2018 Fall Trimester

Admission Information

Admission to the Programs

Northwestern admits individuals qualified by previous education and experience to meet the program’s academic challenges and rigor in order to become a practitioner of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. New students are admitted in September, May and January of each academic year. Transfer students may be admitted at the beginning of any trimester. (See “Transfer Application” section.)

Applications for admission, as well as current tuition and fees, are available either online at www.nwhealth.edu or may be obtained by contacting the Office of Admissions. The application for admission must be accompanied by a non-refundable application processing fee of $50. It is the responsibility of the applicant to read this catalog and comply with all provisions and instructions.

Persons who have been convicted of a misdemeanor of a violent or sexual nature or any felony will be prohibited from professional health care practice in many jurisdictions. Northwestern Health Sciences University will deny admission to applicants with such convictions. The University therefore reserves the right to conduct a criminal background check on all applicants and enrolled students.

Entrance Requirements:

Master of Acupuncture and Master of Chinese Medicine

Admission requirements for the Master of Acupuncture and Master of Chinese Medicine programs, in alignment with the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine standards include satisfactory completion of at least two academic years (60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits) at the bachelor’s degree level in an institution accredited by an agency recognized by the US Department of Education. This education must be appropriate preparation for graduate-level work.

The following credits must be part of the 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits required for entrance (Northwestern offers a number of these courses through the College of Health and Wellness):

Subject Minimum Semester Credits Minimum Quarter Credits
Humanities and Social Sciences: 15 22.5
Philosophy, Religion, General Humanities, History, Art History, Music History, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science or Economics courses are acceptable. Business courses and studio courses in art or music may not be used to meet this requirement.
English: 6 9
English, Composition, Literature or Speech
Psychology: 3 4.5
General Psychology, Principals of Psychology or Introduction to Psychology
Biology: 3 4.5
Animal/Vertebrate, General/Human Biology, Anatomy, Physiology or Microbiology are acceptable (no lab required)
Electives: 33 49.5
Recommendations for elective courses include Human Anatomy, and other science courses, Chinese language, Asian studies, Macroeconomics, Marketing, Small Business Management, Public Speaking, Technical Writing and Medical Terminology.

These courses must be passed with a grade of C or better. All applicants must have earned a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. To ensure acceptance, a more competitive grade point is desirable. All extenuating circumstances regarding admission into the program will be referred to the Admissions Committee for consideration.

Entrance Requirements:

Herbal Medicine Certificate

Admission into the Herbal Medicine Certificate program generally assumes prior completion of a Master degree or equivalent program in acupuncture.

Admission requirements for the Herbal Medicine Certificate include:

  1. Current state acupuncture licensure and/or certification by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).
  2. Ability to meet all the current admission requirements for the program’s master’s degree program in Chinese medicine. Applicants who do not meet these current admission requirements may apply for a waiver of this requirement. Additional information may be required from the applicant. The waiver may be granted by the Admissions Committee and/or at the discretion of the Dean of the College of Health and Wellness.
  3. Meet all of the qualifications as stated in the section entitled “Qualifications”.


Students must demonstrate sufficient maturity to undertake a health care profession, including the capacity to manage professional boundaries ethically and responsibly.

A student must possess the abilities listed below, with or without reasonable accommodation, for completion of the Master of Acupuncture or Master of Chinese Medicine degree program. Accommodation may be deemed unreasonable if it would compromise essential elements of the curriculum or would require a fundamental alteration to the nature of the program, service or activity.

  1. Ability to apply acupuncture and accessory techniques, such as cupping, moxibustion and Tui Na, over the full range of a patient’s body, utilizing appropriate physical positioning in relation to the patient, for periods of up to one hour without interruption. Such abilities require standing, leaning, reaching, stooping, kneading, grasping, twisting both body and wrists, and applying pressure with hands;
  2. Ability to place acupuncture needles precisely in a patient’s body and manipulate needles within a minute range of motion;
  3. Ability to perform clinical techniques and procedures under the direct supervision of instructors and in the immediate presence of classmates, patients or family members of patients, within fixed time limits that reflect the patient flow and delivery of services in a typical clinical environment;
  4. Ability to work cohesively and harmoniously in a team of two or more students in the performance of assigned class and clinical activities;
  5. Ability to see and hear, with or without reasonable accommodation, in order to interview patients, conduct patient intakes, elicit necessary diagnostic indicators, maintain patient records, provide instructions to patients, perform appropriate examinations, and provide routine patient treatment and safety services;
  6. Ability to perform in all laboratory and clinical settings without posing a threat to herself/ himself, to the safety and well-being of fellow students or patients;
  7. Ability and willingness to receive acupuncture and accessory treatment. Much of the technical instruction in the programs requires reciprocal application of the techniques of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, such as acupuncture needling, moxibustion, Tui Na bodywork, etc. Receiving techniques is necessary in order for the student to learn proper procedures and to receive and provide learning feedback. Reciprocal application of techniques is also useful for developing sensitivity to patient needs. The College may temporarily excuse a student from receiving acupuncture or other modalities provided that specific medical contraindication information is provided by a licensed medical professional.

