While it undoubtedly easy to lump Acupuncture in with other woo-woo, holistic medicine practices that are fundamentally forms of placebos, recent research findings speak to the many critical effects it can have on improving health.
According to a report by the World Health Organization on Acupuncture, controlled clinical trials of the practice produce significantly positive results for patients with 28 different diseases and conditions, a wide net that includes depression, hypertension, colic, and arthritis.
At its core, Acupuncture works by stimulating points on the skin that connect to the neurohormonal pathways. Consequently, this acupressure stimulates the nervous system, inciting the brain to release endorphins and other chemicals that combat inflammation and can help bolster the immune system.
While Acupuncture is primarily a Chinese practice, if you are looking to get in on these procedures state-side, you are in luck.
In 1982, the US government instituted two regulatory bodies for Acupuncture, the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), and the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM,) legitimizing the study of this practice here and helping increase its popularity amongst students.
Since then, the number of US acupuncture schools has been on a steady rise, with about 50 schools now accredited or having candidacy for accreditation with the ACAOM.
If you are looking to get into the field and become a qualified acupuncture professional, here are the top 20 ACAOM-accredited schools in the country to get you started.
20 Best Acupuncture Schools in the United States
#20: New York Chiropractic College, Seneca Falls, New York
The Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture at Oriental Medicine at New York Chiropractic College offers two master’s degrees that provide aspiring acupuncturists a solid point of entry into the field. Here, students can take either a master’s in Acupuncture or another in Acupuncture and oriental medicine.
Both programs help prepare students for the professional practice of Chinese medicine here in the United States. Hence, they provide participants with a solid background in western biomedicine while giving a thorough foundation in east-Asian medical tradition.
With such an educational profile, students can then integrate holistic Chinese practices like Acupuncture smoothly into a modern medical setting.
Furthermore, both programs feature a rigorous 105 hours practical clinical requirement that properly grounds the students in traditional medicine methodology. Plus, you can efficiently complete this practicum on campus at any of the college’s facilities that include an anatomy lab, a dispensary lab, and a herb garden.
#19: Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine, Seattle, Washington
The Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine uses a close-knit teaching system that restricts the size of its classes to tiny groups, facilitating better connections between students and faculty, and enhancing hands-on learning.
Consequently, the college is quite exclusive, and it admits only about 14 students each year. However, accepted students get to enjoy active learning and clinical practice under the watchful guidance of experienced practitioners.
Courses available to students at the institute include a three-year master’s degree in Acupuncture or one in Acupuncture and oriental medicine. Advanced students can also join a four-year doctorate program in Acupuncture and herbal medicine.
With both programs, students get to learn a variety of east-Asian Acupuncture and medicine from instructors with training in the traditional medical ways of mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, and even more contemporary acupuncture styles.
Throughout their program duration, students also perform required practicum and any of the institute’s many Acupuncture and Chinese herbal clinics.
#18: National University of Natural Medicine, Portland, Oregon
Since it was instituted in 1956, the National University of Natural Medicine is the first accredited college of naturopathic medicine in the country. Hence, it is no surprise that the institution also has one of the most robust suites of programs for students looking to get into Acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
Programs on offer at this college include master’s and doctorate programs in Acupuncture, classical Chinese medicine, integrative mental health systems, naturopathic medicine, various nutrition styles, and integrative medical research.
For aspiring acupuncturists, some of the best options available here are the masters and doctoral programs in oriental medicine. Both programs adhere to an active form of teaching that equips students to become scholarly practitioners.
Throughout either four-year program, you get a practicum-heavy education in holistic western medicine as well as the classical foundations of western biomedicine as well as the clinical methodology of Chinese medicine.
Plus, the school runs multiple natural medicine clinics, as well as a laboratory, a medicinal outlet, and research institutes, guaranteeing students with sufficient facilities to handle all their practice and internship needs.
#17: New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Mineola, New York
The New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine offers some of the best educational programs for aspiring acupuncturists in the United States. Here, participants learn from a seasoned faculty line up with an educational background from China as well as significant clinical and academic experiences both in China and the US.
