It’s normal for people to be concerned about the accreditation of a school and you may be wondering how to find an accredited school where you can become legitimately certified to practice clinical herbalism, traditional naturopathy, or holistic nutrition.
It is interesting to note that the public is generally unfamiliar with the subtle differences between accreditation, certification, and licensing, especially as it relates to holistic medicine practitioners and alternative educators, like Rockwell.
Accreditation is truly the quintessential point of contention in the world of herbal studies and natural health.
This is because everyone wants the most credible and thorough education they can get—but accreditation is a complicated subject.
As a potential student, it can be quite daunting to start unraveling the truth about it all by yourself. Here at Rockwell, we take pride in our unparalleled transparency which can be difficult to find elsewhere in schools of this class and type. It is our goal to help serve you on your journey, thus we do our best to explain accreditation so you can make your own 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 programmatic.
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; this, of course, helps 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. Additionally, this accreditation helps assure prospective students 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 that offer an education within these naturopathic 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.
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 this accreditation technique tends to be very confusing and as a potential student it is difficult 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.
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.’ More importantly, we want to promote and nurture trust; we hope to really help you through your education process instead of just looking like we do on the surface.
Another such concern is the 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.
At one point on our journey as a school, we attempted to inquire about professional accreditation. We became greatly disconcerted when we were requested to pay a fee—without being asked to share any information or proof of our program’s specifics.
While professional accreditation has evolved through time and providers have updated their services since we inquired, there was a time it 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 that 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 would perpetuate this myth that alternative educators should try to compete on the same playing field with conventional mainstream 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 there is a system 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 and stay true to our values.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 that offer professional accreditation also offer something called a ‘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 a board certification, whether we are accredited with them, or not.
If you are interested, 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.
Regardless of our accreditation status, we can provide you with rich material that will help you succeed as you move forward in the pursuit of practicing holistic medicine.
Rockwell has built a team of dedicated program directors to bring our students the best holistic medicine education in the world—and we hope you will see that reflected in the quality and diversity of our program offerings!