PhD in Holistic Health and Medicine: Degree Info for Doctoral Students

Holistic health is a medical alternative that focuses on a whole-body approach to healing, medicine and overall health. While holistic health and medicine is not offered as a doctoral degree program, students can enroll in a mind-body medicine Ph.D. program.

Essential Information

Students in a mind-body medicine Ph.D. program study healthcare systems, mind-body approaches to grief, loss and stress, psychophysiology and ethics in healthcare. Program participants attend seminars, complete a clinical practicum and write a doctoral thesis that demonstrates mastery in the field. Acupuncturists, psychologists and chiropractors are among the potential professional outcomes of such programs. Candidates who also hold traditional medical degrees may qualify for board certification.

  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree, master's degree, high GPA
  • Other Requirements: Clinical practicum and doctoral thesis are usually required

Ph.D. in Mind-Body Medicine

Coursework in a Ph.D. program in mind-body medicine includes the comprehensive study of physical and emotional health through non-traditional healing and wellness methods. Typical courses in this program include:

  • Meditation
  • Biofeedback
  • Hypnosis
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition

Popular Career Options

Mind-body medicine and holistic health professionals are employed in a variety of healthcare settings. Many graduates of this Ph.D. program pursue a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and become practicing physicians. Popular career choices for graduates include:

  • Chiropractor
  • Acupuncturist
  • Nutritionist
  • Massage therapist
  • Psychologist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of November 2013, did not keep statistics specifically on holistic medicine occupations. The BLS projected that job growth for health diagnosing and treating practitioners in general would be 20% from 2012-2022, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

According to the BLS massage therapists could expect job growth of 23% from 2012-2022 and these professionals made a median annual salary of $37,180 as of May 2014. Chiropractors could expect a job growth of 15% in the same decade and made a median annual salary of $66,720 as of May 2014. Dietitians and nutritionists could expect 21% job growth from 2012-2022 and earned a median annual salary of $56,950 as of May 2014. For psychologists, the job growth projection was 12% for the same decade. Finally, the BLS reported that clinical, counseling and school psychologists earned a median annual salary of $68,900 as of May 2014.

Continuing Education

Mind-body medicine Ph.D. graduates who also hold a M.D. or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine can pursue board certification from the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine (ABIHM). Board certification requires a professional reference, autobiographical essay, in-person interview and passing scores on an examination. The ABIHM also offers continuing education credits through an annual Science and Clinical Application of Integrative Holistic Medicine conference.

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