The Education of a Naturopathic Doctor

Naturopathic Medical School

Naturopathic Doctors (ND or NMD) are graduates of accredited naturopathic medical schools and are eligible to practice naturopathic medicine in any state in which they meet the state licensing requirements. In all states that grant licenses to NDs, graduates are required to pass rigorous board exams in order to be licensed as general physicians.

All Naturopathic medical schools are accredited through the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME)the only naturopathic education accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDOE). The CNME is also the only naturopathic education accreditor with membership in the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors, which also includes accrediting agencies for medical (M.D.), chiropractic (D.C.), acupuncture (L.Ac), and osteopathic (D.O.) programs.

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded accreditation to just five Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine programs:

  • Bastyr University
  • National College of Natural Medicine
  • National University of Health Sciences
  • Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine
  • University of Bridgeport, College of Naturopathic Medicine

Each of these schools is a member of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC).

Education & Coursework in Naturopathic Medicine

NDs are the only healthcare professionals fully trained to utilize natural, non-toxic therapies alongside current advances in the study of health and human systems. NDs are trained to identify the underlying cause and appropriate therapies for serious acute and chronic illnesses as well as to provide primary healthcare for all aspects of family wellbeing, from prenatal to geriatric care. Learn more about What NDs Do.

Before enrolling in an accredited naturopathic medical school, students must:

  • successfully complete standard pre-medical college courses including physics, math, several courses of chemistry and biology as well as the humanities and psychology
  • graduate from an accredited baccalaureate program
  • apply to and be accepted into one of the CNME accredited Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Programs

Naturopathic Medical School is a 4-year doctoral program that provides students with advanced study in clinical sciences and naturopathic therapeutic treatment modalities. These academically rigorous courses include:

Years 1 & 2
Anatomy & Physiology
Biochemistry
Embryology
Histology
Pathology
Immunology
Micro & Macro biology
Neuroscience
Clinical & Laboratory Diagnosis

Years 3 & 4
Clinical Specialty Courses (e.g., Cardiology, Oncology)
Botanical Medicine
Clinical Nutrition
Counseling
Homeopathy
Diagnostic Imaging
Physical Medicine
Pharmacology & Minor Surgery
Supervised Clinical Rotations

The coursework in CNME-accredited Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine programs is comparable with the instruction hours in conventional medical training programs.

Qualifying for a Naturopathic Doctor Medical License

Applicants for a license to practice naturopathic medicine must satisfy all licensing requirements set forth by their state or jurisdiction, including but not limited to:

  • Graduation from a CNME-accredited naturopathic medical school
  • Successful completion of the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX) *
  • Completion of annual continuing medical education (CME) requirements (varies by state)

* The Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX) is a rigorous and comprehensive exam, representing the highest assessment of a candidate’s readiness to be a medically responsible practitioner.

The North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE) administers the exam, following standards set forth by other testing regulatory bodies that also regulate other licensure exams including those for medical doctors and chiropractors.