Bastyr University

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Bastyr University
Students 0006.JPG
Former names
John Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine
Bastyr College
Motto Leading innovation in natural health education
Established 1978
President Charles "Mac" Powell[1]
Provost Timothy C. Callahan
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 1018
Address 14500 Juanita Dr. NE, Kenmore, WA 98028-4966, Kenmore, Washington,

47°43′49″N 122°15′10″W / 47.7304°N 122.2528°W / 47.7304; -122.2528
Campus 51 acres
Colours cranberry and ginger

Bastyr University is an alternative medicine university with campuses in Kenmore, Washington, and San Diego, California. Programs include naturopathy, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, nutrition, herbal medicine, ayurvedic medicine, psychology, and midwifery.

Bastyr's programs teach subjects that are considered pseudoscience and quackery by the scientific and medical communities.[2][3][4] Quackwatch includes Bastyr University in its list of "questionable organizations" as a school which is "accredited but not recommended".[5] Bastyr University and similar naturopathic programs are not accredited as medical schools.[6][7] Bastyr's naturopathic program has been accused by critics of misrepresenting its medical rigor, which makes it inadequate to train primary care clinicians.[8][2]


Bastyr University was established in 1978 as the John Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine in Seattle.[9] Three co-founders, Joseph Pizzorno, Les, Griffith, and Bill Mitchell, named the institution after John Bastyr, a teacher and advocate of naturopathy in the Seattle area.[10] Baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degree programs have been offered since 1989.[11] In 1984, the school was renamed Bastyr College; in 1994, it became Bastyr University.[citation needed]

In 1996, Bastyr relocated to its current location in the Saint Thomas Center, formerly St. Edward Seminary, a Catholic seminary building in Kenmore, Washington.[9] Pizzorno served as president until his retirement in June 2000.[12] During his tenure, Bastyr became the first accredited university of natural medicine and the first NIH-funded center for alternative medicine research.[9]

Its campus is surrounded by Saint Edward State Park's fir and hemlock forest. In November, 2005, the university purchased the property, which it had been leasing from the Archdiocese of Seattle.[13] In 2010, Bastyr merged with Seattle Midwifery School to offer a Master of Science degree to become a direct-entry midwife eligible for certification.[14]

Bastyr University Medicinal Herb Garden
Bastyr University courtyard - resident turtles
Medicinal herb garden

Academic programs[edit]

Bastyr offers bachelor's completion, master's, combined undergraduate/masters, doctoral, and certificate programs.[11] Average first-year cost (tuition, fees, and books) not including room and board for undergraduate programs is $26,523,[15] and for the doctorate in naturopathic medicine is $39,589.[16] Bastyr presents itself as the "Harvard of naturopathic medicine."[17] The Princeton Review reports that the naturopathic medicine program at Bastyr had an acceptance rate of 68%.[18]

Doctoral programs[edit]

  • Naturopathic Medicine

Master's programs[edit]

  • Acupuncture
  • Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
  • Ayurvedic Sciences (Program began in fall 2013.)
  • Counseling Psychology
  • Midwifery
  • Nutrition
  • Nutrition and Clinical Health Psychology
  • Public Health (Program began fall 2015)

Undergraduate programs[edit]

The Bachelor of Science degree completion programs require an average of two years' undergraduate coursework at another institution before transferring to Bastyr.

  • Exercise Science and Wellness
  • Health Psychology
  • Herbal Sciences
  • Integrated Human Biology
  • Nutrition
  • Nutrition and Culinary Arts
  • Nutrition and Exercise Science

Combined bachelor's/master's programs[edit]

  • Acupuncture or Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
  • Midwifery

Certificate programs[edit]

  • Chinese Herbal Medicine
  • Holistic Landscape Design

Continuing education[edit]

Bastyr also offers many non-degree continuing education courses. One course offered alleges to teach the adjustment of cranial bones to influence "craniosacral rhythms," despite this practice being implausible as such rhythms do not exist and the cranial bones in adults are fused together.[19] The Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations offers courses to birth doulas, postpartum doulas, and lactation and childbirth educators.[20]

Main campus[edit]

The building is the former St. Thomas Seminary

Bastyr's main campus sits on 51 acres of forests and athletic fields near Lake Washington.[9] The Saint Edward State Park forest surrounds it on three sides. Housing facilities include a student village of 11 cottage-style buildings designed to blend into the campus's natural setting and built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum specifications.[21]

