A students wearing safety glasses and gloves uses a pipette to work with chemicals in a large piece of lab equipment.

Cannabis Chemistry

Explore the chemistry of cannabis and take on a career in a rapidly growing industry.

York College of Pennsylvania’s Bachelor of Science (BS) in Cannabis Chemistry degree program provides specialized education in the extraction and purification of plant products as specialized training for careers in the cannabis industry, plant chemistry, and various environmental applications.

Movements to destigmatize, decriminalize, and legalize the medical and recreational use of cannabis have made the worldwide cannabis industry skyrocket in recent years. York College’s bachelor’s degree in Cannabis Chemistry tailors our respected applied science programs to the demand for trained chemists in this field.

As the first degree of its kind in Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic region, our BS in Cannabis Chemistry equips students with the experience and technical skills necessary to enter the field or apply for graduate programs in cannabinoid chemistry and related areas. 

A student holds a pipette full of red liquid while wearing safety goggles and gloves in the lab.

About the BS in Cannabis Chemistry

  • Key Courses

    Cannabis Chemistry Program Requirements

    Understanding the chemistry of cannabis plants legitimizes the medical uses of THC and CBD compounds. As a Cannabis Chemistry major, you’ll learn how to acquire knowledge in general plant chemistry, the scientific analysis of cannabinoids, and how to manage plant operations from production and processing to compliance.

    In total, the requirements for the Cannabis Chemistry degree program include 120 credit hours.

    Cannabis Chemistry Courses

    Courses in the BS in Cannabis Chemistry degree program combine multiple topics in horticulture, toxicology, chemical analysis, biochemistry, and pharmacology.

    Your core courses in the Cannabis Chemistry major include:

    • HRT 100: Plant Science
    • CHM 160: Natural Products and Society
    • CHM 324: Physical Chemistry for Biosciences
    • CHM 362: Advanced Spectroscopy of Natural Products
    • CHM 364: Medicinal Plant Chemistry
    • CHM 366: Hemp and Cannabinoid Science and Industry

    In addition to exploring the field of cannabis chemistry in the classroom, you’ll engage in interdisciplinary lectures, cutting-edge lab work, research programs, and internship opportunities.

    Earn a BS in Cannabis Chemistry at York College of Pennsylvania

    If you picture yourself as a pioneer in the cannabis industry and beyond, York College of Pennsylvania’s Bachelor of Science in Cannabis Chemistry degree program positions you for a range of careers in plant science and chemical processing.

    Get closer to your future. Review admissions requirements and request further information today.

    Begin your York College of Pennsylvania application.

  • Career Opportunities & Benefits

    Career Opportunities and Benefits

    York College’s well-rounded BS in Cannabis Chemistry can lead to a successful career in the cannabis industry and many other fields such as healthcare, industrial laboratories, agriculture, government agencies, and academics.

    Close instruction and hands-on experience in laboratory practices and chemical instrumentation ready students for similar careers such as hops analysis in breweries, essential oil purification and analysis, drug and pharmaceutical analysis, or quality control. Students can also use their training in cannabis extraction science to inform a career in business, education, law, regulation, or compliance.

    Cannabis Industry Career Preparation

    Trained chemists are highly essential to the cannabis industry as well as the food and medicinal plant science fields. You’ll learn how to extract and analyze better plant materials and gain a well-rounded general education informing professional success. Roles that you may be hired for include:

    • Cultivation Technician
    • Cannabis Chemist
    • Analytical Chemist
    • Extraction Technician
    • Lab Testing Professional
    • Scientist
    • Researcher
    • Product Developer
    • Agricultural Chemist
    • Environmental Scientist
    • Toxicologist

    The professional development and leadership opportunities available in YCP’s bachelor’s program also demonstrate to future employers in the cannabis, brewing, and other chemical extraction industries your potential to move into management positions, such as cultivation/growing manager, extraction/processing manager, or quality control manager.

    Through academic advising and student-driven projects, the Cannabis Chemistry major elevates students to work in and research specific areas of cannabis science, including CBD use and benefits and community outreach and education.

    More Careers in Plant Science

    In addition to learning extraction processing and analysis, the Cannabis Chemistry major promotes success and expertise in other areas like growing production, regulations, sales, marketing, and business, product, and brand management. 

    Graduates of the BS in Cannabis Chemistry degree are also prepared to apply for graduate programs to study cannabis science or related fields such as chemistry, forensic science, business, or law. Earning further credentials at the graduate level opens opportunities to advanced career pathways, including:

    • Biochemistry Educator or Researcher
    • Plant Geneticist
    • Pharmacological or Medical Researcher

    Backed by knowledge in cannabis science, careers in sales and marketing, product development, product lifecycle management, and business or brand consulting reflect a high earning potential as you gain professional experience.

    Cannabis Science Career Salaries

    Chemists trained in techniques that produce consistent high-quality plants and plant extracts and optimize yield are highly sought-after. The following are average annual salaries for roles that exist in medicinal plant extraction science:

    • Chemist - $76,740 per year
    • Laboratory Analyst - $50,464 per year
    • Analytical Chemist - $62,640 per year
    • Scientist - $79,134 per year
    • Laboratory Director - $98,400 per year
  • Internships & Work Experience

    Internships and Work Experience

    Cannabis Chemistry majors graduate with a wealth of relevant, real-world experience in analytical laboratories and corporate settings. In addition to chemical research and internship opportunities on and off campus, students attend guest lectures by industry leaders and begin to develop a professional network.

