There are several training program options for students who want to get post-secondary Ayurveda training. The most basic programs train students to become certified Ayurvedic Health Counselors. The only prerequisite for these programs is a high school diploma. The next-highest level is an Ayurvedic Practitioner training program. Finally, there are master's and doctoral degree programs offered in the field, which require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in order to enroll. Students can often find Ayurveda programs online or in hybrid formats that are designed to meet the needs of working students.
There are also postsecondary institutions that offer continuing education courses in Ayurveda for current health professionals. For instance, registered nurses and certified massage therapists can get credits toward licensure renewal by taking Ayurveda courses at an accredited school.
Ayurvedic Health Counselor Training
Ayurvedic Health Counselor training programs provide a basic overview of the field of Ayurveda. These programs usually take about a year to complete. They culminate in a comprehensive exam, and students are awarded a diploma upon completion. From there, they are eligible to apply for Ayurvedic Health Counselor certification from the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA). Right now, the only requirement for this designation is to have successfully completed an accredited program that provides certain courses, but it is important to note that NAMA is currently in the process of developing a certification exam, which is expected to be made available in December 2016. In addition to lecture-based coursework, some programs require students to complete clinical observations and supervised consultations. Some of the course topics include:
- Introduction to Ayurveda
- Ayurvedic anatomy and physiology
- Ayurvedic pathology
- Ayurvedic psychology
- Sensory therapy
- Counseling skills
Ayurvedic Practitioner Training
The next-highest level of training is for aspiring Ayurvedic Practitioners. These programs usually take two years to complete. To enroll, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, and they need to have completed an Ayurvedic Health Counselor Training program. In addition, most schools require applicants to take a college-level anatomy and physiology course before they enroll. Some programs even recommend that applicants have earned a bachelor's degree before undertaking this program.
Students in these programs take anatomy- and disease-focused Ayurveda courses and meet extensive clinical experience requirements. Schools may award graduates a certificate, but like Ayurvedic Health Counselors, Ayurvedic Practitioners are officially designated by NAMA after finishing a program that includes certain courses and clinical experience requirements, with a future certification exam in the works. Here are some common course topics that may be included in the curriculum:
- Clinical theory and Pancha Karma theory
- Chronic diseases of the endocrine, immune and musculoskeletal systems
- Dermatological conditions
- Pregnancy and delivery
- Herbal therapies
- Ayurvedic nutrition
Master's Degree in Ayurveda
At the graduate level, it is possible to earn a master's degree in Ayurveda. Degrees may be offered as a Master of Arts (MA) in Ayurveda or a Master of Science (MS) in Ayuredic Sciences. In terms of coursework, these programs are generally similar to practitioner training programs, but studies are usually more wide-ranging, and clinical experience requirements are more extensive. In addition, students may be required to conduct independent research in a particular field of interest, culminating in a master's thesis. Here are some general areas of study that are typically included in the curriculum:
- Ayurvedic body systems
- Business managements
- Ethics and jurisprudence
- Rejuvenative therapy
Doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine
Although programs are rare, it is possible to earn a doctoral degree in Ayurvedic medicine. These programs are generally similar to master's degree programs, providing a comprehensive overview of the field and including both classroom coursework and clinical experiences. Graduates are qualified to apply for practitioner status from NAMA.
Career Information and Continuing Education
Depending on the program they complete, graduates can work as Ayurvedic Health Counselors or Practitioners. Possible employers include holistic health institutions and spas. Individuals may also find work as yoga instructors, and they may be qualified for administrative work in traditional medical facilities.
Graduates who want to expand their studies into Western medicine may enroll in nursing programs or apply to medical school. They may also enroll in postsecondary programs that prepare them for licensure as chiropractors or nutritionists.
Students who are interested in Ayurveda have multiple training options. They can choose to become holistic health practitioners or expand their current knowledge of holistic practices, depending on their career goals and education level.