Education and License to Practice

Naturopathic doctors attend a minimum of four years post-baccalaureate training at one of seven accredited North American schools. Their education is similar to medical doctors in the basic sciences of anatomy, physiology and biochemistry as well as in basic and specialized diagnostic techniques (including physical examination and laboratory testing).

Naturopathic education differs from MD education in two main areas: philosophy and treatment.


In addition, naturopathic doctors have been trained to perform minor surgery and prescribe medications. Their training in natural medicine includes many treatment options. These options include diet and nutrition, lifestyle coaching, physical medicine, supplements, herbal medicine and homeopathy. Such natural medicines support the naturopathic goals of prevention and treating root causes. Furthermore, natural medicines may complement the work a patient is already doing with his or her medical doctor.

Naturopathic Educational Programs

Acceptance to a Naturopathic program requires students to first complete a bachelor’s degree along with standard pre-medical prerequisites at the undergraduate level. These pre-medical prerequisites include biology, general and organic chemistry, college mathematics, physics and psychology. Then, the following institutions become accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education. Graduates of these programs may take national licensing exams.

Please be aware: many institutions offer naturopathic doctorates which are not accredited by the CNME.  These institutions might not meet the stringent standards required to ensure adequate education and safety. Furthermore, these non-accredited institutions typically do not include important hands-on clinical education. In states which do not license naturopathic doctors, it’s difficult to determine whether your practitioner graduated from an accredited program. Use the list above to verify qualifications as needed.


Following successful completion of a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program, graduates are eligible to sit for the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX). Currently, NDs are licensed as doctors in 16 U.S. states, including California. However, visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians or the California Naturopathic Doctors Association for more information.