Once you’ve decided to become an acupuncturist, the first thing you will need to do is apply, enroll, and graduate from an ACAOM-accredited and state-approved acupuncture training program.
But how do you get into acupuncture school? Are there any educational or testing requirements?
Acupuncture School Admissions Requirements
The specific requirements for admissions into an acupuncture training program will vary depending on the specific school and state.
Generally speaking, you will need to have a minimum of 60-college credits, and also meet specific age, legal, and in some cases, English-competency testing before applying to an acupuncture graduate program.
If you’re unsure as to what the admissions requirements are at a particular school, or have questions about the, be sure to ask an admissions representative for help.
Age Requirement: Most programs require applicants to be a minimum of 21 years old, but some may accept individuals who will be 21 before graduation.
Legal Requirements: Depending on state law, some acupuncture schools require individuals to report any criminal record beyond minor traffic tickets. Because acupuncture licensing is subject to state laws and regulations, individuals who have committed certain crimes may be illegible for acupuncture licensing. If you’re unsure about your particular case, you may want to check with a lawyer before applying to acupuncture school.
English Language Requirements: International applicants and applicants who completed their higher-education at a non-English-speaking institution may be required to demonstrate English proficiency before gaining admissions into an acupuncture program, often through formal testing (e.g. TOEFL).
The English competency requirement is not something to take lightly. Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AOM) is a very complex field of study. Since all classes and testing are done in English, academic success will require an advance-level of English fluency to succeed.
It’s also important to note that the national board exams offered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), which are required for state licensing, are only offered in English.
Educational Requirements for Acupuncture School Admissions
Previous Education: Gaining admissions into most acupuncture programs will require applicants to have a minimum of 60-credits from an accredited college before applying. This 60-credit requirement is the equivalent of at least two full-time academic years at the bachelor level, meaning that most programs do not require prospects to hold a Bachelor’s Degree to apply (although a select few do).
As with everything else, always ask a school admissions representative for any specific details about education requirements. For example, some colleges require prospects to have credits in specific classes before applying.
Don’t have 60-credits?
If you do not meet the 60-credits requirement, then you will have to complete some additional schooling before applying to an AOM program. Luckily, this is a common issue and most schools can help guide applicants towards fulfilling the initial credit requirement.
For example, Acupuncture and Massage College in Miami, Florida offers an Associate’s of Arts in Health Sciences that is designed as a pathway towards meeting the 60-credit requirement and allows graduates to transfer into the Masters of Oriental Medicine program with some credits already counting towards the completing the Master's program.
Transcripts and Transfer Credits: As mentioned above, applying to acupuncture schools requires a minimum of 60 previously earned college credits. As such, you will have to gather transcripts from colleges you previously attended, which need to be evaluated by a dean at the school. Typically there is a required fee for transcript evaluation.
While gathering and submitting transcripts can be cumbersome, it’s an easy way to save on tuition at acupuncture and oriental schools that accept transfer credits. For example, if the acupuncture program you’re interested in requires 3 credits in biology to graduate, and you took biology at a previous college, then having that credit transferred will mean not having to take the class over, saving you money on tuition and time in the classroom.
Tuition and Financial Aid: While it’s not technically an admissions requirement, it may be a good idea to at least familiarize yourself with the tuition and financial aid requirements at your acupuncture school of interest. This is especially true if you plan to apply for federal financial aid, which will require you to fill out and file specific forms (i.e. FAFSA). Keep in mind that receiving a response from the government can take a couple of weeks, so it’s something that you shouldn’t put off until the last minute. Every acupuncture school should have a financial aid counselor that can help you navigate this process.
Final Thoughts: Keep in mind that there’s a difference between applying, being accepting, and enrolling in school. Each step is dependent on the one before it, and a good school will have staff there to help you regardless of where you are in the admissions process. Acupuncture school is a long journey, so don’t rush to get an application in just because a deadline is coming up. Make sure that it’s the right place for you.
Next Step: Are you the fence about applying to acupuncture school? Not sure if a career in acupuncture is right for you? Decide if this is the right path for you by by downloading our free acupuncture career guide below. It has everything about the profession from choosing the right school to salary and wage information.
If you're ever the area, please stop by for a visit. Acupuncture and Massage College is located at 10506 North Kendall Drive, Miami, FL 33176. You can also call us at (305)595-9500.