Acupuncture Training Programs and Requirements

Bachelor's degrees in acupuncture are not typically available, therefore applicants to an acupuncture program at the master's level should ideally have an undergraduate degree in a related field. Students gain critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities through clinical rotations in areas such as immune disorders, stress and chronic pain.

Essential Information

Entry into the field of acupuncture requires a master's degree in acupuncture and state licensing. Students seeking enrollment into an acupuncture program should have a background in medicine, biology, psychology or neurobiology. Because students participate in clinical internships, other requirements include current Hepatitis B and tuberculosis skin tests and CPR certification. The ideal candidate for the acupuncture training program should demonstrate excellent observation, communication and motor skills, be comfortable working independently and have compassion for others.

  • Prerequisites: Background in science, application essay, letter of recommendation, GRE scores.
  • Special Requirements: Hepatitis B and tuberculosis skin tests, CPR certification.
  • Program Levels and Length: Master's degree, typically 3-4 years.
  • Experiential Learning: Internships.
  • Online Availability: Few courses are available online in this field.

Master's Degree in Acupuncture

A master's degree in acupuncture trains students in the use of acupuncture instruments and the application of different treatment methods, like cupping, needles, gua sha and moxibustion. For example, when using needles, students learn how to insert the needle into the correct nerve pathway to produce a muscle spasm to relax the muscle; students practice this and other techniques during supervised clinical internships. Most master's-level acupuncture programs require 3-4 years of study. An essay, a letter of recommendation and GRE scores are common enrollment requirements. Courses may cover:

  • Chinese and herbal medicine
  • Pathology
  • Biochemistry
  • Western medicine
  • Nutrition

Popular Career Options

Acupuncturists often work in health clinics, hospitals, medical centers, private practices and veterinary offices. Practitioners may consult with patients, perform physical examinations and arrive at a treatment plan.

Required Licenses and Certifications

The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is the certifying body for acupuncturists and also the developer of licensure exams. Acupuncturist licenses are state-administered, but most states use the NCCAOM exams; many states also require that applicants achieve NCCAOM certification in order to earn their licenses. Typically, applicants must also fulfill minimum experience requirements to become licensed. Recertification takes place every ten years and requires a fee, an exam, continuing education courses and a current license in good standing.

Continuing Education Information

The American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine ( hosts an annual conference where acupuncture professionals can view live demonstrations, attend lectures from physicians and network with other professionals. The Society for Acupuncture Research ( hosts a research conference for practitioners to educate them on strategies for care, effective techniques and new research findings. Individuals may also discuss industry news with students and professionals through online forums.

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