Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College, Berkeley

Master of Science in Oriental Medicine – Program Overview

184 units • 3,263 credit hours

AIMC Berkeley’s program is broad and diverse. In addition to the core Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) curriculum, the 184 units and 3263 credit hours includes 2 additional didactic units (electives) & 9 units of MSOM co-requisites (Chemistry, Biology, Physics). You will also learn healing traditions from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, and have opportunities to study abroad with our sister colleges in Japan and China. As a college of Integrative Medicine, you’ll also learn how to communicate, network, and collaborate with other healing professions as a primary healthcare provider.

AIMC Berkeley operates year-round on a trimester system. The MSOM curriculum is designed as a 10-trimester course of study that is equivalent to five academic years, although the majority of the students enrolled full-time finish in three and one-third years.  While AIMC Berkeley’s standard full-time course load is heavier than that of many other Oriental Medical schools, our program design and immersion study style maximize learning and encourage students to meet their educational goals.


Program of Study

Educational Objectives

The following objectives outline the methods by which AIMC Berkeley measures its progress toward producing successful practitioners:

Objective One

Objective One

To provide a program of study of Oriental Medicine in its Chinese and Japanese traditions that culminates in the award of the Master of Science in Oriental Medicine. AIMC Berkeley graduates will be able to satisfy the following standards:

  • Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the foundations of Oriental Medicine theory
  • Conduct effective interviews with patients and utilize traditional diagnostic methods, including tongue and pulse diagnosis
  • Conduct effective biomedical exams related to patient complaints
  • Organize and analyze information to formulate Oriental Medicine diagnoses and treatment plans
  • Select functionally appropriate acupuncture points and skillfully apply appropriate acupuncture techniques
  • Select appropriate classical Chinese herbal formulae, and modify and customize herbal formulae as appropriate

Objective Two

Objective Two

To provide an understanding of diagnostic and treatment procedures of Oriental Medicine and facilitate optimal patient care through appropriate assessment, referral, and collaboration with other healthcare providers. AIMC Berkeley graduates will be able to satisfy the following standards:

  • Apply biomedical knowledge to arrive at appropriate diagnoses
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how to network, refer, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals in order to facilitate optimal patient care
  • Integrate knowledge of modern scientific standards of care for commonly seen medical conditions in patient care
  • Demonstrate use of evidence-based medicine and research in patient care

Objective Three

Objective Three

To provide students with the proficiency to sit for and pass the California Acupuncture Licensing Exam (CALE) and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) examination. AIMC Berkeley graduates will be able to satisfy the following standards:

  • Establish, manage and grow a successful private practice, or work in clinics or hospitals with other health care providers.
  • Practice within professional, legal, and ethical guidelines
  • Feel competent as Oriental Medical healthcare providers

Educational Measurements

Educational Measurements

AIMC Berkeley assesses student achievement of learning objectives according to the following criteria:

  • Successful completion and passage of didactic coursework
  • Successful completion and passage of the clinical internship program
  • Successful passage of comprehensive exams at various stages of the program, including
    • First Year Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Comprehensive Exam
    • Pre-Clinical Comprehensive Practical
    • Second Year Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Comprehensive Exam
    • Final Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Comprehensive Exam
  • Staged Clinical Competency Assessments
  • Completion of all tests and coursework to be eligible to receive an MSOM for completion our program of study

Additionally, AIMC Berkeley assesses the institutional achievement of learning objectives according to the following criteria:

  • The number of students receiving our degree each year
  • The semi-annual percentages of students graduating from our program who pass licensing and certification exams
  • Student, faculty, and alumni survey responses
  • Yearly institutional and clinical surveys

Academic Hours Breakdown

AIMC Berkeley offers one of the broadest and most comprehensive curricula in the US for Acupuncture, Oriental, and Integrative Medicine training of entry-level practitioners. The AIMC Berkeley curriculum was created under guidance provided by the Board of Directors, Board Chairman Dr. Shuji Goto, and the curriculum team; and with valuable input from distinguished faculty, dedicated students and committed alumni. AIMC Berkeley is fortunate to have the highest level of collaboration from all factions of the College and licensed professionals in the design of its curriculum. The outcome of this process is a comprehensive curriculum with a clear goal: to produce successful practitioners of Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine. In addition to its comprehensive nature, other hallmarks of the AIMC Berkeley curriculum include a flexible program and a consistent class schedule.

Clinical Practice

33.5 units • 1,005 hours

The heart of any AOM curriculum is its clinical program, and clinical practice begins right awayat AIMC Berkeley. The first trimester marks the observation phase, in which licensed practitioners model how to interview and treat patients in a classroom setting. This early exposure provides clearer focus for didactic classes to come.

