Medical Specialties Doctorate Degrees | PhD in Medical Specialties in West Virginia

West Virginia Medical Specialties doctorate degrees include both allopathic and alternative medicine programs. Whether you anticipate a potential career in mind-body medicine, osteopathy, or as a medical doctor, there are often state licensure and graduate education requirements.[i]

Medical Specialties PhD Programs in  West Virginia

Medical Specialties Doctorate Degrees: Basic Info

Medical Specialties Doctorate degrees may be offered as Doctorate in Acupuncture, Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.), Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) and Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) amongst other possibilities. Some programs accept students who have earned a Bachelors degree, while other doctoral degree programs may require students to have earned their Masters. The thing to be aware of is that program lengths, admission requirements and prerequisites vary between programs and medical schools. For instance, some medical schools offer combined undergraduate and medical school programs that last 6 or 7 years[ii]. To stay prepared, you might easily request information from prospective universities straight from this site.

Medical Specialties Doctorate Degrees: First Professional Doctorate Degrees

Some of the Medical Specialties Doctorate Degrees, such as the Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (DACM) or Doctor of Acupuncture (DAc) are considered ‘first professional doctorate degrees’ which may be accessible to entry-level students. The first professional degree requires students to have completed some undergraduate coursework and might prepare an individual to work in a specific occupation, meaning graduation may help them to meet the academic component for licensure or accreditation.[iii]

First-Professional Degree Requirements

The first professional degree requires students to have completed some undergraduate coursework. Unlike the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), a Doctor degree does not contain an independent research component or require a dissertation (thesis). Per the U.S. Department of Education, a first professional doctorate is an award that requires completion of a program that meets all the following criteria[iv]:

  • Completion of the academic requirement s to begin practice in the profession
  • At least 2 (prior) years of college work
  • Total of 6 academic years of college work to complete the degree program

Other Examples of First Professional Doctorate Degrees include:

  • Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C. or D.C.M.)
  • Doctor of Dental Science (D.D.S.) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.)
  • Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
  • Doctor of Optometry (O.D.)
  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine/Osteopathy (D.O.)

Types of Physicians: DO vs MD

There are two types of physicians and each has a corresponding medical doctorate degree: Medical Doctor (M.D.) and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)[v] While both use the same treatment methods (drugs, surgery), a D.O. emphasizes the body’s musculoskeletal system, preventive medicine and a holistic view of patient care. They are also most likely to be primary care physicians, although they are found in other specialties.[vi] Almost all physicians (and surgeons) complete at least 4 years of medical school, and from 3 to 7 years in internship and residency programs.[vii]

Licensing and Board Certification for M.D.s and D.O.s in West Virginia

To qualify for licensing, which is required by all states although the requirements vary, medical school graduates must pass a standardized national licensure exam. For M.D.s it is usually the Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). For D.O.s it is the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA). M.Ds and D.O.s seeking board certification in a medical specialty may spend up to 7 years in residency (varies), and pass a specialty certification exam from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) or the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS).[viii]

Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (N.D. or N.M.D.) near West Virginia

Alternative medicine doctorate degrees encompasses homeopathy, acupuncture, oriental medicine and holistic healing practices that are not usually part of the traditional Western medical healthcare establishment. Individuals in a doctoral program such as a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Program may also be required to fulfill residency requirements, take exams and meet state licensure requirements. The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) is accepted as the programmatic accrediting agency for naturopathic medical education by the 4-year naturopathic colleges and programs within the U.S. and Canada.[ix]

Fact: In 2014, 294 Professional Doctorate Degrees were awarded in Naturopathic Medicine.[x]

Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.)

Doctor of Chiropractic programs typically take 4-years and require at least 3 years or 90 semester hours of undergraduate college education for admission, though many students earn their bachelors degree before applying.[xi] Chiropractors must be licensed and have to pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam[xii].

West Virginia Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.D.M.)

Completion of a dental program, which requires a Bachelors degree for entry, might result in one of three degrees: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM), and Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD)[xiii].

Doctor of Optometry (O.D.)

Doctor of Optometry degree programs usually take 4 years to complete and most students have earned a bachelors degree prior to entry.[xiv] After finishing the requirements of the degree, some optometrists complete a 1-year residency to get advanced clinical training in a specialty such as low vision rehabilitation[xv]. Optometrists must be licensed.

Find Accredited Medical Specialties Doctorate Degree Programs

Medical Specialties Doctorate Degrees might be found on our site in the following categories:

  • Alternative medicine doctorate degrees
  • Chiropractic doctorate degrees
  • Dental medicine doctorate degrees
  • Medicine and premed doctorate degrees
  • Optometry doctorate degrees
  • Physician assistant doctorate degrees

Medical Doctorate Program Formats

Prospective doctoral students might be able to choose a program format. You might search by campus, online, or hybrid doctorate degree programs. Or, look for medical specialties graduate schools by location (city, state or country). Note – not every degree program may be available in each format.


The U.S. Department of Education has listings of accredited schools, accredited internships, residencies or programs as well as performance data by accreditors.[xvi] Why is accreditation important? Graduating from an accredited medical specialties doctorate program may be one of the requirements towards state licensure. Some of the different programmatic accreditors might include[xvii]:

  • Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine;
  • American Dental Association, Commission on Dental Accreditation;
  • American Optometric Association, Accreditation Council of Optometric Education;
  • American Osteopathic Association, Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation;
  • The Council on Chiropractic Education;
  • Council on Naturopathic Medical Education;
  • Liaison Committee on Medical Education;
  • American Board of Optometry.

Take the Next Step

Do you have compassion for others, a drive to diagnose and an attention to detail? Start reviewing sponsored listings for medical specialties doctorate degrees to find a school and a program that aligns with your interests whether in complementary or Western medicine. Contact prospective schools straight from the site to enquire about possible enrollment. The next step is yours to take.

sources:[i] |[ii] |[iii][iv][v] |[vi] |[vii] |[viii] |[ix] |[x] |[xi] |[xii] |[xiii] |[xiv] |[xv] |[xvi] |[xvii]

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  • West Virginia School Of Osteopathic Medicine