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Degree Overview: Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Alternative Medicine

Majors Overview March 14, 2015

Get information about bachelor’s degree programs in alternative medicine and their coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Alternative Medicine

These programs cover medical practices that are not included with Western medical care practices provided by physical therapists, registered nurses, or licensed doctors. Alternative medicine uses natural healing practices to promote holistic health and wellness. Alternative medicine can replace standard medical treatments or operate simultaneously with such treatments.

Schools also offer these programs as degree programs in wellness or complementary medicine, whereby students learn nutrition, herbology, natural healing arts, critical thinking, and investigative techniques.

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma, in addition to meeting minimum grade point average requirements.


Coursework within a bachelor’s degree program in alternative medicine may cover topics in standard health care and behavioral science, in addition to principles and theories of alternative treatments, such as Chinese medicine, naturopathy, massage, energy healing, and American medicine. Core coursework may include the following areas of study:

•Herbal medicine
•Stress reduction
•Ayurvedic medicine
•Feng Shui
•Global health
•Therapeutic massage

Career Choices

Those who complete a bachelor’s degree program in alternative medicine could enjoy numerous job opportunities in the health and wellness field as a representative, in alternative medical offices as an assistant, or as a member of an employee assistance program. State licensure or additional certification may open up other career opportunities. Individuals may choose from traditional career options, such as:

•Yoga instructor
•Reiki master
•Massage therapist

Job and Wage Outlook

A much-faster-than-average job growth rate of 23% has been predicted for massage therapists over the 2012 – 2022 decade. Over the same decade, fitness instructors, including those that teach yoga, can expect to enjoy growth rates of 13% (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)).

In May 2012, massage therapists brought home an average annual salary of $35,970, while fitness instructors earned $31,720 on average that year. A growth rate of 10–19% has been predicted for acupuncturists over the 2010 – 2020 decade. In 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $72,710 (O*Net Online).

Continuing Education Choices

Those who graduate from the program may opt for continuing education by seeking admission to nursing or medical schools to boost their knowledge and skills along with their career prospects. They could also earn a master’s degree in alternative medicine.

Continuing education and state licensure may help avail more employment choices, such as in holistic veterinary medicine, holistic nursing, acupuncture, and homeopathy. Licensure norms may vary from state to state.

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