MAcCHM Degree Program

MAcCHM Degree Program

3 year, 3,045 hour, 163 credit, Master of Acupuncture with a Chinese Herbal Medicine specialization (MAcCHM)

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.

Picture of a patient laying on a examination table with acupuncture needles in their ear.
Learn more about our MAcCHM Degree Program

CSTCM utilizes 15 week trimesters, 3 trimesters per year, 3,045 hour program, 163 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 MAc and MAcCHM Programs at any time with appropriate prerequisites and a program transfer fee. Students completing the MAc Program can return at any time and complete the Chinese herbal medicine coursework and clinics needed for the MAcCHM 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 3,045 hour, 3 year accelerated, MAcCHM degree program is approved by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine (ACAHM) 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.

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.

Chinese Herbal Medicine Studies: Students begin studying Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) with Chinese Herbal Medicine 1 & 2. The class begins with the essential CHM history and texts and goes on to study the Chinese Materia Medica. In these courses, students will study individual Chinese herbs and CHM theory.

Bioscience course work:  Bioscience studies 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. Opportunities for ongoing training in Qigong and Taiji are available throughout the entire program.

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.

CHM Studies: Students conclude studying individual Chinese herbs by completing the final individual herbs course.  The students now start to use their knowledge of individual herbs by learning how the individual herbs are combined to make Chinese herbal formulas and patent medicines. Students study CHM formulas and strategies to prepare for CHM Internal Medicine studies and learn the Topical Application of Chinese Herbal Medicine and CHM Preparation Methods.

Bioscience-Biomedicine 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 Basic Psychology, Counseling & Communication Skills, and Clinical Ethics. This additional work in the Western biomedical approach will enhance students’ ability to integrate Eastern and Western medicine.

YEAR 3 – TRIMESTER 7, 8, 9

TCM and CHM Studies: Students continue their supervised clinical practice in the third year and further their herbal medicine studies with TCM Internal Medicine and TCM Gynecology (Chinese herbal) Clinic. They also assume greater responsibility for their patient’s total care. In trimester 7 and 8, students begin to make their transition from student to beginning practitioner. In the 7th trimester, students take the Advanced Acupuncture Treatment of Disease course and learn advanced acumoxa diagnoses, differentiations, prescriptions, and treatments for a wide variety of diseases commonly encountered in professional practice.

In TCM Internal Medicine, students systematically learn the CHM methodology that bases Chinese herbal treatment on the 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 clinical internship and study TCM nutrition. 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.

Bioscience-Biomedical Studies: Students take Western Physical Exam & Diagnosis, Western Pharmacology/ Pharmacognosy, and Western Medical Referral. 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.

Clinical Business Management: Students will learn principles involved in creating a business plan, a website, and exploring various advertising strategies in this 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 final trimester, students take a course in exam preparation that guides them in studying for our Final Proficiency Exam and the NCCAOM board exams. This course concludes the program of study. Students who complete the program will receive the Master of Acupuncture with a Chinese Herbal Medicine specialization (MAcCHM) degree.

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 990 hours / 58.5 credits
  • Miscellaneous 90 hours / 6 credits
  • Observation 150 hours / 5 credits
  • Chinese Herbal Medicine 480 hours / 32 credits
  • Clinics:
    • Acupuncture 645 hours / 21.5 credits
    • Chinese Herbal 180 hours / 6 credits
  • Standard Schedule MAcCHM

Total 3,045 hours / 163 credits

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