Acupuncture Licensing Requirements

Here is a summary of the general and educational requirements to apply for an acupuncture license, as well as the Massachusetts requirement for national certification.

Requirements for an Initial Full Acupuncture License

General Requirements

  1. An applicant must be at least 18 years of age.

  2. An applicant must be of good moral character.

  3. An applicant must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the English language to understand and to be understood by patients, physicians and Board of Registration in Medicine and Committee on Acupuncture personnel by submitting to the Committee proof of achieving the passing score on the TOEFL examination, or by certifying that he/she will employ the services of an interpreter at his/her own expense. The score report must be sent directly from TOEFL to the Acupuncture Unit.

  4. An applicant must meet the educational requirements of Mass. Gen. L. c. 112, § 152(d). As of Dec. 31, 2010, the apprenticeship route will no longer be an acceptable substitute for meeting the formal education requirements.

  5. As of Jan. 1, 2009, an applicant for an initial license must be nationally certified in either Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, or Chinese Herbology.

As of 1/1/2009, Massachusetts requires NCCAOM Certification for all first-time applicants.

The Massachusetts Licensure Examination consists of all of the following components:

  1. The NCCAOM examination in Acupuncture; and

  2. The NCCAOM examination in Foundations of Oriental Medicine; and

  3. The NCCAOM examination in Point Location; and

  4. The NCCAOM examination in Biomedicine (as of Jan. 1, 2007); and

  5. The CCAOM Clean Needle Technique (CNT) course approved by the NCCAOM; and

  6. Any oral or practical examination that the Committee on Acupuncture may require. (There is no oral or practical examination required in 2009.)

Educational Requirements

  1. Undergraduate Education. The applicant must have completed two full years of undergraduate study (60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours or the equivalent) at an accredited college or university, (this accredited college or university cannot be your acupuncture school) or foreign institution which the Committee on Acupuncture deems the equivalent.

  2. Undergraduate Sciences and Lab Requirement. The applicant must have completed, at an accredited college or at a Committee on Acupuncture approved acupuncture school, a three semester hour course in each of the following: general biology, human physiology, and human anatomy. For applicants entering acupuncture school after 6/30/2009, at least one of these science courses must have a laboratory course requirement. In extraordinary circumstances, an applicant may request that the Committee accept a substitute course as an equivalent for the required general biology, human anatomy and human physiology courses. The applicant must request an equivalency determination from the Committee and must provide all necessary documentation for the Committee to evaluate whether the substitute course qualifies as an equivalent.

  3. Acupuncture Education. The applicant must have completed a minimum of 1,905 hours of clinical and didactic instruction in acupuncture related courses, of which a minimum of 100 hours must be in the supervised diagnosis and treatment of patients for whom the applicant is solely responsible, in a school approved by the Committee on Acupuncture. The required coursework in general biology, human physiology, and human anatomy are excluded from the 1,905 hours of required acupuncture education.

  4. Basic Herbology Requirement. The applicant must have received a minimum of 30 hours of herbal medicine training from a Committee on Acupuncture approved school or Committee on Acupuncture approved program in order to be licensed.

  5. Herbology Certification Requirements. As of January 1, 2009, an applicant who plans to employ herbal therapy (patent or raw) in his or her practice must submit evidence of completion of one of the following courses of education in herbology:

    1. Completion of an Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) accredited or candidate status oriental medicine program with a minimum of 1,905 hours of clinical/didactic training, of which at least 660 hours were training hours in herbs and at least 210 of those were clinical hours in acupuncture and herbs; and

    2. Certification by NCCAOM in Chinese Herbology.

  6. Foreign Education Combining College Level and Acupuncture Education. Foreign applicants whose post-secondary education combined acupuncture training with college level education must have a minimum of five (5) full academic years of study, of which three (3) academic years must consist of acupuncture training in a Committee on Acupuncture approved school. All transcripts must be in English and must state the number of hours for each class, the number of hours for the entire program, the number of months in attendance and the date the diploma was awarded. As of Jan. 1, 2009, the applicant must receive a credentials review report from AACRAO, indicating that the school is recognized by a foreign governmental agency and that the courses taken were equivalent to the ACAOM curricular requirements.

  7. COA Approved Acupuncture School. An applicant must have graduated from an acupuncture school approved by the Committee on Acupuncture (COA). Note: An acupuncture school must be Committee on Acupuncture approved on the date the applicant graduates from the school.

  8. Transcripts. An original transcript must be sent directly from an applicant's undergraduate school to the Acupuncture Unit. An original transcript must be sent directly from an applicant's acupuncture school to the Acupuncture Unit showing the date an applicant's diploma was awarded.

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