TCM Theory & Clinical Medicine

The Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory curriculum provides you with a thorough knowledge of the language and theories of TCM’s unique, yet universal, approach to understanding health and the treatment of disease. Drawing from both classical and modern texts, the curriculum creates a solid framework for the application of clinical methods, including acupuncture and herbology.

The courses in TCM Theory, Acupuncture and Herbology teach you the basic principles of Chinese medicine pattern differentiation and treatment, including the study of common functions and indications of herbs, formulas and acupuncture points. However, this knowledge alone is not enough to fully diagnose and treat disease. The Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinical Medicine curriculum expands on this knowledge, providing you with advanced skills in diagnosing and treating disease in the specialized fields of TCM internal medicine, external medicine, gynecology, pediatrics, traumatology, and orthopedics. Training includes detailed instruction of herbal and acupuncture treatment plans for both common and complex diseases. These courses lay the foundation for your clinical practice.

Jeffrey Pang, L.Ac. & Joanna Zhao, L.Ac.,

Department Chair
Course TitleCodeUnitsHours
[Required Courses]
TCM Traumatology and OrthopedicsFCM 600345
TCM Foundations I & IIFCT 100|200690
TCM History & PhilosophyFCT 110230
Chinese Language for TCMFCT 120115
TCM Diagnosis I & IIFCT 210|310690
TCM Case Studies I & IIFCT 400|X20460
Classics: Nei JingFCT 500230

TCM Traumatology and Orthopedics

FCM 600
3 Units 45 Hours

This course covers the etiology, diagnosis and treatment of common diseases of the musculoskeletal system in accordance with both TCM and Western medicine. Emphasis is placed on the differentiation of bone and soft tissue injuries related to common sports and industrial injuries. You will learn to treat patients with acupuncture and herbs, perform essential orthopedic tests to evaluate the outcome of treatments, recognize red flags in orthopedics, and make appropriate referrals. You will learn how to competently instruct patients in the proper rehabilitation and the prevention of sports and industrial injuries.

FAP 100/200/300, Acupuncture I, II, & III

TCM Foundations I & II

FCT 100|200
6 Units 90 Hours

This two-course series is foundation to all other TCM coursework.

The first course introduces students to the classical principles of the fundamental theories of Chinese Medicine such as the Yin and Yang, the Dao, and the Five Elements, which were universal laws in ancient China.  TCM theory applies these broad principles to the realm of human physiology and pathology in a complex and powerful system for understanding the intricate balance of health. The major TCM theories are systematically covered, including Qi, Blood, Shen, Essence, Body Fluids, and Zang-Fu organs and their dynamic internal relationship.

The second course builds on the first one and covers various theories of Chinese medicine including the Six Pernicious Influences, Four Levels, Six Stages and Eight Parameters. Etiology, pathogenesis, as well as TCM treatment principles of disease and disease prevention are covered in detail. 

After completing these courses, students will be familiar with the basic language and terminology of traditional Chinese Medicine as well as the theories and concepts that are the foundation of Chinese medicine’s view on health and illness.


TCM History & Philosophy

FCT 110
2 Units 30 Hours

This course is designed to introduce a brief historical overview of the origin, development and changes in regards to Chinese medicine theories and practices. Students will gain an understanding, without being medically or clinically specific, of the larger and broader spectrum of TCM from antiquity to present.
Upon completion of this course, students will understand the origin and historical development of Chinese medicine from antiquity to present day.


Chinese Language for TCM

FCT 120
1 Units 15 Hours

This course serves as a general introduction to the spoken and written modern Chinese language (Putonghua or Mandarin). Emphasis will be placed on writing Chinese with the English alphabet (Pinyin system), pronunciation (tonal system) and terminology used to describe Chinese medical concepts. Some basic syntactical structures and characters are introduced.
After completing this course, students will be able to pronounce and spell simple characters of TCM in Chinese Pinyin, learn some medical words and use them in simple sentence forms.



