PhD in Acupuncture

There are master's degree programs available that provide educational alternatives to a Ph.D. program in acupuncture, which is difficult to find. Learn about your degree options, potential coursework, program prerequisites and career possibilities. Schools offering Complementary & Alternative Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Can I Earn a Ph.D. in Acupuncture?

Though doctoral programs in acupuncture are rare, master's degree programs are available. Many times, master's degree programs in acupuncture are combined with the study of other alternative medicine techniques, such as herbal medicine, aroma therapy, massage, Eastern medicine and Ayurveda. You can also look for master's degree programs in the general practice of alternative medicine, which may offer acupuncture as a specialization. Master's degrees in acupuncture and related fields typically take 3-4 years to complete and often culminate in a thesis, which involves a substantial amount of original research.

Program AvailabilityDoctoral programs in acupuncture are rare, but master's degree programs in acupuncture and alternative medicine are available
Common CoursesMedical terminology, acupuncture points, anatomy, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)
Admission RequirementsBachelor's degree in a related field, such as anatomy, biology or medicine; standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, personal statement
Career OptionsAcupuncturist, business owner, alternative medicine practitioner at a hospital, clinic or other medical practice
Median Salary (2018) $73,960 (for health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 13% growth (for health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Study in a Master's Degree Program?

In a master's degree program, you'll learn about the mind and body by studying anatomy, physiology, biology, energy and nutrition. You'll also learn acupuncture techniques, including how to use different sizes of needles, where to insert these needles, how to cure common ailments and how to control or alleviate joint pain. Coursework commonly consists of both didactic learning and clinical hours. Here are some examples of courses you might see in the curriculum:

  • Acupuncture point location
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Tai Ji
  • Medical terminology
  • Clinical observation
  • TCM pathology and diagnosis

Most programs at the graduate level also focus on the history and theory of acupuncture. Additionally, some alternative medicine programs teach students how to use these techniques in conjunction with Western medical practices.

What Are the Educational Prerequisites?

You must hold at least a bachelor's degree in order to be considered for admission into a graduate program. Some master's degree programs prefer applicants with an undergraduate degree in a related field, such as medicine, biology, anatomy or alternative medicine. You will also likely be required to submit standardized graduate test scores, a personal statement and letters of recommendation.

What Kinds of Jobs Can I Get?

Many acupuncturists start their own businesses and build up a clientele, while others join small practices with practitioners of various other alternative medicine specialties. Recently, however, an increasing number of hospitals, clinics and ambulatory centers have begun employing alternative health practitioners to practice alongside doctors of traditional Western medicine.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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