Although online master's degrees in natural health are not easy to find, there are accredited schools that offer programs in related areas that could include coursework in the natural health field. These include graduate programs for chiropractors and nutritionists as well as courses for healthcare professionals looking for continuing education. Most of these programs require previous degrees and credentials. There are also non-credit continuing education classes that are generally open to members of the public who are interested in exploring complementary, natural or alternative healing methods.
While some natural health options are offered totally online, schools that offer master's degree programs for professionals like chiropractors may use a hybrid format, which combines virtual and on-campus classes. For those studying online, schools use course management systems to create virtual classroom environments. These feature lectures, instructional aids, assignments and assessments that can often be accessed around the clock. Discussion boards, chat rooms and web conferencing may be used for class interaction with instructors. Most programs require advanced clinical practice in chiropractic medicine and nutrition.
Master's Degree for Chiropractors
The distance learning Master of Science of Advanced Clinical Practice in Chiropractic Medicine is only offered at one university in the country. The program is designed for current licensed chiropractors interested in learning more about new, advanced studies in the field, including topics in natural health sciences.
Graduate students enrolled in this master's degree program can complete the curriculum mostly through distance learning and weekend courses to accommodate their professional schedules. The program takes two years on average to complete and covers topics such as the following:
- Allopathic and osteopathic medicine
- Functional medicine
- Psychological effects of aging
Master's Degrees in Nutrition
Online master's degree programs in nutrition are found at many four-year universities and colleges. Many such programs are designed for current nutritionists or health care practitioners interested in learning how nutrition affects the overall well-being of patients. Schools may require that applicants have the Registered Dietician (RD) credential, a bachelor's degree and prerequisite credits in sciences like physiology and biochemistry. These programs usually take around two to three years to complete.
Distance learners may have to complete a thesis project, in addition to taking online coursework in the following:
- Nutritional concepts
- Food science
- Clinical nutrition
- Public health nutrition
Continuing Education in Natural Health
Online courses in natural health studies are not widely available, but some community colleges offer non-credit continuing education classes in areas like complementary medicine, natural healing and integrative mental health through distance learning. A few accredited universities or colleges devoted to the health sciences also offer online courses specifically to individuals already certified or licensed in a health care field. These courses typically act as supplementary resources for physicians and health care practitioners interested in incorporating natural medicine into their patient care plans.
Distance learning opportunities in natural health offer courses tailored for chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists and chiropractic assistants. Continuing education online options may be presented in a self-paced format, although due dates for assignments or assessments might apply. Other courses are offered through virtual classroom seminars or live webinars. Topics may include the following:
- Acupuncture and the immune system
- Treating lower back pain with acupuncture
- Nutrition and health
- Physiotherapies for physicians
- Natural medications in asthma care
There are a few different types of online natural health programs, including those that are completely online and those that have on-campus requirements. These programs may be completed by practitioners, such as chiropractors and nutritionists, seeking an advanced degree or by those looking for continuing education opportunities.