In addition to the abilities required of students in the Master of Acupuncture program (stated above), a student must possess the following abilities, with or without reasonable accommodation, for completion of the Master of Chinese Medicine degree program or the Herbal Medicine Certificate program:

  1. Ability to identify physical properties of herbs and other organic and mineral substances utilized in Chinese medical therapy;
  2. Ability to document and prepare herbal formulae, in accordance with Chinese medical therapeutic principles.

All students, with or without reasonable accommodation, must be able to carry out clinical assignments and diagnostic interpretation. Qualified persons with disabilities, with or without reasonable accommodation, must be able to pass oral, written and practical examinations and meet all of the program’s clinical requirements.

It is in the best interest of both the student and the University to assess the degree of limitation caused by disability. However, the University will make the final determination of whether or not an individual meets all qualifications for study at the University. The University accommodations process is found under “Student Life.” Additionally, questions regarding qualifications or accommodations should be directed to the Office of Student Affairs.

Responsibility of Applicant

It is the responsibility of the applicant to be aware of the entrance requirements and ensure that those requirements are met prior to enrollment. If it is determined at any time that requirements are not met in full, the student will not be allowed to enroll or to continue at Northwestern.

Minnesota Immunization Requirement

All students born in 1957 or later must comply with the Minnesota State College Immunization Law (Minn. Stat. 135A.14). An admitted student must show proof of DPT immunization within the past 10 years, as well as measles, mumps and rubella immunization after his/her first birthday. However, exemptions are permitted for philosophical or medical reasons. Further information is included with letters of acceptance to Northwestern.

Some clinical environments outside the University Clinic system may establish immunization and/or health screening requirements exceeding the Minnesota State College Immunization Law. In addition, some clinical environments outside the University Clinic system may not accept placement of interns who have not received or are not in the process of receiving certain immunizations and/or health screenings.

Application Procedure

The first step in the application process is to submit a fully completed application for admission. Applications are available online at https://www.nwhealth.edu/admissions/ or from the Office of Admissions. The application must include:

  1. A properly completed application for admission. Please type or print neatly;
  2. An application processing fee of $50. This fee is non-refundable;
  3. Official transcripts from all colleges attended sent directly to the Office of Admissions at Northwestern Health Sciences University from those colleges. High school transcripts are not required. NOTE: Indicate on your application if your transcripts will be arriving under another name;
  4. Names and addresses of two references. Northwestern will send character reference forms to those persons listed on the application as references. Those persons should complete the form and return it to the University. Relatives are not accepted as references;
  5. A completed essay (see application form for instructions);
  6. A current résumé.

Selection of Candidates

The Admissions Committee in general seeks to admit students who best suit the philosophies and goals of the University. Northwestern seeks to select students who have strong academic records and who demonstrate the motivational and personal characteristics suitable for a career in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Willingness to provide service and a caring attitude are important characteristics of a successful practitioner. The University employs a rolling admissions process. Therefore, early application could increase the applicant’s probability for acceptance. Students are strongly encouraged to apply at least nine to 12 months prior to the first day of their first academic term. Students interested in seeking transfer credit should apply as far in advance as possible, in order to assure that any required additional information may be obtained or challenge examinations completed prior to the first day of class. The University encourages campus visits for all applicants and reserves the right to require an interview.

Tuition Deposit Policy

Applicants will be notified in writing of the Admissions Committee’s decision regarding their application following receipt and review of all information and materials. Upon notification of acceptance, a non-refundable tuition deposit of $300 is required to secure a place in the program. The tuition deposit will be applied to the first trimester tuition.

The tuition deposit should be submitted as soon as possible after notification of acceptance since processing of financial aid is initiated only after receipt of the deposit.

First trimester students who have been accepted and paid their $300 tuition deposit must pay the balance of their first trimester tuition by the end of the third week of classes. If the student has been awarded financial aid for the first trimester at Northwestern, then those funds will be credited against the student’s Northwestern account. It is important to note that because of the limited space available in each class, scheduling priorities and the cost of education, the institutional refund policy does not apply to the $300 tuition deposit.

Transfer Students

A student wishing to transfer from another acupuncture or Chinese medicine program must:

  1. Follow the same application procedures as a new student (see Admission Information above);
  2. Forward all official transcripts from any other acupuncture or Chinese medicine program(s) you have attended;
  3. Submit two letters of recommendation written by faculty members from the acupuncture or Chinese medicine program(s) you attended;
  4. Provide a letter from the registrar at that acupuncture or Chinese medicine program indicating you are in good academic standing and would be allowed to continue studies at that institution.

Transfer Policy

Courses may transfer to Northwestern if you have received grades of C or better. Transfer courses must have similar course content, name, length or objective, and correspond to courses within our acupuncture and Chinese medicine curriculum. The Program Director will determine comparability.

