Horticulture (Self‑Paced)

About Our Program

Everything You Need to Know to Work in Cannabis Cultivation

Cannabis is America’s fastest-growing industry. Careers in cultivation range from trimmers and tissue culture technicians to plant breeders and integrated pest management experts. If you love working with plants and seek employment in a greenhouse, farm, or indoor cultivation space, Oaksterdam’s Horticulture Certification Program is for you. 

We provide the most comprehensive cannabis cultivation education available in the industry. Whether you’re starting out or want to improve an existing grow, you’ll learn the latest techniques from clone to harvest and how to ward off pests and pathogens and increase your yields.

Oaksterdam University’s roots in cannabis cultivation grow 25 years deep. We’ve stayed on the cutting edge and we’re excited to share the new science emerging as cannabis-growing techniques come into the light.


This course explores strategies for launching and sustaining a commercial cannabis cultivation space. We provide an overview of cannabis plant science and agronomy, examine the pros and cons of current commercial cultivation methodologies, and demonstrate techniques for successful operation. We also highlight the impacts of stringent regulatory compliance requirements and discuss trends in the consumer market.

We begin with the foundations of cannabis, including the history of humans’ interaction with the plant and the policies which govern its production and use. We also review the efforts of advocacy pioneers who fought for the right to access medical cannabis and learn how we can continue that tradition in our personal and professional lives. 

From there, we walk through the plant’s entire life cycle, from propagation to harvest, and present basic cultivation techniques for each growth stage. This introduction provides the basis for a deeper dive into the science of cultivation, where we explore the anatomy and physiology of the plant, plant nutrition, and factors that can limit photosynthesis. We present general strategies for optimizing conditions and increasing yield. 

Then the course shifts to cannabis agronomy — the science of crop production. We introduce basic concepts of soil science and microbiology, and explore organic and sustainable growing techniques. We discuss strategies for managing plant pressures that present themselves in a controlled cultivation environment, including pests, pathogens, and nutrient deficiencies.  

After that, we focus on two cultivation methodologies: sun-grown and indoor. First, we look at growing cannabis outdoors where conditions are driven by nature, covering large-scale cannabis farming practices, infrastructure, and equipment. From there, we look at how greenhouses are used to harness the benefits of full-sun cultivation while maintaining greater control over environmental conditions.    

Finally, we discuss technologies needed for achieving optimal results in an indoor setting, including lighting science and controls, ventilation and CO2 supplementation, and electrical systems. We wrap up with a recap of some of the financial considerations of launching and managing a commercial cannabis cultivation operation.

Horticulture Course Curriculum

Cannabis History & Policies

This lesson will explore the history of cannabis, its significant role in shaping the modern world, and the many misguided public policies that have arisen due to efforts to prohibit it.

Federal vs. State Law

This course overviews state and federal cannabis laws, public policies, rules, and regulations. The course covers federal laws prohibiting cannabis and the risks of breaking those laws, including mandatory minimum prison sentences, asset forfeiture, and collateral consequences. Students will gain an understanding of evolving federal enforcement priorities and tactics, federal laws and policies that affect cannabis banking and taxes, and federal hemp and CBD laws and oversight. Students also will understand how states prohibit or allow medical and adult use of cannabis and the essential components of state licensing of commercial cannabis, including license types, eligibility, application requirements, and operating regulations.

Cultivation Safety & Compliance

This course discusses how to grow cannabis safely and comply with state and local cultivation regulations. First, we identify the places where cannabis cultivation is permitted and briefly examine the process of obtaining a license for commercial cultivation and the regulations you need to follow as a commercial grower. Then, we turn our attention to safety. We walk through the mandatory security measures for most cannabis businesses and emphasize the importance of being a good neighbor and running a discreet operation with odor and light control. Finally, we look at some potential hazards in a cannabis cultivation operation and how to address them.

Intro to Cannabis Horticulture

In this course, we will introduce the foundations of cannabis botany — the physiology of the plant, its life cycle, and the environments in which it is cultivated.

