Horticulture Semester (Self‑Paced)


This self-paced course can be done on your own time, from anywhere in the world. Simply log on and take the modules at your own pace. The course consists of the same curriculum as our Live Semester, developed by our professional faculty, and provides companion material and recommend reading you may follow to take a deeper dive. It also includes a video and resource library complete with lectures taped during our Live Classroom experience, to appeal to different learning styles. Students have 180 days to complete all the required materials and mastery exercises.

Course Overview

For decades, cannabis has been classified as a controlled substance in most places around the world. This has hindered the standardization of cultivation practices, resulting in a more diverse array of methodologies, techniques, and equipment than you would find in most other types of commercial horticulture. With little data and scientific research to go on, growers are often left guessing at what the “best practices” for cultivation really are.

At the same time, for-profit cannabis growers face the same risks as any other agricultural operation — weather, pest and pathogen pressures, price fluctuations, labor shortages, and equipment failures. Before a commercial grower can even begin such an endeavor, they must complete a complicated and often expensive process of trying to obtain a cannabis business license, which they might or might not be able to secure.

In this course, we explore strategies for launching and sustaining a commercial cannabis operation, from both a scientific and business perspective. This course provides an overview of cannabis plant science and agronomy, examines the pros and cons of current commercial cultivation methodologies, and demonstrates techniques necessary for successful operation. We also highlight the operational impacts of stringent regulatory compliance requirements, and discuss trends in the consumer market which are currently influencing the direction of the commercial cannabis cultivation sector. Throughout the course, we present tools that commercial operators can use to weigh the tradeoffs between various cultivation options and production decisions.


We begin the course by reviewing some of 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 the advocacy pioneers who came before us and fought for the right to access medical cannabis, and learn more about how we can continue that tradition in our personal and professional lives.

From there, we walk through the entire life cycle of the plant, from propagation to harvest, and present some basic cultivation techniques for each stage of growth. This introduction will provide the basis for a much deeper dive into the science of cultivation, where we explore the anatomy and physiology of the plant, plant nutrition, and the factors which can limit photosynthesis. Along the way, we present general strategies for optimizing conditions in the growing environment and increasing yield.

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

In the final part of the course, we focus on two specific cultivation methodologies for cultivation: sun-grown and indoor. First, we look at growing cannabis outdoors, under full sun, where cultivation conditions are driven by nature. This portion of the course features a deep dive into 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 through the use of passive and active systems.

Finally, we discuss the 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, and an applied project where you will design your own cultivation facility.


Module 1 : Need to Know

  • Politics & History
  • Federal vs State Law
  • Growing Safely & Responsibly
  • Mastery Exercise

Module 2 : Starting Off

  • Seeds
  • Cuttings/Clones
  • Mastery Exercise

Module 3 : Feeding & H2O

  • Nutrients & pH
  • Planting Mediums
  • Methods of Irrigation
  • Mastery Exercise

Module 4 : Hardware and Its Uses

  • Equipment Overview
  • Lighting
  • Ventilation
  • Electrical Safety & Load Calculations
  • Mastery Exercise

Module 5 : Growth Cycles

  • Plant Propagation
  • Vegetative Growth
  • Early Flowering
  • Mastery Exercise

Module 6 : Optimal Growth

  • Conditions for Optimal Growth
  • Life Cycle Fundamentals
  • CO2 Supplementation
  • Mastery Exercise

Module 7 : When Things Go Wrong

  • Nutrient Disorders
  • Pests
  • Pathogens
  • Prevention & Treatment
  • Mastery Exercise

Module 8 : The Final Stretch

  • Late Flowering Techniques
  • Harvesting, Manicuring & Drying
  • Mastery Exercise

Final Exam

  • required for certification

Certification Program

certificate of completion may be printed upon successfully passing the final exam and capstone project.


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