Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine: Prerequisites, Requirements & Application Process

Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine accepts students for two incoming cohorts per year - one each spring and fall. Below, you’ll find information about the admissions process including requirements, deadlines, and more. Questions? We're here to help. Call us at 480-222-1136 or email us at admissions@scnm.edu.

The following are general admission requirements that must completed and submitted:

  1. Complete a four-year bachelor's degree (or equivalent) prior to matriculation. Total post-secondary course work must be completed at a regionally accredited or candidate college or university. To search for your institution in the U.S. Department of Education’s database of accredited postsecondary institutions visit http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/.
  2. Official Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended sent directly to SCNM electronically to transcripts@scnm.edu or directly to NDCAS.
  3. Complete all prerequisite coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.0 at a regionally accredited or candidate college or university prior to matriculation into the ND program. (Applicants with science courses older than seven (7) years must demonstrate competency in the discipline(s) in question and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis).
  4. Laptop and reliable high speed internet for use in completing college course work.  For a complete listing of SCNM technical requirements please visit: https://techcheck.scnm.edu/techreqs.html

Prerequisite Coursework

  • 12 semester credits in biology with labs (for science majors)
  • 3 semester credits in general organic chemistry with lab (for science majors)
  • 3 semester credits in biochemistry OR an additional 3 semester credits in organic chemistry (for science majors)
  • 3 semester credits in psychology (Developmental psychology is recommended. Behavioral or cognitive learning courses will also be considered in lieu of psychology).
  • 6 semester credits in English (3 credits must be in English composition.)
  • 6 semester credits in humanities (philosophy, religious studies, fine arts, history, foreign languages, women's studies, performing arts). 

Covid-19 Prerequisite Considerations

SCNM’s admissions will take the significant disruptions of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 into account when reviewing students' transcripts and other admissions materials as part of our regular practice of performing individualized, holistic reviews of each applicant.

In particular, as we review applications now and in the future, we will respect decisions regarding the adoption of Pass/No Record (or Credit/No Credit or Pass/Fail) and other grading options during the unprecedented period of COVID-19 disruptions.

In addition to Pass/Fail, we will accept Spring prerequisites that are delivered via online or distance learning from a regionally accredited institution.

Questions or concerns can be directed to your admissions team.

We encourage you to send us your unofficial transcripts for a prerequisite evaluation. Please email your unofficial transcripts to transcripts@scnm.edu and include your full name, mailing address and phone number. The above list indicates minimum prerequisite  requirements - it should not be inferred that admission is guaranteed for any applicant who meets these requirements. 

SCNM accepts either the SCNM Admissions Portal application --or-- the NDCAS application. Please select and submit only one application and submit required application documents as directed through that application service.

  1. Applicants for SCNM's ND program need to submit application through either SCNM's direct portal or through NDCAS.
  2. Three letters of recommendation mailed directly to either NDCAS or SCNM: One academic reference, one reference from a regulated health care professional, one additional reference from either of the above categories or a past employer/volunteer supervisor.
  3. Personal essay
  4. Curriculum vitae (CV) or professional resume
  5. Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended, including military training transcripts for veterans, traditional college coursework, and vocational training, showing completion of academic requirements.
  6. In person interview (qualified applicants selected for interview will be contacted by the Admissions Office)
  7. If accepted into the ND program, you will be required to undergo a criminal background check (CBC) and give permission for the results to be provided to SCNM. All expenses associated with the CBC are the responsibility of the applicant. The offer of admission will not be considered final until completion of the background check, with results deemed acceptable by SCNM.

Accepting applications now for fall 2020 and spring 2021.

Call us at 480-222-1136 or email us at admissions@scnm.edu for more information.

The Admissions Committee makes the final decision regarding an applicant’s admission. The decision may be one of the following:

  • Accepted with provisions – must meet admission requirements prior to matriculation
  • Application pooled – admission decision pending review of additional information
  • Admission denied - applicants who are denied may reapply after one (1) year

Applicants who have been offered either full or provisional admission may, in extreme circumstances, apply for a deferral of their entrance, not to exceed two quarters. Applications for deferrals are accepted on a space-available basis.

An application for deferral will not be processed until the admission deposit is received. Students deferring admission must do so by the end of the first week of class in the quarter for which they were accepted. Students applying for a deferral of admission must meet any and all new admission requirements for that entrance year. A student who desires a deferral must make a request in writing to the Admissions Office. A nonrefundable deferral application fee is required to transfer a deposit to a new entering class.

