The Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences first received authorization to operate as an institution of higher education late 2013, enrolling its first students in 2014. This significant milestone was the result of years of preparation and planning to establish an integrative health college with a research focus. Since that time, the college has launched multiple new academic programs, achieved success as one of the world’s leading research institutions in integrative health, and graduated many successful leaders in the field. Explore some of the additional milestones and events in FSIHS’ history below.
The inspiration for the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences was present long before the college received authorization as a postsecondary institution. FSIHS founder, Dr. Jessie Hawkins, has been teaching herbalism, aromatherapy, and natural health since 2001. During that time, she taught tens of thousands of students worldwide through in-person and online personal enrichment programs. She also write multiple books on topics of natural health, and received countless requests for recommendations on legitimate postsecondary educational opportunities within the field of integrative health.
After many years of frustration at the inability to wholeheartedly recommend an educational program to these students, Hawkins started the years-long process of setting the foundation for a college that would meet these students’ requests. This college had to be evidence-based, legitimately authorized to operate as an institution of higher education (not simply a personally-owned business), taught by leaders in the field, and invested in furthering the body of scientific evidence through original research.
Over the next three years, Hawkins spent countless hours developing a framework that meets the rigorous standards of higher education, meeting with compliance agents and attorneys from the higher education commission in Tennessee, evaluating educational standards in natural health fields, and setting the groundwork for the challenge of pioneering the first fully authorized, research-focused, postsecondary institution to offer college diplomas in herbalism and aromatherapy. In October 2013, the FSIHS was first authorized for operation under the name Franklin Institute of Wellness.
In 2013, the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences (then the Franklin Institute of Wellness) formally completed the 3-stage process of receiving authorization to operate as an institution of higher education. This authorization is granted after a comprehensive application which evaluates financial stability, educator qualifications, academic rigor, potential earnings for graduates, curriculum, institution policies, and much, much more. Each individual component is assessed by a content expert and then two separate governmental committees must vote favorably to authorize the institution to operate.
Obtaining authorization to establish a distance-learning aromatherapy school, the first of its kind, marked a significant achievement for the integrative health field as a whole. FSIHS founder, Dr. Jessie Hawkins, spent countless hours substantiating the need for high quality aromatherapy education and obtaining all of the necessary approvals and authorizations to create the first fully authorized institution of higher education in the region to offer an aromatherapy program.
Initial authorization was granted on October 24, 2013 allowing the Franklin Institute of Wellness to open its doors with one program: a distance learning Certificate in Aromatherapy. The college was officially approved to begin advertising and enroll its first students.
Enrollment for the Winter 2014 term (January – March) marked the first class of students to enter the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences. With only two professors (one of which was founder Dr. Jessie Hawkins), the school welcomed a small but enthusiastic group of learners. FSIHS offered something new to the world of aromatherapy education: college classes that led to a recognized certificate. This was something unique that took some adjusting for a field that was accustomed to a more informal approach to certification.
The college launched with 4 students enrolled in the Certificate of Aromatherapy program, all of whom were part-time. These students continued through the 2014-2015 academic year and completed their certifications in 2015, marking the first FSIHS graduating class. Enrollment continued to grow, more than doubling each year, during 2014 and 2015.
Growth was rapid the first year, and FSIHS received a second authorization to enroll students in a new academic program. The Diploma of Dietary Supplement Science is a comprehensive herbal science program that encompasses herbalism, dietary supplements, and aromatherapy into a single, 5-term diploma program. This program authorization also represented an advancement in the level of program FSIHS was authorized to teach to students.
2014 also marked the first year FSIHS experienced the annual reauthorization process. This annual audit is required to maintain postsecondary authorization. To achieve reauthorization status, an institution of higher education must demonstrate financial stability, minimum rates of successful graduation of students and successful placement in the field of program graduates, ethical marketing and recruiting of new students, maintenance of instructor qualifications, including continuing education, and multiple other ethical, compliance, and quality checks. The FSIHS was granted reauthorization to continue operating again in 2015.
In 2016, FSIHS continued to see rapid growth and expansion with the move to a larger campus which allowed for the authorization of a new delivery option for the Certificate of Aromatherapy. As of mid-2016, FSIHS became authorized to enroll hybrid students in the aromatherapy program, allowing students to study on-site each term in addition to the fully online enrollment option. To facilitate students from all over the globe, this program was offered with a condensed 3-day lab experience in the first and again in the final academic term of the program.
By 2016, FSIHS had the pleasure of supporting multiple graduating classes and enrollment had grown from the original 4 students in 2015 to 44 students at the start of 2016. Students enjoyed the flexibility of choosing between full time and part time enrollment status and many students had completed both academic programs and were successfully placed within their chosen fields of work. This year the college also saw a whopping 100% student completion rate and a 100% graduate placement rate–far exceeding the minimums required for reauthorization.
