Alternative Medicine Degrees by Degree Program Level

Read about majors and degrees available for alternative medicine. Find out about educational requirements and curricula for each program level, in addition to employment prospects for graduates.

Essential Information

Alternative medicine practitioners promote healing through natural solutions and focus on the patient's mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Degrees in alternative medicine are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree level. Coursework touches on general topics in anatomy, biology and nutrition while allowing for specialization in your preferred field of alternative medicine. At the graduate level, students are typically required to participate in internships and clinical experiences. Doctoral candidates could be required to have some field experience before applying.

Bachelor of Science in Alternative Medicine

A Bachelor of Science in Alternative Medicine prepares graduates to work in holistic professions, such as herbal medicine, acupuncture and massage therapy. Accredited undergraduate programs awarding alternative medicine degrees typically require students to complete 123 credit hours.

Education Prerequisites

To be eligible for acceptance into a bachelor's degree program in alternative medicine, prospective students will need a high school diploma or equivalent. Additionally, SAT or ACT scores will also need to be submitted with an application.

Program Coursework

A bachelor's degree program in alternative medicine provides a solid educational foundation in alternative medicine methods and practices. Alternative medicine degrees at this level cover topics, including energy healing, herbs and crystal therapy. The following are some of the courses found in this type of degree program.

  • Massage therapy
  • Nutrition
  • Anatomy
  • Naturopathy
  • Biology

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't list an employment outlook for alternative medicine practitioners, the mean annual wages for health diagnosing and treatment practitioners, all other, which includes acupuncturists, naturopathic physicians and hypnotherapists, was $85,740 in May 2012. Additionally, the BLS projected that massage therapists would see a faster than average growth rate of 20% from 2010-2020 and mean wages of $40,350 in May 2012.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in alternative medicine can continue on to a master's degree program to gain advanced knowledge in the field. Some may also take additional coursework in a specialized area, such as spirituality or herbal medicine.

Master of Science in Alternative Medicine

Alternative medicine degrees at the master's level provide students with an opportunity to specialize in an area of alternative medicine, such as aromatherapy or spiritual psychology. Additionally, an alternative medicine master's degree is required of individuals planning to continue on to medical school.

Education Prerequisites

Prospective students who plan on applying to a master's degree program in alternative health will need a bachelor's degree. Some programs require the completion of courses in biology and chemistry, or some experience in the field.

Program Coursework

Depending on the school, alternative medicine programs leading to a master's degree take from one to two years to complete and may require a thesis or a research project, along with an internship. The following are some courses that are taken as part of an alternative medicine master's degree program.

  • Molecular physiology
  • Integrative medicine
  • Herbal medicine
  • Nutrition and health
  • Bioethics

Popular Career Options

A master's degree in alternative medicine can lead students to a number of different careers in specialty areas, such as Chinese medicine. The following are some job opportunities that graduates may find.

  • Massage therapist
  • Herbalist
  • Educator
  • Lifestyle counselor
  • Acupuncturist

Continuing Education Information

Graduates typically need to obtain a license from the state before they can practice in the field. Licensure requirements vary by state. However, some schools offer this as part of their program.

Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine

A Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine prepares students for careers as primary care physicians or jobs in other professions, such as acupuncture or education. Naturopathic physicians use holistic medicine to treat the whole patient. Students pursuing this type of degree learn about topics such as botanical medicine, psychology and anatomy through coursework, labs and clinical experience.

Education Prerequisites

Prerequisites for a doctorate in naturopathic medicine vary, but typically require a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. Some programs may require experience in the field, letters of recommendation, a minimum GPA and the completion of courses in science and math.

Program Coursework

Coursework in a doctoral degree in alternative medicine prepares candidates for research and leadership positions in areas of holistic practice such as nutrition and disease prevention. The following are some of the typical courses found in a doctoral degree in alternative medicine.

  • Biochemical connections
  • Naturopathic ethics
  • Homeopathic medicine
  • Biomedicine
  • Neuroanatomy

Continuing Education Information

Graduates who want to be primary care givers will need a state license, which typically requires a 4-year degree from an accredited school that has a curriculum based in both traditional and naturopathic medicine. These prospective doctors must also pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX).

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