Educational Requirements for NCCAOM Certification

Eligibility Overview

It is important to understand that the eligibility for NCCAOM certification is determined by Eligibility Route:

Route 1 – Formal Education: United States Applicant

Route 2 – Formal Education: International Applicant

Route 4 – Combination of Formal Education & Apprenticeship Applicant

Route 5 – Converting to an NCCAOM Oriental Medicine Certification Applicant

Route 6 – Reinstatement to Active NCCAOM Status Applicant

Once approved to sit for the examinations, an NCCAOM® Authorization to Test (ATT) Letter is issued. This is a very important piece because it is required for entrance into the testing center. The application for certification is open for four (4) years from the date the payment is processed at NCCAOM. New eligibility requirements implemented after the applicant becomes a candidate will not affect their application. New certification requirements will need to be met (e.g. new exam).

Eligibility Appeal Process

  1. If an applicant/ candidate is not satisfied with a decision made by the NCCAOM staff regarding eligibility requirements for NCCAOM certification, they may appeal it, in writing, by mailing a letter to the NCCAOM offices or emailing the letter to [email protected].
  2. The NCCAOM must receive the appeal letter within 30 days of the candidate’s receipt of NCCAOM’s initial decision. A rational justification is required for filing an appeal.
  3. The applicant/candidate’s appeal will be reviewed by the NCCAOM Eligibility/ Committee at the next scheduled meeting. The candidate will be notified of the Committee’s decision in writing, within 30 days of the meeting.
  4. The candidate can appeal the NCCAOM Eligibility Committee’s decision and submit a final appeal to the NCCAOM Board of Commissioners. Appeals shall be considered by an Appeal Board only if new material facts or information exists that were not known to the NCCAOM Eligibility Committee at the time of its decision and said facts or information were not withheld by or undisclosed by the applicant/candidate during his/her opportunity to do so in the course of the Eligibility Committee review. The appeal will be reviewed at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting. The candidate/Diplomate will be notified of the Board’s review, in writing and within 30 days of the meeting date.

Route 1:

Formal Education: Graduate  from an ACAOM Accredited Program – U.S Applicants Only

Applicants applying under Route 1 are graduates or enrolled students from a program accredited or in candidacy status by Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine  (ACAOM). The initial NCCAOM Certification requires the applicant to meet the ACAOM educational requirements outlined below and complete a degree, diploma or certificate program for the respective NCCAOM certification program.

  • NCCAOM Certification in Oriental Medicine: Four-year Master’s program in Oriental Medicine.
  • NCCAOM Certification in Acupuncture: Three-year Master’s program in Acupuncture.
  • NCCAOM Certification in Chinese Herbology: Four-year Master’s program in Oriental Medicine OR a Master’s in Acupuncture and a post-graduate Chinese Herbal Certificate recognized by ACAOM.

ACAOM Graduation Hour Requirement

Oriental Medicine Program

Minimum 4-Year Master degree, 2625 Hours/ 146 Credits

Subject Hours Required
Oriental Medicine/Acupuncture Theory 705 Hrs. / 47 credits
Didactic Oriental Herbal Studies 450 Hrs. / 30 credits
*Acupuncture /Chinese Herbology Clinic 870 Hrs. / 29 credits
Biomedicine 510 Hrs. / 34 credits
Counseling, Communications, Ethics, Practice Management 90 Hrs. / 6 credits
Acupuncture Program

Minimum 3-Year Master degree, 1905 Hours/ 105 Credits

Oriental Medicine/Acupuncture Theory 705 Hrs. / 47 credits
Acupuncture Clinic 660 Hrs. / 22 credits
Biomedicine 450 Hrs. / 30 credits
Counseling, Communications, Ethics, Practice Management 90 Hrs. / 6 credits

Chinese Herbology Program

*ACAOM Guideline: Chinese herbal certificate training program for Master of Acupuncture students and practitioners will be a minimum of 450 hours of didactic instruction in herbs and 210 hours of herbal clinical training.

Route 2:

Formal Education: International Applicants

Applicants applying under the international route must have a degree/diploma in Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine or Acupuncture from an academic institution that meets the following requirements.

Government Oversight or Private Accreditation:

  • The program is approved by a foreign government’s Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, or equivalent agency.
  • The school is approved by an international private accreditation agency with standards that are comparable to those of ACAOM and are recognized for that purpose by the respective government entity.
  • The school is approved by an acupuncture and/or Oriental medicine (AOM) professional society, association or organization that sets AOM education standards that are comparable to those of ACAOM, are recognized for that purpose, and has an enforcement agency that ensures standards are met and maintained.

