DAc Degree Program

DAc Degree Program

32 month, 2,700 hour, 143.5 credit, DOCTOR OF ACUPUNCTURE DEGREE (DAc)

Picture of a acupuncturist demonstrating cupping technique on a patient.
Ask about our accredited and respected DAc Degree Program

The Professional Doctorate (PD) program is an additional Accelerated* Trimester of 330 clock hours and 17 credit hours above/in addition to the MAc degrees. Accelerated students can earn the DAc Degree in 32 months.

Students can choose a track that commits to the Doctors Program only (DAc or DAcCHM) or they can select the dual degree track by simultaneously enrolling in the MAc and DAc or MAcCHM and DAcCHM..

Graduates of ACAHM accredited Master degree programs in Acupuncture (MAc  equivalents) can apply to the DAc program. The 17 credits for the PD can be completed in one 15 week trimester as an Accelerated* program or in 2 Trimesters as a combination of Full-time and / or Part time programs.

The combined MAc-DAc degree program can be completed in a minimum completion time of 32 months.

Curriculum Overview

YEAR 1 – TRIMESTER 1, 2, 3

TCM Studies: In the first year of the program, students learn TCM’s fundamental theories, including TCM concepts of energy, health, and disease etiology. The four courses in Acu Meridian and Point Theory with Practicum teach students various Chinese Medicine acupuncture traditions. Students learn the Channels and Collaterals, Acupoint classifications, locations, uses, and the Chinese Acupoint names and English translations for the acupoint names.

In trimester 3, students begin attending clinical diagnosis forums to observe the practical application of Chinese Medicine.

On the practical side in trimester 2-3, students begin learning and practicing essential clinical skills. The first step is learning Tui-na to develop palpation skills, then using Tui-na to treat acupoints and channels and using Tui-na for manual therapy for common conditions. The Tui-na training lays the foundations for students to begin learning the traditional acupuncture and moxibustion methods and techniques in the Acumoxa courses. Students also learn auricular acupuncture, scalp acupuncture, micro-system acupuncture, cupping, plum blossom, bleeding, gua sha, and related Acumoxa modalities.

Practical training in Qigong and Taiji exercise/breathing therapy begins this year to cultivate the student’s qi. Clinical observation requirements also begin this year, starting the student’s clinical education. By observing private practitioners and observing practitioners in the student clinic, students develop insight into clinical practice.

Bioscience Studies: Bioscience course work in the first year includes Medical Terminology, Anatomy & Physiology, Surface Anatomy, Introduction to Biology, and Introduction to Chemistry.

YEAR 2 – TRIMESTER 4, 5, 6

TCM Studies: In the second year, students will use their TCM theory knowledge to deepen their understanding of the disease process from a TCM perspective. They learn how to formulate Chinese Medicine treatment principles and treatment plans and use Acumoxa methods to treat the underlying disease process and promote health. They continue participating in clinical diagnosis forum in trimester 4, 5, and 6. Through the clinic forum experience, students gain additional diagnostic and differentiation of disease experience. They also observe licensed practitioners discuss and deliver Chinese Medicine treatments. The Tui-na and Acumoxa techniques are further developed and practiced in preparatory internship courses.

As an essential part of a successful TCM practice, students learn in-depth Acumoxa treatments for a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions in the Acupuncture Assessment & Treatment of Musculoskeletal Disorders courses.

In trimester 5, students begin their supervised clinical practice by treating patients in the student clinic, taking responsibility for all aspects of their patient’s care. Students also learn CNT (clean needle technique), OSHA and HIPAA regulations, and Clinical Ethics. Before entering the clinical internships, all students must complete the Red Cross Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED course. This prerequisite course teaches essential emergency response skills for clinical and everyday emergencies. Completing this Red Cross course is required for students to enter internships at CSTCM.

In the 6th trimester, students take the Advanced Acupuncture Treatment of Disease course. Students learn advanced acumoxa diagnoses, differentiations, prescriptions, and treatments for a wide variety of diseases commonly encountered in professional practice.

MAc students learn the basics of Chinese herbal medicine in the Topical Application of Chinese Herbal Medicine course. The class presents a primer on Chinese herbal medicine’s external use, focusing on the safety precautions an Acupuncturist should observe in practice. Students learn to use Chinese topical prepared medicines frequently used in acupuncture clinics.

Opportunities for ongoing training in Qigong and Taiji are available throughout the entire program.

Bioscience – Biomedical Studies: Bioscience and western medical courses include Biochemistry, Microbiology of Infectious Diseases, Survey of Medicine, Biomedical (Western) Physical Exam and Diagnosis, Biomedical (Western) Pathology, and  Biomedical (Western) Pharmacology / Pharmacognosy. Students also learn Clinical Ethics and Basic Psychology, Counseling & Communication Skills. This additional work in the Western biomedical approach will enhance students’ ability to integrate Eastern and Western medicine.


