Herbal Medicine PhD Degree Program Information

It's not possible to get a Ph.D. in herbal medicine in the U.S., but students interested in alternative medicine can earn a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) degree. Explore the program, common courses and career information.

Essential Information

ND programs can be completed in four years of full-time study and prepare graduates to obtain licensure as primary care physicians who offer a holistic approach to health care through the use of alternative treatment modalities. Some curricula even allow students to select a course of study that includes classes in areas of herbal science. Students may be required to complete a thesis paper and pass their Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam.

A bachelor's degree is required for admission to an ND program. Prospective students will also need to have completed prerequisites in the areas of psychology, biology, physics, and chemistry. Additional classes in genetics, physiology, botany, and biochemistry might also be strongly recommended, along with related volunteer or work experience.

Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

ND candidates typically spend the first year of enrollment studying patient care procedures, body systems, and the biomedical sciences. Coursework also stresses the development of clinical skills and a familiarity with a variety of therapeutic treatment techniques. The curriculum can include a series of lecture courses, clinical rotations, and labs that cover herbal medicine. The following topics are typical:

  • Botanical medicine
  • Botanical formulations
  • Homeopathy and pharmacology
  • Naturopathic theory
  • Environmental medicine
  • Nutrition

Career Information

All states require physicians to earn a license, and some specifically regulate the practice of naturopathic doctors. To meet licensing requirements, applicants will need to have completed an ND program approved by the CNME and earned passing scores on the Naturopathic Physician Licensing Exam (NPLEX). Continuing education requirements must also be met to maintain these credentials.

ND program graduates seeking different career routes can also find employment as research scientists, entrepreneurs, public health administrators, or instructors, among other options.

A Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program prepares students to treat patients with herbal medicine and other natural remedies. Graduates will have to meet state licensure requirements to practice medicine, but can also find employment as researchers, instructors and more.

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