Overview of Naturopathic Medical Education
The Council on Naturopathic Medicine (CNME) accredits doctoral programs in naturopathic medicine (ND programs) in the U.S. and Canada that are offered by multipurpose universities and by naturopathic doctor colleges that focus solely on providing naturopathic medical education. These programs emphasize the use of natural modalities—such as nutrition, lifestyle counseling and botanical medicine—in maintaining wellness and treating illness. The comprehensive program of study also includes coursework in the biomedical and clinical sciences similar to what is studied in DO, DC and MD programs, as well as hands-on clinical training. CNME-accredited ND programs qualify graduates for licensure in the U.S. and Canada.
All of the CNME-accredited naturopathic doctor schools/programs (ND programs) are primarily campus-based and typically take four years to complete. These programs may also incorporate online/distance education coursework, as well as hybrid courses that combine online and in-person components. The CNME does not, however, accredit ND programs that are taught entirely or primarily using online/distance education instruction.
To be eligible for accreditation, a naturopathic doctor school/program must meet CNME’s rigorous accreditation standards. These standards cover program length and content, clinical training requirements, faculty qualifications, student services, student and program assessment, facilities, and library resources—among other areas. CNME accreditation ensures that students receive a high-quality medical education that prepares them for licensed practice.
For information on Council on Naturopathic Medical Education’s accreditation standards, see Part Four of the CNME Handbook of Accreditation for Naturopathic Medical Programs: Accreditation Standards for Naturopathic Medicine Programs.
A Career in Naturopathic Medicine
Becoming a naturopathic doctor is a life-affirming and rewarding career choice. Naturopathic medicine supports human health on multiple levels—physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual—and contributes to the well-being of the natural environment by raising awareness of the importance of organic and naturally raised food and a healthy environment.
The first step to becoming a naturopathic physician is to find the college or university that is right for you. Visit our list of CNME-accredited naturopathic doctor (ND) programs to find links to the various naturopathic doctor schools and programs, and to learn more about requirements for admission. Like DO, DC and MD programs, admission to an ND program requires completion of a number of undergraduate science courses that include biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry.
After graduation from a naturopathic medicine program, some naturopathic physicians choose to further their education and develop their professional skills by entering into a postdoctoral residency program.
CNME does not accredit online or distance education programs.
The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges is a valuable source of information for prospective students.
Why Choose a CNME-Accredited ND Program?
Obtaining a naturopathic doctor degree is the first step toward becoming a licensed practitioner in the Canadian provinces and U.S. states where naturopathic medicine is regulated. To qualify for professional licensure, an individual must have graduated from a CNME-accredited ND program.
Additionally, a naturopathic doctor must pass a comprehensive exam—the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX)—which is the licensing exam for Canada and the U.S. Only CNME-accredited ND programs qualify graduates to sit for the NPLEX exam.
Advanced Standing for Medical Practitioners
CNME-recognized ND programs may grant students advanced standing/transfer credit for biomedical and clinical science courses completed as part of an accredited medical or healthcare training in another field, such as an MD, DC, or DO program. Medical practitioners trained outside of the U.S. and Canada may be eligible for advanced standing/transfer credit for a portion of the education. For information on advanced standing/transfer credit based on prior training, contact ND program admission departments.