Master of Science in Acupuncture/Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Acupuncture M.S.

The MSA provides the didactic and clinical training necessary for eligibility for the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) exam, which is the basis for licensing in most states. The MSA program is a three-calendar-year course of study

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine M.S.

The MSAOM is the model comprehensive degree program. It includes all the didactic and clinical training of the MSA and also includes training in Chinese herbal medicine and an introduction to Chinese medical language. The MSAOM program is a three-and-a-half-calendar-year course of study.

Prerequisites for MSA/MSAOM

Entering students must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college/university and must have completed the following courses or their equivalent:

Intermediate Algebra 1 course
General Chemistry (allied-health level with lab)1,2 1 course
General Biology (allied-health level with lab)2 1 course
General Psychology 1 course
General Physics 1 course
Note: All students must complete a CPR-C level course or equivalent prior to entering clinic.
1Survey-level class that covers inorganic chemistry and includes a lab component. Intended for students in allied-health majors.
2Science classes must have been taken within seven years of entering the program. If not, additional coursework may be required after the admissions committee review.


The core of the program’s clinical training takes place at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the University’s teaching clinic. Bastyr Center is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary clinic providing quality training for students in all of the University’s programs. Within the Acupuncture and Oriental medicine clinic, students receive clinical training in acupuncture and Chinese herbs. In addition to training at the University clinic, students have the opportunity to train at several community medical sites that provide clinical experience in working with diverse populations.

The clinical training program begins in the first year and is comprised of three observation shifts, one preceptorship, and either 14 (MSA) or 16 (MSAOM) student clinician shifts. The three observation shifts can be completed in any of the five quarters preceding clinician status. All observation hours, shifts and interim observation hours must be completed prior to starting as a student clinician, in spring of the second year. The preceptorship shift may be performed in either the observation or clinician phase of training. A minimum of one observation shift must be completed in order to do a preceptorship. Eligibility requirements for student clinician status are as follows: successfully complete all curriculum requirements up through the end of the fifth quarter and be in good academic standing; take and pass the CCAOM Clean Needle Technique exam; have a current CPR card and current TB screening; and pass the comprehensive Clinic Entry exam in the quarter preceding starting as a student clinician, usually in the fifth quarter of the program. Students in the MSAOM program or the CCHM program also take eight Chinese herbal shifts and two Chinese herbal dispensary shifts in the latter portion of their program. On a space-available basis, students are welcome to take additional clinic shifts for elective credit. However, elective shifts cannot be used to make up missing hours in core shifts due to prior or future absences.

For admission to clinical training at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, a student must complete and achieve competency in all required classes prior to entering clinical training. Questions about didactic prerequisites for clinical training should be addressed to the registrar’s office on campus. Students must also:

  • Complete a TB screening
  • Have received a hepatitis B vaccination or signed a waiver
  • Complete current CPR for health care provider certification
  • Complete successful passage of the clinic entry written and practical exam
  • Have certification in Clean Needle Technique
  • Submit to a national criminal background check

The criminal background check will be conducted prior to enrolling in clinical shifts. For more information, see the "Felony Conviction Disclosure and Background Checks" in the Academic Policy and Procedure Manual, in the Student Policies and Procedures section of MyBU.

External Clinic Shift

The opportunity to be placed at one of the external clinics offered through Bastyr University is contingent on the student’s ability to provide documentation of a vaccination history. If this documentation is unavailable or out of date, students will need to update their vaccinations at either local health centers or through their personal physicians. The community clinic rotations are outstanding clinical experiences in working with underserved and special patient populations, including developing skills working with medical translators. Students who are unable to provide vaccine documentation will NOT be eligible for this rotation, and clinical training may be restricted to the Bastyr student clinic. Students are also required to submit to a national criminal background check. For more information, see Felony Conviction Disclosure and Background Checks in the Academic Policy and Procedure Manual for more information.

AEAM External Clinical Training Sites:

  • Chronic Fatigue Clinic at Harborview Medical Center – chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia
  • Madison Clinic at Harborview Medical Center – HIV/AIDS
  • Providence Regional Medical Center Everett – cancer treatment and pain management
  • Providence Mt. St. Vincent – geriatric and general community patients
  • Rainier Park Medical Clinic – multi-ethnic/low income patients
  • Highpoint Neighborcare Health – family health and general community patients

China Studies

Students in good academic standing are encouraged to apply for advanced studies in China and may earn 8 clinical credits. Students are placed at Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine or Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Permission to attend is at the discretion of the department of AEAM and depends on a number of additional factors, such as interpersonal skills, maturity and depth of clinical skills. For an application, see the AEAM clinic sectionStudents who plan to study in China are required to take the 1-credit elective OM6820 Clinic Entry for China in summer quarter of their third year, immediately preceding their China trip.

