Schools with Alternative Medicine Majors
Alternative medicine consists of those healthcare practices and systems that aren't considered part of western or allopathic medicine. Find out more about the alternative medicine field, how to find a school and what to expect from a degree program.
Those looking to study alternative medicine will most likely be headed towards graduate-level study. Coursework can include herbal therapy, massage therapy, and nutrition.
What Is Alternative Medicine?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the National Institutes for Health (NIH), the term alternative medicine is most often coupled with the term complementary. The boundaries between alternative and allopathic medicine aren't rigid, and with the passage of time, individual alternative methods may become widely accepted as standard practice.
Alternative medicine can include areas such as aromatherapy, herbal therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic and other manipulative or body-based practices. These disciplines are often used in conjunction with or to complement conventional medical practices. As such, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is sometimes referred to as integrated medicine.
How Can I Find a School That Offers a Major in This Field?
You can find schools that offer majors in alternative medicine, CAM or specific areas of CAM, but they're somewhat rare. You may have better luck locating schools that offer certificate programs, graduate certificate programs or master's degree programs, in addition to individual courses in alternative medicine. Through the Council on Chiropractic Education, you can access a directory of schools that offer programs leading to a Doctor of Chiropractic.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) can be an excellent source of reliable postsecondary education institutions and programs. The NCES online directory lists about a dozen schools that may offer certificate or degree programs in complementary and alternative medicine.
You may want to use the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) to help you locate schools offering programs in various areas of alternative medicine. The Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine (CAHCIM) lists about 50 academic medical centers that offer appropriate programs.
What Can I Expect in a Bachelor's Program?
A program leading to a Bachelor of Science in an area such as wellness and alternative medicine, alternative medicine or CAM usually includes a number of general education courses. Core courses might include anatomy and physiology, drugs and herbs, naturopathy, nutrition, chiropractic, aroma therapy and massage. You'll be able to concentrate in a specific area through your selection of electives. You may also have the opportunity to serve an internship at a school-approved facility. Bachelor's degree-completion programs may be used by registered nurses who hold an associate's degree to expand their knowledge base to include CAM techniques.
Which Schools Offer Bachelor's Degrees in Alternative Medicine?
Bachelor's degrees in alternative medicine can be delivered as a major program. Others include the study of nutrition and herbal sciences.
- Everglades University offers a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree program with a major in alternative medicine
- Huntington College of Health Sciences offers a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Nutrition with a focus on integrative nutrition
- Bastyr University offers a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Herbal Sciences
What Can I Expect in a Graduate Program?
Graduate certificate or master's degree programs are commonly used by nurses or medical students who want to incorporate one or more aspects of alternative medicine into their training. You can also find CAM as a concentration in a program leading to a Master of Public Health. Typical courses might include CAM pathology and protocols, reiki, which deals with stress reduction and rapidity of healing mind-body therapies, toxicology, ethnopharmacology, homeopathy, phytotherapy and meditation. You can find a number of schools that offer programs partially or completely online. If the program contains an internship or practicum, you must complete that component in a live setting.
Which Schools Offer Master's Degrees in Alternative Medicine?
The Complementary Alternative Medicine degree program from the American College of Healthcare Sciences includes coursework in aromatherapy, homeopathy, nutrition and dietary supplements. This is an online option, in addition to the online option offered from Rutgers University.
- American College of Healthcare Sciences offers an online Master of Science (M.S.) degree program in Complementary Alternative Medicine
- Rutgers University offers an online Master of Science (M.S.) degree program in Health Sciences in Integrative Health and Wellness
- Georgetown University offers a Master of Science (M.S.) degree program in Physiology - Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Which Schools Offer Graduate Certificates in Alternative Medicine?
The graduate certificate program from American University includes coursework in areas like behavioral medicine, alternative medicine and health promotion. An online option is also available.
- Western Michigan University offers an online Graduate Certificate in Spirituality, Culture and Health program
- American University offers a Graduate Certificate in Psychobiology of Healing
- George Washington University offers a Graduate Certificate in Integrative Medicine
Alternative medicine is available to be studied at both the undergraduate and graduate degree levels. However, there are more options at the master's degree level.