Bachelor's degrees in this field can be found as alternative medicine, health and wellness, wellness and alternative medicine, complementary medicine, or holistic health degree programs. Bachelor's degrees in herbal science are also available; however, the studies of acupuncture and oriental medicine are generally only offered on a master's level.
Alternative medicine is sometimes known as holistic health, although some feel the two terms are not quite the same. Alternative therapies include hypnotherapy, herbal sciences, holistic health, Chinese medicine, chiropractic, osteopathy, homeopathy, acupuncture, and massage therapy. While those working in chiropractics or osteopathy need a doctoral degree, most alternative medicine practitioners only need a certificate or a diploma. Bachelor's degree programs are also available, requiring a high school-level education to enroll.
Some schools offer bachelor's and master's degree programs in oriental medicine, but the bachelor's degree is not awarded until the master's has been earned. Bachelor's degrees are not offered in most of the specific therapies listed as alternative therapies, such as aromatherapy, guided imagery, and yoga, but many of these topics are offered as a minor or a course in a larger alternative medicine or holistic health program. Many alternative medicine programs are offered online, and a large number are offered on the campuses of major colleges. Internships may be required.
Bachelor of Alternative Medicine Degree
Students who pursue an alternative medicine program explore concepts related to the previously mentioned practices as well as learn about the basics of Western medicine. Areas of study for this degree in alternative medicine generally include:
- Basic chemistry
- Alternative medicine and science
- Nutrition and aging
- Chinese medicine
Popular Career Options
A wide variety of careers are open to graduates of alternative medicine; however, the specific careers available to a graduate will depend largely on the emphasis of the program they followed. Careers for bachelor's degree graduates (with some median salaries from 2015 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) may include:
- Ayurveda practitioner
- Biofeedback therapist
- Energy medicine practitioner
- Holistic nurse
- Massage therapist- $38,040
- Medical assistant for natural healing professional
- Personal trainer- $36,160
- Spa director
- Wellness coach
- Yoga instructor
Continuing Education Information
The ability to practice in some of the more commonly understood alternative medicines will require the student to get a higher degree. Chiropractics and osteopathy required doctoral degrees, although the number of years of study required for each is very different from the other. A practice in Chinese medicine will necessitate a master's degree, unless it is included as part of a doctoral-level chiropractic or osteopathic degree.
A bachelor's degree in alternative medicine teaches students about different forms of natural healing, including specialization options in a number of different fields. While there are several careers available for those with a bachelor's education, many types of alternative medicine work will require a higher level graduate degree.