Applicants who have submitted an application for admission to SCNM and do not complete the process may reactivate their application for up to one year after the initial application. The applicant must submit the requirements outlined below directly to SCNM. Applicants who were denied admission to SCNM may reapply after one (1) year and must submit a new application (see Admission Requirements for prescribed program of study).

Below are the requirements for the reapplication process: 

  1. Application through SCNM Website (www.scnm.edu) our application portal or through NDCAS (https://portal.ndcas.org),  
  2. Non-refundable application fee. 
  3. Updated curriculum vitae/resume.
  4. Official transcripts for any post-secondary coursework completed since original application. 
  5. In-person interview required for ND candidates (qualified applicants selected for interview will be contacted by the Admissions Office).  An interview may be required for MS candidates at the discretion of the Admissions Committee. 
  6. Any additional admission requirements for prescribed program of study.

To apply to SCNM, please complete all the standard admission requirements, along with the following requirements:

International transcript evaluation/translation by professional international transcript service (for all foreign course work)

Your foreign transcripts must be evaluated by a member organization of either the National Council on the Evaluation of Foreign Education Credentials (NACES) or the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE). Fees for this service are the responsibility of the applicant.

Language requirements for international applicants

SCNM’s Admissions Office reserves the right to require International applicants whose first language is not English to provide an English Language Test report (IELTS or TOEFL preferred) from an approved testing site. SCNM requires a minimum score of 80 on the Internet-based test or IELTS Band 6.5.

Financial Aid for International students 

International students do not qualify for U.S. federal financial aid. However, there are other options to help fund your SCNM education including alternative or private loans. Please be aware that these options require a United States citizen or permanent resident as a co-signer. 

Canadian students

Canadian students may be eligible to apply for Canadian student loans through their respective provincial governments. You are responsible for initiating the process of financial assistance from your province. Documentation must be sent to the SCNM Financial Aid Office for completion of the required information and returned to the appropriate provincial government.

If you receive financial aid from your provincial government, you will be held to the same payment deadlines for tuition as all other students. Tuition must be paid in full by the first day of a term. If provincial financial aid is received by SCNM after you have paid, a refund of excess tuition will be issued to you within ten business days. 

Student Visa

If you are a non-immigrant student, your spouse and children may be admitted into the United States in the F-1 classification during your course of full-time study. This does not apply if you hold dual citizenship, are lawful permanent residents, or have a valid business visa.

If you are applying for an F-1 Student Visa, you must satisfy/submit the following SEVIS requirements:

1. Complete all outstanding admission requirements

2. Submit an admission deposit

3. Submit a completed SCNM Financial Guarantee Form

4. Supply documentation of sufficient funds. Sufficient funds must cover the cost of the first year of school, books, student fees, and all living expenses. All payments to the College must be made in US funds. Official bank statements, a signed letter of support or an affidavit of support (available from the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services), sponsor income verification, or other proof of liquid assets is required to document sufficient funds. The amount required to cover expenses for the first year is listed on the SCNM Financial Guarantee form. 

Documentation of sufficient funds is required because the U.S. federal government prohibits off-campus employment during the first year of international study. International students are limited to no more than 20 hours a week of on-campus employment while school is in session and may work full-time during vacation periods, as long as they have maintained status and intend to register for the following quarter. International students are not eligible for federal or state funded student aid programs but may obtain private loans with a U.S. citizen or resident co-borrower. Canadian students also have access to the Canadian federal student loan program.

I-20 application form

Upon acceptance to SCNM, you can begin working with the admissions office to initiate the I-20 application immediately. The director of admissions processes and issues the I-20 forms for students with full admission after receipt of admission deposit.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our admissions team.

SCNM Designated Student Officials (DSO)

Your designated school officials (DSOs) are people dedicated to help you, as an F or M student, to maintain your non-immigrant status while you attend a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified school. 

Dean Ken Donnelly
Dean of Students

Melissa Winquist
Vice President of Student Affairs

Overview of F-1 Optional Practical Training

Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is available for F-1 students who are about to graduate/graduated and have secured or are in the process of securing a full-time work opportunity and wish to remain in the U.S. In order to secure optional practical training (OPT) a student must find and secure an employment opportunity, complete a required form and follow an application process. An initial period of 12 months may be awarded by Immigration (USCIS) per degree level. OPT requires that you pursue employment in your area of study, but does not require a specific employer at the time of filing.