Clinic observation continues in a more intimate setting in the second and third trimesters, and students gain valuable exposure to observation skills and diagnosis techniques of tongue and pulse as they gather in small groups to observe licensed acupuncturists engaged in the treatment of patients.

In the fourth trimester, student observers apprentice one-on-one with third-year interns, assist with treatments, practice on fellow students, perform intakes, and observe supervised treatments. In the fifth, sixth, and seventh trimesters small teams of students begin treating patients directly in the AIMC Berkeley Community Clinic.

Clinic interns take on increasing responsibility for patient care in the eighth trimester, working under the supervision of the Dean of Clinical Education and the Clinic Manager to learn how the clinic operates.

By the time students finish their tenth trimester, they will have completed 1,000 hours of clinical training. It is this depth and breadth of clinical experience at AIMC Berkeley that provides AIMC Berkeley graduates with the confidence they need to be successful in the marketplace.

Oriental Medicine

22 units • 330 hours

Oriental Medicine (OM) theory is the keystone of understanding in Oriental Medicine. Students are immersed in the study of OM theory in the first trimester with a comprehensive course that outlines its fundamental concepts. In the following trimesters students receive in-depth training in Oriental Medicine diagnosis just as they begin to practice it in concurrent clinic observation classes.

The study of classic Chinese texts begins in the sixth trimester. OM theory and diagnosis is woven throughout the remainder of the curriculum in both the didactic courses and the clinical practice.

Students take the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine review exam in the tenth trimester to consolidate their knowledge and prepare for the California Acupuncture Licensing Exam (CALE) and National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certification examination.

Oriental Herbology

23 units • 345 hours

Education in herbal medicine starts in the first trimester with an introduction to Herbology and the traditional Chinese herbal categories.

The second and third trimesters detail over 350 single herbs, including their functions, indications, dosages, contraindications, temperatures, and channels entered.

Classes in the fourth, fifth, and sixth trimesters educate students on how to combine single herbs to make over 150 formulae—including traditional functions, clinical indications, modifications, combinations, and contraindications—and focuses on the activity of individual herbs within the formulae. During this time students also learn about herb-drug interactions and mislabeling.

The sixth trimester Oriental Clinical Medicine series introduces students to classic and modern prescriptions for treating different types of medical conditions within orthopedics, gynecology, traumatology, and internal medicine.

Students review and test their herbal knowledge in the tenth trimester with Advanced Case Studies and AOM Review classes.


27 units • 405 hours

Training in acupuncture commences in the first trimester with the first of four classes in the Acupuncture Channels and Points series covering the jing-luo system of channels and vessels that transport qi in the body. Students are introduced to the locations and functions of acupuncture points along the twelve regular channels, the Ren (Conception) and Du (Governing) extraordinary vessels, and the pathways, characteristics and functions of the regular channels, extraordinary vessels, muscle channels, divergent channels, and cutaneous regions.

The second trimester incorporates the art of acupuncture in the first of three classes in the Acupuncture Techniques series. This series also covers moxibustion, cupping, spooning, warm  needling, ear/scalp needling, and electrical stimulation (with an emphasis on safety). The first of the four-part Acupuncture Therapy series in the fourth trimester focuses on acupuncture treatment strategies. Students master classic TCM point-selection strategies, Master Tong-style acupuncture, extraordinary vessels, and attend a two-class series on Japanese-style acupuncture diagnosis and treatment.

Beginning in the sixth-trimester Oriental Clinical Medicine series (which consists of four classes), students engage in classic TCM acupuncture approaches to treating different types of medical conditions. Students review and test their acupuncture knowledge in the tenth trimester with Advanced Case Studies and AOM Review classes.

Basic Science

17 units • 255 hours

Ideally students have completed a minimum of 14 semester units in Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, and Physics before beginning the MSOM program. If a student has not completed his or her Basic Science Requirements (BSRs), he or she may complete the courses prior to beginning the program or concurrently in the first year. The BSRs offered at AIMC Berkeley are conceptual in nature and concentrated on information specific to the MSOM program. Please note: BSRs do not count toward the standard 3,263-hour curriculum.

A two-part Anatomy and Physiology series emphasizing acupuncture point location begins in the first trimester, and in the third trimester students begin in-depth pathophysiology instruction.

Integrative Clinical Medicine

38.5 units • 578 hours

Integrative Clinical Medicine instruction provides a solid foundation for the unification of Eastern and Western medical sciences. Students develop fluency in both medical languages and systems beginning in the first trimester with an introduction to Western Medical Terminology. The third trimester outlines both Eastern and Western approaches to nutrition.

