Doctor of Naturopathy: Degree Overview
Learn about the program prerequisites and courses for becoming a naturopathic doctor. Find out about the employment outlook, salary information and licensing requirements for those entering this profession.
A Doctor of Naturopathy degree program teaches students to use holistic medical practices for physical, mental and spiritual healing of their patients. This whole-body approach to medicine encompasses alternative healing methods such as Chinese medicine, aromatherapy, homeopathic remedies, acupuncture, herbs and massage. Additionally, students study how naturopathy is used in conjunction with conventional medical treatments. Only a few U.S. colleges and universities offer these programs, and only about a third of U.S. states permit naturopathic doctors to practice medicine.
To enter a naturopathy program, students typically need a bachelor's degree with a minimum grade point average. Prerequisite coursework, including biology, chemistry, psychology and physics, is often necessary, and some schools also require candidates to have experience in the medical field. Schools may give preference to applicants who have some prior knowledge about naturopathy.
The curriculum of a naturopathy doctorate program includes classroom, laboratory and clinical study. Clinical study usually occurs in the last two years of a program and involves working with and observing naturopathy practitioners. Coursework involves medical laws and ethics, science-based subjects, health evaluation, diagnosing and healing methods. Course topics may include the following:
- Oriental medicine
- Naturopathy history
- Natural medicine philosophy
- Patient counseling
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a naturopathy doctoral program may work as naturopathy doctors if they work in a state that recognizes the practice. In the U.S., 16 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands recognize and grant licenses to these professionals, according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP). In other states, graduates can't work under the Doctor of Naturopathy (ND) title, but may qualify for work as other health professionals. Possible job options include:
- Naturopathic physician
- General practitioner
- Massage therapist
- Natural medicine spokesperson
- Corporate wellness administrator
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics groups naturopathic physicians under health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other. These individuals earned an average annual wage of $85,740 in 2012. The projected job outlook for all health diagnosing and treating practitioners was 20% from 2012-2022.
Medical doctors in all states are required to obtain licensure, which typically requires that candidates have qualifying education and experience and pass an exam. The AANP stated that naturopathic doctors acquire licensure after completing an accredited 4-year residential naturopathy doctoral program and passing an exam. Renewal is mandatory to keep the license valid.
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