What is Optional Practical Training (OPT) and what do you need to know?

  • Optional practical training is one type of work permission available for eligible F-1 students. It allows graduates to get real-world work experience related to their field of study.
  • While a Designated School Official (DSO) recommends OPT in SEVIS, it is the student who must apply for the work permit with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). If the OPT is approved, USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The student must not begin working before the start date on the EAD.
  • No more than 90 days of unemployment is permitted during the initial 12 months of post-completion OPT. Exceeding the limit of unemployment constitutes a loss of your legal status. Be sure to report your changes in employment and address to your Designated Student Officer (DSO) promptly.

OPT eligibility

To apply for OPT you must first obtain a new I-20 from an SCNM DSO documenting your eligibility for OPT. You will subsequently submit a paper-based application for employment authorization to the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS). You must be in lawful F-1 status at the time of filing, and your period of OPT may commence only immediately following at least two full and continuous quarters of enrollment.

Application essentials

Applications for post-completion OPT must be filed and reach USCIS:

  • No earlier than 90 days prior to the completion of study which corresponds to the end date of your I-20.
  • No later than during the grace period, presuming you have not departed the U.S. once studies are completed.
  • Within 30 days of the issuance, date on the original OPT-endorsed Form I-20 given to you by the SCNM DSO.

NOTE: If you have not completed all coursework for your degree and are unsure that you will complete your degree on time, you should consult your SCNM DSO before submitting the application for OPT.

Requesting Start & End Dates of Employment

Students may request OPT to begin on any date from the day after the date of completion of studies up to 60 days after the date of completion of study. Applications for OPT can take three months or more for the USCIS to adjudicate so it is very important to plan accordingly.

Authorized period of employment

Students may not begin working until they have received a valid OPT employment authorization card (EAD) issued by the USCIS and the start date has been reached.

How to apply for F-1 OPT

Step One: Complete the SCNM Online I-20 Request for OPT and Form I-765. Visit the USCIS website for more information. Please complete Form I-765 electronically, save it and print it.

Step Two: Bring printed Form 1-765 along with supporting materials (if available) to an SCNM DSO. Do not submit to our office earlier than the 90 days prior to the end of your I-20.

Step Three: : DSO will review all materials and endorse. Pick up the endorsed Forms I-20 and Form I-765 from the SCNM DSO, and follow the OPT USCIS Filing Instructions. The OPT I-20 and full application must be in the hands of Immigration no later than 30 days after the OPT I-20's issue date. Do not E-File your application.

Step Four (optional): Complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, if you wish to receive email and/or text messages when your application has been received. NOTE: USCIS will continue to mail the receipt notices to you. Completion and submission of this form for email and/or text message notification is an option for you and not a required form.

Reporting requirements while on OPT

While on OPT, students will must report address, phone number and employment information to their DSO. Coming soon: Students will be able to report address, phone number and employment information themselves directly through the SEVP Portal.


  • Residential Address
  • Phone & Email Address
  • Employer Information including full address
  • Start Date of Employment and End Date (if known)
  • Job Title
  • Supervisor's Name, Email Address and Phone Number
  • Any period of unemployment. You must inform your employer that they are also required to inform the SCNM DSO of a loss of employment.
  • Date of departure from the U.S.

If you wish to transfer from another accredited (or candidate) professional-level medical degree program, you must meet all admission and application requirements, including fees. 

In addition to the standard admission requirements, transfer applicants must also submit the following materials. These letters must be mailed directly from the references to the admissions office.

  1. Letter of recommendation from the dean of the school or program from which the applicant is transferring, indicating the student is leaving in good academic standing.
  2. Letter of recommendation from a biomedical science faculty member of the college from which the applicant is transferring, indicating the student is leaving in good academic standing.
  3. SCNM Verification of Student Conduct form signed by the dean of students or registrar of the previously attended institution, verifying that the student was not subject to any disciplinary actions.

Enrollment Dates/Entry Dates for Transfer Students: Transfer students may matriculate at the beginning of the Fall or Spring quarters.

Transfer applicants studying in the U.S. on a visa must work with the institution they are transferring from to transfer their student visa to SCNM.

Transfer Credits

The registrar’s office makes determinations of acceptable transfer credits. Transfer students must submit a request for an Advanced Standing Evaluation at least one quarter prior to the date of planned matriculation. Students must request and submit transcripts from all prior institutions, including military training transcripts for veterans, traditional college coursework, and vocational training. The possibility of transfer credit can be determined only during the admission process.

