Online Associate of Applied Science in Complementary Alternative Medicine (AAS)

Total Credits Completed


This terminal professional degree allows students to work toward a specialization in Aromatherapy or Herbal Medicine, or to complete a general degree by completing electives to satisfy the degree requirements.

This program is designed to help guide the evolution of healthcare by creating, educating, and actively supporting a community of professionals who embody the philosophy and practice of complementary alternative medicine (CAM).

Emphasis is placed on the science and philosophy of holistic health using a variety of techniques that are in harmony with nature and the individual. The varied techniques that a member of the holistic health industry employs are covered, focusing on the desired outcome to increase the natural vitality of the individual and bring the body systems back into balance. We examine the belief fundamental to natural healing that the human body contains a strong power to heal itself. While examining this belief we also look at how the individual is able to stimulate this power by educating others on how to maintain health once it is achieved, increasing vitality and building up one’s resistance through improved nutrition and a harmonious balanced lifestyle.

Nutrition Practice Information (State Law Disclosures)

If you are interested in pursuing a career in nutrition or dietetics, you should consult with the appropriate state board to assure that your credentials will allow you to achieve your professional goals. Many states have enacted laws that regulate the practice of dietetics and nutrition services. You can also view more information online here.

Completing This Degree

This program is designed to meet all requirements of an undergraduate associate of applied science degree. Credits are completed in the following areas:

Chart of degree requirements

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Approved by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) -
Meets the education requirements for graduates to sit for the Board Exam in Holistic Nutrition certification, offered by the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board ( [1]

Learning Outcomes

Discuss and describe the body’s structure and function in a healthy state
Understand and identify the mechanical and biochemical changes caused by a variety of diseases or imbalances to be able to address system imbalances and provide education that individuals can use to restore wellness
Evaluate when to refer individuals to their licensed healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment
Compare and contrast allopathic and holistic protocols for a number of conditions
Educate others about appropriate holistic health protocols that can help to rebalance the body and restore wellness, both for general good health and when particular ailments demonstrate an imbalance in the body and lifestyle
Use and understand appropriate medical terminology to facilitate discussion with licensed healthcare providers and facilitate integration of CAM into the healthcare system
Use appropriate terminology to describe therapeutic actions of various dietary supplements, including herbs and essential oils
Outline the steps to set up a business, including insurance, management, legal issues, ethics (including AHG ethics and ARC requirements), keeping records, listening and observation skills, informed consent, marketing, business planning, nutritional, lifestyle, and wellness counseling
Locate information from State regulatory bodies to ensure compliance with local and State requirements
Identify appropriate dietary supplements for specific instances, taking into account safety and dosage issues
Discuss herbal medicine and aromatherapy, their history, and status of current research, including how to locate studies in peer-reviewed journals
Identify the major active constituents, safety issues, historical uses, latest research results, including drug-herb interactions, uses, preparations, and more, for popular botanicals and educate others about these botanicals
Educate others about herbal first aid procedures
Understand common issues in plant identification, ethical wildcrafting, sustainable harvesting, field identification, and safety procedures and be able to educate others about these issues
Discuss aromatherapy, its history, and status of current research, including how to locate studies in peer-reviewed journals
Identify, discuss, and safely use the organic or wildcrafted essential oils studied
Create lifestyle plans and aromatherapy programs to support optimal health
Implement clinic management tools, including case taking, ethics, and informed consent
Identify and discuss the olfactory, skin, and muscular systems, and the effect of aromatic molecules on these body systems
Discuss how essential oils interact on physical and emotional levels
Understand the chemistry of essential oils and the physiological effect and pathway of individual chemical components
Compose aromatherapy blends for therapeutic and perfumery purposes, and for cosmetics and soap-making
Describe a full range of methods of administration and educate others about safe and effective use

English Composition: Students must complete at least 6 semester credit hours of English composition or equivalent OR Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC)-approved writing courses; testing options also available.

General Education: ACHS students complete a total of 21 credits of general education. HECC requires students to complete at least 15 semester credit hours in general education courses including the undergraduate English composition requirement.

Electives or Specialization Track: To complete this program, students may select a specialization track or nine credits of elective study.

