There is only one organization that offers board certification that does not also offer professional accreditation, which is the ANCB.

You can learn more about board certification in the general FAQ.

Rockwell has built a team of dedicated program directors to bring our students the best holistic medicine programs in the world —and we hope you will see that reflected in the quality and diversity of our program offerings! 

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