Seeds and Clones

One of the first choices you must make when cultivating cannabis is whether you start your plant from a seed or a clone — a rooted cutting that is an exact genetic copy of the mother plant. In this course, we learn more about both approaches and explore the pros and cons of each. We demonstrate techniques for sprouting and sowing seeds and identify the optimal environmental conditions for germination and young seedlings. Then, we examine the practice of cloning and its application in cannabis cultivation. We learn how to assess the health of clones and highlight the importance of quarantining new clones and acclimating them to a new growing environment.

Vegetative Growth

In this course, we explore how light and nutrients affect the growth and development of the cannabis plant during the vegetative growth stage. We also look closely at how various anatomical structures of the cannabis plant develop during this phase of the life cycle and the role of each part of the plant in promoting vegetative growth. The course concludes with some best practices for transplanting and techniques for influencing the growth pattern of your plants, such as pruning, training, and topping.

Transition & Flowering

Flowering is the life cycle stage most strongly associated with cannabis cultivation — the emergence of the sticky flowers, or “buds,” the plant is well-known for. We explain how changes in the photoperiod prompt the start of the flowering stage. You will learn to care for your plants while transitioning from the vegetative phase. We also demonstrate how to sex cannabis plants grown from seed by examining the earliest signs of flower development. Then, we introduce cultivation techniques for the late flowering stage and recognize when flowers reach their optimal maturity. We conclude by discussing how to plan outcrop cycles to maximize the number of plantings.

Harvest and Processing

In this course, we walk through the entire process of harvesting and processing your crop. We demonstrate proper harvesting and manicuring techniques and explore equipment that one can use to automate some of those tasks. We discuss dry room conditions and the importance of correctly curing and storing your crop to bring out the best qualities in the biomass and maximize its shelf life. Then, we learn about analytical lab testing requirements for harvested cannabis biomass and how to interpret the results of potency and quality analyses. Finally, we discuss the allocation and transport of your crop and outline how to do so efficiently and competently.

Mediums, Nutrients, and Irrigation

This course examines how we can create a root zone environment that allows plants to thrive and provide the nutrients and water needed to optimize their growth. First, we discuss the various planting mediums used for cannabis cultivation and consider the factors when selecting one. Then, we examine the nutritional needs of the cannabis plant and the importance of having the ideal concentration and pH in a liquid nutrient solution. Finally, we explore the options available for irrigation and nutrient delivery and weigh the pros and cons of automation versus hand-watering.

Optimal Conditions

In this course, we outline the conditions for optimal growth that you, as a cultivator, can monitor and control — light, CO2, temperature, nutrients, water, and salinity — and examine the role of each in the development of the cannabis plant. We also explore the relationship between these optimal growth conditions to understand better how changes in one affect the other.

Anatomy and Physiology

We explore the anatomy of the major and minor vegetative and reproductive organs of the cannabis plant. We dive deeper into the physiological role of water and carbon dioxide, emphasizing transpiration and photosynthesis. Finally, we briefly examine how plants adjust their physiological processes in response to changes in their growing environment.

Propagation Techniques

In this course, we explore plant propagation, intentionally creating new plants. We examine the difference between sexual and asexual reproduction and discuss the different propagation techniques one can use to accomplish each. After a brief discussion of breeding plants to produce seeds, we demonstrate how to root clones and define the optimal conditions for rooting. The course concludes with introducing tissue culture, a propagation technique quickly gaining popularity in the commercial cannabis industry.

Soil Science and Microbiology

This course will review the key components of soil, the key types of soil found on earth, soil microbiology, and the soil food web. Additionally, this lesson will examine how “living soils” benefit cannabis production and reduce excessive waste in cannabis cultivation.

Sustainability and Organic Farming

This course examines the concepts of “organic” and “sustainable” related to cannabis cultivation. After a brief look into the history and science behind some common principles of organic and sustainable farming, we will explore the cannabis industry’s historical reliance on synthetic nutrients and the harmful effects of chemical fertilization for all crops from a soil and ecosystem management perspective. Finally, we will discuss the often unsustainable nature of many standard inputs used in cannabis cultivation and learn why something organic may not always be sustainable.

