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Oriental Medicine

herbs for oriental medicine
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Master of Science in Oriental Medicine – Illinois campus

National University’s Master of Science in Oriental Medicine program offers you a comprehensive classical curriculum in both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine coupled with training in how to balance an eastern medicine approach with western science.  

What is Oriental Medicine?

Oriental medicine is the oldest codified system of medicine in the world. It restores health and balance by treating illness and disease through the Five Major Branches of Oriental Medicine, which include: acupuncture; Chinese herbal medicine; oriental nutrition and dietary therapy; tuina or oriental bodywork; as well as tai chi and qi gong.

Oriental Medicine Philosophy

Oriental Medicine relies on a highly comprehensive and individualized diagnosis of a patient’s Qi (or chi) energy. The weakness, excess or imbalance of Qi affects key organ systems in oriental medicine and is the underlying cause of disease and disharmony. The oriental medicine practitioner uses a broad scope of therapies to restore balance to a patient’s Qi, thereby encouraging health and healing.

acupuncture and oriental medicine effectively treats graphics

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture and oriental medicine as
effective for over 43 conditions under the above-listed nine major health categories.
(Source: National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine)

Oriental Medicine Treatments

In addition to acupuncture, tai chi, tuina (meridian bodywork therapy) and qi gong (mind, breath and physiological exercises) a practitioner of oriental medicine will employ Chinese dietary therapy as well as the full range of traditional Chinese herbal medicine. Chinese herbal medicine encompasses the prescription of single herbs, complex herbal formulas, tinctures and patent herbal medicines in pill form.

35 percent
Health Care Career
35% of the hospitals offering complementary medicine provide acupuncture as an outpatient service to their patients.

(Source: Health Forum Complementary and Alternative Medicine Survey of Hospitals)

Oriental Medicine Careers

Acupuncture and oriental medicine are being recognized as effective treatments for a variety of conditions. Oriental medicine practitioners enjoy the full range of career opportunities available to acupuncturists. Additionally, those with an MSOM degree are able to prescribe traditional herbal medicine to their patients. This broader scope of practice gives the practitioner maximum flexibility in their career options.

careers pursued by AOM practitioners graphic

(Source: National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine)

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Licensure

To practice as an acupuncturist or an oriental medicine practitioner, students must pass the licensing examinations conducted by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Currently, 47 states plus the District of Columbia require the passage of the NCCAOM examinations or NCCAOM certification as a prerequisite for licensure.

Students must also apply for licensure in the state in which they plan to practice. Each state regulatory board carries unique requirements for licensure. Students are responsible to become familiar with the state licensing requirements through their state licensing board. Visit for more information. Additionally, licensed practitioners must also check continuing education requirements for license renewal with their state licensing board.

The professional organizations representing acupuncturists and oriental medicine practitioners include the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM).

Our Curriculum

You can earn your Master of Science in Oriental Medicine degree in as little as 9 trimesters. Courses are primarily offered in the evening. The 167.5-credit hour program provides comprehensive training in the five branches of oriental medicine. The program covers the history, theory and philosophy of oriental medicine as well as rigorous training in diagnosis and treatment planning. Students will also graduate with a solid foundation in the basic sciences of western medicine, having developed skills necessary for integrative and collaborative practice in health care settings of their choosing.

View trimester-by-trimester courses, course descriptions, and the course schedule. Learn more »

Full Immersion in Traditional Arts

You’ll study the full range of traditional diagnostic techniques such as tongue and pulse analysis. You’ll learn point location and correct needle techniques and rich get integrating eastern and western medicine videorich exposure to oriental healing arts such as tuina, qi gong, moxibustion, and cupping under seasoned practitioners. You’ll go deeply into the philosophical basis of the medicine so that you can fully understand the causes of imbalance in your patients and how to treat them.

Solid Foundation in Western Science

We integrate fundamental biomedical science and modern medical diagnostics into our curriculum so that you can better meet your patients’ needs. You will also be better prepared to co-manage cases with DCs, MDs, NDs and DOs, and take advantage of new career opportunities in integrative medical venues.

Intensive Clinical Training

Students in the oriental medicine program at National University will receive early clinical exposure with experienced clinicians. The large clinic setting affords students the opportunity to work within a diverse clinic setting and have access to a large herbal dispensary. Prior to graduation, students will also have the opportunity to take advantage of unique internship opportunities such as in the Veterans Clinic or John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County.


