Holistic Care PhD Programs: Degree Overviews

If you want to earn a terminal degree in the field of holistic care, you can pursue a doctoral program in naturopathic medicine. Read on to discover what these programs are like and learn about post-graduation opportunities.

Essential Information

Ph.D. programs in holistic care do not exist. Instead, there are doctoral programs in naturopathic medicine that provide instruction in holistic healthcare; these programs prepare individuals for careers as naturopathic physicians. Degree candidates learn about natural healing and whole-body approaches to health and wellness. Similar to traditional medical degree programs, these programs feature a residency period during which students practice the naturopathic and holistic skills they have learned in the classroom.

This four-year degree is traditionally offered in the Doctor of Naturopathy (ND) format. Some programs allow students to pursue their ND while also pursuing a degree in a complementary field, such as Oriental medicines or herbal sciences. Programs cover all aspects of naturopathic medicine. In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree, preferably in science or pre-medical studies.

Doctorate in Naturopathy

Individuals enrolled in an ND program undergo comprehensive training in all aspects of naturopathic medicine while also studying traditional medical topics such as anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and biochemistry. Some sample core course titles are included below.

  • Historical perspectives of natural medicine
  • Public health
  • Naturopathic medicine foundations
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Homeopathy
  • Botanical medicine

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Exact wage and salary information for naturopathic doctors can be difficult to determine since naturopathic doctors are often grouped together with other practitioners of non-Western medicine, such as acupuncturists and hypnotherapists. lists the median salary for these professionals as $73,412 in January 2016 (

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth of 17%, much faster than the average for all occupations, for health diagnosing and treating professions from 2014-2024. For comparison, the projected job growth rate for physicians and surgeons is 14% for this decade. The BLS reported an average annual wage of $197,700 for physicians and surgeons (all other) as of May 2015.

Continuing Education

Graduates of an accredited naturopathic degree program must pass a licensing exam before offering their services to the public. The Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX) is a two-part exam offered twice yearly in five North American cities. Sitting for this exam takes four days.

In summary, ND programs integrate advanced studies in alternative and traditional medicine to prepare students for licensure as naturopathic physicians.

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