While traditional degree programs in alternative medicine are rare at major universities, special institutes offer online or hybrid associate's degree programs in alternative or holistic medicine.
Online alternative medicine two-year programs may be available in a range of concentrations, such as herbal medicine or aromatherapy, and are ideal for current medical professionals. These programs are designed to prepare students for further practical investigation in the field of alternative medicine.
Interested students can pursue an Associate of Applied Science in Alternative Medicine or Associate of Occupational Studies in Holistic Health.
Some programs can be completed entirely online, while others require on-campus attendance for certain classes. Distance learners need access to a computer with high-speed Internet. Instructors create a virtual-learning environment by combining traditional texts with current online teaching methods, such as course management systems and online presentations. Instructors and classmates communicate primarily via e-mail.
A curriculum in alternative medicine focuses on achieving wellness through balancing and nurturing a person's mind, body and spirit. Derived from traditions and practices in the East, alternative medicine practices mental calmness through life-coaching, yoga and spiritual studies, uses proper nutrition for optimum physical wellness and strives for natural healing using the body's own powers in preventative and restorative methods.
Introduction to Physiology and Anatomy
Students get a thorough overview of human physiology and anatomy. They learn how these systems relate to alternative medicine. Topics of special interest include the muscular, skeletal and nervous systems.
Protocols in Holistic Pathology
This course covers the principles of naturopathology and natural therapeutics. Instructors teach scientific techniques and philosophical tactics as to how an individual's relationship with nature can be used for natural healing powers.
Terminology in Healthcare
Students develop a working vocabulary of healthcare-related terms, giving them practice and knowledge of the healthcare language. They can immediately apply this information to other studies or current employment.
Depending on the chosen emphasis, an associate's degree in alternative medicine qualifies graduates to become, among other professions, herbalists, wellness coaches, aromatherapists, massage practitioners or yoga teachers. Individuals often work in hospitals, doctor offices and natural health centers. Many, such as massage therapists and yoga instructors, can practice privately.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of May 2015, massage therapists earned a median annual salary of $38,040, while fitness trainers and aerobics instructors earned a median annual salary of $36,160.
Both online and hybrid programs in alternative medicine may focus on a number of alternative practices, including traditional eastern approaches, life-coaching, yoga and spiritual studies, as well as more traditional courses in anatomy, physiology and nutrition.