Programs on offer at the college include a three-year master’s in Acupuncture, a four-year master’s in oriental medicine, and a 184-credit certificate program in Chinese herbology.
With the acupuncture program, students complete courses in all elements of the practice, including point and meridians location, massage, yin and yang, Chinese herbology, and eastern nutrition. Furthermore, all members of the program must complete at least 720 hours of clinical training.
Since the college operates its teaching clinics at Manhattan and Long Island, students can easily carry out their practicum under the guidance of faculty members, while providing care and to the community.
#16: American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Roseville, Minnesota
Since it was only created in 1997, The American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) is one of the newest acupuncture schools in the United States. However, don’t let the school’s age fool you, as AAAOM does pack a pretty good punch.
This college offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in Acupuncture and oriental medicine that instructs participants in all aspects of Chinese medicine. Furthermore, these programs also provide students with the fundamentals of western biomedicine to facilitate the seamless integration of Chinese medicine into their practice.
Throughout their stay at AAAOM, students develop practical skills in Acupuncture, herbal medicine, tai chi, medical Tui Na massage, dietary therapy, and qi gong, as well as clinical skills via internships.
Another big reason to study at AAAOM is its traditional Chinese medicine library, which is one of the largest in the US. Also, the school faculty is among the most prolific, with 600+ studies, articles, and books in the field so far produced by its more than 20 doctoral members.
#15: Texas Health and Science University, Austin, Texas
The College of Traditional Chinese Medicine at the Texas Health and Science University offers some of the most robust programs of any acupuncture schools in the United States. Here, students can get a variety of degrees that provide participants a solid grounding in both Acupuncture and other aspects of healthcare delivery and management.
Programs on offer at the college include a bachelor’s in traditional Chinese medicine, a master’s in oriental medicine and Acupuncture, or a bumper master’s program in both oriental medicine and Acupuncture with an added MBA in business or healthcare management.
The school also offers a doctorate program in oriental medicine and Acupuncture.
Since the school has a curriculum that is heavily practicum-based, all students, irrespective of their program, must complete at least 350 patients treatments at the college’s Student Intern Clinic before graduation.
#14: Tri-State College of Acupuncture, New York, New York
For students looking to get the best well-rounded instruction in Acupuncture possible in the United States, one school that should be on your shortlist is the Tri-State College of Acupuncture.
At this school, students get programs in Chinese medicine that include both the classical and modern approaches to oriental medicine. Programs on offer at Tri-State College include a master’s in oriental medicine, another master’s in Acupuncture, and a certificate program in Chinese herbology.
With the three-year acupuncture program, you get hands-on schooling in traditional Chinese Acupuncture, Japanese Acupuncture, and Acupuncture physical medicine. However, the program focuses heavily on classical methods like the use of palpation, gua sha, qi gong, and cupping.
The four-year master’s program in oriental medicine, on the other hand, adds other courses like Chinese herbology, botany, and nutrition to the general study of Acupuncture.
Furthermore, the Tri-State College of Acupuncture features a unique curriculum addon that provides program participants courses with courses in business, legal issues, and ethics. Moreover, students also create a detailed business plan before graduation.
However, getting into Tri-State may be a bit hard as the considerably private institution only admits 55 students each year.
#13: Pacific College of Oriental Medicine-New York, New York, New York
A master’s degree in a related field of study is an excellent way to bolster your portfolio as an aspiring acupuncturist, and Pacific College of Oriental Medicine-New York offers two programs that are some of the best options you will get anywhere.
Here students can apply either to a master’s program in traditional oriental science or a master’s in Acupuncture.
With the 191.5-unit degree in traditional oriental medicine, students get a comprehensive grounding in related courses like acupuncture points and methodology, herbology, auricular Acupuncture, eastern nutrition, as well as physiology and anatomy.
