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November 8, 2019

Master’s or Doctorate: Which Program Fits Your Needs As an Acupuncturist?

Education is an investment, and making sure you get a return on that investment is important in your research process.

An education in acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can open up your future to many diverse career paths. But not every path is the same, and not every education is the same. How do you know if the degree you’re aiming for will be right for your career goals?

Our guide below can help you to understand the difference between Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College’s (AIMC) Master’s and Doctorate programs, and help you to decide which type may be right for you.

man relieving a headache through acupressure touch

Master’s Program

Alternative medicine can seem a world away from conventional western practices, but when it comes to education, the requirements are somewhat similar. To begin, you may need to start with some prerequisite courses and steadily build up to learning specialized practices. You can also expect to learn basic anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology.

At AIMC, our Master’s curriculum includes six subject areas:

  • Acupuncture
  • Western Biomedicine
  • Integrative Medicine
  • Oriental Herbology
  • Oriental Medicine
  • Personal Practice and Ethics

Completing these courses can certify a graduate to work in acupuncture or a related field, and can also prepare them to move toward a Doctorate degree.

Doctoral Program

In our Doctoral courses, you can expect to dive deeper into integrative medicine and get advanced, specialized training in traditional and contemporary medicine. Subject areas here include:

  • Herbology
  • Functional Medicine
  • Advanced Clinic Skill
  • Advanced Orthopedics & Collaborative Care
  • Integrative Medicine
  • Doctoral Research

AIMC’s doctoral program requires 90 undergraduate semester credits, or you can also take advantage of our Master’s and Dual Degree and get started on your doctoral degree as you complete your Master’s. As with an education in western medicine, students are expected to complete coursework as well as practical exams and clinical training hours before graduation.

Benefits of Earning a Degree in Acupuncture

There are many benefits to earning a degree in integrative medicine, including building up your credentials, skills, and gaining connections you might not come across otherwise. An education may better prepare you to sit for the state licensing exam and can provide you with the help and support of colleagues and faculty.

Working toward a degree can also facilitate a focus or specialization in an area. You might be interested in women’s health, pediatrics, or physical therapy. Educators can help to hone your focus and find your place in the community.

Education Equals Experience

At AIMC our students are required to participate in the student clinic program, which provides interns the opportunity to apply acupuncture treatments under the supervision of a licensed faculty supervisor. AIMC also offers two permanent off-site clinical internships.

In these professional environments, you can focus on your chosen specialization and receive valuable experience moving forward. At AIMC’s herbal pharmacy you can also learn the basics of maintaining an integrative herbal pharmacy and herbal compounding.

students writing notes

Career Requirements

In each state you will need to sit for the state licensing exams to be certified to work. It’s important to define your career needs and goals before you commit to a program.

With a degree in integrative medicine or acupuncture, there may be quite a few career options open to you. Some of the most common within acupuncture are:
Sports medicine
Researcher
Women’s health
Pain management
and trauma recovery

At AIMC our graduates often go on to work in sports medicine, private practices, and community acupuncture projects.

Starting with a Master’s degree can help you to learn more about your own interests and decide on a career path you want to take. Moving onto a Doctorate program can offer more time for research, teaching, and travel within the industry. It is a good option for those interested in a deeper understanding of traditional and integrated medicine.

Can a Degree Affect Earning Potential?

You might wonder how much effect a degree in acupuncture and integrative medicine might have in your chosen career. In most states, certification through testing is required in order to practice acupuncture.

A degree from an accredited institution is also required. The average salary for an acupuncture practitioner can begin at an estimated $52,000 per year and can grow with experience and time. For practitioners who hold a Doctorate, the expected average is around $73,000. There is a bigger time investment in education, and the kinds of specialization may be narrower with a Doctorate, but your degree can greatly affect future earnings.

How to Apply

Get started on your journey into integrative medicine by applying to our program today. AIMC offers financial aid to those who qualify. Start by applying for the Application for Financial Aid (AFA) and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). You can also apply for scholarships.

Contact us today to get in touch with an admissions representative and find out more about the programs offered and how you can pursue a career in this rewarding field.

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