August 4, 2016
As part of an expansion of online instruction at Johnson State College in northern Vermont, the college's popular B.S. degree in Wellness & Alternative Medicine (WAM) is now available entirely online to students with at least 45 college credits.
The new format was accredited in May by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, coinciding with the recent launch of "JSC Online," a degree-completion initiative for adults that broadens online bachelor's degree offerings and features in-state tuition rates all, regardless of their place of residence.
JSC's science-based major in WAM - one of the college's most popular programs - is the only such program in the U.S., according to program director and JSC professor Susan Green, Ph.D. Started in 2000, the program includes courses from the Environmental & Health Sciences Department as well as courses in homeopathy, meditation, yoga and other mind-body modalities.
"The medical establishment is finally recognizing that there is real science behind these practices," says Green. "Top hospitals now incorporate alternative medicine together with drugs and surgery - and they get better outcomes as a result."
JSC continues to offer WAM courses on campus, and last year it added WAM to the offerings available through its long-running External Degree Program, which offers weekend classes at select Community College of Vermont sites and online.
WAM students attend national conferences, meet respected practitioners and work in internships related to their career goals. Graduates of the JSC program have gone on to earn graduate degrees in nutrition and other health-related fields, pursued careers in Chinese or Ayurvedic medicine, worked at hospitals, become trained in midwifery, and started practices in massage therapy, meditation and yoga. Others, like WAM graduate Adriane Morrison-Taylor, JSC class of 2013, have gone on to medical school.
Morrison-Taylor is enrolled in the naturopathic medicine program at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, to become a primary care physician. The WAM program at JSC gave her a grounding in therapeutic practices in addition to invaluable internships and research opportunities that led to summer employment and helped with her medical school application, she says.
"I was able to fulfill pre-med requirements while also receiving a holistic education in global and alternative medicine," Morrison-Taylor says of her studies at JSC. "The faculty had great experience to share and were extremely enthusiastic about their work, which really helped me engage and succeed as a student."
Johnson State College officials expect to see many more successful students through JSC Online.
"I anticipate quite a surge in enrollment with this initiative," says interim director Valerie Edwards. "Students will be pleased to know that they can get everything online. That seems to be the way many people want to access their education - they've got busy lives."
The fact that this program is being offered by Johnson State College - a nonprofit college with a long history and a strong reputation - is a selling point as well, she adds.
So far, Edwards' prediction is holding true. Enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is ahead of schedule for WAM and the other JSC Online programs, which include business (accounting or management concentration), interdisciplinary studies, professional studies and psychology. The program features include six start dates a year, courses offered in 7- and 15-week modules, and support from professional advisors at Johnson State.
For more information about JSC Online, WAM and the other degree-completion programs at JSC available entirely online, visit www.jsc.edu/jsc-online or call Admissions at 800-635-2356.