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Pre-Medical Preparation at UHMānoa: Naturopathic Medicine

Text compiled from the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges website,
NAAHP’s Medical Professions Admission Guide, and the UHM 2013-2014 Catalog


Naturopathic programs offered in Hawai'i: None

Naturopathic ND and NMD. Programs
Prerequisites for Admission
What makes a strong candidate?
Entrance Exam
Researching Schools
The Application Process
Additional Information
Downloadable Brochure


Medical doctors, or physicians, are highly trained healthcare professionals who perform medical examinations, diagnose illnesses, prescribe drugs, and treat patients suffering from injury or disease using a variety of techniques.

Physicians serve in all types of communities, from rural to inner city, and in a wide variety of settings, from private practice to clinics and hospitals. They also work in specialized settings, such as homeless shelters, schools, sports programs, prisons, nursing homes, third-world countries, and the armed forces. About one-third of the nation's physicians are generalists, or "primary care" doctors, although that percentage is declining as more physicians choose to become specialists. Generalists include fields such as internists, family physicians, and pediatricians. Specialists focus on a particular system or part of the body; examples include neurologists, hematologists, cardiologists, and podiatrists, to name only a few.

Physicians also serve in research, studying and developing new treatments for disease, in academia, sharing their skills by educating medical students, in health organizations, pharmaceutical companies, medical technology manufacturing, health insurance companies, and in corporations with health and safety programs.

There are five primary fields in medicine:  Allopathic, Chiropractic, Naturopathic, Osteopathic, and Podiatric, all of which diagnose and treat disease.

  • Allopathic physicians (MDs, Medical Doctors, or Doctors of Medicine) focus on diagnosing and treating disease; treatments include prescription medication and surgery.  Allopathic medicine offers both primary care and a large number of specializations, but many MDs specialize.
  • Chiropractic physicians (DCs, Doctors of Chiropracty, or Doctors of Chiropractic Medicine) focus on the promotion of health through the alignment of the musculoskeletal structure. DCs do not use invasive procedures such as surgery.
  • Naturopathic physicians (NDs, Doctors of Naturopathy, or Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine) focus on maintaining physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness through lifestyle choices and natural remedies such as acupuncture, reflexology, homeopathy, etc. N.D.s do not use invasive procedures such as surgery.
  • Osteopathic physicians (DOs, Doctors of Osteopathy, or Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine) focus on diagnosing and treating disease with an emphasis on primary care, holistic evaluation, and the prevention of diseases.  DOs can specialize but many work in primary care. D.O.s receive training in the manipulation of the musculoskeletal structure, also known as osteopathic manipulative medicine, or OMM, in addition to the core medical training.  The scope of practice for MDs and DOs is very similar.
  • Podiatric physicians (DPMs, or Doctors of Podiatric Medicine) focus on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases concerning the foot and ankle. Podiatric medicine is an early specialization of allopathic medicine and includes the prescription of medications and surgery.

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Naturopathic Medicine Programs

Becoming an ND or NMD requires approximately 9 or more years of education:

            Bachelors Degree (~ 4 years);
            Naturopathic Medical School (4 years)
            Postdoctoral programs, or Residencies (1+ years)
The first two years of naturopathic medical school are generally classroom lectures, problem-based learning, or a mixture of the two. The final two years are usually primarily clinical internships under the supervision of licensed professionals. In addition to the standard medical curriculum, naturopathic training includes nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology, and counseling.

After graduating from naturopathic medical school, NDs must pass a board exam called the Naturopathic Physician’s Licensing Examination Board (NPLEX) for their state or jurisdiction of practice to become licensed as a primary care general practice physician. All physicians must be licensed to practice.

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Prerequisites for Admission

Most importantly, remember that requirements vary from school to school! See the attached list of schools and their prerequisite courses; you should create a list of all the courses you will need to apply to the schools you are interested in attending.

