What Is an OMD Degree?

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Updated: February 26, 2024, Reading time: 8 minutes

Many adults in the US now prefer alternative medicine treatments to traditional ones. With this in mind, more and more people are interested in pursuing an OMD degree.

However, some students still find it hard to know much about the degree. In this guide, we’ll explain what an OMD degree is and a list of colleges you can consider. 

What Is an OMD Degree?

Also called a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, an OMD, is a doctoral degree like J.D., M.D., or Ed.D. Unlike PhDs which require a thesis or dissertation to write and defend, it’s a clinical doctorate. 

Acupuncturist  inserting needles on a patient's back

OMD programs provide students and professionals with evidence-based education for a specialty. It helps prepare ‘Licensed Acupuncturists’ to specialize in “Functional Restoration” and “Needle Therapy for Pain Management & Therapeutics.” 

Students who want to learn traditional and modern medicine practices should pursue OMD degree programs. They help combine various medical practices, from acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to nutrition and more, to provide thorough care for various physical conditions and illnesses.

What Educational Qualifications Are Required to Be an OMD?

Looking to apply for an OMD degree program? Make sure you have a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a good CGPA from an accredited school, college, or university. 

In addition, the program requires comprehensive training in various areas like physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, herbal medicine, nutrition, and physical diagnosis. 

Moreover, OMDs have to undergo at least three full-time years of clinical practice at an accredited institution. This involves completing 500 supervised patient treatments and spending 200 hours in supervised clinical practice.

OMD Degree: Licensing & Certification

Forty-seven US states require OMD and acupuncturists to have a license – and most also need certification. This means students and professionals need to pass exams from the “National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).” States that license acupuncturists mandate these exams, except for California, which has its own.

To qualify for NCCAOM exams and get certified and licensed, you must be a graduate of an accredited program. You must send your final ‘official’ transcripts to NCCAOM and complete an approved “Clean Needle Technique (CNT)” course. 

When you pass this exam, you can apply for certification and licensure if your state demands it. Even if your state doesn’t insist on it, certification is a great way to prove to patients and employers that you have the necessary skills and knowledge for acupuncture practice. 

A person filling a pot with loose tea leaves

OMD Schools: What Should You Expect?

Whether master’s or doctorate, OMD programs at an accredited college introduce students to various concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Most of these programs also focus on specialized practice, clinical research, and academic teaching. 

Listed below are a few things students can expect when pursuing an OMD degree at a college or university:

Now that you know what to expect when enrolling in an OMD degree, let’s find out which schools or colleges are best suited for it. 

Best Schools Or Colleges You Should Consider For OMD Degree Programs

Believe it or not, it may take students 4-7 years to complete an OMD degree. However, there aren’t many schools or colleges in the US that provide this degree program. Many even offer fake programs. 

This is why we’ve rounded up a quick list of colleges you can enroll in for an OMD program:

A woman holding a small bottle of essential oil

Pacific College of Health and Science

The Pacific College of Health and Science provides an excellent doctorate program in Oriental Medicine. Located in New York, San Diego, and Chicago, it’s a small private college offering quality education.

At this college, doctoral students can pursue either a “Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine” or a “Doctor of Acupuncture.” To apply for the former, you need a “Master’s in Oriental Medicine,” while the latter requires a “Master’s in Acupuncture.”

No matter the background, OMD degree programs help enhance your understanding of biomedicine, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and integrative healthcare practices. Students will have the opportunity to work closely with instructors and mentors who will guide them throughout their studies.

Emperor’s College

Emperor’s College started in 1983. Their Master’s and doctorate programs are accredited by the “Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.”

It’s one of the best colleges for acupuncture and OMD degrees nationwide. Recently, Emperor’s College became the top acupuncture school in Los Angeles and California. Students here get top-notch training and leave the program as some of the world’s best Doctors of Oriental Medicine.

You can choose from three specializations. Two of them – Internal Medicine and Physical Medicine – can be combined. This combo focuses on crucial areas of today’s healthcare system, using the best traditional practices.

A person filling a row of white cups with hot tea

Won Institute

Since its opening in 2001, The Won Institute in Warminster, PA, has been the only accredited acupuncture school in Pennsylvania. They provide various academic programs in this field.

They have accreditation from the “Middle States Commission on Higher Education,” and their OMD programs are accredited by “Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.”

Students and professionals can choose from programs like the Doctor of Acupuncture Program, Master of Acupuncture Studies Degree, Certificate in Chinese Herbal Medicine, or more. The institute even provides scholarships for veterans who want to pursue academic programs.

Oregon College of Oriental Medicine

Started operating in 1983, the Oregon College Of Oriental Medicine is a popular college among students and professionals alike. The college is accredited by the “Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine” and provides two popular master’s and doctorate programs

The “Masters of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAcOM)” is for those who want a comprehensive understanding, delving into both the theory and practice for ongoing learning and advancement in the field. 

Or, you can opt for the doctorate program – the ‘Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine’ – which results in a clinical doctorate. The curriculum focuses on five key competencies: patient care, systems-based medicine, collaborative care, developing professional plans, and evidence-informed practice in patient care. 

A woman getting a hand acupuncture from a female therapist

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do OMD or DOM Degrees Take?

How long it takes to finish an OMD degree depends on the program, the college you enroll in, and various other factors. Usually, it takes about 4 to 6 years to do the required coursework. After that, students might need another 1 to 2 years for a clinical internship or residency to complete their degree.

What Salary Can You Expect With OMD Degrees?

The salary of an OMD degree holder in the US varies based on several factors like education, geography, institute, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years spent in the profession. Nevertheless, a Doctor of Oriental Medicine can easily earn anywhere between $52,000 and $100,000 or more.  

What Career Opportunities Does an OMD Degree Provide?

This form of medicine is becoming more popular in the US. Many acupuncturists and OMD are self-employed; however, as more people accept alternative healing, they can also work in clinics. 

They collaborate with chiropractors, naturopathic practitioners, reflexologists, and physical therapists. Moreover, they may also work in Chinese stores and areas that sell herbal products.


OMD is a one-of-a-kind healthcare profession that blends the holistic healing theories of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) with contemporary science and evidence-based medicine. Students pursuing OMD degree programs can open doors to new, better career opportunities and generous pay. Don’t forget to check college accreditation before enrolling. 

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