Online Degrees in Natural Medicine: Program Overviews by Level

Essential Information

Online degrees in natural medicine don't exist, but there are a few fully online associate's and master's degree programs in alternative and complementary medicine that focus on the same topics. Graduate certificate programs, designed for healthcare providers such as nurses, are also offered online. These programs look at treatment from a holistic point of view, treating the person as a whole, not the illness or condition.

Associate's degree programs require English and math and may include coursework in nutrition and herbal medicines. Master's programs are for students with bachelor's degrees. Courses may include anatomy, homeopathy and protocols in alternative medicine. Graduate certificate programs are for graduate students or for advanced practice nurses or healthcare workers with graduate degrees. These programs emphasize the use of alternative medicine to complement traditional medicine.

Alternative Medicine Associate's Degree

Students enrolling in this entry-level integrative medicine program are trained in the philosophy and practice of natural medicine. Often referred to as a complementary and alternative medicine program as well, the program focuses on teaching participants how to achieve and sustain good health using natural medicine. Students learn about basic holistic nutrition and making positive lifestyle changes.

Program Information Requirements

All courses can be taken online. Associate-level programs are typically 70 credit hours and can be completed in less than two years. Often times, the school will ship the necessary books and program information directly to students. In the online classroom, students are able to communicate with professors using email and message boards.

Students must have a computer with access to a high-speed Internet connection. In addition, an updated web browser and operating system is helpful.

Common Courses

The coursework is often asynchronous, meaning it can be completed at the student's discretion. In addition, students must complete required general education courses online.


This course is offered over multiple levels, all of which grow exponentially in intensity. Instruction covers the history, dangers, therapeutic applications and effects of various essential oils with healing properties.

Holistic Nutrition

Students gain an understanding of nutritional basics, such as vitamins, proteins and fats, from a whole-body healing perspective. The course focuses on the benefits of receiving nutrients from whole foods and the impact that these foods and supplements have on the overall health of the body.

Herbalism Basics

This course covers the history of herbal medicine. Students learn the basic application of various herbs and how they are administered.

Master of Science in Alternative Medicine Degree

This online program is available to an individual who wants to pursue a career as an educator, consultant, writer, speaker or administrator in the complementary and alternative medicine field. Students focus their study on the concepts and practices of homeopathy, aromatherapy, diet, herbs, botany, holistic pathophysiology and phytotherapy. Though rare, this program can be completed entirely online.

Program Information and Requirements

The average time needed to complete an online M.S. in Alternative Medicine program is 36 credit hours in two years. Students need to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with an acceptable grade point average. Students access course material through an online campus where they participate in live lessons, discussion boards and peer-to-peer interaction and access digital library materials.

Common Courses

Students can often choose to complete their coursework in a synchronous format where they may communicate with their instructor during real-time lessons.

Anatomy and Physiology

Students focus their study on the comprehensive systems of human anatomy within a holistic perspective. The relationship of pathology to physiology is examined, and students learn how each anatomical component influences the whole body. Through analyzing case studies in complementary and alternative medicine, students learn to designate appropriate protocols in future practice.


This course introduces students to the fundamental practices of homeopathy from historical, scientific, medicinal and sociological perspectives. Students learn of the pharmacology of homeopathic products, including creation, application and distribution.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Protocol

Students focus their study on the application of complementary and alternative medicine practices to restore balance in patients suffering from disease. This course emphasizes the importance of utilizing these practices with the purpose of enhancing each patient's natural ability to heal. Lastly, students learn to teach future patients to implement these techniques in their own life to maintain an overall state of wellness.

Alternative Medicine Graduate Certificate

Alternative medicine graduate certificate programs are available to students who want to integrate alternative and complementary medicine practices with traditional medical care. Applicants for this program must hold a graduate degree in nursing or a related health science field. This program is also available to current graduate students that wish to combine their in-progress thesis or dissertation with the capstone work required for this program. This program is centered on key concepts, including alternative systems, spirituality, diet, body therapy and energy cultivation.

Program Information and Requirements

The alternative medicine graduate certificate program consists of 18 credit hours and includes a three credit-hour capstone course. While this program is very rare, it is available to be completed entirely online. Students access course material through course websites, video streams and video conferencing. While students can access course information at their convenience, many online discussions and tests require the student to adhere to a schedule set by the instructor.

Students need access to a computer with a high-speed Internet connection. Because some course material is delivered via streaming video, the student's computer must have audio and video capabilities. In order to participate in online discussions, a webcam and headset microphone is required.

Common Courses

Students can access text-based web material through online websites and must download or stream video content within two days of when the live lecture was recorded on-campus.

Health Promotion

Students examine the factors that influence good health and reduce and prevent disease and health risks. These factors include environment, cultural diversity, family history and population patterns.

Cross-Cultural Alternative Health Care

This course prepares students to research and create techniques and practices for enhancing complementary and alternative health care in culturally diverse populations. The goal is for students to cultivate effective cross-cultural relationships between practitioners, patients and their families.

Traditional and Alternative Medicine Integration

Students learn about the ethics, laws, institutional policies and cultural factors that influence the medical practitioners who integrate alternative and complementary techniques into their conventional practice.

Career Information for Graduates

Students who complete a degree program in alternative medicine are in a unique position to apply their skill sets across a wide variety of careers. Many working allopathic health professionals pursue a degree program in complementary and alternative medicine in order to supplement a traditional health practice. Non-clinicians can use their degree to find employment within the complementary and alternative medicine field as a researcher, author, clinician, consultant and speaker. Graduates can also work as ambassadors for the alternative medicine community, as educators and consultants for retailers and consumers.

To recap, an individual's interests, goals and prior education will help them determine whether an associate's degree, graduate certificate or master's degree program is right for them. Of all these programs, it is generally the most challenging to complete a master's degree entirely online, though it is possible.

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