FSIHS once again completed its annual reauthorization in the fall of 2016. This annual audit is required to maintain postsecondary authorization. To achieve reauthorization status, an institution of higher education must demonstrate financial stability, minimum rates of successful graduation of students and successful placement in the field of program graduates, ethical marketing and recruiting of new students, maintenance of instructor qualifications, including continuing education, and multiple other ethical, compliance, and quality checks.
Expansion and growth for 2017 reflected the addition of a research department to the college’s programs and activities. In addition to the growth of the college’s activities, new instructors were added to the list of faculty and department chairs were appointed in preparation for authorization to come in 2018 for multiple new programs. Christy Hires was appointed Aromatherapy Department Chair and Colby Baker would be the Herbal Science Department Chair.
In 2017, the college achieved its original plan of becoming a research-based institution and the first clinical research studies at FSIHS were completed. This marked another significant milestone not only for FSIHS, but for the entire field of herbalism and aromatherapy. The college opted to focus on clinical research rather than laboratory research to complete the “bench to bedside” pathway that establishes an evidence-based approach to health and wellness. While multiple exceptional laboratory research teams in the field of natural health are achieving success, there is a clear need for further research on the clinical effects of these substances on the human body. The FSIHS research team conducts epidemiological and clinical research studies to meet this gap in current scientific knowledge.
Once again, in 2017, FSIHS successfully completed its annual reauthorization process. This annual audit is required to maintain postsecondary authorization. To achieve reauthorization status, an institution of higher education must demonstrate financial stability, minimum rates of successful graduation of students and successful placement in the field of program graduates, ethical marketing and recruiting of new students, maintenance of instructor qualifications, including continuing education, and multiple other ethical, compliance, and quality checks. FSIHS is proud to have maintained a 100% graduate placement rate and a 77% student completion rate during the 2016-2017 academic year.
In 2018, both the FSIHS academic division and research division experienced significant milestones and growth. The publication of FSIHS’ research work in scientific journals, presentation at national aromatherapy conferences, and release of 5 brand new academic programs firmly established FSIHS as the world’s leading research-focused aromatherapy, herbal, and public health institution of higher education.
This year saw the growth of academic programs offered rapidly expand from 2 programs to a total of 7, including the addition of an entirely new field of study at FSIHS: public health. Students now have a wide range of academic majors from which to select, and programs are available that meet the needs of students from a wide range of backgrounds. New programs in the aromatherapy department include an extensive Diploma of Aromatherapy Science, one of the most comprehensive aromatherapy programs available, and a Certificate in Essential Oil Ingestion, an advanced program that bridges the gap for professionals who did not study research or ingestion in their original aromatherapy education.
The Herbal Science department also released two new programs, a Certificate in Herbal Product Development, which is a brief, 1-term program that trains students to develop and prepare product lines which integrate botanical ingredients, as well as an Advanced Certificate in Herbal Science, a graduate program for health professionals who want to add herbalism to their existing scope of practice. The brand new Public Health department launched with one program, an Advanced Certificate in Health Promotion. This 2-term program is for professionals and aspiring professionals who are eager to master the psychology of health behavior and to develop effective health promotion programs.
In 2018, the research team’s first clinical trial concluded and was presented at the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy’s conference in October. Its focus was aromatherapy for fatigue among women with hypothyroid disorders. The research team also concluded a clinical trial on the use of bergamot aromatherapy for pre-procedural anxiety among children with autism spectrum disorders, as well as multiple meta-analyses and health promotion studies.
FSIHS again successfully completed its annual reauthorization process in late 2018. This annual audit is required to maintain postsecondary authorization. To achieve reauthorization status, an institution of higher education must demonstrate financial stability, minimum rates of successful graduation of students and successful placement in the field of program graduates, ethical marketing and recruiting of new students, maintenance of instructor qualifications, including continuing education, and multiple other ethical, compliance, and quality checks. FSIHS is proud to have maintained a 100% graduate placement rate and a 85% student completion rate during the 2017-2018 academic year.
In 2019, the college’s research and academic goals continue to be exceeded through the release of numerous new studies, partnerships with industry leaders, and additional groundwork for future academic success.
In May 2019, FSIHS launched the Franklin Research Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to furthering the body of knowledge of integrative health. The Foundation partners with institutions, industry organizations, and companies from around the world to advance the field of health science research.
A Rose by Any Other Name..
To reflect the previous year’s expansion, the Franklin Institute of Wellness became the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences in July of 2019. The school’s new name emphasizes the scientific approach which is unique to FSIHS, as well as the inclusion of health promotions. The Certificate in Health Promotion also became the Health Coach Certificate in July, 2019, also with the aim of better reflecting the program’s offerings and career focus.