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Overview of Master’s Degree Programs in Holistic Medicine

Majors Overview May 31, 2017

This article talks about master’s degree programs in holistic medicine and their education requirements, coursework, career options, job and wage outlook, and certification options.

Master’s Programs in Holistic Medicine

Complementary or alternative medicine techniques, including aromatherapy and acupuncture, are covered in holistic medicine. Few accredited schools, if any, offer master’s degree programs in the field of holistic medicine. Independent associations and for-profit organizations commonly offer training programs.

In the 4-year schools where programs in alternative and holistic medicine are available, students can gain an insight into natural herbs and supplements, natural mind-body interactions, massage therapy, acupuncture, and aromatherapy, among others. Supervised clinical or hands-on laboratory experiences may be available. Those seeking graduate level courses may opt for a Master of Science (M.S.) in Complementary and Alternative Medicine program.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in a field such as health sciences, pre-med, chemistry, or biology. Requirements also include submitting a statement of purpose explaining their reasons for seeking a career related to alternative medicine.


Program coursework is devised to give students not only a basic grasp of different modes of holistic healing, but also an understanding of the physiological effects those modes can have on the body. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Field practicum
•Legal issues in holistic medicine
•Natural nutrition
•Physiology and Integrative Medicine
•Mind-body skills
•History of complementary medicine
•Eastern medicines
•Herbal medicine
•Ethics of complementary medicine

Career Options

Program graduates may choose from a variety of careers in the field. Some may opt for admission to medical school and the simultaneous application of their knowledge of traditional medicine and complementary medicine. Others may choose from possible job positions such as:

•Massage therapist
•Holistic health practitioner
•Holistic nutritionist

Job and Wage Outlook

Health diagnosing and treating practitioners, in general, are expected to see a better-than-average job growth of 26% over the 2010 – 2020 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Over the same decade, healthcare support professions are expected to see a job growth of 34% while dietitians and nutritionists are expected to witness a 20% job growth. In May 2016, dietitians and nutritionists brought in an average annual wage of $58,290. Massage therapists are predicted to enjoy a job growth of 22% and earn an average annual wage of $39,860 (BLS).

Certification Options

Voluntary certification in the field of holistic medicine is available through various independent organizations such as the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine. Individuals can qualify for such certification by meeting academic criteria and passing an exam. Similar certification opportunities are also available through the American Holistic Medicine Association. Their certifications in the field are available through a variety of boards related particularly to massage therapy and acupuncture; the completion of an individual training program or exam will qualify interested candidates for the credentials.

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