Many acupuncture programs in the United States offer students a trip to China. Bastyr University offers students something more: a monthlong for-credit externship that uniquely prepares practitioners to work in integrative settings, with high patient volumes, and with people who have serious and unusual illnesses.
About the Externship
Students in Bastyr's graduate acupuncture programs can spend a month or more in the fall studying abroad and learning traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) at two of China's most prestigious schools, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine or the Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The trip maximizes students' hands-on clinical training by putting them in both outpatient and inpatient settings in teaching hospitals. In a typical day, students shadow Chinese teaching physicians as they make rounds, check tongues and pulses, perform tests, make herb/medication changes, and sometimes recommend or administer acupuncture treatments.
Value for Students
The common cold, a sore back, a stroke, cancer — in China every medical condition falls under the TCM practitioner's purview. This cultural difference means TCM physicians in China see triple the daily patient load typical for practitioners in America. For students on the externship, it means exposure to conditions and situations they probably won't encounter during clinical training in the United States.
Clinical training on the China externship brings theory to life and helps students understand how to apply principles to effectively treat disease and alleviate suffering.
Integration Benefits U.S. Patients
Clinical training in China offers another advantage: The teaching physicians are trained in both Western and Eastern medicine. These doctors model an integrative approach to treatment, often prescribing X-rays and laboratory tests alongside TCM treatments, which acupuncturists in America cannot do.
Bastyr students spend years learning to be "gatekeepers" — identifying when treatment is appropriate, but also when Western interventions are needed. During the the externship, students witness an extremely integrative approach.
Nicolette Behne, a recent DAOM graduate, says the idea of integrating Eastern and Western medicine "really hit home during the externship." She came home with many ideas on how to integrate in her private practice.
"It's about combining TCM and Western medicine in the best way possible to help people live longer with an improved quality of life," Behne says, noting that in China oncology patients can receive "Western" or "herbal" chemotherapy one day and then, on a non-chemo day, take support herbs that help with the side effects. "This allows patients to continue their chemo regimen. TCM and Western medicine can work together the same way here in the U.S."
Future of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the U.S.
By learning a more integrative model of care in China, students gain a glimpse into how TCM could evolve as a health care service in the United States. As TCM becomes more familiar to the American public and as its benefits become more widely recognized, practitioners must learn how to operate in integrative settings and work within a greater scope of practice.
Bastyr students are educated in traditional Chinese medical theory and western science. These two complementary perspectives deepen students’ understanding of health and medicine beyond what can be understood from a single-model perspective.
Required Abilities & Skills for AOM Program Admission
Candidates for Bastyr University's acupuncture and Oriental medicine degree programs must be able to demonstrate appropriate observational and communication skills, motor function, intellectual-conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities, and behavioral and social maturity. Candidates 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 and application of pressure to stop bleeding and the opening of 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 Oriental medicine. A combination of observation and motor skills are 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 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.
- 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 her/his 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 work loads 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.
About Acupuncture Clinical Training
Becoming an effective practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) involves close mentoring and instruction by experienced faculty members in a variety of patient-care settings.
Consistency and Quality in Training
AOM clinical programs focus the majority of your clinic shifts in the University's Seattle teaching clinic, Bastyr Center for Natural Health. Bastyr's acupuncture and Oriental medicine program is science-based, led highly qualified and experienced faculty, many of whom have been in practice more than 20 years in the United States and China.
You will be prepared for licensure in the 44 states (and District of Columbia) that legally recognize acupuncture.
Diverse Patient Population
During your clinical training, you will have the opportunity to provide care to a wide range of patients with a variety of medical conditions. Within Bastyr Center, there are several different types of patient care shifts available to students:
- General acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine
- Immune wellness care for patients with HIV/AIDS
- Integrated acupuncture and naturopathic medicine (for students enrolled in both programs)
- Opportunities to rotate through off-site community care clinics that provide affordable health care to diverse populations, including seniors, low-income and immigrant communities.
For licensed acupuncturists who enroll in the Certificate in Chinese Herbal Medicine program, there are a number of herbal shifts available.
Patient Contacts/Training Hours
- You will obtain a minimum of 400 patient contacts with 100 different patients, a requirement that ensures your ability to be successful as a graduate.
- You will spend 44 preceptor hours shadowing and observing acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine professionals in their private practices.
- Clinic training hours vary by degree program, with 1,356 total clinical training hours for the Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and 828 hours for the Master of Science in Acupuncture.
- Master’s degree students have the unique opportunity to study acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal medicine at one of our sister schools in either Shanghai or Chengdu, China, under the leadership of Bastyr faculty. Learn more about the China externship.
Tuition for Master's & Doctoral Degrees
Average first-year costs for a typical credit load in the 2014-2015 academic year.The first year is considered fall, winter and spring quarters.
Average CreditsFirst year.
Tuition & FeesFees include a $25 quarterly student activity fee. See the University Catalog for a full schedule of fees.
