Ancient Remedies for Modern Lives

From Warrior to Healer

8 questions military veterans should ask themselves when choosing an acupuncture school

 In most cases, acupuncture is a graduate or doctoral level program.  Don’t let this scare you off though if you don’t already have a bachelor’s degree. Many acupuncture schools will consider you if you meet their minimum requirements, namely college level general education requirements (usually 60 semester units or 90 quarter units). Some schools will also accept CLEP and military transcripts (like AARTs). When you narrow down the search to schools that will accept your credits, you should look at what the individual schools have to offer.  Eight useful questions to ask are:

  1. Is the school veteran friendly?
    A few acupuncture schools are much more veteran friendly than others. Ask if the admissions office has an experienced veteran’s liaison.
  2. Does the school offer a lot of opportunities?
    Surprisingly, most acupuncture schools tend to be very narrow in scope, for instance, offering just one type of acupuncture. It is to your benefit to seek out programs that offer  a number of different styles of acupuncture as well as a wide range of elective courses. It is also recommended that you find schools that makes available several interesting externship options and that the school has a large and thriving community clinic where you will get your hands-on training.
  3. What is the faculty like?
    When you leave acupuncture school you want to be really ready to practice. The cornerstone of your education are the teachers that will be preparing you in the classroom and training you in the clinic. A distinguished internationally trained faculty is highly recommended.
  4. What are the school’s  accreditations?
    For obvious reasons you want to make sure that your school of interest is fully accredited by both the Department of Education, the state’s Bureau of Post-Secondary Education, in addition to the acupuncture accrediting bodies/affiliations (ex. ACAOM, CCAOM)
  5. How long have they offered their acupuncture program?
    This is an important question to ask because there are many programs popping up. Generally speaking, more established schools have more to offer by way of established faculty, student body activities, and electives. The school’s history can also help you determine the institution’s stability, along with their reputation in the community, both very important factors in longer graduate programs such as acupuncture.
  6. What are their licensing board pass rates?
    Most acupuncture schools measure their pass rates not just by the number they graduate, but also by how many of their students pass the state or National exams in acupuncture. While no guarantee to success, a school’s pass rates are a good indication of whether or not the program is achieving the field’s educational objectives. Most schools are happy to tell you their pass rates; if not, you might want to dig a little deeper.
  7. Does it offer a doctoral degree?
    You may or may not wish to continue you education after you get licensed, but that a school of acupuncture offers a fully accredited doctoral degree in addition to its master’s degree typically means that its master’s degree program is solid.
  8. Are the instructors fluent in English – or at least understandable?
    Believe it or not, this can be a very big issue in acupuncture schools. Not all acupuncture programs in this country are necessarily geared toward the English speaking student. Indeed some schools may even offer Chinese or Korean only tracks. In the case where a considerable number of your future instructors may originally be from foreign countries, you definitely want to make sure that you feel comfortable in the school’s culture and that you feel supported in your studies. Many schools allow you to audit a class or two while you are exploring your options and it would be especially wise to take advantage of this while you search for the right program..


About the Author:
Nicole Pamintuan is a veteran of the U.S. Army. She served from 1996-2004. As a civilian, she has been a holistic educator for over 10 years.  She is currently a master’s student at Emperor’s College of Traditional Oriental Medicine and the school’s veteran’s liaison. She can be reached at


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