Bachelor of Alternative Medicine: Degree Program Overviews

Find out what topics are covered in a bachelor's degree program in alternative medicine. Learn about continuing education and popular career options in this field.

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Essential Information

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 doctor's degree, most alternative medicine practitioners only require a certificate or a diploma. Bachelor's degree programs are also available.

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. Many of these are offered online, and a large number are offered on the campuses of major colleges.

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 them are offered as a minor or a course in a larger alternative medicine or holistic health program.

Educational Prerequisites

Bachelor's degrees in alternative medicine require only that the student have the credentials, usually a high school diploma or GED, to enter a college for any degree. There are no prerequisites specific to these degrees.

Program Coursework

Students who pursue an alternative medicine program explore concepts related to the above-mentioned practices as well as learning about the basics of Western medicine. Areas of study for this degree in alternative medicine generally include:

  • Anatomy
  • Basic chemistry
  • Alternative medicine and science
  • Herbology
  • Nutrition and aging
  • Chinese medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Antioxidants
  • Internship

Popular Career Options

A wide variety of careers are open to students of alternative medicine; however, the specific careers available to a graduate will depend largely on the emphasis of the program he or she followed. Careers for bachelor's degree graduates may include:

  • Ayurveda practitioner
  • Biofeedback therapist
  • Energy medicine practitioner
  • Holistic nurse
  • Massage therapist
  • Medical assistant for natural healing professional
  • Personal trainer
  • Spa director
  • Wellness coach
  • Yoga instructor

Continuing Education Information

Ability to practice in some of the more commonly understood alternative medicines will require the student to get a higher degree. Chiropractic and osteopathy required doctorate 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.

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 21 years of age or older and have completed some college or 24 years of age or older and a high school graduate for a Bachelor's degree
    • Masters degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree
    • Doctorate degree applicants must have a Masters degree
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  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Informatics and Illustration
      • Medical Residency Programs
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    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
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    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety

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