TCM Diagnosis I & II

FCT 210|310
6 Units 90 Hours

This is a two course series covering the four diagnostic methods in Chinese medicine as well as in-depth learning of pattern disharmony.
The first of two courses begins with thorough instruction in the four diagnostic methods: inspection, inquiring, auscultation/olfaction and palpation. The four diagnostic methods are the backbone of TCM diagnosis and are used to collect and organize the patient’s signs and symptoms. Emphasis is placed on tongue and pulse evaluation.
The second course continues with in-depth instruction on methods of Pattern Identification, one of the most important characteristics of TCM. The course goes over the full differential diagnosis of syndromes from the various theoretical frameworks. These include: Zang Fu, Eight Principles, Six Stages, Four Levels, and the Three Burners. Case studies and role play are used to assist students in acquiring skill, accuracy and confidence in taking a patient history and performing a physical exam using TCM assessment methods.
Upon completion of these courses, students will know how to use the four diagnostic methods to gather patient data and perform a complete patient history intake and exam. Additionally they will be able to recognize and identify basic TCM patterns of disharmony by analyzing the information acquired from the four diagnostic methods. 

Diagnosis I: Completion of FCT 100, Foundations I; concurrent enrollment in FCT 200, Foundations II | Diagnosis II: Completion of FCT 100/200, Foundations I & II; FCT 210, Diagnosis I

TCM Case Studies I & II

FCT 400|X20
4 Units 60 Hours

This two course series is designed to first transition students from pure acquisition of academic knowledge into implementation into clinical practice. Then students learn to further sharpen their differential diagnostic skills in analyzing cases. The students are expected to access traditional and contemporary literature in acupuncture and Oriental medicine, as well as biomedical research, including research in epidemiology. In each course, students will be required to write high quality case studies, and give a presentation to their classmates regarding findings and recommendations.
TCM Case Studies I is designed to assist with the transition from academic knowledge to its application in clinical practice. The course reinforces the basics of case analysis by teaching students how to systematically analyze case reports using fundamental TCM Theory and Diagnosis. Students learn how to analyze a chief complaint by looking at accompanying signs and symptoms and results from the four examinations. Students gain increased skill in differentiating among similar patterns of disease. The focus of the class is on developing diagnostic ability, from which treatment plans are established. The case reports are selected from the clinic or established TCM texts for presentation and class discussion. Students will also learn to properly format written and oral case presentations.
TCM Case Studies II is a continuation of TCM Case Studies I. In this class, students gain advanced skill in TCM pattern discrimination using TCM theory, TCM diagnosis and detailed treatment planning, including acupuncture and herbal treatment prescriptions. Western diagnostic tests will also be included in case analysis. The emphasis of the class is on critical thinking and diagnostic ability of complex cases, ensuring that students reach a correct diagnosis and the supporting logic that supports the diagnosis. This includes the ability to distinguish among similar TCM patterns of disharmony. This is a comprehensive class, which utilizes the knowledge and skills attained throughout the 4-year curriculum. The course prepares students for advanced clinical practice. Like Case Studies I, the class utilizes case studies from the clinic and from standard TCM textbooks. Students will be required to present a case to the class for discussion and evaluation.
Upon completion of these courses students will have advanced skills in case analysis and be able to reach and justify an accurate diagnosis of a patient based upon accepted TCM theories and Western diagnostic tests. Additionally, they will demonstrate accuracy in developing treatment plans and proficiency in presenting written and oral case reports.

Case Studies I: FCT 100/200, TCM Foundations I & II; FCT 210/FCT 310, TCM Diagnosis I & II | Case Studies II: FCT 800/900, Internal Medicine I & II; FAP 800/900, Acupuncture Therapeutics I & II; FHB 500/600/700, Formulas I, II, & III; FWM 800/900, Western Case Management I & II

Classics: Nei Jing

FCT 500
2 Units 30 Hours

This is the first course in a series of three that reviews important classical literature on Chinese medicine. In this course, the essential concepts of the Nei Jing (The Canon of Internal Medicine) will be presented from translations of the original articles. Nei Jing is attributed to the legendary Huang Di (Yellow Emperor) and serves as the source for TCM diagnosis and acupuncture theory, covering Yin/Yang, Five Elements, Zang organs and their manifestations, and channels and their networks. The theories of pathogens and pathomechanisms, clinical diseases and symptoms, diagnostic methods, therapeutic principles and methods, and the theory of health preservation will be reviewed. The teacher and student work together to understand the true meaning of this ancient Chinese medical text. 

FCT 100/200, TCM Foundations I & II; FCT 210/FCT 310, TCM Diagnosis I & II


Five Element electives may be taken in the Department of TCM Theory while also completing the requirements for the Five Element certificate program. For detailed information about the Five Element certificate please refer to Specialty Certificate Options. Electives are offered based on faculty availability and student interest.