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Holistic Health Degree

Holistic health is an alternative approach to healing which focuses on the ‘whole person’ as opposed to just the injury or problem itself. For those interested in pursuing a career in holistic healthcare, there are a number of degree options available at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.  

What is Holistic Health?

Holistic health, or ‘alternative medicine’, is a diverse field of medical practices which focus on treating the body as a whole. As a philosophy, holism considers the whole person when treating them; this includes mind, body, and spirit. This stems from a belief in the interdependent relationship that exists between all the individual components that make up a person. In this way, holistic health can more accurately be viewed as a philosophy or approach to life.
Holistic healthcare providers work alongside their patients, and support the body’s natural healing system. They are not concerned with merely eliminating the symptoms of a problem; rather, their aim is to understand what the underlying causes of those symptoms are. In that way, the root cause of the problem can be determined and dealt with appropriately.

A qualified holistic healthcare provider can work in a number of different settings. Medical and allied health professionals, physical therapists, nurses, or athletic trainers may seek to gain qualifications in this field to widen the ambit and effectiveness of their practices. Holistic health may also be pursued by those who wish to provide holistic healthcare services, guidance, counseling, consultation, and instruction.

Types of Holistic Health Degree’s

The American Holistic Health Association (A.H.H.A.) recognizes a number of institutions which offer training and education in holistic health. There are also a number of universities which offer degrees at various educational levels in this field. Some of these programs are also available online.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Holistic Care


Undergraduate programs in holistic health care give students a thorough introduction to the fundamentals of the field. This involves studying the theory of all areas of holistic health, traditional medicine, holistic nutrition, and exercise science.
Students may also choose to enroll in a specialized undergraduate program such as a Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) in Asian Holistic Health or the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Holistic Nutrition.
Entry requirements

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • It is recommended that students have taken courses in biology, nutrition, and other related courses in high school
  • Applicants who have work experience in healthcare or another related field will be looked favorably upon

Undergraduate programs in holistic health involve instruction in topics such as exercise science, entrepreneurial studies, meditation, biofeedback, nutrition, etc. It is likely that the precise curriculum will vary depending upon whether a student chooses a particular concentration area for their studies in holistic health.
Generally, some of the following courses are offered in these programs:

  •     Holistic health counseling
  •     Vitamins and minerals
  •     Yoga
  •     Mind and body connection
  •     Aroma therapy
  •     Holistic lifestyles and education
  •     Veganism
  •     Community health

Bachelor’s programs in holistic health typically take 4 years to complete.

Master's Degree Program in Holistic Wellness


Master’s programs in holistic wellness give students a deeper understanding on how to identify and address various causes of illness. Holistic health programs will explore alternative healing methods such as aromatherapy, meditation and energy healing. Traditional health topics are covered as well, including nutrition, anatomy and stress management. They are then introduced to a wide range of treatment techniques which may include meditation or physiology.
Students also have the option of choosing a specific concentration area for their degree. The program also has significant hands-on practical experience requirements. Graduate programs culminate in a final research project.

Entry requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree in holistic health or another health related field
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of reference
  • Some programs require applicants to appear for an interview

The curriculum of graduate programs will vary according to the particular area of concentration chosen by students. In addition, elective courses are available for students to choose particular areas of holistic wellness, which may interest them but that don’t make-up the core course requirements for the degree.

  • Eastern approaches to health   
  • Herbology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Holistic pathophysiology
  • Spirituality and health
  • Meditation and stress reduction strategies
  • Emotional health
  • Integrative health   
  • Homeopathy
  • Energy healing techniques (i.e. electromagnetic therapy)
  • Ayurveda
  • Biochemistry

Master’s programs typically take 1-3 years to complete.

