A common question we get from prospective students at our acupuncture school in Florida is whether it's better to enroll in a Master's or Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AOM) Program.
We understand that it’s easy and natural to become hyped when looking into different Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine degree programs. And while it is certainly good to be excited about becoming an acupuncturist, what you don’t want to do is let the paradox of choice overwhelm you, or worse, stop you completely from selecting an acupuncture school that’s right for you.
That’s why we recommend knowing pretty early on which kind of acupuncture degree program is a better fit for your educational and career goals. Knowing this will make the task of narrowing your school and program choice much easier.
In this article, we will discuss the difference between both kinds of programs, as well as evaluate their pros and cons. By the end of it, you should have a good idea as to which kind of acupuncture degree program is best for you.
Which Degree Do I Need to Become an Acupuncturist?
Currently, a Master’s degree is the entry-level educational requirement needed to become an acupuncturist. More specifically, you’ll need to earn a Master’s degree that is accredited by ACAOM (Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) and approved by your state’s acupuncture licensing board.
About Master’s of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Programs
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AOM) Master’s programs are designed to introduce students to concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), such as the TCM Model of the Body, and to familiarize them with working as professional acupuncturists in clinical settings.
The specific titles of these Master’s degrees will vary depending on the institution and program, but common titles include Master of Acupuncture, Master of Oriental Medicine, Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Master of Science in Oriental Medicine, and Master in Traditional Oriental Medicine.
Master’s programs in Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture take an average of 4-years to complete. However, some programs, such as the Master of Oriental Medicine program at Acupuncture and Massage College in Miami, FL, are designed to be completed in just 3 short years.
During the first year, students learn about the main theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), yin-yang concepts, Asian Bodywork Therapy, and TCM diagnostic systems and methods. Second-year studies include acupuncture and needling techniques, meridian and acupuncture points of the body, the properties and medicinal uses of Chinese herbs, and supervised clinical practice. Third-year students focus on the clinical experience and additional specialized courses in TCM. Third-year clinic interns increase their competence in diagnosing patients and implementing various treatment strategies.
About Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) Programs
In addition to a Master’s programs, some acupuncture schools also offer Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) programs.
Doctorate programs are designed to teach Oriental Medicine at a very high-level, with an emphasis on specialized practice, academic teaching, and clinical research.
Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) programs are a good choice for prospects who have interests and career aspirations that go beyond clinical acupuncture practice, such as academic research and/or advanced specialization (i.e. Oriental Medicine for Gynecology).
Keep in mind that if you choose to apply to a DAOM program, you may have to meet stricter entry-level requirements than you would for a Master’s program, including additional coursework in mathematics, Western science, etc.
Master’s vs Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
In order to choose which kind of AOM degree path is best for you, you will need to evaluate your personal, educational, and career goals.
Start by asking yourself what kind of work would you like to do as an acupuncturist?
For example, are you more interested in working with people and treating patients or are you more interested conducting experiments on how acupuncture affects the brain's grey matter? If you rather work as a healer, then a Master' degree in acupuncture is sufficient, but if you rather conduct clinical research in integrative medicine, you should look a DAOM for the sake specialization.
The easiest way to know which program path to choose is to decide how long you're realistically willing to stay in school before you can begin working. Keep in mind that you’ll also have to pay tuition each year you’re in acupuncture school (the longer you're in school, the more tuition you'll have to pay).
Master’s programs take 3-4 years to complete, while Doctorate programs can take 6-7. If you would rather spend less time in the classroom and more healing patients (and earning money), a Master's program in Oriental Medicine is a better choice than a DOAM program, since it requires less total class time to complete and lets you enter the workforce as an acupuncturist as quickly as possible.
However, if you have strong interests and career aspirations that go beyond the clinical practice of acupuncture, such as specific academic research and/or advanced specialization (i.e. Oriental Medicine for Neurology), a doctoral programs maybe a better choice for you. You'll just need to be mindful that it can take 5-7 years of study to complete a Doctorate Program in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, so you’ll be putting off making an income for many years.
Why You Should Choose a Master's Program in Oriental Medicine
As we mentioned earlier, a Master’s degree is the entry-level educational requirement to become an acupuncturist in the US, and until fairly recently, it was the only accredited degree-level offered in the US. In fact, the first formally-accredited DAOM degree program wasn’t established until 2008.
As such, the vast majority of practicing acupuncturists in the US have Master’s degrees.
If you’re unsure as to which kind of program is best for you, it is generally recommended that you start with a Master’s program. This way, you can save time in the classroom, money on tuition, and still become an acupuncturist. And best of all, you can always transition to a doctoral program later if you so wish.
Masters of Oriental Medicine at Acupuncture and Massage College in Miami, FL
Acupuncture and Massage College in Miami, FL offers a Master of Oriental Medicine degree program that is designed to be completed in just 3 short years!
Acupuncture and Massage College (AMC) is nationally-accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and approved by the US government to grant financial aid those who qualify. Our Master's of Oriental Medicine program in Florida is programmatically accredited by ACAOM (Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). The Master's program curriculum meets the educational standards set by the State of Florida Board of Acupuncture required for licensing acupuncturists (Acupuncture Physicians) in Florida.
Classes in AMC’s Oriental Medicine curriculum include acupuncture, Asian Bodywork Therapy (tui na), Chinese Herbal Medicine, Western Science, Chinese Dietary Therapy, and Supervised Clinical Practice (student clinic internship).
Graduates of the Oriental Medicine program at Acupuncture and Massage College are eligible to sit for the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) National Board Exams in Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Oriental Medicine.
For information about Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine degree program at Acupuncture and Massage College in Miami, FL, click here to request more information, or call our Florida acupuncture school at (305) 595-9500. If you’re ever in the area, please feel free to visit our acupuncture school in Florida. We’re located at 10506 North Kendall Drive, Miami, FL 33176.
Learn more about becoming an acupuncturist by downloading our free acupuncture career guide below!