Undergraduate programs in holistic studies combine classroom learning with hands-on training in labs, and at the bachelor's level, students may complete an internship. Master's degree programs focus on research in the field and typically culminate in a thesis. Students can also find programs at the associate's degree level.
Prerequisites may include a high school diploma or equivalent. Students may also be required to hold certification in a health care area. Entry to the master's level requires a bachelor's degree and GRE scores. Related courses are commonly available online.
Associate's Degree in Holistic Health
An associate's degree program in holistic health care emphasizes an integrative approach to healing. Students learn how mental and spiritual well-being affect physical health and how to maximize all three aspects. Students are taught to add the use of herbs, aromatherapy, exercise and meditation to traditional medical practices. Some holistic healthcare programs at the associate's level are designed for people currently working in the alternative healthcare industry. These programs usually require incoming students to hold valid certification in naturopathy, conventional healthcare or a related area.
Classes in this program teach students to use alternative medical techniques to diagnose, prevent and treat illnesses. Students learn to look beyond traditional medical techniques and use herbs, naturopathy and aromatherapy to assist patients. Courses in the topics below are usually offered:
- Holistic nutrition
- Holistic healthcare history
- Herbal medicine
- Holistic diagnostics
Bachelor's Degree in Holistic Studies
Students who earn a bachelor's degree in holistic studies take courses in nutrition, psychology, health education and the natural sciences. Programs teach how mental conditions and other nonphysical characteristics can cause health ailments. Students also learn the theories behind current holistic healthcare practices. Many bachelor's degree programs in holistic studies provide internship opportunities that allow students to gain hands-on experience with patients. Students complete an interdisciplinary curriculum that covers the medical, physical, mental and spiritual aspects of healthcare. Subjects usually include:
- Alternative healthcare ethics
- Oriental medicine
- Holistic healthcare counseling
- Healthcare research methodology
- Holistic care counseling
Master's Degree in Holistic Health Studies
A master's program in holistic health studies covers modern medicine and teaches students about alternative, natural methods of medicine and treatment used to prevent and treat illness. Some programs focus on holistic health education, preparing graduates to teach others about the theories and practices. Students usually complete a thesis project demonstrating their knowledge of holistic health care. Classes in a holistic health studies master's program teach students to relate holistic concepts to traditional healthcare. Students also learn to explain holistic health theories and methods to medical patients and to the general public. Students often learn about:
- Integrative health
- Holistic health education
- Theories of consciousness
- Spiritual wellness
- Health and ecology
Popular Career Options
People who earn an associate's degree in holistic health care are eligible for a number of entry-level jobs in the industry. Graduates can work for independent holistic practitioners or in clinics. Graduates can choose from:
- Holistic healthcare office manager
- Holistic wellness assistant
- Healthcare industry customer service representative
People who earn a bachelor's degree in holistic studies often work as alternative healthcare practitioners or consultants. Popular career options include:
- Lifestyle coach
- Naturopathic medicine expert
- Acupuncture specialist
People who have a master's degree in holistic health studies possess the knowledge necessary for advanced careers in the field. Graduates can be self-employed or work in alternative health centers or clinics. Popular career options include:
- Naturopathy practitioner
- Holistic health consultant
- Holistic healthcare educator
Career Prospects and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that the number of working customer service representatives was expected to increase 10% between 2014 and 2024, which is a faster than average rate. These professionals earned median annual salaries of $31,720 as of May 2015.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
The American Holistic Health Association (AHHA) offers certification for professionals who demonstrate their knowledge by passing a written examination. Naturopathic practitioners can earn certification from the American Naturopathic Certification Board (ANCB). These certifications are voluntary, but can help practitioners build a patient base.
Students with an interest in holistic studies can find programs offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels that cover various topics relevant to alternative healthcare and spiritual wellness. These programs can prepare students to enter careers in naturopathy and other areas of holistic health.