Fourth- and fifth-trimester study extends beyond the language to focus on the procedures and methods of Western physical examination and the basics of pharmacotherapeutics, which encompasses the uses and effects of Western drugs. Students also receive training in CPR and First Aid.

In the sixth trimester students begin a four-class series in Clinical Integrative Medicine and a four-class series in Oriental Clinical Medicine. Together these series provide a wide perspective on the treatment of medical conditions. Integrative Medicine focuses on diagnosis and standards of care from a biomedicinal perspective, with a special emphasis on referrals and “red-flag” cases. Integrative Clinical Medicine covers the diagnosis and treatment of various conditions including gynecology, obstetrics, urology, otolaryngology, gastroenterology, infectious disease, immunology, oncology, endocrinology, cardiology, respiratory disorders, neurology, pediatrics, dermatology, and ophthalmology, along with the associated Oriental Medicine patterns of disharmony.

Professional Practice Management & Ethics

12 units • 180 hours

Essentially, this series of classes teaches students how to be successful in the workplace by developing a comprehension of and context in which students will practice medicine as primary health care providers, and the responsibilities involved therein. Included is a discussion of legal and ethical responsibilities, and an in-depth developmental study of practical counseling and communication skills.

Practice Building begins in the fifth trimester with an introduction to the professional landscape and an overview of the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary to be successful in practice. Students are guided in the development of understanding their individual interests through role-playing, job shadowing, and public presentation, and taught how to translate their specialties and practice styles into relevant and profitable market niches.

The sixth trimester incorporates education relevant to public health and the role of Oriental Medicine in healthcare today.

Ninth-trimester Practice Management students tackle the nuts-and-bolts of setting up and running a private practice by creating their own business plan.


2 units • 30 hours

Students are required to supplement the MSOM curriculum with a minimum of two additional didactic units in specialized education.

Comprehensive Assessment Examinations

Built into the curriculum of AIMC Berkeley MSOM program are a series of didactic and practical comprehensive examinations. These examinations offer students an opportunity to review and consolidate their knowledge in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Successful passage of these exams is necessary for advancement into the different stages of the clinical program, as well as for graduation.

View the AIMC Berkeley Curriculum Flow Chart

Click here to view the AIMC Berkeley Curriculum Flow Chart, a 10-trimester timeline geared toward full-time students completing the MSOM program on a standard 3.3 calendar year schedule.

When you look at our Curriculum Flow Chart, you’ll notice the following:

  1. Your clinical experience begins in the 1st Trimester and continues every trimester of the program. This provides key mental scaffolding that better supports your growth and development as a practitioner of Oriental Medicine from the very beginning of the program.
  2. You learn the basics of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, nutrition, and bodywork before you take classes in applied medicine and start treating patients in the clinic.
  3. You also learn a strong foundation in conventional biomedicine. In particular, our program features a whole year of pathophysiology that leads into clinical biomedical courses based on case studies.
  4. Three stages of comprehensive exams function not only to ensure that you’re learning well enough to progress through the program, but provide us feedback as one of our main program assessment tools. The First Year Comprehensive Exam needs to be passed in the 4th trimester before you can start treating patients in the clinic in the 5th trimester, the Second Year Comprehensive Exam needs to be passed in the 7th trimester before you can start treating patients one-on-one for the last year of the program, and the Final Comprehensive Exam needs to be passed in order to matriculate from the program.
  5. The Practice Building class takes place in the 5th trimester when you’re starting your clinic internship, giving you plenty of time to practice and learn with us and helps provide you with the tools you’ll need to be successful before you go out into the real world.
  6. The didactic portion of the curriculum is weighted towards the first half of the program, meaning more intensive learning and memorization of the basics and more tests. Quite a few students elect to a more part-time program during this period to adjust to this intensity of rigor, and then speed up for the second half of the curriculum when the number of didactic classes decrease as the clinic internship increases.

AIMC Berkeley uses a collaborative process featuring distinguished faculty, dedicated students, committed alumni, and top administrators (who are all Licensed Acupuncturists) working together to regularly assess, review, and refine the curriculum.

“Our alumni, students, and faculty all pitch in to make our curriculum the most forward-thinking program available. I’ve reviewed many transcripts of transfer students from other AOM colleges – its not just the breadth and depth of our program, but the way courses articulate from one trimester to the next, supporting and augmenting the clinical experience, that makes our program unique” –Benjamin Dierauf LAc, Advisor to the President

Guided by the AIMC Berkeley Board of Directors with a clear mission objective:
“Our mission is to produce caring, proficient and successful practitioners…”


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