Naturopathic Physician Education
Naturopathic Doctors must graduate from a 4-year, doctoral-level naturopathic medical school accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) that is recognized by the US Department of Education. In order to become licensed they must pass the two North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE) board exams required for licensure. These are the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX): Part 1- Biomedical Science and Part 2- Core Clinical Science. Elective examinations in pharmacology (advanced), acupuncture, and minor surgery vary by state for licensing.
Naturopathic Medical School
A Naturopathic medical student must attend one of the seven accredited naturopathic medical school as appointed by the American Association of Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC). During the first two years of their education, students are educated in all of the same basic sciences as an allopathic or osteopathic medical student with additional courses in naturopathic philosophy. These basic sciences include cadaver dissection anatomy, histology, embryology, biochemistry, naturopathic manipulation courses, hematology, neuroanatomy, public health, physiology, medical microbiology, radiography, endocrinology, and cellular physiology. Naturopathic-specific courses include naturopathic history, philosophy, determinants of health, homeopathy, nutrition, and naturopathic counseling.
The second half of their didactic education is diagnostic, prescriptive, and application-based and includes evaluation and management, clinical theory, naturopathic primary care, botanical medicine, pharmacology, homeopathy, phlebotomy, hydrotherapy, dermatology, IV therapy, women’s health/pediatrics, emergency medicine, adjusting courses, psychology, as well as business/medical law/marketing courses. This phase of education also includes an introduction to clinical rounds via observation hours.
The last third of their education is spent in the clinic as an in-resident student doctor diagnosing and treating patients hands-on, running and interpreting labs, physical medicine, minor surgery, toxicology, and advanced prescribing.
Following graduation, as well as completion and passing of both sets of board examinations and any required elective exams, the Naturopathic Physician can apply for state licensure in regulated states and jurisdictions. Each state has its own licensing requirements that must be met prior to issuing licenses.
For information on how ND education compares to MD education please visit:
Comparing the ND & MD Curricula by AANMC.