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. Typical prerequisites include a bachelor's degree, master's degree and a high GPA. Candidates who also hold traditional medical degrees may qualify for board certification.

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 October 2016, 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 17% from 2014-2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

According to the BLS, massage therapists could expect job growth of 22% from 2014-2024, and these professionals made a median annual salary of $38,040 as of May 2015. Chiropractors could expect a job growth of 17% in the same decade and made a median annual salary of $64,440 as of May 2015. Dietitians and nutritionists could expect 16% job growth from 2014-2024 and earned a median annual salary of $57,910 as of May 2015. For psychologists, the job growth projection was 19% for the same decade. Finally, the BLS reported that clinical, counseling and school psychologists earned a median annual salary of $70,580 as of May 2015.

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.

Prospective holistic health and medicine students can enroll in a Ph.D. program in mind-body medicine. Key skills in psychophysiology and nutrition will prepare graduates for variety of health-related careers, though medical school will be required if students want to become doctors.

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