Qualifications for Naturopathic Medical Training & Licensing

Education and License to Practice

Naturopathic doctors attend a minimum of four years post-baccalaureate training at one of seven accredited North American schools.  The 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.  While naturopathic doctors are trained to do minor surgery and prescribe medications, they are also trained in natural medicine treatment options including diet and nutrition, lifestyle coaching, physical medicine, herbal medicine and homeopathy.  Such natural medicines support the naturopathic goals of prevention and treating root causes, and may be used to complement the work a patient is already doing with his or her medical doctor.

Naturopathic Educational Programs

To be accepted to a Naturopathic program, students must first complete a bachelor’s degree along with standard pre-medical prerequisites at the undergraduate level, including biology, general and organic chemistry, college mathematics, physics and psychology.  Then, the following institutions are accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education.  Graduates of these programs are eligible to take national licensing exams.

Please be aware:  there are a number of institutions that 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, and typically do not include important hands-on clinical education. In states which do not license naturopathic doctors, it may be difficult to determine whether or not your practitioner has 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.  Visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians or the California Naturopathic Doctors Association for more information.