Career Goals:

The Associate of Applied Science in Complementary Alternative Medicine, depending on the specialization chosen, prepares students to enter the Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) industry as:

  • Aromatherapist, Aromatherapy Consultant, or Aromatologist
  • Aromatherapy Educator, Author, or Speaker
  • Aromatherapy Product Formulator and Manufacturer
  • Aromatherapy Retailer
  • Healthcare Industry Assistant - Day Spa, Holistic Retreat, or Spa facility
  • Herbal Educator, Consultant, Retailer, Writer
  • Holistic Health Practitioner
  • Holistic Health Educator,Writer, or Speaker
  • Master Herbalist
  • Certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner
  • Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
  • Nutritional Therapy Consultant
  • Support roles including: Administrative or support role in any company in the healthcare industry, Customer service role within the healthcare industry, Sales associate role within the healthcare industry  
  • Wellness or Lifestyle Coach or Consultant

Depending on the specialization, this program prepares students to move onto clinical practicum work offered through on-campus institutions and industry bodies and to then enter the industry as a:

  • Registered Herbalist (AHG)
  • Registered Aromatherapist (ARC)
  • Clinical Herbalist
  • Clinical Aromatherapist
  • Herbal Products Manufacturer
  • Herbal Products Formulator
  • Aromatherapy Product Formulator and Manufacturer
  • Perfumer
  • Healthcare Industry Assistant - Day Spa, Holistic Retreat, or Spa facility
  • Massage Therapist specializing in Aromatherapy
  • Esthetician specializing in Aromatherapy
  • Spa Manager
  • Medical Assistant, Administrator, Reception, or other support role in a licensed naturopathic clinic or other health clinic

The Associates degree is ideal for medical professionals wishing to increase their knowledge of this exciting field and integrate it into a new or existing practice, including Medical Doctors, Psychologists, Pharmacists, Naturopaths, Nurses, Veterinarians, Respiratory Therapists, or Social Workers who are not looking for graduate level study. This degree is ideal for anyone looking to integrate holistic health principles into their life for their personal health and well-being.

Industry Recognition & Credentialing:

    For all graduates, this program:

    • Is approved by the National Association of Nutrition Professional (NANP)
    • Meets the education requirements for graduates to sit for the Board Exam in Holistic Nutrition certification, offered by the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board (, entitling successful candidates to use the title, “Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®”, in accordance with State laws.2

    For Aromatherapy Specialization graduates, this program:

    • Exceeds the curriculum requirements of the NAHA Level III education standards
    • Meets the curriculum requirements of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists’ Level III Advanced Practitioner Aromatherapy education standards
    • Qualifies graduates to sit the national registration exam with the Aromatherapy Registration Council ( to become a Registered Aromatherapist (RA) 

    For Herbal Specialization graduates, this program:

    Admissions Requirements:

    Minimum of a high school diploma or equivalency and recommendation for admission by the ACHS Admissions Committee.

    Industry Success:

    ACHS Aromatherapy graduates have a five year (2013-2017) success rate of 100% on the Aromatherapy Registration Council National Exam leading to registration as a Registered Aromatherapist.

    Tuition and Fees:

    To estimate the program tuition and fees, click on the required course name below for each Total Course Price or click here for the projected maximum cost for this program, including materials that have the greatest outlay for students.

    Recommended Sequence:

    Your advisor will work with you prior to enrollment to prepare your academic plan for this program including your eligible transfer of credit and opportunities to challenge courses by exam. Our guided pathways are developed by ACHS faculty, subject matter experts, and your advisor and are designed with your success in mind! Chat with an advisor today and learn more!


    ACHS Program Fact Sheet

    [1] Please note that this program does not prepare students to be eligible to sit for the NCHEC CHES exam and become a Certified Health Education Specialist. Most health education positions require a minimum of a bachelors degree and/or eligibility for the CHES exam. 

    [2] Please note: In addition to completing this program, documentation of 500 hours (includes a minimum of 250 direct contact hours and up to 250 indirect contact hours) of professional experience in holistic nutrition is also required. NANP also offers an exception for new graduates that defers these requirements for two years if the exam is taken within 12 months of graduation. Please visit for more information or contact

    Last updated 5/4/20

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