On the other hand, with the 172.5 unit master’s in Acupuncture, participants can choose a concentration in either classical or traditional oriental medicine. Either way, all partakers get detailed instruction in courses like Tui Na, auricular Acupuncture, needle technique, as well as physiology and anatomy.
To get admitted into either program, aspiring students must hold a related associate degree or must have completed at least 60-semester credits from an ACAOM-accredited school.
#12: Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
The Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine is one of the best colleges in the country for students who want a practice-first approach to learning acupuncture and other traditional Asian medical practices.
At ATOM, their clinical-based curriculum grounds students with both a foundational biomedical education, as well as comprehensive instruction in all aspects of Acupuncture and oriental medicine. To make this curriculum work, the school has a reliable base of faculty members with extensive backgrounds in both traditional Chinese and western medicine.
Besides, the institute runs its on-campus intern clinic that gives students access to unlimited practice hours throughout their program.
Degrees on offer here include a master’s program in oriental medicine and a doctorate in Acupuncture and oriental medicine.
Furthermore, with the master’s program, students can apply sections of the curriculum towards a bachelor’s in health sciences, earning both degrees at the end of their program. Plus, doctorate students can earn a new Ph.D. at IECSHUTCM in Shanghai, thanks to their partnership with ATOM.
#11: American College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Houston, Texas
The American College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine runs a treatment facility that sees about 1,000 visitors every month, creating a fertile ground where students can get hands-on instruction in all aspects of Acupuncture and oriental medicine.
Here, students can complete either a four-year master’s program or a two-year doctorate program in Acupuncture and oriental medicine.
With the 163-credit master’s program, students get comprehensive instruction in both informative courses as well as practicums that encompass aspects of oriental medicine like integrated medicine, Tui Na, tai chi, herbology, as well as western biomedical science.
The 60-credit doctorate course, on the other hand, ground students in all aspects oriental medicine and Acupuncture with a focus on gynecology.
#10: Pacific College of Oriental Medicine-San Diego, San Diego, California
Another excellent school for priming yourself to become an acupuncture practitioner is the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine-San Diego. Here, students can pursue either a master’s or a doctorate in Acupuncture.
The comprehensive curriculum at this college includes the study of the theories and history of traditional oriental medicine, as well as techniques and practical knowledge of herbal medicine, Acupuncture, Tui Na, and regular medical courses like anatomy, pharmacology, and nutrition.
Furthermore, while pursuing either program, students can also enroll in optional massage programs at the university that credits participants with massage licenses at the end of their degree.
The school houses an extensive acupuncture clinic with an herbal dispensary that allows students to gain unlimited access to practice scenarios. Alternatively, program participants can join externships at clinics, hospitals, and other treatment sites around the city.
#9: Northwestern Health Sciences University, Bloomington, Minnesota
Northwestern Health Sciences University is one of the best schools in the country for aspiring acupuncture students who want to max out on hands-on skill-building.
At Northwestern, students always have easy access to experienced faculty members thanks to the college’s unrivaled one clinical faculty member to three interns system.
Furthermore, most of the faculty at Northwestern are experienced practitioners and theoreticians either from china or with most of their education done there. Plus, with the 150 hours of assistantship and 500+ hours of supervised clinical practice required for most of their program, you can be sure that you are getting the best possible acupuncture training money can buy.
During your program here, you can complete your clinical training either at the school’s facilities or at one of its partner internship sites like the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, Salvation Army Harbor Light Natural Care Center, or Abbott Northwestern Hospital.
Northwestern Health Sciences University offers several master’s and certificate programs in Acupuncture, therapeutic massage, and oriental medicine.
#8: Maryland University of Integrative Health, Laurel, Maryland
The fact that the Maryland University of Integrative Health started out first as a practicing acupuncture clinic, immediately relates to you the type of programs you will get here. At MUHI, students get a practicum-first approach to oriental medicine and Acupuncture.
Here, courses on offer include detailed grounding and substantial practice in aspects acupuncture, nutrition, herbal medicine, and yoga therapy. Students at MUHI can pursue either a master’s or doctorate in oriental medicine or a master’s or doctorate in Acupuncture.