The campus includes a renovated chapel,[22] originally built in the 1950s for the St. Edward Seminary, that is now rented for musical performances, weddings, and other events.[23] The chapel is known for its acoustical quality and architectural details, which include stained-glass windows, mosiacs, and a box-beam ceiling.[22] Scores for the films Brokeback Mountain, About Schmidt, Mr. Holland's Opus, Mirror Mirror, and other films, including video games, have been recorded in the chapel.[24] The musician Dave Matthews used the chapel to record the orchestral track for one of his albums;[24] his wife, Ashley Harper, is a naturopathic doctor[25] who received her degree from Bastyr.[26]

Seattle chef Jim Watkins became director of food services in 2011 and introduced meat dishes to the prior strictly vegetarian menu.[27][28]

Bastyr operates a naturopathic teaching clinic in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle.[29]

California campus[edit]

In September 2012, Bastyr University California opened in a two-story commercial building in San Diego with a small teaching clinic on the ground floor.[4] The program offers the doctor of naturopathic medicine program[4] and became accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education as of February 2012.[30] The first students were expected to graduate in spring 2016.[31]

Research programs[edit]

The Tierney Basic Sciences Research Laboratory was the first research laboratory at a natural health university when it opened in 2000.[13] The Bastyr Integrative Oncology Research Center (BIORC), located at the Clinical Research Center, conducts studies of integrative care for breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other cancers.[citation needed] One study, run jointly with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, was funded by a $3.1 million grant awarded in 2010 from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health.[32]


Bastyr University is not recognized as a medical school by any medical accrediting organization.[7] The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education classifies Bastyr as a "special focus institution," similar to acupuncture schools, midwifery programs, and the now defunct ITT Technical Institute.[7]

Bastyr's Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program is accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), which is a naturopathic organization affiliated with the naturopathic profession.[7] Bastyr University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), as an institution that can grant undergraduate degrees.

The Master of Science in Acupuncture (MSA), the Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MSAOM), and the Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM).[citation needed]

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, the accrediting agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, has accredited Bastyr's Bachelor of Science with a Major in Nutrition with Didactic Program in Dietetics, Master of Science in Nutrition with Didactic Program in Dietetics, and Dietetic Internship.[33]

Bastyr University has received approval from the state of Washington as a recognized midwifery training facility and provides education for midwifery students in the articulated Bachelor/Master of Science in Midwifery degree. Both programs are accredited through the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council.[34]

The university is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Medical Colleges and Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.[citation needed]


Homeopathy is a mainstay of naturopathic education even though it is a pseudoscience.
Further information: Homeopathy, Naturopathy, and Pseudoscience

The Bastyr curriculum has been criticized for teaching pseudoscience and quackery, as courses in homeopathy, herbalism, acupuncture, and ayurvedic methods lack a compelling evidence basis.[19][35] Clinical training in the naturopathic medicine program was revealed to be significantly fewer hours than what Bastyr claims to provide its students, focusing on dubious diagnostics to prescribe experimental and pseudoscientific treatments that do not adhere to medical standards of care.[36] Research conducted at Bastyr has been criticized as being a waste of taxpayer dollars by studying implausible treatments inconsistent with the best understandings of science and medicine.[37][38]

Naturopaths trained at Bastyr are required to study homeopathy.[39] David Gorski has been highly critical of this requirement; for him this makes the university fail the "litmus test" of whether it adheres to "science and reality".[40]

In 2007, Bastyr University was found by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to have violated the standards of academic freedom and shared governance for faculty members who were fired without cause of academic due process.[41] Bastyr has been placed on the AAUP censure list for violating generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure.[42][43]

Notable people[edit]

Britt Marie Hermes runs a blog, Naturopathic Diaries, that is critical of naturopathy and Bastyr; she won the 2016 Ockham Award for Best Blog, given by The Skeptic magazine.[8]
  • Britt Marie Hermes, a 2011 graduate of the doctorate of naturopathic medicine program, who went on to practice for three years in Washington and Arizona.[44] She then became an outspoken critic of naturopathic medicine and Bastyr University.[8][45]
  • Mavie Marcos, an American singer and songwriter, currently residing near San Francisco, California. She attended Bastyr University from 2001 to 2003.


