Complementary Medicine PhD Program Information

If you are interested in the study and practice of alternative medicine, you may want to consider a Ph.D. in complementary medicine. Find out what to expect from the curriculum and what you can do with the degree.

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Essential Information

Doctoral programs in complementary medicine are rare and are typically offered by non-traditional educational institutions that specialize in alternative medicine training. A Ph.D. in complementary medicine prepares students for advanced scholarly research or clinical practice in specialized areas of complementary medicine, though it is important to note that these programs do not prepare graduates for licensure to practice medicine or work in other healthcare professions.

Most Ph.D. programs require students to choose a particular concentration, such as homeopathy, Ayurveda, Chinese medicine techniques, nutritional medicine, lifestyle counseling, or clinical aromatherapy. In addition to taking seminar courses, students enrolled in a doctoral program in complementary medicine often need to undergo clinical training and fulfill an internship requirement prior to graduation. They must also conduct independent research and submit a dissertation. In order to apply, students usually need to hold a master's degree in a relevant area.


Doctorate in Complementary Medicine

Many of the theoretical courses found within a Ph.D. program in complementary medicine focus on the principles behind natural remedies. Practical courses include clinical rotations and internships. Some examples of courses include:

  • Principles of homeopathy
  • Bio-energetic medicine
  • Chronic diseases and miasms
  • Western medical terminology
  • Pathology and the nature of disease
  • Herbal medicine

Popular Career Options

A Ph.D. in complementary medicine can lead to a variety of careers related to natural healing. Some of these positions include:

  • Acupuncturist
  • Ayurvedic medical practitioner
  • Homeopathic clinician
  • Aromatherapy specialist
  • Lifestyle counselor
  • Natural nutritionist
  • Yoga therapist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't publish data for complementary medicine practitioners. However, the BLS notes that employment for all health diagnosing and treating professionals is expected to increase 17% from 2014-2024, which is much faster than average.

Earning a Ph.D. in Complementary Medicine typically doesn't lead to licensure in a healthcare field. However, it can benefit the careers of some healthcare practitioners, including dietitians and nutritionists or general and family practitioners. According to the BLS, dietitians and nutritionists earned a median salary of $57,910 as of 2015. During that time, family and general practitioners earned a median of $184,390 per year.

Overall, if you are interested in complementary medicine, a Ph.D. program offers the most advanced training in the field. It can lead to many different careers in alternative medicine or contribute to the careers of established health professionals.

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