PhD in Holistic Health and Medicine

Holistic health isn’t currently offered as a doctoral degree program. However, students may enroll in a mind-body medicine Ph.D. program.
The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Mind-Body Medicine is intended to prepare students to research, teach and practice alternative medicine and to apply holistic health care practices to the physical and emotional wellness of their patients.
Entry requirements

  • Bachelor's and master's degrees in a health related field from accredited universities
  • GPA requirements determined by individual program
  • Letters of reference (including at least one professional reference letter)
  • Current resume
  • Personal statement essay

Students enrolled in doctoral programs can expect to attend seminars, complete a clinical practicum and write a thesis on an original piece of research that demonstrates mastery in the field.
The curriculum of the program includes the comprehensive study of alternative healing and wellness methods for the promotion of physical and emotional health.
Some of the courses typically offered include:

  • Biofeedback
  • Nutrition
  • Hypnosis
  • Meditation
  • Exercise


For those who wish to become certified holistic medicine practitioners, they must hold a mind-body medicine Ph.D. and a M.D. or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. These individuals can pursue board certification from the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine (ABIHM).
The requirements for board certification are:

  • A professional reference
  • An autobiographical essay
  • In-person interview
  • The passing of a written examination

Job Prospects and Salary

Currently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t have statistics specifically for holistic health care careers. To get a general idea of what to expect, consider the data for the following careers:

  • As of May 2014, the annual median salary for health diagnosing and treating practitioners was $73,400
  • The median annual salary for dieticians and nutritionists was $56,950

 Holistic health is an approach to healing which involves addressing the root cause of the problem as opposed to alleviating just the symptoms. Such an approach requires a focus on the whole body of a patient – body, mind, and spirit. There are a number of degree options in this field, depending upon what your specific career aspirations are.


Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:What is holistic health care?

A:Holistic health care refers to a phenomenon whereby an integrated approach is taken to health care, that treats the 'whole' person, rather than just treating the specific symptoms or diseases. It takes into account the psychological, social and physical aspects of the illness in question and treats according to the circumstances.

Q:How can you become a holistic health practitioner?

A:To become a holistic health practitioner, you need to acquire specific education and training. Depending on the modality practiced, you might need a bachelor's, master's or a doctoral degree in a field such as counseling, nutrition, physical therapy, acupuncture, nursing, massage therapy, herbology, osteopathy, naturopathy and bodywork. You will also need to get licensed to practice in any state.

Q:What topics are taught in a holistic health degree online?

A:The topics you would be taught in a holistic healthcare degree program might vary from university to university. But on the whole, they will remain similar in some aspects. For instance, you would be taught about holistic health counseling, herbalism and aromatherapy. These courses are designed to provide students with hands-on practice of studying natural healing methods.

Q:What is a holistic health practitioner degree?

A:A holistic health practitioner degree is meant for professionals who provide holistic health care services in the capacity of counselors, nurses, doctors, nutritionists, nurse practitioners, therapists or other health care professionals. The idea behind this kind of medicine is that the whole patient needs to be taken into account, and not just the disease or illness he is showing symptoms for.

Q:How to become a holistic healer?

A:To become a holistic healer, there are a few steps that you will need to follow. The first step would be to complete at least a training program to work in the field. You will also need to complete an undergraduate degree and a graduate program in the area you want to practice in. You could go for neuropathy, nutrition or acupuncture. You might also need to complete a certification.

Q:What is a holistic health practitioner?

A:Holistic health practitioners consider the whole person when treating an illness or promoting wellness. These professionals work towards helping a person heal psychologically, spiritually, and physically. There are various holistic approaches and methodologies used in holistic health practices. These professionals can be found working in different healthcare institutions such as clinics and rehabilitation centers.

Q:What is a holistic health practitioner certification?

A:There are different options available when it comes to getting a certification in holistic healing. You can get a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine, a Diplomate of Acupuncture, and a Diplomate in Asian Body. These are certification with a focus on Chinese medicine and therapies. These certifications are offered under the banner of National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

Q:How to become a holistic nutritionist?

A:To become a holistic nutritionist, a bachelor degree will be required. Many colleges are offering bachelor degree programs in holistic care, nutrition, and related fields. These programs will equip you with knowledge and skill needed for this career. In many states, a license or certification is required to work as a holistic nutritionist. Check with your state to find out what the exact career requirements are.

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