Bachelor of Alternative Medicine: Degree Program Overviews

Bachelor's degrees in this field can be found as alternative medicine, health and wellness, wellness and alternative medicine, complementary medicine, or holistic health degree programs. Bachelor's degrees in herbal science are also available; however, the studies of acupuncture and oriental medicine are generally only offered on a master's level.

Essential Information

Alternative medicine is sometimes known as holistic health, although some feel the two terms are not quite the same. Alternative therapies include hypnotherapy, herbal sciences, holistic health, Chinese medicine, chiropractic, osteopathy, homeopathy, acupuncture and massage therapy. While those working in chiropractics or osteopathy need a doctor's degree, most alternative medicine practitioners only require a certificate or a diploma. Bachelor's degree programs are also available.

Some schools offer bachelor's and master's degree programs in oriental medicine, but the bachelor's degree is not awarded until the master's has been earned. Bachelor's degrees are not offered in most of the specific therapies listed as alternative therapies, such as aromatherapy, guided imagery and yoga, but many of them are offered as a minor or a course in a larger alternative medicine or holistic health program. Many alternative medicine programs are offered online, and a large number are offered on the campuses of major colleges.

  • Program levels in Alternative Medicine: Bachelor of Alternative Medicine; Master of Chinese Medicine; Doctorate degrees in chiropractics or osteopathy
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Online Availability: Online programs are commonly available.
  • Other Requirements: Internships are commonly required.

Bachelor of Alternative Medicine Degree

Bachelor's degrees in alternative medicine require only that the student have the credentials, usually a high school diploma or GED, to enter a college for any degree. There are no prerequisites specific to these degrees.

Students who pursue an alternative medicine program explore concepts related to the above-mentioned practices as well as learning about the basics of Western medicine. Areas of study for this degree in alternative medicine generally include:

  • Anatomy
  • Basic chemistry
  • Alternative medicine and science
  • Herbology
  • Nutrition and aging
  • Chinese medicine

Popular Career Options

A wide variety of careers are open to students of alternative medicine; however, the specific careers available to a graduate will depend largely on the emphasis of the program he or she followed. Careers for bachelor's degree graduates (with some median salaries from 2014 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) may include:

  • Ayurveda practitioner
  • Biofeedback therapist
  • Energy medicine practitioner
  • Holistic nurse
  • Massage therapist- $37,180
  • Medical assistant for natural healing professional
  • Personal trainer- $34,980
  • Spa director
  • Wellness coach
  • Yoga instructor

Continuing Education Information

Ability to practice in some of the more commonly understood alternative medicines will require the student to get a higher degree. Chiropractics and osteopathy required doctorate degrees, although the number of years of study required for each is very different from the other. A practice in Chinese medicine will necessitate a master's degree, unless it is included as part of a doctoral-level chiropractic or osteopathic degree.

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