TCM Studies: In the third year, students continue and conclude their supervised clinical practice. Students apply the advanced acupuncture treatment of disease methods in the clinic and expand their clinical experience. Students have their final observation class in trimester 7. 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 the advanced clinical observation course. They also assume greater responsibility for their patient’s total care.

Bioscience-Biomedical Studies: In the third year, students complete the Western Medical Referral and Western Nutrition courses. Western Nutrition covers the biochemical processes of nutrition and metabolism, dietary intake, nutritional imbalances, vitamins and minerals, and detoxification programs. This final work in the Western biosciences and biomedical approach further develops students’ ability to integrate Eastern and Western medicine.

Students will learn principles involved in creating a business plan, a website, and exploring various advertising strategies in the Clinical Business Management course. The course teaches students to understand and implement business, marketing, and professional plans to support success in either a solo professional practice or a group practice.

In the 7th trimester, students take a course in exam preparation that guides them in studying for our Final Proficiency Exam and the NCCAOM Acupuncture exam. This course concludes the program of study. Students who complete the program will receive the Master of Acupuncture (MAc) degree.

YEAR 3 TRIMESTER 8 (330 hours, 4 months)

The DAc program encompasses all of the course work required in the seven trimesters of the MAc program and adds 330 hours of professional doctorate training. The 180 hours of didactic course work encompasses Advanced Acupuncture Treatment of Disease 2, Advanced Integrative Biomedical and TCM Diagnosis, Integrative Collaborative Medicine, Research Literacy and Evidence-Informed Practice, and Professional Development courses.

The Integrative Acupuncture Clinic provides an advanced focus on treating complex cases while collaborating with various TCM and allied health professionals. Together students and supervisors will discuss TCM and other health systems’ diagnostic and treatment ideas. Following the discussion, students will create and deliver TCM treatments to the patient under their care. Collaborating supervisors will represent clinical approaches from the various health professions, such as biomedicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and physical therapists.

The courses prepare interns for specialized clinical practice by working with one Chinese Medicine supervisor and one integrative medicine supervisor. Together the supervisors will guide the student interns in comprehensive Chinese Medicine treatments that complement integrative medicine diagnostic and treatment plans. These clinical experiences will allow interns the opportunity to interact and practice alongside professionals from multiple medical disciplines. Students gain insight into other approaches to diagnosis and treatment. Clinic supervisors will guide the student’s clinical decision-making process regarding indications, contraindications, indications for referral, and benefits of integrative medicine treatments. The students’ clinical goal will be to develop the best Chinese medicine treatments for TCM and or integrative settings.

The DAc graduate will be uniquely trained and prepared to enter into Chinese Medicine practice with TCM knowledge and skills applicable to working in an integrative medical setting.

The DAc can be completed in one Accelerated Trimester (17 credit hours) as an ongoing continuum directly from the MAc program. Alternatively, it can be completed in 2 trimesters. Students who completed the MAc can also elect to take a trimester or two off and then return to the DAc for completion. (Please note that the MAc DAc dual degree program must be completed within 7.33 years – 88 months). Graduates from other Master’s degree programs in Acupuncture are welcome to discuss admissions to the CSTCM DAc program with CSTCM Admissions advisors.

Cumulative Exams


These written proficiency exams evaluate the student’s progress, our program, and their understanding of TCM. The exams give students a good idea of the type of exam and questions they might find within the NCCAOM exams. These exams encourage students to review all previous coursework carefully.

Written proficiency exams are administered at the end of each year of the program in Trimesters 3, 6, & 9 for the MAcCHM students or Trimesters 3 and 7 for the MAc students. Students must pass each section to proceed to the next stage of the program. In the final MAc or MAcCHM trimester, students must pass each section in order to graduate.


Students take a clinical oral and practical exam near the end of trimester 4. The exam serves as an evaluation for both the student and the school. It tests the students on clinical skills accomplished up to this point. This exam’s objective is to encourage students to review the clinical skills they have studied and practiced up to this point and satisfy the school’s obligation to know that they are prepared to go into the clinic. Passing this exam is required in order to continue into the clinic.

Any of the CSTCM programs can be taken at an accelerated pace, as in the following curriculum examples. Full-time and half-time study is also available and can be tailored to each student’s individual needs. It is very challenging for a student to finish the program in this minimum time. Curriculum development is an on-going process at CSTCM. We continuously search for better ways to present challenging material. The overall program is subject to minor changes from time to time.

Program Category Totals

  • Biosciences 510 hours / 34 credits
  • TCM Theory & Technique 1020 hours / 60 credits
  • Miscellaneous 90 hours / 6 credits
  • Observation 150 hours / 5 credits
  • Chinese Herbal Medicine 45 hours / 3 credits
  • Clinics: Acupuncture 555 hours / 18.5 credits
  • Standard Schedule MAc

Total 2,370 hours / 126.5 credits

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