Finding the Right School of Oriental Medicine

Posted November 29, 2016 by Joe Calareso, Director of Admissions & filed under Holistic Medicine

finding-the-right-school-of-oriental-medicineOriental medicine offers a satisfying and rewarding career path. Most degrees in Oriental medicine take four years to complete, so you want to find a program in which you will thrive, along with obtaining the knowledge you need to pass licensure exams and flourish in the field upon graduation. Keep these considerations in mind when finding the right school of Oriental medicine:


More than 50 schools belong to the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), which is the only organization that the U.S. Department of Education recognizes to accredit schools offering these programs. That means you have a variety of places in which you can pursue a degree. Check with the CCAOM to find out if there's a school in your city.

Selecting a program in the state in which you plan to practice can be beneficial, as the school may help prepare you specifically to take the licensing exam in that state. You may also benefit from the local alumni network as you prepare to practice upon graduation.

Different philosophies

Each school of Oriental medicine has a different and unique approach to its curriculum. A program will likely focus on one or be a blend of the following traditions:

  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Five Element
  • Korean
  • Vietnamese

Deciding which tradition you want to be the focus of your own education will help you narrow down programs. Read a school's mission statement and read through their course listings to get an idea of what you'd be studying. And just like any other institution of higher learning, a visit to campus will also help you determine whether the culture of a specific school of Oriental medicine would be a good fit for you.

Academic credentials

Many schools of Oriental medicine require a bachelor's or associate's degree for admission. Find out whether the programs you're considering will accept your academic experience or if you need to finish prerequisites before pursuing a degree.

As mentioned above, most Oriental medicine programs take four years to complete. The name of the degree you receive may vary slightly by institution, with options including Master of Oriental Medicine or Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Degrees in acupuncture alone may take only three years to complete.

Other considerations

Some schools may offer part-time or night school classes for those who need to balance their pursuit of education with an existing job, family or other obligations. Some schools will have programs that start throughout the year, so you wouldn't have to wait for the fall to begin a program. You can apply for financial aid, including scholarships, to offset the costs of studying at a school of Oriental medicine, so speak the the financial aid department of any college you're considering.




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