All courses submitted to transfer must be applied for and posted to your Northwestern academic record no later than one year from matriculation.

A transfer student must complete at least the last three trimesters (one academic year) in order to graduate from Northwestern. Excessive student loan debt may be a factor in the student’s ability to transfer. The Financial Aid Office will set upper limits of previous indebtedness.

Transfer policies are subject to change. Contact the Office of Admissions for current information.

Transfer Credit

At the discretion of the Program Director, credit may be granted for equivalent courses taken and passed in another program. Considerations may include the institution offering the courses, the course description and/or syllabus for each course, the length of time since completing the course, and life experience. The student may be required to pass a challenge exam. Students have four options to complete graduation requirements without taking every required course: Transfer Credit for equivalent courses, Transfer Credit for life experience, Waivers of Requirement, and/or CLEP Credits.

Transfer credit will only be granted for the maximum number of hours available from Northwestern-equivalent courses. For example, a 180-hour course in anatomy and physiology from another program will only be worth 135 hours at Northwestern, if the equivalent Northwestern course is 135 hours.

For Equivalent Courses

To be considered for transfer credits, courses must be equivalent to those offered at Northwestern based on an evaluation of the student’s official transcript by the program’s academic administration. A syllabus or other detailed course description and a copy of the catalog from the original institution may be required. Normally, the course must be an academic course from an accredited institution at the bachelor’s degree level or better and passed within the past five years (occasionally, a course may need to have been passed within a shorter time frame) with a grade of C or better. A grade of C- is not acceptable if the awarding college states that the numerical equivalent is less than 2.0 (when A is 4.0). Accreditation must be from an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. A transfer student from another acupuncture program must complete at least the last three full-time trimesters of resident study in the Northwestern program prior to graduation.

Equivalent Course/Life Experience

Transfer credit may be given to a student who has taken an equivalent course (which meets the above referenced standards) prior to the past five years, if life work or experience has enabled the student to use the skills learned in that course within the past five years. For example, current licensed health care providers would typically receive credit for most Western biomedicine courses taken more than five years ago, based on their life experience within the past five years.

Waivers of Requirement

Occasionally, a waiver of requirement may be granted in lieu of a required course or course sequence. Credit will be given according to the above noted guidelines for maximum credit/hours allowed. Normally, a waiver of requirement is based on educational or professional experience that may not be able to be documented to the extent required for transfer credit. A challenge exam may be required of the student to demonstrate competency in the subject involved.

CLEP Credits (College Level Examination Program)

A maximum of 30 semester CLEP credits can be transferred into the program. These credits must first be transferred to another undergraduate degree-granting institution and appear on the student’s respective transcript before these CLEP credits can be considered for transfer into the program.

Non-Program Students

Non-program students are welcome to apply to take certain courses and typically must meet both the course and admissions requirements, and must have completed the prerequisites for the courses for which they are applying. Those persons interested in applying should contact the Office of Admissions for further details. A plan of study, including purpose and rationale, may be required as part of the application process. Approval may be granted by the Admissions Committee and/or at the discretion of the Dean, subject to space availability.

International Students

Northwestern Health Sciences University welcomes the diversity that international students bring to the University community. The University is a non- residential campus. Therefore, no housing is available to students, foreign or otherwise. Individuals in F-1 student status are not eligible to seek employment off campus. All classes at Northwestern are taught in English Matriculants from foreign countries must meet the same educational requirements as students matriculating from the United States. The student should note the entrance requirement and application procedure sections. The student must also fulfill the following:

  1. Follow the same application procedures as a new student (see previous section in catalog);
  2. Verify competency in English. All classes at Northwestern are taught in English.

    A student may verify competency in English in the following manner:

    1. Students from English-speaking countries (excluding the Canadian province of Quebec) may include with their application a copy of their birth certificate. Or these applicants may complete an English Competency Verification Form, which can be obtained from the Office of Admissions.
    2. All other foreign applicants (including students from the Canadian province of Quebec) must complete a TOEFL® (Test of English as a Foreign Language™) examination. Applicants completing the paper-based examination must earn a score of 540 or higher. Applicants completing the computer-based examination must earn a score of 83 or higher. Results of the TOEFL® must be sent directly to North-western from the testing agency. TOEFL information can be obtained from: TOEFL Services, Educational Testing Services, CN 6154, Princeton, NJ 08541-6154, USA

      We reserve the right to request proof of English proficiency of any applicant.

  3. Provide evidence of having financial resources to complete a minimum of one year of education. Official bank statements indicating sufficient funds is required;
  4. Have foreign transcripts evaluated by WES: World Education Services, Inc., PO Box 5087, Bowling Green Station, New York, NY 10274, USA; phone: (212) 966-6311. Official copies of the course-by-course evaluation must be forwarded directly to both Northwestern and the student. Contact the Office of Admissions for a WES application form or names of other accepted transcript evaluation services.

As an international student, you must be aware of the licensure requirements in the country in which you wish to practice. We recommend you contact the acupuncture licensing board or its equivalent board in your country for that information.