About 50 accredited schools in the U.S. offer training programs in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine that can qualify acupuncturists for certification and state licensure. All of the programs available are on-campus programs; there are no online programs. However, students may find online practice and preparation materials for the licensing exam available online. Another fully online option is to enroll in a certificate program in a related field, such as holistic nutrition consulting, which also provides training for individuals interested in alternative health and wellness practices.
Acupuncture certification in the U.S. usually begins with earning a Master of Science in Acupuncture from an accredited institution. Applicants must have completed at least 90 credit hours of undergraduate college from an accredited institution that includes basic bioscience courses. A few schools offer doctoral programs in acupuncture. Those without an undergraduate degree will also find some opportunities to earn a combined BS/MS degree. It is also possible to earn a doctoral degree in this field.
Students in these programs obtain extensive hands-on training in acupuncture, acupressure and diagnosis. Hands-on lessons are always overseen by clinical observation from instructors and tutors. Students must also complete a yearlong clinical internship. Graduates of most accredited programs can go on to sit for certification exams.
Acupuncture Certification and Licensure
In preparation for certification and licensure, students can access online practice materials. As of 2014, 43 states and the District of Columbia required prospective acupuncturists to pass the exam administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), or become certified through NCCAOM, as a prerequisite for state licensure. Six states have no licensure for acupuncturists, and California has its own licensing examination.
In order to sit for the NCCAOM exam, candidates have to show proof of their degree and 1,490 hours of practice. The exam is administered in person, but practice materials are available online from the NCCAOM website. The California exam is also administered in person, with an extensive practical portion. It also offers prep material online.
On-campus programs comprise a substantial amount of contact hours covering the theory, history and practice of Chinese and Western medicine. In addition to courses in anatomy, biology, chemistry and pharmacology, students also take the following classes:
- Oriental Medicine Diagnosis
- Herbal Practice
- Systemic Pathology
While formal acupuncture training is not available online, students can take advantage of online preparation materials as they prepare for the certification training. They may also augment their training with an online certificate in a different health-related field, like nutrition.