What Types of Degrees Are Offered in Alternative Medicine?

Degrees are available in many areas of alternative medicine, including natural and holistic medicine, chiropractic, nutrition, massage, Chinese medicine and naturopathy. Learn more below about curriculum and degree level options. Schools offering Complementary & Alternative Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Types of Degrees Offered in Alternative Medicine

Few schools offer degrees specifically in alternative medicine. Those that do offer these programs typically offer associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. Any degree in alternative medicine will likely be mostly an overview of the most common types of alternative medicine. For a more specific type of degree, students will need to focus on a specific area. Healthcare practitioners often require advanced education and training beyond an undergraduate degree.

Important Facts About Alternative Medicine Practice Degrees

Chiropractic MedicineNaturopathyNutrition
Common CoursesSkeletal radiology, neurodiagnosis, soft tissue techniquesTherapeutic modalities, public health, immunologyStress management, wellness coaching, emotional health
Prerequisites90 hours of undergraduate courses, with at least 24 hours in sciencesBachelor's degree with science courseworkBachelor's degree required for admission to graduate programs (optional)
Online AvailabilityNot available; fully onsiteNot available; fully onsiteFull coursework online
Continuing EducationRequired by most states to maintain licenseRequired by some states to maintain certificationRequired to maintain license (where required) and optional specialty certifications

Natural and Holistic Health

One of the most common specific degrees in alternative medicine is in natural or holistic health. Such degrees combine some of the most popular forms of alternative medicine into a single degree program. This type of degree is offered on the associate's, bachelor's or master's level.

Chiropractic Practice

One of the most mainstream forms of alternative medicine is chiropractic muscle and bone manipulation. Because it is such a popular field, many medical and health science schools offer programs. Unlike most forms of alternative medicine, chiropractic programs are regulated by an accrediting agency.


Nutrition is among the most popular areas of alternative medicine. Both undergraduate and graduate nutrition degrees are available at many medical and health science universities across the nation.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy, another area of alternative medicine that is regulated by most states, is typically offered through diploma or certificate programs or through an associate's degree program. Such programs cover anatomy and different techniques in massage, such as aromatherapy, shiatsu, Thai massage and reflexology.

Chinese Medicine

A degree in Chinese medicine, which can include studies of acupuncture, acupressure and herbology, is generally offered through specialized institutes. Undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees are offered, with specializations in various branches of Chinese medicine also available.

Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine is one of the more comprehensive fields of alternative medicine. Most available programs in naturopathic medicine are doctoral programs. With the proper licensing, graduates of accredited naturopathic medicine doctoral programs may go on to practice medicine as naturopathic doctors (NDs.).

Other Areas of Alternative Medicine

Other less common degrees in alternative medicine are available in homeopathy, ayurveda, aromatherapy and herbal medicine. One may also find degrees in areas such as therapeutic touch, qigong, energy therapies and midwifery, among others.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, the median annual salary earned by all other health diagnosing and treating practitioners was $73,960 in May 2018. Employment for this profession is anticipated to grow by 13% between 2016 and 2026, per the BLS.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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