The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) is a private, not-for-profit organization founded in 1982 by the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and the American Association of Oriental Medicine. Recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a "specialized and professional" accrediting agency, ACAOM's primary purposes are to establish comprehensive educational and institutional requirements for acupuncture and Oriental medicine programs, and to accredit programs and institutions that meet these requirements. As an independent agency, the Commission's decisions are not subject to review or change by any outside organization or regulatory body.
ACAOM was first recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) in 1988 for the accreditation of Master’s degree and Master’s level acupuncture-only programs. In 1992, ACAOM was granted an expansion of scope by the USDE to include the accreditation of programs in Oriental medicine. In 2006, the USDE renewed ACAOM’s recognition for the USDE’s maximum five-year period and granted the Commission’s request for an expansion of its scope of its USDE recognition to include its pre-accreditation (Candidacy) reviews. In July 2011, USDE continued ACAOM's recognition for 12 months and granted the Commission's request for an expansion of scope to include post-graduate doctoral programs in acupuncture and in Oriental medicine (DAOM).
The Accreditation Commission is composed of eleven commissioners who approve ACAOM's accreditation standards, policies and procedures, and oversee the accreditation process. Two Commissioners are administrator members, two are academic members, two are educator members, two are practitioner members, two are public members, and one member is at-large. Commissioners are elected by the Commission and not by any outside organizations. All Commissioners serve as volunteers. Regular meetings of the Commission are held twice a year-in the Spring and Fall. The work of the Commission is facilitated by an administrative staff that includes an Executive Director, a Director of Accreditation Services, and a Coordinator.
The mission of ACAOM is to foster excellence in acupuncture and Oriental medicine through the implementation of accreditation standards for educational institutions of acupuncture and Oriental medicine.
ACAOM is committed to enhancing the quality of education offered by acupuncture and Oriental medicine programs. In particular, ACAOM strives to:
- Encourage institutional and programmatic self-improvement through continuous self-study and assessment;
- Assure the higher education community, the general public, and other agencies or organizations that an institution or program has clearly defined and appropriate objectives, has the resources for reasonable attainment of the stated objectives, and is making continuous efforts to produce evidence of the attainment of its objectives;
- Encourage diversity and innovation within the boundaries of generally accepted standards and guidelines of academic quality
The following statement is reproduced from relevant sections of ACAOM's Articles of Incorporation: The specific purposes for which the corporation is organized include, but are not limited to: the advancement of the cause of education in acupuncture and Oriental medicine schools and colleges throughout the country as follows:
- To operate as a national accrediting commission for established acupuncture and Oriental medicine schools and colleges providing a program of instruction for the training of entry level practitioners, as well as degree-granting programs.
- To develop, encourage, maintain, and improve sound educational standards and to promote the interest common to both colleges and schools, including to encourage research and teaching in the science, art, use and application of traditional oriental medicine as these activities enhance the purposes stated herein.
- To encourage the improvement of the conditions of education and practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine within the United States.