Aspiring naturopathic physicians can pursue a 4-year degree program in the field. Learn more here about the program, course topics and career and licensing information.
Naturopathic medicine is the branch of healing that deals with prevention and treatment of disease by encouraging self-healing. The body is believed to have its own healing abilities, and the naturopath tries to tap into these healing powers by encouraging natural treatment of the whole person. An example of this would be to use dietary modification and exercise to treat a problem such as migraine headaches. Naturopaths also promote the use of natural, nontoxic healing methods such as herbal treatments and massage.
If you wish to work as a naturopathic doctor, you'll need to complete a doctoral program in the subject and pass a licensure exam to practice naturopathic medicine. These programs include courses, clinical practice and laboratory work. Depending on the state in which you live, you may have to complete a residency the year after you finish the program. Such programs are typically available at higher educational institutions specifically focusing on natural health education. Due to the hands-on nature of these programs and required training, programs are only available on-campus. The table below contains further information regarding this program.
Program At a Glance
Naturopathic Doctor (ND)
- This 4-year program requires a bachelor's degree in any field, as well as college-level courses in algebra, chemistry, general biology, physics and psychology.
- These programs are available on-campus.
Schools offering doctoral programs in naturopathy often have admissions requirements, such as prerequisite coursework and character qualities. Other requirements or recommendations may include work experience in health care and an understanding of natural medicine. An academic background in an unrelated subject is often suitable. Programs may not have a specific GPA requirement, but since programs can be competitive, GPA's of 3.3 or higher are common.
A doctoral program in naturopathic medicine will feature some of the same classes you would receive in preparation for a career in traditional medicine, such as classes in anatomy, human physiology and biochemistry. Students in these programs must also complete a residency program at the end of the program, as well as clinicals and trainings throughout the program. In addition to such courses, the aspiring naturopath may study the following:
- Organ systems
- Naturopathic medicine history
- Medical ethics
- Chinese medicine
- Diagnostic imaging
- Natural childbirth
- First aid
- Environmental medicine
The trained naturopath may wish to establish a private practice in naturopathic medicine, or perhaps to combine this specialty with another specialty and become, for example, a naturopathic midwife or a naturopath/acupuncturist. The holder of an advanced degree in naturopathy may be able to find a position at a college teaching naturopathic medicine, or may become involved in some of the clinical research that is now being conducted in this area. In January 2017, PayScale.com reported a median salary of $72,522 for naturopathic physicians and doctors, with most making between $30,639 and $130,337 annually.
Professional Organizations and Licensure
In the United States, the professional interests of practitioners of naturopathic medicine are represented by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. In Canada the representing body is the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors/Association Canadienne des Docteurs en Naturopathie. All states and Canadian provinces have licensure regulations requiring that an applicant must have at least four years' study from an accredited college or university and must pass the naturopathic physicians licensing examinations (NPLEX) which cover basic sciences, diagnostic and therapeutic subjects and clinical sciences.
On-campus degree programs in naturopathy are available for interested students and include extensive hands-on training and residencies. Graduates of these programs can work as naturopathic physicians and doctors once they have obtained licensure.