The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) recommends students complete at least three years of pre-med training and earn a baccalaureate degree before applying. The following UHM courses are commonly required for admission to naturopathic schools:

BIOL 171/L and 172/L
Introduction to Biology I and II
(two schools require or recommend Biol 275/L as well)
CHEM 161/L and 162/L
General Chemistry I and II
CHEM 272/L and 273/L
Organic Chemistry I and II
(two schools require only the first semester of Organic Chemistry)
PHYS 151/L (or PHYS 170/L)
College Physics I (or General Physics I)
(one school requires no Physics; lab is optional for all but one school)

Additional requirements include English, other humanities, psychology, and other social sciences. Recommended courses include anatomy, biochemistry, medical ethics, medical terminology, microbiology, philosophy of science, physiology, public speaking, and statistics.

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What makes a strong candidate?

Naturopathic school tuition, as high as it is, covers only a fraction of the cost of educating a N.D. or N.M.D., which means that each new student represents a huge investment. Schools need to be certain that the students they accept will be capable of completing the curriculum and are likely to become good physicians.

Are you capable of completing the medical curriculum?
Admissions committees are looking for students who have:

  • completed the prerequisites
  • a high overall GPA
  • a high science/math GPA
  • balanced their course load so it is challenging yet realistic

Are you likely to become a good physician?
Admissions committees look for students who have:

  • demonstrated empathy, compassion, and a commitment to public service
  • demonstrated maturity (judgment, responsibility, dependability)
  • high ethical and moral standards and a conscientious work ethic
  • a broad liberal arts education that includes the humanities and social sciences
  • experience in the field and with what naturopathy entails
  • a well-rounded life that balances academics, community service, social activities, and personal interests (hobbies, skills, sports, etc.)
  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • strong letters of recommendation

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Entrance Exam

None of the accredited naturopathy schools currently requires a standardized entrance exam, but students should always check with individual schools to be certain.

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Researching Schools

The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) offers seven affiliated North American schools to choose from. These superior colleges are accredited and meet both federal and academic standards. Explore all AANMC member schools to discover the unique qualities of each institution.

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The Application Process

There are three general steps in applying to allopathic medical schools: the primary application, the secondary application, and the interview.

1.  Primary applications must be filed with the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Centralized Application Service (NDCAS), which is a centralized application system.  Once the application is complete, NDCAS forwards it to whichever schools the student has designated.

2.  Secondary applications are specific to individual schools; schools send these to applicants only after they have received the NDCAS application.  Some but not all schools screen applicants before requesting secondary applications. Secondary applications commonly request additional information, essays, and letters of recommendation.

3.  Interviews: After reviewing the primary and secondary applications (or supplementary forms), allopathic schools invite promising applicants for an interview.  Applicants are responsible for all costs incurred while interviewing, including airfare, lodging, ground transportation, professional attire, and meals.

Traffic Rules: Although the application process varies from school to school, NDCAS has established “traffic rules” to ensure fairness for all concerned. The rules are available online and stipulate both the schools’ and applicants’ rights and responsibilities during the application process.  All applicants should be familiar with these rules before applying.

Note: Schools that do not participate in the NDCAS must be applied to directly. Applications to individual schools can be ordered or downloaded online from the schools’ websites. All of the schools’ websites can be accessed through the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education.


  • The more you know about the school, the better your chances of being accepted.
  • Contact individual schools’ Admissions Offices to find out how they handle:
    • Advanced Placement (AP) credits
    • International Baccalaureate (IB) credits
    • College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) credits
    • military credits
    • courses taken at a community college
    • non-U.S. coursework
    • courses taken for credit/no credit instead of a grade
    • residency issues
    • time limits on prerequisite science courses

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Additional Information

UHMānoa’s Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center (PAC) has reference books, lists of volunteer opportunities, academic planning worksheets, and one-on-one advising by peers who can help you prepare for and apply to naturopathic medical schools.

UHM's Pre-Medical Association (PMA)
UHM's Biology Club
Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC)
Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME)
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)
Natural Healers
(includes links to a variety of alternative medicine programs in addition to naturopathic; the site includes unaccredited programs)
Preparing for Graduate School by the Honors Program

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