Prerequisites - Naturopathic Medicine


In addition to completion of a bachelor's degree (or higher) from a regionally accredited college/university or its foreign equivalent, prerequisite coursework is required preparation for the study of naturopathic medicine. Prior to choosing courses, and to improve the chances of a successful application, prospective students should contact Bastyr University Admissions advisors to discuss details of prerequisite fulfillment. Applicants may apply with coursework still in progress, but must complete prerequisites before beginning the program.

Please note:

  • If you are unsure about a specific prerequisite, contact an admissions advisor before taking the course. The admissions office may require a course description to verify content. Descriptions may be read over the phone, e-mailed, faxed or sent by regular mail.
  • No credit is given for prerequisite coursework earning a C- or lower.  

In addition to the prerequisite coursework, applicants to the naturopathic medicine program are considered on the basis of academic performance, maturity, and demonstrated humanitarian qualities. In evaluating applicants, the School of Naturopathic Medicine seeks qualities of motivation, intellect, and character essential to becoming a physician.

With regard to academic performance, while there is no minimum GPA requirement, the historical average GPA for admitted students is 3.3 - 3.4. No specific undergraduate major is advised or required; however, a broad background in the humanities and liberal arts is encouraged. 

Suggested Reading

Bastyr University librarians have compiled volumes of useful reading material for NDs and other health care practitioners. The guide lists core books and journals that naturopathic doctors and other health practioners interested in natural medicine will find clinically useful.

Read more here.


The following coursework is the minimum required preparation for the study of naturopathic medicine. Applicants may apply with coursework still in progress, but prerequisites must be completed prior to matriculation.

Prerequisite Coursework

  • College-level Algebra: 1 course
  • Chemistry* (science-major level): Minimum of 4 courses. Must include a minimum of either two sequential courses in organic chemistry or one course in organic chemistry and one course in biochemistry. (This latter option is highly recommended.) (The standard prerequisite for science-major level organic chemistry is one year of general chemistry.) Appropriate, hands-on lab work required. (Hands-on labs are those taken in person or using home lab kits.) 
  • General Biology* (science-major level): 2 semesters or 3 quarters. Must cover concepts in cellular biology and genetics. Appropriate hands-on lab work required. Individual courses in the biological sciences may count if the above competencies are met, i.e., anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and botany.
  • Physics: 1 college-level course. It must be algebra-based; calculus-based is also acceptable. A lab is not required.
  • Psychology: 1 course. Introduction to/ General Psychology or Developmental/ Lifespan Psychology.

*Required chemistry and biology courses not taken within seven years of matriculation into the program are subject to review by the admissions committee. Additional coursework may be (but is not always) required.  Please contact Admissions with any questions about older courses.

Summer Prerequisite Course(s)

The following course(s) are generally available to fill prerequisites during the summer quarter for the ND program. Summer registration information is sent to all applicants by the admissions office each spring. For further information, please contact Admissions at (425) 602-3332.

Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

  • Organic Chemistry I & II

Please see the Bastyr University Catalog for course descriptions (pdf). Many of these courses have their own prerequisites; please plan accordingly.

Strongly Recommended Courses

Though not required for admission, faculty recommend students complete biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, and microbiology coursework in addition to the prerequisite requirements. These courses will substantially enhance students' ability to master the naturopathic course material.

Other Suggested Courses

Biomedical ethics, philosophy of science, public speaking, immunology, medical terminology and English composition.

Credit by Examination

Applicants may submit AP, IB, and CLEP scores for prerequisite consideration for math and psychology, and AP or IB scores for physics. Students who have had prior AP or IB coursework in chemistry and biology may submit AP or IB scores for biology or chemistry exams. Students must submit the original score received directly from the testing center. Decisions regarding credit are assessed on a case-by-case basis. The admissions committee reviews test scores within the context of an applicant's academic history. All equivalency decisions made by the admissions committee are final.

Required Abilities

Bastyr University is committed to providing equal opportunities for differently-abled persons. The following policy has been adapted from the American Association of Medical Colleges guidelines to ensure that prospective students have the physical and mental capacities to perform the required duties of a naturopathic physician.

Candidates for the naturopathic medicine degree must be able to demonstrate appropriate observational and communication skills, motor function, intellectual-conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities, and behavioral and social maturity. Technology can compensate for some disabilities in certain areas, but candidates should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner. The use of a trained intermediary means that a candidate's judgment must be mediated by someone else's power of selection and observation.

  • Observation: Candidates must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences, including but not limited to microbiologic cultures and microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states. Candidates must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand. Observation requires the functional use of the sense of vision and somatic sensation. These are enhanced by the functional use of the sense of smell.
  • Communication: Candidates must be able to speak, to hear, and to observe patients to elicit information; describe changes in mood, activity, and posture; and perceive nonverbal communications. Candidates must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. Communication includes not only speech but also reading and writing. Candidates must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the health care team.
  • Motor: Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. Candidates should be able to do basic laboratory tests (urinalysis, CBC, etc.), re-position a patient, carry out diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and read ECGs and x-rays. Candidates should be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Examples of emergency treatment required of physicians are cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the administration of intravenous medication, application of pressure to stop bleeding, the opening of obstructed airways, the suturing of simple wounds, and the performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.
  • Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities: These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Problem solving, a critical skill demanded of physicians, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, candidates should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.
  • Behavioral and Social Attributes: Candidates must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing work loads and to function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation are all personal qualities assessed during the admissions and educational processes.

See the Bastyr University Catalog for more information.

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