Furthermore, since the university still runs an active clinical service that includes both integrative health treatments and consultations, students get the chance to gain essential clinical service throughout their program.
Plus, master’s students must complete a required 250 treatments and up to 200 hours of clinical practice. On the other hand, doctoral students must complete 310 procedures, pass a comprehensive exam, and tender a research paper at the end of their program.
#7: Five Branches University, Santa Cruz, California
Five Branches University in Santa Cruz is famous for its herbology department, one of the best in the country, and this translates excellently into its acupuncture programs. Here, you can pursue either a master’s or doctorate program in Acupuncture that prepares you to become a practitioner or for incorporating Acupuncture into western medical practices.
Consequently, both programs take students through both basic and advanced aspects of traditional Chinese medicine, including comprehensive academic instruction and extensive clinical training.
The acupuncture curriculum at Five Branches University focuses mainly on the Acupuncture, Tui Na massage, and Chinese dietary medicine aspects of traditional Chinese medicine while incorporating the parts of western medical practice that is most receptive to integrative medicine.
Furthermore, the doctorate program gives participants the added benefit of being able to personalize their study to match their professional aspirations. Here, students can niche down by specializing in women’s health and endocrinology, cerebral and cardiovascular disease, auricular medicine, or neuromuscular medicine and pain management.
Throughout these programs, students must complete clinical hours via externships at nearby public and private practices. The university also offers master’s students the chance to participate in international externships at its partner schools in Korea, China, or Taiwan. Furthermore, on completion of their program, doctorate students can choose to earn another Ph.D. after an additional one year program at any of these sister schools.
#6: Bastyr University, Kenmore, Washington
Another excellent school that provides students with a solid launchpad into acupuncture practice is Bastyr University in Washington.
The school approach to the study of oriental medicine includes comprehensive coverage of both theoretical and practical aspects of the practice, as well as its intersection with western medicine.
Consequently, at the end of your schooling here, you will be able to integrate both oriental and western paradigms to create a more holistic form of practice. The university also researches integrative neuroscience and oncology, and this research permeates their acupuncture programs too.
Here, students can complete a bachelor of science, master’s, and even doctorate programs in Acupuncture, or oriental medicine and Acupuncture. Be ready for extensive practical work with either program as the school has a set minimum of 400 patient contacts for all students of its programs.
Furthermore, the university houses a fully equipped teaching cleaning, the Bastyr Center of Natural Health, that caters to all the student practicum needs. Alternatively, you can opt to carry out your clinical hours at community care centers that cater to low-income residents, seniors, and immigrant communities.
#5: AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, Austin, Texas
Since it was only established in 1993, the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine is one of the newer Chinese medicine and acupuncture schools in the United States.
The school’s creation came as part of an initiative to provide cheap, and even free, integrative medicine treatments to the less privileged. Consequently, the school’s extensive partnerships with nonprofits help it achieve its current tally of around 17,500 students per year.
Students here can pursue a four-year master’s degree in Acupuncture and oriental medicine or a two-year doctorate in the same course. Both programs instruct students in herbal studies, the biomedical sciences, and a thorough dissection of Acupuncture. You also get extensive practice with each degree, with more than 600 hours of patient contact in internships and externships on either degree.
Plus, all members of AOMA enjoy the opportunity to participate in the annual southwest symposium held on campus, as well as benefits from the school’s partnerships with healthcare institutions like the Seton Healthcare Family.
Furthermore, the college also offers a study-abroad program that takes place in China with the support of the Chengdu University of Traditional Oriental Medicine.
#4: American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, San Francisco, California
Few American schools can match the prominence that the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) has in the world of Chinese medicine and Acupuncture.
The school is home to several former leaders of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, varied and prolific alumni that includes some of the world’s most famous practitioners, and a research library of traditional Chinese medicine that is one of the largest in the country.