Graduate Transcript:

Documentation from a third-party review agency authenticating the distribution of academic hours/credits per program that meet ACAOM standards or their substantial equivalency.

Third-Party Educational Review

NCCAOM requires international applicants to have their educational program and transcript reviewed by a third-party agency to confirm document authenticity. Please note that the agency does not ‘approve’ the educational program but verifies the authenticity of documents and provides a course-by-course evaluation of the graduate transcript. The foreign education review process typically takes 6 months to complete. International applicants are advised to complete the third-party agency review before applying to NCCAOM.

Third-Party Review Agency Accepted by NCCAOM

ICD logo
NCCAOM requires a course-by-course credential evaluation from International Consultants of Delaware (ICD). Please login and create your NCCAOM online account, then click on the International Verification tab to be redirected to the ICD website. The application process requires that NCCAOM receive an original foreign language and an English translation of the graduate transcript, and the credential evaluation report directly from ICD. Applicants are advised to apply to sit for National Board Exams after receiving verification that the evaluation has been delivered to NCCAOM.

Important Notice: World Education Services (WES) transcript evaluations will no longer be accepted after December 31, 2017.

NCCAOM Examinations administered at international locations are only offered by “official” level 1 Pearson VUE Testing Centers. For detailed information, see the Pearson VUE website at

Route 4:

Combination of Formal Education and Apprenticeship

Applicants using Route 4 to reach eligibility to sit for NCCAOM examinations are awarded points for meeting the requirements in the Formal Education and Apprenticeship Routes. Applicants must earn a combination of points from each category.

  • Acupuncture or Chinese Herbology program: 30 points – cannot exceed 20 points from any one category.
  • Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology program: 40 points – cannot exceed 30 points from any one category.

Point Allocation

Formal Education

  • Applicants are awarded 10 points for each full year (635 hours) of formal education.
  • The formal education program must meet the criteria described in Route #1: Formal Education: Graduate from United States or Route #2: Formal Education International Applicants.


  • Applicants are awarded 10 points per 1,000 contact hours with a qualified preceptor.
  • A maximum of 10 points may be earned per calendar year or a 12-consecutive-month period.
  • The apprenticeship hours, qualified preceptor requirements and documentation must meet the criteria described under Route #3: Apprenticeship for United States or International Applicants.

In order to obtain the Combination (Formal Education + Apprenticeship) Route handbook, as well as the workbook templates, please send an email to [email protected] with your intentions to complete the Combination Route.

For additional information on this route of eligibility please contact NCCAOM by email at [email protected] .

Route 5:

Converting to an NCCAOM Oriental Medicine Certification

Diplomates who are actively certified in Acupuncture and/or Chinese Herbology may apply for a conversion to Oriental Medicine.

Single Diplomates who are certified in either Acupuncture or Chinese Herbology will need to meet eligibility and pass the necessary exam(s).

Double Diplomates who are certified in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology will need to complete the biomedicine requirements, if applicable.

Please note that Diplomates who were certified prior to 2004 may need to submit coursework or PDAs in bodywork, diet, exercise, and/or patient education. All requirements are outlined in the NCCAOM® Certification Handbook.

Route 6:

Reinstatement to Active Status

The purpose of the NCCAOM’s reinstatement program is to provide a pathway for terminated Diplomates to regain their NCCAOM Certification.

The (NCCAOM)® is pleased to announce a new Reinstatement Route for former Diplomates in Terminated status to return to active status.  The new Reinstatement Route will open in December of 2019 and will close on June 30, 2022. The NCCAOM Reinstatement exam(s) are not required for certification under this new Route. All new eligibility requirements must be met to achieve active NCCAOM certification.

Individuals who applied under the original Reinstatement Route have until December 21, 2019 to take and pass the NCCAOM Reinstatement exam or contact the NCCAOM at [email protected] for a change to the new Reinstatement Route and complete the new Route Continuing Education requirements.

Eligibility Requirements for Reinstatement to following:

  • Confirm previous NCCAOM certification
  • Record on the application form all states in which you are practicing or have previously practiced
  • Provide documentation of Clean Needle Technique, Safety, Ethics and CPR coursework
  • Complete Background screening via NCCAOM vendor
  • Report continuing education required for Reinstatement (based on applicant’s certification expiration date) to Online Certification Portal

The NCCAOM® Application for Reinstatement to Active NCCAOM Status is valid for six (6) month and is submitted from the candidate’s profile on the online certification portal.