Basic Sciences Curriculum within Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Basic science courses within acupuncture and Oriental medicine include Anatomy and Physiology, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Pathology, and Pharmacology. These courses serve as a foundation for an understanding of the human body and provide students with the necessary skills and competency to pursue coursework in the AOM degree program. In addition, a portion of the Anatomy and Physiology course is taught in Bastyr’s cadaver anatomy lab, thus giving students the unique opportunity to study anatomy in greater depth.

The basic sciences faculty encourages and expects students to advance beyond the simple learning of scientific facts and to integrate systematically the information from basic science disciplines into a unified model of human organization and function. This educational scheme requires students to assume an active role in the learning process and encourages them to adopt this inquisitive behavior for a lifetime. Problem solving, clinical cases and examples are an integral part of the basic science curriculum. This educational process is an expression of Bastyr University’s basic philosophy of a holistic approach to human behavior, health and therapeutics. The basic sciences faculty encourages students to pursue an integrated approach to learning and understanding. Instructors are readily available to facilitate this process on an individual basis.

The department also offers General Chemistry in a summer intensive format, which is a prerequisite requirement for the AOM degree program.

Counseling and Health Psychology Curriculum within Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

The counseling and health psychology curriculum trains students in understanding and effecting change in the emotional, mental and spiritual dimensions of human functioning.

Students in acupuncture and Oriental medicine MS programs are required to take the following:

  • PS5205 Patient Communications - 3 credits
  • PS6100 Motivational Interviewing - 2 credits

For additional counseling and health psychology courses available as electives to matriculated students, please see the Counseling and Health Psychology course listings in this catalog or the current quarterly schedule of classes.

Academic Status and Graduation Requirements

A grade of C or higher is required to pass all MSA/OM and CCHM courses. Students entering the BS/MS program as undergraduates are required to maintain a minimum GPA of 2.75 for the first year of their studies, regardless of credits. Starting with the second academic year, undergraduate students are required to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students entering the master’s program as graduate students or entering the Certificate in Chinese Herbal Medicine (CCHM) must maintain a minimum of a 3.0 GPA to be in good academic standing. A grade of D+, D, D- or F indicates failure to meet the minimum level of competency for learning objectives or core competencies. A student who receives a failure in a required course, lab, clinic shift or internship must repeat that course, lab, clinic or internship. Academic sanctions occur when the quarterly or cumulative GPA drops below the minimum level or when a student receives PC, D or F grades. Students with a quarterly GPA below the minimum will be placed on academic warning status. Students who receive a PC, D or F in any one quarter, regardless of GPA, may be placed on probation status. Academic tutoring and support are available to assist students to return to good academic standing.

Students accepted into the Master of Science in Acupuncture (MSA) program must complete a total of 1401 quarter credits with a minimum of 93 quarter credits in residence at Bastyr University. Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Students accepted into the Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MSAOM) program must complete a total of 2021 quarter credits with a minimum of 134.5 quarter credits in residence at Bastyr University. Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Students earning the MSA must complete their degree requirements within four years and MSAOM, within six years, including any credits completed as a bachelor’s student and applied toward the master’s degree. Students must complete at least two-thirds of their credits in residence at Bastyr University.

The Certificate in Chinese Herbal Medicine (CCHM) program has a total of 59 required credits of coursework and clinical training. To earn the certificate, at least 39 credits must be completed in residence. To maintain good academic standing, students in the CCHM program must maintain a term and/or cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. The CCHM is a graduate course of study and, as such, follows the grading policies of the department of AEAM degree programs.

Students accepted into the combined Bachelor/Master of Science degree program receive their bachelor’s degree upon graduation from the master’s program. If a student voluntarily or involuntarily leaves the program prior to completion of the master’s, she/he may be eligible for a bachelor’s degree if the student has a combined upper and lower division quarter credit total of 180 credits. (Specific course requirements also apply. See the dean for further information.) Furthermore, a student must have a minimum of 45 quarter credits in residence at Bastyr University.

In order to receive a license to practice acupuncture in the majority of states, a student must earn either an MSA or MSAOM degree, pass the NCCAOM licensing exam and meet any additional state requirements. Several states require Chinese herbal medicine training for licensure (e.g., California, Florida, New Mexico and Texas). Students graduating with an MSA degree may need to consider taking the CCHM program as a postgraduate option to meet this requirement.

1Credits do not include prerequisites/corequisites. Students may enter their course of study either into the combined BS/MS programs or directly into the MS programs.


The Department of Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine continually develops and adds to its special topics and elective course curriculum. These courses are included in the course description section of the catalog.

The MSA requires completion of 8 elective credits. The MSAOM requires completion of 5 elective credits. For dual-degree (ND/AOM) students, please see the dual-degree program requirements described in the School of Naturopathic Medicine section.