Sourcing Genetics

We will discuss the lack of standardization in cultivar labeling across the cannabis industry and its challenges for growers. We will conclude the course with practical advice on making good cultivar selections for your cultivation operation. We will also identify some tools for growers to help them select genetics. We will also explain how to use those tools to choose cultivars to achieve your desired result, whether a commercial appeal or therapeutic effect.


This course reviews the most common known pests that affect cannabis and discusses some general treatment options.


This course module explores how pathogens lead to disease in cannabis plants. We identify some common pathogens found in cannabis, the diseases they can cause, and the symptoms of those diseases. Then, we explore the conditions which must be present for an infection to emerge and offer strategies for controlling pathogens and disease in a cannabis cultivation operation.

Prevention, Treatment, and IPM

In this course, we present strategies for preventing pest and pathogen infestation, such as sanitation, environmental controls, cultivating beneficial microorganisms, companion planting, and the introduction of beneficial predators. We then review some treatments available to control a pest or pathogen infestation and discuss how to do so safely and efficiently. We then introduce the concept of integrated pest management and provide resources for learning more about the practice.

Nutrient Disorders

In this course, we learn more about how nutrients travel through the plant, which will help us better understand how nutrient disorders occur and how to identify them. We then introduce some of the most common cannabis nutrient disorders and all the complexities of diagnosing, preventing, and responding to nutrient issues in cannabis plants.

Outdoor Cultivation Techniques and Farming Infrastructure

In this course, we will explore how this fact creates additional pressures for outdoor cannabis farmers and how those pressures influence every decision a farmer must make when setting up a new outdoor cannabis farm.


We will first explore some of the pros and cons of greenhouse growing and examine some of the most commonly used greenhouse structures and the different kinds of coverage or glazing applied to the structure’s exterior. Then, we will discuss various strategies for maintaining optimal growing conditions in a greenhouse setting. Finally, we will briefly examine some greenhouses cultivation techniques and explore how they differ from the methods of other methodologies.


We will explore the many aspects of optimizing light and review the types of lighting most commonly used by commercial and home growers. We will also demonstrate how to measure the quality and quantity of the light reaching your plants and learn how to optimize the photosynthetic potential for various plant cultivars in your garden.

Ventilation and CO2

We will examine some of the most common approaches to providing adequate ventilation and climate control at your cultivation site, which is essential to the success of your operation.

Electrical Systems

We will introduce some basic electrical concepts, like amperage, voltage, wattage, and resistance, and learn how to calculate the safe load capacity of your electrical system.

Financial Management and Applied Design

This course module will examine financial considerations associated with launching and operating a commercial cannabis cultivation operation. Then, we will apply everything we have learned to design a fictitious cannabis grow.

About Our Self-Paced Courses

Self-Paced Programs are asynchronous, meaning you may log on and complete the courses anytime, anywhere that is convenient for you. You can access the course online as soon as you enroll.

Programs consist of reading materials developed by our expert faculty, accompanied by videos, texts, and recommended resources.

All self-paced programs include live links to a wealth of information that allow you to dig deeper into subjects of particular interest.

Each program also includes a Virtual Video and Resource Library with corresponding recorded lectures from our faculty.

Self-paced students receive access to virtual field trips, grow labs, the Oaksterdam Alumni Network, and more.

Completion of all requirements results in OU certification.

Horticulture (Self‑Paced)

Certification Program


Know the techniques necessary for growing from seed or clone successfully. Get strategies for working, launching, and sustaining a commercial cannabis operation. Learn cannabis plant science and the entire life cycle of the cannabis plant from propagation to harvest. Understand lighting science and controls, ventilation and CO2 supplementation, and electrical systems.

As soon as you enroll, you can start learning. You’ll have immediate access to all the videos of full lectures with opportunities to sign up and participate in live virtual field trips. Tailor the self-paced course to your schedule: take the mobile-friendly online course anytime, anywhere. Students have 365 days days to complete all the required materials and mastery exercises.


Certification Program

A certificate of completion may be printed upon successfully passing the final exam.

Get the Latest News from Oaksterdam

Get the Latest and Greatest News On the Cannabis Industry in Our Newsletter