The process of researching new educational opportunities and considering a new career can be daunting. But what do you need to focus on when evaluating acupuncture schools specifically? A lot of factors might sway your decision on what degree program to pursue, but some important elements to consider include: accreditation status, philosophy, location and more. If you're researching Oriental Medicine degrees, find out more about what to look for in acupuncture training programs before taking the plunge.
First make sure to check the status of any school you're considering with the only organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine — the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). This non-profit organizations ensures that programs meet high standards of quality. More than 60 programs and institutions are accredited by the ACAOM, so you'll have plenty of options when choosing a school.
Like any traditional college or university, a school of acupuncture may have a specific area of focus. According to the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), training programs in the United States have a broad range of curricula that focus on a variety of traditions of Oriental medicine. Traditions that may be emphasized in an acupuncture program include:
- Five Element
Learn about the different traditions and choose a school that teaches in that vein, or evaluate other aspects of schools that interest you and then find out whether their tradition will make a good fit with your education and career aspirations.
Find out what kind of degree you would earn in a particular program. As with the variety of traditions that schools may focus on, there are a range of degrees you might receive, depending on the school. They may include a degree in one of the following areas:
- Master of Acupuncture
- Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
- Master of Science in Oriental Medicine
- Diploma in Acupuncture
- Master in Traditional Oriental Medicine
While it's beneficial to know the title of the degree you'd be earning in a particular program, it's mostly just semantics — the content of the curriculum and other factors are likely to be more important in swaying you decision.
Obviously, you want to go a school in a place you want to live while pursuing your degree. Choosing a school where you want to practice may make sense since you will likely be taking certification courses after graduation in the state where you want to practice. You may also be mid-career and want to choose a local school you can attend while otherwise employed or juggling other responsibilities. Many acupuncture training programs offer start times throughout the year and night classes for students with those constraints.
Different schools are likely to have variable resources available to prospective and matriculating students. Beforehand, find out whether you can attend a class at a school you're considering, and talk to faculty or graduates who can speak to their academic and professional experiences. How to finance your degree may be of interest to you, so see if you can talk to a school's financial aid department. Some schools also run clinics to give their students hands-on experience treating patients before graduating. If real-world experience is something you're looking for, find a program that runs a clinic and book and even book an appointment to check it out!
Download our free guide to learn more about how to pursue a career in the exciting world of acupuncture.