  1. ^ Isaacs, Deanna (19 June 2015). "Bastyr University hires Charles Powell as new president". Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Atwood, Kimball C., IV (2003). "Naturopathy: A critical appraisal". Medscape General Medicine. 5 (4): 39. PMID 14745386. (registration required)
  3. ^ Barrett, Stephen (November 26, 2013). "A close look at naturopathy". QuackWatch. Retrieved 2015-09-25. 
  4. ^ a b c Sisson, Paul (8 December 2012). "Med school embraces natural remedies". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 28 June 2016. 
  5. ^ "Questionable Organizations: An Overview". Quackwatch. Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  6. ^ "MMS Testimony in Opposition to H. 1992 and S. 1205, An Act to Create a Board of Registration in Naturopathy". Massachusetts Medical Society. Massachusetts Medical Society. Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c d Hermes, Britt (29 August 2015). "ND Confession, Part II: The Accreditation of Naturopathic "Medical" Education". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 30 September 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c Thielking, Megan (20 October 2016). "'Essentially witchcraft:' A former naturopath takes on the field". STAT. Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c d Eng, James (31 March 1996). "Bastyr University Aims to Meld Traditional With 'Natural' Medicine". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  10. ^ Birkland, Dave (1 July 1995). "Dr. John Bastyr, 83, Renowned For Naturopathic Medical Skill". Seattle Times. Retrieved 28 June 2016. 
  11. ^ a b NWCCU Institutions A - D
  12. ^ Biography: Joseph E. Pizzorno Jr., ND
  13. ^ a b History & Heritage | Bastyr University
  14. ^ "Bastyr University merges with the Seattle Midwifery School". Bothell Reporter. 9 March 2010. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  15. ^ "Fund Your Undergraduate Degree". Bastyr University. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  16. ^ "Fund Your Graduate Degree: Graduate Tuition". Bastyr University. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  17. ^ "History & Heritage". Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  18. ^ "Bastyr University - School of Naturopathic Medicine". Princeton Review. 
  19. ^ a b Atwood IV, Kimball. C. (March 26, 2004). "Naturopathy, pseudoscience, and medicine: Myths and fallacies vs truth". Medscape General Medicine. 6 (1): 33. PMC 1140750Freely accessible. PMID 15208545. 
  20. ^ "Health, Science & Environment". The Washington Post. August 26, 2013. 
  21. ^ "The Dorm Gets a Holistic Upgrade". Sierra Magazine. September–October 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  22. ^ a b Long, Katherine (10 August 2009). "Bastyr Chapel architect sets record straight on acoustics". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  23. ^ "Rent the Bastyr Wedding Chapel". Bastyr University. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  24. ^ a b Long, Katherine (July 1, 2009). "Bastyr Chapel is feast for ears, eyes". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 2012-06-21. 
  25. ^ "Rocker Dave Matthews' Sustainable Winery is Truly the 'Best of What's Around'". The Culture-ist. 30 April 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  26. ^ Kroll, David. "Ontario naturopathic prescribing proposal is bad medicine". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  27. ^ Cicero, Providence (7 January 2012). "Mindful eating is Bastyr chef's mission". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  28. ^ Hopkins, Katy (7 June 2011). "Colleges That Offer Courses, Choices for Vegetarians". U.S. News and World Reports. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  29. ^ Stojnic, Niki (11 June 2014). "Mainstreaming Alternative Medicine". Seattle Magazine. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  30. ^ Bastyr's California Campus Receives Accreditation | Bastyr University
  31. ^ Kunkler, Aaron (25 November 2015). "Dr. Charles Powell sets agenda for Kenmore's Bastyr University following busy summer". Bothell Reporter. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  32. ^ "Bastyr/UW Oncomycology Translational Research Center". Grantome. Grantome. September 29, 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  33. ^ "Didactic Programs in Dietetics". Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  34. ^ Accreditation | Bastyr University
  35. ^ Palmer, Brian (3 June 2014). "Quacking All the Way to the Bank". Slate. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  36. ^ Hermes, Britt. "ND Confession, Part 1: Clinical training inside and out". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  37. ^ Mielczarek, Eugenie V.; Engler, Brian D. (2014). "Selling Pseudoscience: A Rent in the Fabric of American Medicine". Skeptical Inquirer. 38.3. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  38. ^ Atwood, Kimball C. (2003). "The Ongoing Problem with the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine". Skeptical Inquirer. 25.7. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  39. ^ "Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Program". Bastyr University. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  40. ^ Gorski D (21 February 2011). "Naturopathy and science". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  41. ^ American Association of University Professors (2007). Academic Freedom and Tenure: Bastyr University (PDF) (Report). American Association of University Professors. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  42. ^ "Censure List". American Association of University Professors. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  43. ^ Academic Freedom and Tenure: Bastyr University by AAUP
  44. ^ Belluz, Julia (2 September 2015). "Why one naturopath quit after watching her peers treat cancer patients". Vox. 
  45. ^ Senapathy, Kavin (31 May 2016). "Why is Big Naturopathy afraid of this lone whistleblower?". Forbes. Retrieved 31 May 2016. 

External links[edit]