M.S.TCM Degree Program
3 year, 3,030 hour, 162 credit, Master of Science Degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine (M.S.TCM)
Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine (CSTCM) offers a graduate level educational program with a strong foundation in Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture and related modalities, tui na (physiotherapy/therapeutic massage), internal medicine (Chinese herbal medicine), Chinese nutrition, and energetic exercise/meditation) with a grounding in Western medicine, all as it is currently taught in mainland China.
CSTCM utilizes 15 week trimesters, 3 trimesters per year, 3,030 hour program, 162 credits (equivalent to over 4 academic years). Students have 7 weeks off per year. Our program can be designed for working adults to learn TCM in a supportive environment at their own pace. We are dedicated to students actually learning the medicine, not just graduating.
Students are able to transfer between the M.S.Ac. and M.S.TCM Programs at any time with appropriate prerequisites and a program transfer fee. Students completing the M.S.Ac. Program can return at any time and complete the Chinese herbal medicine coursework and clinics needed for the M.S.TCM degree. Both programs are available on a part-time basis in a supportive environment focusing on body, mind, and spirit. Students in both programs will be together in most bioscience, theory, and acupuncture courses.
The 3,030 hour, 3 year accelerated, M.S.TCM degree program is approved by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE). CSTCM is certified by the U.S. Department of Education to participate in the Title IV Student Aid Programs.
Curriculum development is an on-going process at CSTCM. We constantly search for better ways to present difficult material. The overall program is subject to minor changes from time to time.
Year 1 – Trimester 1, 2, 3
In the first year of the program, students are introduced to the basic fundamental theories and concepts of TCM. TCM concepts of energy, health, and the etiology of disease process are discussed in depth. In the four Acu Meridian & Point Theory and Practicum classes in the first year, students are introduced to different traditions of Oriental medicine, learn about the channels and collaterals, what each acupoint is used for, its classification, its Chinese name and translation, and how to locate the acupoint. In trimester 3, students begin attending a clinical diagnosis forum to see how everything they are learning is actually applied.
On the practical side in trimester 2-3, students begin learning and practicing essential clinical skills, tui na (TCM physiotherapy) develops palpation and manual treatment skills and this complements the training in acupuncture, moxibustion, and related modalities such as auricular and scalp acupuncture, micro-system acupuncture, cupping, plum blossom, bleeding, gua sha, etc.
Practical training in exercise/breathing therapy like qi gong or tai ji begin this year in order to help cultivate student’s qi. Clinical Observation also begins this year, starting the student’s clinical education. Through observation of private practitioners, and in the Student Clinic, students develop insight into clinical practice.
Students begin their study of Chinese herbal medicine with Chinese Herbal Medicine 1 & 2. The class begins with important history and texts and goes on to study the Chinese Materia Medica. In this class, students will study the individual Chinese herbs and theory.
On the Western medical side of their first year education, students learn Western Medical Terminology, Introduction to Biology and Chemistry, Western Medicine Anatomy & Physiology, and Surface Anatomy.
Year 2 – Trimester 4, 5, 6
In the second year, students will use basic theory knowledge to understand the disease process from a TCM perspective. They also learn ways to treat the underlying disease process and promote health. They continue on participating in clinical diagnosis forum in trimester 4, 5, and 6 to see how everything they are learning is actually applied.
Opportunities for ongoing training in qi gong and tai ji are available throughout the entire program. The tui na and acumoxa techniques are further developed and practiced in preparatory internship courses. In trimester 5, students begin their supervised clinical practice by treating patients in student clinic, taking responsibility for all aspects of their patient’s care. Students also learn clean needle technique, OSHA and HIPAA regulations, and Clinical Ethics. CPR/Basic First Aid teaches essential skills that enable clinicians to respond appropriately to emergency situations which may arise in clinical and everyday situations
Also in this year, the study of the individual Chinese herbs ends and the students use this knowledge in the study of combining the individual herbs to learn Chinese herbal formulas and patent medicines and their applications.
On the Western medicine side, students study Microbiology of Infectious Diseases, Survey of Medicine, Biochemistry, Clinical Ethics, Basic Psychology / Counseling & Communication Skills, and Western Medical Pathology.
Year 3 – Trimester 7, 8, 9
In the third year, students continue their supervised clinical practice and further their herbal medicine studies with the addition of Internal Medicine and TCM Gynecology (Chinese herbal) Clinic. They also assume a greater responsibility for their patient’s total care. In trimester 7 and 8 students begin to make their transition from student to beginning practitioner.
As a continuing part of their TCM Internal Medicine training, students have a course in trimester 7 called TCM Internal Medicine. In this course, students systematically learn Chinese medicine’s method of basing Chinese herbal treatment on differentiation of syndromes/patterns for many symptoms and diseases. Students also have a course in the Clinical Application of Chinese Herbal Medicine. During trimester 8, students begin two trimesters of TCM Internal Medicine (Chinese herbal medicine) clinical internship, and study TCM nutrition.
On the Western medicine side, students take classes including Western Physical Exam & Diagnosis, Western Pharmacology/ Pharmacognosy, and Western Medical Referral. The Clinical Business Management course prepares students to set up a successful Oriental medical private practice, and Western Nutrition covers the biochemical processes of nutrition and metabolism, dietary intake, nutritional imbalances, vitamins and minerals, and detoxification programs. This additional work in the Western biomedical approach will enhance students’ ability to integrate Eastern and Western medicine.
Students have their final observation class in trimester 9. At this point, they have a solid foundation in clinical theory and practice, and benefit from observing and getting more advanced questions answered by an experienced practitioner in a clinical setting. Students also have the opportunity to assist student clinic supervisors.
Finally, students take Exam Prep which guides them in studying for our Final Proficiency Exam and helps those who have not yet taken the NCCAOM Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal exams. This course concludes the program of study and allows the award of the Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine (M.S.TCM) title.
These written proficiency exams are used as an evaluation of the student’s progress, our program, and their understanding of TCM. They are designed to give students a good idea of the type of exam and questions they might find within the NCCAOM Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal exams.
These exams encourage students to carefully review all previous coursework. They are taken during the 11th or 12th week of every third trimester. Each exam covers those new materials introduced prior to the week of the exam.
A final cumulative exam is administered near the end of the program, during the student’s 9th trimester. Students are required to pass all sections of this Final Proficiency Exam to graduate.
A clinical oral and practical exam are given near the end of trimester 4. This exam is designed as an evaluation for both the student and the school and tests the students on clinical skills accomplished up to this point. The objective of this exam is to encourage students to review their clinical skills they have studied and practiced up to this point, and satisfy the school’s obligation to know that the student is prepared to go to the clinic. This exam must be passed in order to continue into a clinic.
Program Category Totals
- Biosciences 510 hours / 34 credits
- TCM Theory & Technique 990 hours / 58.5 credits
- Miscellaneous 90 hours / 6 credits
- Observation 150 hours / 5 credits
- Chinese Herbal Medicine 465 hours / 31 credits
- Acupuncture 645 hours / 21.5 credits
- Chinese Herbal 180 hours / 6 credits
- Standard Schedule MSTCM
Total 3,030 hours / 162 credits