Degree programs in holistic wellness train students in a variety of methods promoting the unity of the mind and body. Internships complement classroom instruction. At the associate's level, students obtain fundamental knowledge of the body's systems and various practices, including Qigong, reflexology, and massage. Bachelor's programs train students to practice some form of alternative medicine, such as Reiki or acupuncture. Many states require licensing or certification to practice some of these professions. This requires passing an examination.
At the master's level, students of holistic wellness train to become teachers, sometimes within a traditional medicine program. Training for teachers of holistic wellness practices includes courses in biology, anatomy, and psychology as well as topics including healthcare economics. Programs emphasize hands-on experience through internships. Students only need a high school diploma or GED to enroll in the associate's and bachelor's programs. Most master's degree programs require a bachelor's degree and prerequisite coursework in biology, anatomy, and natural sciences. Online courses and programs are available.
Associate's Degree in Holistic Health
Associate's degree programs teach fundamental principles, trends, and complexities of holistic health. They provide an understanding of the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit related to treatment and healing practices, as well as healing philosophies in social, cultural, and environmental perspectives. Students evaluate healing strategies, identify ethical responsibilities, and demonstrate thoughtful guidance related to alternative and complementary medicines and treatments.
Most associate's degree programs offer comprehensive internships and practica reinforcing principles of holistic healing, energy healing systems, and biological therapies. Coursework features business basics and ethics relative to holistic healing, as well as core health-related studies, including:
- Study of the human body and manipulation therapies
- Connections between body and mind and spiritual awareness
- Nutrition and healing with food
- Health and wellness coaching
- Massage, reflexology and Qigong
- Disease processes and holistic health with Reiki, Tai Chi and yoga
Bachelor's Degree in Holistic Health Studies
Students gain knowledge of behavioral and biological evolution and scientific evidence of diverse alternative healthcare systems through a holistic health studies major. Lessons teach investigative, evaluative, and critical thinking skills to develop a student's fluency in concepts, principles and integration of healthcare. Bachelor's degree programs prepare graduates for careers as practitioners of alternative medicine therapies.
Courses present a holistic paradigm that encompasses the philosophy, history, and methodology of interdisciplinary medicine. Students co-enroll in certificate programs to become wellness consultants, or to practice yoga, massage therapy, or Reiki. Discussions, lectures, and readings in holistic studies include:
- History and future of holism
- Eastern approaches to nutrition
- Women's holistic health
- Alternative healing methods
- Health and humor and managing stress
- Native American medicine
Master's Degree in Holistic Education
Master's degree programs in holistic education appeal to students with career interests ranging from traditional healthcare and corporate wellness to nutritional consulting and health coaching. Working professionals complement their current practices with specialized training, such as holistic health, nutrition, consciousness, spirituality and somatic education. Candidates demonstrate an understanding of research, theory, health issues, and information and how to apply them to a specialization within holistic health education.
Students study a conceptual framework including an overview of modalities. Foundational courses target healthcare economics, politics, culture, and community. Through internships, practicums, and lectures, students study topics, including:
- Motivation and change
- Personal care of mind and body
- Holistic nutrition and comparative diets
- Physical and psychological stressors
- Emotional dynamics and effective communication
- Somatic psychology and education
Popular Career Options
Graduates can apply their knowledge and skills in a variety of settings, such as wellness centers, nursing homes, hospitals, chiropractic clinics and health clubs. An associate's degree provides qualifications for entry-level positions, such as:
- Health educator
- Allied health professional
- Alternative healthcare provider
- Health club program assistant
Motivating factors for graduates to enter the field of alternative medicine include prevention of disease and promotion of holistic wellness. Those with a master's degree may pursue careers that focus on individual health, community and environmental health issues or health disparities between social and cultural groups through venues such as:
- Public health organizations
- Professional associations
- State agencies and departments
- Public and private healthcare facilities
- Alternative and complementary clinics
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Many professions exist in the alternative and holistic wellness sector of the healthcare industry, including massage therapy, acupuncture and consulting services. In January 2016, PayScale.com reported entry-level salaries for massage therapists ranged from $22,000-$60,243 per year. The majority of wellness coaches earned $29,502-$79,463 and acupuncturists' incomes varied from $29,870-$92,649 per year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics did not report detailed statistics for acupuncturists or wellness coaches, but projected that massage therapists could see job growth of 22%, much faster than the average for all occupations, from 2014-2024.
Practitioners wanting to incorporate holistic wellness into their practice may seek an associate's or bachelor's degree in holistic health and license. Those wanting to teach holistic health need a master's degree in holistic education.