Department of Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine


East Asian medicine has ancient roots that are deeply tied to Chinese philosophy and culture and which are an essential part of the present study of acupuncture. Chinese medicine is a coherent and independent system of thought and practice that has been developed over two thousand years. Grounded in ancient texts, traditional Chinese medicine has experienced a continuous process of critical thinking and development due to extensive refinement through clinical observation. The resultant perception of health and illness, methods of diagnosis, therapeutics and techniques differ greatly from those of biomedicine. However, patient outcomes are often nothing less than remarkable.

Fortified with rigorous didactic and clinical training, Bastyr's students graduate as highly qualified practitioners. They are trained in safe and effective care of patients and skilled in both traditional Chinese medicine modalities and Western health care disciplines. Bastyr’s community of students, faculty and staff nurture students' passion for East Asian medicine and challenge them to think beyond the borders of their own discipline.   


The mission of the acupuncture and East Asian medicine programs at Bastyr University is to prepare highly competent health care professionals. This is accomplished through rigorous training in traditional Chinese medicine with a foundation in biomedical sciences and collaboration with other health care providers. The program is committed to producing graduates who are respected among their peers, who provide effective patient care, and who are dedicated to service in their community and engaged in lifelong learning in their field.

Required Abilities/Skills for Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine Program Students

A candidate for the acupuncture and East Asian medicine degree must be able to demonstrate appropriate observational and communication skills, motor function, intellectual-conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities, and behavioral and social maturity. A candidate should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner.

Observation: A candidate must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and somatic sensation. These are enhanced by the functional use of the sense of smell.

Motor: Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate should be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients, such as CPR, application of pressure to stop bleeding and opening obstructed airways. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional use of the sense of touch and vision.

Observation and motor skills must be in coordination with each other in order to safely practice many of the diagnostic and clinical techniques specific to East Asian medicine. A combination of observation and motor skills is required for acquiring diagnostic information from patients, as well as for the clinical portion of the training, which includes the safe insertion and manipulation of acupuncture needles, cupping, moxibustion, etc.

Communication: A candidate should be able to speak, to hear and to observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. Communication includes not only speech, but also reading and writing. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the health care team. Students whose first language is not English must satisfy the Department of Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine’s English language competency requirement as described in that General Admissions section.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem solving, which is a critical skill for health care practitioners, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, the candidate should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.

Behavioral and Social Attributes: A candidate must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that are assessed during the admissions and education processes.

Recognition and Licensure of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Bastyr University’s master’s-level program in acupuncture (MSA), master’s-level program in Oriental medicine (MSAOM), and advanced practice doctoral (DAOM) program are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). Institution/program accreditation history, notes, and dates of review may be viewed at  ACAOM Directory of Accredited/Pre-accredited Programs and Institutions.

The Bastyr University professional doctoral (DAc) program, approved to begin enrolling students, is not yet accredited or pre-accredited by ACAOM. Graduates of this program are not considered to have graduated from an ACAOM-accredited or pre-accredited program and may not rely on ACAOM accreditation or pre-accreditation for professional licensure or other purposes. This program is eligible for ACAOM accreditation, and Bastyr is currently in the process of seeking ACAOM pre-accreditation/accreditation for the program. However, the University can provide no assurance that pre-accreditation or accreditation will be granted by ACAOM.

ACAOM is recognized by the United States Department of Education as the specialized accreditation agency for institutions/programs preparing acupuncture and Oriental medicine practitioners. ACAOM is located at 8941 Aztec Drive, Eden Prairie, Minnesota 55347; phone (952) 212-2434; fax (952) 657-7068;

The MSA, MSAOM, DAc and DAOM degrees are approved by the Washington State Department of Health. Graduates of Bastyr University’s MSA/MSAOM program are eligible to apply for licensure in acupuncture in Washington state, as well as in most other states offering similar licensure. Applications for licensing in Washington can be obtained by contacting the Washington State Department of Health, Professional Licensing - East Asian Medicine Practitioner, P.O. Box 1099, Olympia, WA 98507-1099, (360) 236-4700. Applications for licensing in California can be obtained by contacting the Department of Consumer Affairs, Acupuncture Board, 1747 N. Market Blvd, Suite 180, Sacramento, CA 95834, (916) 515-5200.

Acupuncture is currently recognized in 47 states and the District of Columbia. The actual requirements for licensure can vary from state to state, with the majority of states requiring the successful completion of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) exam. If a student is interested in licensure in a state other than Washington or California, it is imperative for the student to know the licensing requirements of that particular state in order to ensure that there are no outstanding academic requirements at the time of graduation.

Applicants must also satisfy all licensing requirements for the state or province in which they wish to practice. Students are responsible for contacting the department of health or other governing state agency for information regarding requirements for the state in which they are seeking licensure.