All graduate level courses from U.S. institutions must have been taken at an accredited or candidate institution. Foreign courses will be examined by the academic department. Only those courses in which a "C" or higher is earned will be considered for evaluation. All foreign course work must meet standards approved by the National Council on the Evaluation of Foreign Education Credentials. Applicants must request a subject analysis transcript evaluation by an International Transcript Evaluation Service that holds membership in the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

The transfer credit evaluation must include grades, hours, and equivalencies. A course description and/or syllabus must be submitted for each course being evaluated. Course work must have been taken within seven (7) years prior to application. Courses older than ten (10) years may be required to take a challenge examination with the appropriate fees. We reserve the right in all cases to require a competency and/or evaluation or challenge examination, which may result in an additional fee.

Students with graduate course-work in psychology, research, biology, chemistry, pharmaceuticals, physiotherapy or any of the natural medicine modalities (transfer students) typically apply.

There is a $75 per course fee (not to exceed $300) for a transfer credit evaluation if completed prior to matriculation into the program. If a student decides to apply for advanced standing status after matriculation he/she must do so within the first week of the course in question. This fee includes a thorough transcript evaluation. The student must submit a college catalog from all schools attended. SCNM may also require the student to submit course syllabi and/or course examinations.

Students entering the ND program who have graduated from an accredited professional school or program (i.e. MD, DO, DC, DDS, L.Ac, etc.) and who are legally qualified to practice that discipline, may apply for advanced standing status.

There is a $300 fee for the advanced standing petition which must be completed prior to matriculation. This fee includes a thorough transcript evaluation and customized student schedule. The student must submit a college catalog from all schools attended. SCNM may also require the student to submit course syllabi and/or course examinations. If an applicant or student is interested in applying for advanced standing, he/she must complete and submit their advanced standing petition with a non-refundable payment to the registrar's office.

Advanced standing status does not guarantee that a student will graduate in less than the normal four (4) years it takes other students to complete the program. Advanced standing prior to acceptance does not guarantee admission.

SCNM thanks you for your service! To apply to SCNM, please complete all the standard admission requirements.

SCNM's ND program is an approved program of study by the Veterans Administration (VA). Eligibility for VA benefits is determined by the appropriate VA benefits office. Students must contact the VA office and complete required approval forms to determine eligibility.

After the student has completed the process, SCNM is notified by the VA office of the student’s eligibility and status of benefits. VA benefits are not considered Estimated Financial Assistance when determining eligibility for Federal Direct Loans. Veterans must continue to achieve Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) towards their educational program(s) each quarter in order to remain eligible for benefits. SCNM must report to the VA office if a student is not meeting SAP or if there is a change in enrollment status.

If you served on active duty, you might be eligible for education benefits offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. For example, the Post 9/11 GI Bill®  provides financial support for educational and housing expenses to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service after September 10, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service connected disability after 30 days. You must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill® .

If you are currently serving in the military, you may be eligible for funding offered through the Department of Defense Tuition Assistance program. Check your eligibility status and the amount for which you qualify with your service prior to enrolling.

If you are the spouse or child of a service member, you may be eligible for transfer of the service member’s Post 9/11 GI Bill® benefits to you.

SCNM is an approved participant in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Yellow Ribbon program, individuals who qualify for the post-9/11 GI Bill may be eligible for additional funding to help them achieve their educational goal. 

The Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program (Yellow Ribbon Program) is a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill that allows veterans to attend private schools and graduate programs costing more than the state tuition cap. Under the program, SCNM offers a veterans-only scholarship which the VA will then match. This benefit is offered to a limited number of students on a first come, first-served basis. Veterans should contact the Registrar’s Office for further inquiry of benefits and submission of the Yellow Ribbon Program Application.

SCNM has agreed to comply with the Principles of Excellence as issued in Executive Order 13607 and signed on 4/27/2012.

VA Office Contact Information

Out-of-state students, please contact your VA regional office in your area. In-state students, please contact the Muskogee office at 1.888.442.4551 or via email at musropco@vba.va.gov.

For GI Bill® benefits, please log onto www.gibill.va.gov; all other inquiries log onto www.va.gov

SCNM does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, social-economic background, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, age, disability, veteran status, nationality, thinking styles, or life experiences in the administration of educational policies, admission policies, financial aid, employment, or any other program or activity.