Related programs on offer at ACTCM include a master’s degree in traditional Chinese medicine and a doctorate in Chinese medicine and Acupuncture. Both programs ground students in theories and hands-on clinical practice in Acupuncture, massage, herbal therapy, physical exercise, and meditation.
However, while the master’s program is open to all applicants with relevant academic qualifications, the doctorate program is only available to licensed practitioners of Acupuncture with at least ten years of active practice.
One of the best reasons to attend ACTCM is their Acupuncture and Herbal Clinic. This elaborate education center houses all the lectures, presentations, as well as facilities to prepare program participants for their practicum. Students can then go on to externships at clinical sites in the Bay area or even join a study abroad program that includes up to up to three months of instruction at two universities in China.
#3: Emperor’s College School of Traditional Oriental Medicine, Santa Monica, California
Established in 1983, Emperor’s College School of Traditional Oriental Medicine is one of the oldest Chinese medicine and acupuncture schools in the country. The college’s claim to fame, however, rests in its faculty.
The faculty members at Emperor’s College include some of the most prominent and distinguished theoreticians and practitioners you will find anywhere. Furthermore, the school’s alumni are almost equally as prolific, going on to practice in some of the top private and public practices around the world.
Another testament to the Emperor’s College prowess is that the school was handpicked by the management of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games as the sole provider of various holistic wellness programs to more than 7,000 athletes and coaches in attendance.
At Emperor’s College, students can apply to a master’s degree in traditional oriental medicine or a doctorate in Acupuncture and oriental medicine. Here, students cover an in-depth curriculum in the history, philosophy, theory, and practice of oriental medicine and Acupuncture.
Furthermore, the school is quite big on its practicum, with the four-year master’s program requiring nearly a thousand hours of active practice and almost half of the 1,250-hour doctorate curriculum spent on advanced clinic rotations.
On-campus acupuncture training centers like the Venice Family Clinic and the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center offer students a robust platform for practice training, resulting in more than 15,000 patient visits handled by Emperor’s College each year.
#2: New England School of Acupuncture, Newton, Massachusetts
The New England School of Acupuncture started operation in 1975. Consequently, it is the oldest acupuncture school in the country, and also one of the most renowned colleges in the field.
NESA, an arm of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, is a school with robust oriental medicine curricula, one of the most active research focus of any schools in the niche, and substantial research backing in the form of over $5 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health so far.
The school has two master’s degrees on offer, as well as the option of multiple tracks with each degree. At NESA, you can bag either a master’s in Acupuncture or one in Acupuncture and oriental medicine.
Furthermore, both degrees give students a chance to specialize in concentrations like Chinese herbal medicine, pain management, or Japanese Acupuncture.
Both programs on offer are three-year degrees that include a comprehensive foundation in both western and eastern medical approaches, as well as an extended practicum. To complete either degree, students must complete 600+ hours of clinical training while participating in or handling treatments and prescriptions for real patients.
To enter NESA, students must hold a bachelor’s from an ACAOM-accredited institution.
#1: Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, Portland, Oregon
If you want to pick a school without much fuss that guarantees an education in Acupuncture that is on par with anything you can get anywhere else in the world, look no further than the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine.
Instituted in 1983, OCOM is one of the first colleges of Chinese medicine in the country. Through the years, the school has remained at the forefront of the field, furthering research in the subject, and partnering with top academic institutions like the University of Arizona at Oregon, Portland State University, and the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research.
OCOM has also received several research grants from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.
At this college, students receive a detailed grounding in both the theoretical and practical aspects of Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and therapeutic massage. The school curricula also prominently feature the intersection between Chinese medicine and Western biomedicine.
Programs on offer at OCOM include a master’s and a doctorate in Acupuncture and oriental medicine. Both programs are heavily practice-based, with more than half of the total hours in the doctorate program and a third of that in the master’s being clinical hours.
Furthermore, to get admitted into either program, the student must hold an appropriate level certificate in oriental medicine or Acupuncture from an ACAOM-accredited school and must also have some training in Chinese herbal medicine.