    Cannabis Science Internships

    York College is conveniently located in Central Pennsylvania, near multiple state-approved medical cannabis labs and local companies where students complete off-campus internships.

    Under a supervising employer and the mentorship of a faculty advisor, students apply their practical cannabis and plant extraction science, building their resumes and demonstrating proficiency in critical thinking, communication, and professional skills.

    Review the Career Development Center’s internship services and resources.

    Applied Chemistry Research Opportunities

    As part of the BS in Cannabis Chemistry curriculum, students engage in many hands-on projects in the chemistry laboratory and have the opportunity to extend their research experience as upper-level students in self-directed research projects.

    Guided by faculty mentors, students can enroll in research courses to complete initiatives based on their interests. You’ll create and follow research plans and produce a piece of scholarship that can be submitted to journals or presented to audiences, furthering your career exploration and your understanding of the discipline.

    Explore undergraduate research at YCP.

    Chemistry Laboratory Facilities

    York College of Pennsylvania’s scientific technology and facilities rival the professional ones you’ll work in after graduation. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in plant product chemistry, our ecology labs and dedicated chemistry labs ensure students are familiar with state-of-the-art equipment.

    Explore the Kinsley School of Engineering, Sciences, and Technology facilities.

  • Mentorship & Community

    Mentorship and Community

    The BS in Cannabis Chemistry degree program fosters guidance and support throughout your undergraduate journey. The mentorship and expertise of our dedicated faculty and staff are readily available to help you make the most of your education at YCP.

    Whether it’s choosing your classes and project topics, finding local internship connections, or helping you through a difficult time, York College’s Student Development and Campus Life and Student Success programs reflect the institutional mission of helping students get closer to their future.

    Chemistry Industry Advisory Council

    York College’s applied chemistry program curriculums are informed by the College’s long-established Chemistry Industry Advisory Council (CIAC). Members such as cannabis entrepreneur Steve Groff forge project partnerships and ensure program content is up to the latest industry standards.

    Peer and Professional Clubs and Organizations

    Join the Chemistry Society, one of the dozens of student-led academic and extracurricular campus clubs and organizations. Members of the Chemistry Society explore new aspects of chemistry together and foster peer support and networks through field trips and special projects.

    Students in the Cannabis Chemistry degree program will find many more clubs and societies that fit their interests, from the Pre-Law Society and the Ski and Outdoor Club to entrepreneurship groups like the Student Managed Fund.

    Review York College of Pennsylvania’s student organizations.

  • High-Demand Skills

    High-Demand Skills

    Be among the first wave of educated professionals with cannabis industry-specific laboratory training and the foundational chemistry expertise necessary to pivot to related fields or pursue further education.

    When you choose to earn a Bachelor of Science in Cannabis Chemistry from YCP, the benefits extend far from the classroom. You’ll graduate with sought-after technical and soft skills that position you for professional success.

    Cross-Industry Transferable Skills

    Quality STEM training and experience with laboratory techniques and health and safety procedures fuels careers across a variety of industries. Graduates of the Cannabis Chemistry program can:

    • Scientifically analyze cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, including CBD
    • Understand evolving laws and regulations governing the cannabis industry
    • Utilize instrumentation in a professional laboratory setting
    • Comply with ethical standards
    • Communicate effectively about scientific processes
    • Understand and apply theories, methods, and techniques in the discipline
    • Think creatively and critically

    Related York College Degrees

    The Kinsley School of Engineering, Science, and Technology offers several degrees for students curious about chemistry, plant science, and more, each with their own hands-on experiences tailored to their respective career interests.

    Complementary Minors

    Cannabis Chemistry majors can expand their skill set and enhance their résumé by declaring a minor. YCP offers the following minor programs that complement training in cannabinoid chemistry:

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What kind of degrees are there for careers in the cannabis industry?

    There are a limited number of colleges and universities in the U.S. that offer a degree program in cannabis science, cannabis business, cannabis studies, or other industry-specific areas. York College of Pennsylvania’s Bachelor of Science in Cannabis Chemistry is the first of its kind in the mid-Atlantic region.

    The Cannabis Chemistry major is carefully structured to align with the American Chemical Society guidelines, the standard for educational institutions developing programs in this emerging field.

  • What jobs can I get with a cannabis science degree?

    Earning a BS in Cannabis Chemistry prepares you for any role requiring expertise in the extraction and purification of plant products, far past the limits of the cannabis industry. With a bachelor's degree focused on cannabis science that includes applied experience, you can confidently pursue a career in settings ranging from medical, agricultural, or industrial laboratories to public policy and education.

  • Can you get into the cannabis industry with a bachelor’s degree?

    Considering the newness of the medical and recreational cannabis industry, a variety of paths can lead to careers in the field. For those interested in the cultivation and extraction of cannabis compounds, a bachelor’s-level chemistry education at the minimum is preferred or required to work in production or analytical laboratory settings.

    Bachelor’s degrees in fields like business, marketing, finance, public relations, and communications make it possible to find entry-level positions on the business side of the cannabis industry.

Program Requirements

Required Courses and Degree Requirements for Graduation
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2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog

Contact Us
Chemistry Department
Jessica M. Fautch, Ph.D.
Chair, Chemistry Department
Campbell Hall, Room 211A
Phone: 717.815.1328
Contact for appt.