National University’s Master of Science in Acupuncture and Master of Science in Oriental Medicine are accredited under the master’s degree standards by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), the recognized accrediting agency for programs preparing acupuncture and oriental medicine practitioners. ACAOM is located at 8941 Aztec Drive, Eden Prairie, Minnesota 55347; phone, 952-212-2434; fax, 952-657-7068.

This full accreditation assures that NUHS graduates are eligible to sit for the licensing examinations conducted by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).


Consider National University for its distinct advantages and be well-prepared for the career that awaits you.

Collaborative Learning Opportunities

Students have the opportunity to treat patients collaboratively within an integrative clinic, working with DC and ND interns. The institutional focus at National University is on collaborative learning and encourages students to become colleagues rather than competitors.

Combining Eastern and Western Medicine

jacob suh videoAt National University, oriental medicine is reinforced with science and anatomy. Our unique curriculum allows students a one-of-a-kind experience in anatomy with full dissection of a human cadaver. The anatomy curriculum encourages the study of the relationship between acupuncture points and the human anatomy. In addition to hands-on dissection, NUHS offers the Anatomage Table, today’s most technologically advanced digital visualization system for anatomy education.

Apprentice with Expert Faculty

Faculty at National University are international leaders in their field, committed to training students in the treatment methods and philosophies of traditional oriental medicine. That’s why our program incorporates apprentice-style learning so that you can learn via direct transmission of knowledge and skills from our faculty masters. In addition, all full-time faculty in the acupuncture and oriental medicine program have PhDs and strong research backgrounds.

Campus Location and Facilities

National University is conveniently located 15 miles from the city of Chicago and its diverse neighborhoods, including the bustling Chinatown area with its rich tradition of herbal medicine shops and practitioners. The Chicagoland area is also home to one of the largest health care communities in the country with over 120 hospitals and hundreds of area clinics.

Our large integrative care clinic and extensive herbal dispensary ensures outstanding clinical training. The gross anatomy laboratory allows you to learn western anatomy and eastern meridian theory through hands-on dissection of a human cadaver. In the Training and Assessment Center (TAC), you’ll learn, practice and be assessed on your diagnosis and patient interaction skills. You will also have access to the on-campus James F. Winterstein Library, one of the region’s largest health science libraries, and modern classrooms utilizing state-of-the-art technology such as interactive video and SMART boards.


Each student in our Master of Science in Oriental Medicine program serves a full-year clinical internship. In addition to learning clinical applications of oriental medicine and proper documentation procedures, you will obtain important personal and business skills you’ll need to help build your own practice. Working under the supervision of our faculty clinicians, you will have access to professionals from other specialties, as well as our well-equipped treatment rooms and fully stocked herbal dispensary.

Your clinical experience can be completed at our on-campus Whole Health Center or at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County.

The Stroger Hospital acupuncture and oriental medicine clerkship for NUHS students is one of very few hospital-based acupuncture training opportunities in the nation. Our interns work in an integrative medical setting with physicians as part of a multi-specialty treatment team in the Stroger clinic for pain management.

Sara Montesa – acupuncture Student

Sara Montesa – Student

“Being able participate in the Clerkship at Stroger Cook County Hospital was an amazing privilege. It meant that I was able to care for a diverse range of patients with complicated presentations and learn how to act as a peer in the medical community. The eight months that I spent there were some of the most memorable of my time as a student at National. I looked forward to coming in every day and found myself humbled by many of the interactions that I had with my patients there. They were the most amazing teachers that I ever could have asked for.”

Other Program Opportunities

Dual Degrees

Students who earn their MSOM degree at National University have the option to earn a second degree (DC or ND) through dual enrollment. Course scheduling for a dual degree is made simpler because the MSOM and MSAc programs are offered in the evening and the DC and ND coursework is taught during the day. There is also similarity in some of the coursework across the programs allowing for a reduction in the total number of hours required to complete their second degree. Students are not eligible to begin dual enrollment until the third trimester of their initial or primary program of study.

Postgraduate Programs

After graduation, students may pursue a number of post-professional programs such as our master’s and residency programs. Of course, there are also a wide variety of continuing education classes offered which allow graduates to maintain their professional licensure.