Books & Supplies
TotalThe budget used to determine financial-aid eligibility allows for an additional $21,600 for a 9-month period of living expenses.
|Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine||78.5||$32,810||$6,425||$39,235|
|Master of Science in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine||68||
|Master of Science in Acupuncture||66||$28,014||$3,300||$31,860|
|Combined BS/MS in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine||68||$27,075||$3,000||$30,075|
|Master of Science in Ayurvedic Sciences||37||$19,897||$1,850||$20,987|
|Master of Science in Nutrition (all tracks)Average first-year credit loads for nutrition master programs vary: Didactic Program in Dietetics (40 credits), Research (44), Nutrition and Clinical Health Psychology (47).||44||
|Master of Science in Midwifery $3,000 in extra transportation costs are automatically added for out-of-state students. Midwifery students living in Washington will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for this addition.||42.5||$23,510||$2,125||$25,660|
|Master of Arts in Maternal-Child Health*||45||$29,275||$1,200||$30,475|
|Master of Public Health*||43.5||$27,638||$2,200||$29,838|
|Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology||36||$23,355||$1,800||$25,155|
See also Financial Aid at Bastyr
PLEASE NOTE: For financial aid purposes, cost of attendance includes costs above plus $21,600 per nine months to cover room & board, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses.
*Tuition rates for the Master of Science in Maternal-Child Health and Master of Public Health are estimates based on the current tuition costs.
Quick Facts - MSA
Master of Science in Acupuncture
Length of Program
3 years, full time
- Licensed acupuncturist (LAc) in private practice, with an integrative clinic
- Acupuncturist working in international health
Writer on traditional Chinese medicine topics
Sports medicine specialist
Where is Acupuncture Licensed?
Acupuncture is legally recognized in 44 states plus the District of Columbia.
MSA Program Summary
The Master of Science in Acupuncture (MSA) provides the classroom and clinical training necessary for eligibility for the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture an Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) board exam, which is the basis for licensing in most states. The MSA program is a three-year course of study.
Curriculum - MSA
Students earning the Master of Science in Acupuncture must complete their degree requirements within five years, including any credits completed as a bachelor's student and applied toward the master's degree.
To receive a license to practice acupuncture in most states, a student must earn either an MSA or MSAOM degree, pass the NCCAOM licensing exam and meet any additional state requirements.
Students may enter their course of study either into the combined BS/MS programs or directly into the MS programs. (The programs described below include required curriculum for the bachelor of science in natural health sciences.)
The curriculum tables below list the tentative schedule of courses each quarter. Next to each course are the number of credits per course (Crdt.), the lecture hours each week (Lec.), the lab/clinic hours each week (L/C) and the total contact hours for the course over the entire quarter (Tot).
Expected Learning Outcomes
The Department of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine has established the following expected learning outcomes for all Master of Science in Acupuncture/Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine programs. Graduates will be trained to be:
- Safe and effective in the care of patients by demonstrating in-depth ability in the following areas:
- Knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine diagnostic strategies and their application to individual cases
- Skill in the traditional methods of assessment of patients including interviewing, palpation and observation
- Competence in selecting the appropriate treatment modalities and plans for a patient utilizing acupuncture, tui na, Chinese herbs (relevant to the MSAOM) and lifestyle counseling
- Skill in the application of acupuncture techniques in an appropriate and safe fashion for each patient
- Able to integrate Eastern and Western paradigms of medicine for the purposes of informing the practice of traditional Chinese medicine, communicating with other health care professionals and patients, and making appropriate medical referrals when necessary
- Professional in their approach to setting up and maintaining a private practice, collaborating with other health care professionals, working in an integrated health care setting and providing leadership within the acupuncture and Oriental medicine ﬁeld
- Capable of accessing research information and critically assessing the value of published clinical research in the ﬁeld
- Able to provide health prevention measures based on traditional Chinese medicine theory (such as tai chi, qigong, and therapeutic nutrition) to support the well-being of their patients and themselves
- Qualiﬁed to pass national and state acupuncture and/or herbal exam
Curriculum and course changes in the 2014-2015 Bastyr University Catalog are applicable to students entering during the 2014-2015 academic year. Please refer to the appropriate catalog if interested in curriculum and courses required for any other entering year.Click here to download the PDF file.
Prerequisites for MSA & MSAOM
Entering students must have a bachelor's degree and must have completed the following courses:
|Intermediate algebra||1 course|
|Survey level chemistry with lab||1 course Survey-level class that covers inorganic chemistry, including a lab component. Intended for students in allied health majors.|
|General cell biology with lab||1 course|
|General physics||1 course|
|General psychology||1 course|
Required chemistry and biology courses not taken within seven years of matriculation into the program are subject to review by the admissions committee. Additional coursework may be required.
Note: All students must complete a CPR-C level course or equivalent prior to entering intern clinic.