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From Laurie McGrath, Director of Institutional Research and Compliance
Dear NCNM Community,

As many of you may be aware, NCNM’s past President, Dr. William Keppler, was on the Carnegie Commission Technical Review Panel that paved the way for the reclassification of the naturopathic medical degree to be aligned with that of other medical and professional degrees. The Carnegie Classifications are used with the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). IPEDS is the core postsecondary education data collection program for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. As a requirement for financial aid, NCNM must complete quarterly reports to IPEDS.

This change in reporting is significant because it includes our naturopathic doctorate with other federally recognized degrees that are classified under Doctor - Professional Practice. For reporting purposes, the changes are optional in 2008-09 and mandatory in 2009-10. NCNM has already begun submitting reports with this new classification.

Background

The previous (prior to 2008) First Professional Degree category of selected instructional programs was developed in the late 1950s. Although a few programs were added or deleted over the years, the list included the following programs: Law (L.L.B. or J.D.), Chiropractic (D.C. or D.C.M.), Dentistry (D.D.S. or D.M.D.), Medicine, General (M.D.), Optometry (O.D.), Osteopathic Medicine (D.O), Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), Podiatry (D.P.M., Pod.D., D.P.), Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.), Divinity/Ministry (B.D., M.Div., or Ordination), Rabbinical and Talmudic Studies (M.H.L./Rav), and Ordination-Other.

For the most part, these are post-baccalaureate programs that prepare students for licensure to practice. Over time considerable change has occurred in the length and degree level, as well as the educational pre-requisites of these and other professional programs. As a result, there was considerable need to reconsider the rationale for designation of this rather eclectic group of programs as “First Professional Degree”. Moreover, numerous additional programs could be considered for inclusion, since they are designed to prepare graduates for professional or clinical practice rather than traditional academic research careers.

The Technical Review Panel made the determination to report PhD Research Doctorates separately from all other Professional Practice Doctorates. This option would distinguish the traditional PhD, MA and MS graduate academic degrees from the numerous doctoral and master degree titles that have emerged in recent years as credentials for entry or advancement in professional practice careers.

Current Classifications

The new degree categories are defined as follows:

Doctor’s degree - research/scholarship - A Ph.D. or other doctor's degree that requires advanced work beyond the master’s level, including the preparation and defense of a dissertation based on original research, or the planning and execution of an original project demonstrating substantial artistic or scholarly achievement. Some examples of this type of degree may include Ed.D., D.M.A., D.B.A., D.Sc., D.A., or D.M, and others, as designated by the awarding institution.

Doctor’s degree - professional practice (This category now includes Naturopathic Medicine (N.D.).

A doctor’s degree that is conferred upon completion of a program providing the knowledge and skills for the recognition, credential, or license required for professional practice. The degree is awarded after a period of study such that the total time to the degree, including both pre-professional and professional preparation, equals at least six full-time equivalent academic years. Some of these degrees were formerly classified as “first-professional” and may include: Chiropractic (D.C. or D.C.M.); Dentistry (D.D.S. or D.M.D.); Law (L.L.B. or J.D.); Medicine (M.D.); Optometry (O.D.); Osteopathic Medicine (D.O); Pharmacy (Pharm.D.); Podiatry (D.P.M., Pod.D., D.P.); or, Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.), and others, as designated by the awarding institution.

Doctor’s degree - other - A doctor’s degree that does not meet the definition of a doctor’s degree - research/scholarship or a doctor’s degree - professional practice.

Transfer Credits

One point of clarification is that this classification change does not ensure that naturopathic graduates will be able to transfer to another medical college and have their credits transfer. Transfer of credit from NCNM to other institutions is at the discretion of the receiving institution. Credit generally depends on comparability of curricula and may depend on comparability of accreditation. Our institution is accredited by the Northwest Commission on College and Universities, one of six regional accrediting agencies. Being a member of this group allows for transfer of credits to any other regionally accredited institution. However, each institution is allowed to make its own individual decision governing transfer credit. Inquiries should be directed to the receiving institution to determine the transferability of credits from NCNM.

All of our degrees also have programmatic accreditation through either the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) or the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM).

The hope for the future is that NCNM and the other naturopathic colleges will establish relationships with various medical colleges that will lead to better understanding of the comparability of curricula. This would allow NCNM graduates to transfer with ease to earn a second doctorate degree, just as many medical professionals are allowed to transfer some of their credits to NCNM. This is work for the future, and we are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead, thanks to the hard work of Dr. Keppler.

Sincerely,
Laurie McGrath
Director of Institutional Research and Compliance

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