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Five Branches University

Past and Present

Five Branches University was founded on an auspicious day – Feb. 4, 1984, on Chinese New Year in the Year of the Mouse, at the beginning of a 60-year cycle. We had one classroom, a clinic with three treatment rooms, five teachers, 18 dedicated students, one patient a day, and one typewriter. Today we have two campuses, nine programs, 14 classrooms, 38 treatment rooms, 200 teachers, 450 dedicated students, 1500 alumni, and we see 160 patients a day. We have grown.

From the beginning, it was our intention to invite Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners to the West, to teach and transmit their precious knowledge of Chinese medicine and to share their subtle yet powerful ways of practicing medicine. The history of Five Branches began when several of these extraordinary yet humble practitioners of Traditional Chinese medicine accepted our invitation.

The essence of our success has been the quality and dedication of our faculty/practitioners. Jeffrey Pang, LAc., Joanna Zhao, LAc., and Lucy Hu, LAc., have been with us for over 30 years. Today, our faculty number over 200 distinguished members.

The most meaningful events of our history, however, are the memories of the hug and warm smile a patient gives one of our faculty members when they meet outside the clinic, the practitioner who shares how Chinese medicine saved their patient’s life, and the heartfelt gratitude expressed by a graduate at graduation for the gifts received from faculty during their time of study and training at Five Branches.

It is our comprehensive academic programs, the quality of teaching in both the classroom and clinic and the deep and sincere dedication of faculty, staff and students that have contributed significantly to the transmission of this incredible medicine into our communities and throughout the West.

Academic Dean Joanna Zhao, LAc, Senior Faculty Jeffrey Pang, LAc, and Sharon Feng, LAc with the first graduating class of Five Branches University. Several of the students pictured have become professors at the University.

Presidents Ron Zaidman of Five Branches and Naida Zhang of the Zhejiang Chinese Medical University exchange gifts to honor the signing of an agreement to develop joint U.S. doctoral and Chinese PhD programs.

Five Branches University Timeline

(1984 – 1988)
  • Five Branches Institute is founded on February 4, 1984
  • Five Branches enrolls its first class of 18 dedicated students
  • Approved as degree granting school by California Council of Education
  • Five Branches builds a modern seven-room clinic
(1989 – 1993)
  • The Five Element Acupuncture program is established
  • Five Branches students travel to China for the annual Study in China program
  • The Medical Qigong program is established
(1994 – 1998)
  • Five Branches Institute receives national accreditation
  • The NADA program is established
  • Five Branches expands the library, clinic and classrooms
  • Externship clinic program with community clinics is established
(1999 – 2003)
  • The Sports Medicine program is established
  • Five Branches expands modern clinic to 22 treatment rooms
  • Five Branches signs cooperation agreement with Zhejiang Chinese Medical University to develop joint Doctoral/Ph.D. program
(2004 -2008)
  • Five Branches co-hosts the first International Conference on Integrated Medicine with Zhejiang Chinese Medical University in China
  • Five Branches establishes the San Jose campus, offering the TCM Master’s Degree
  • Stanford doctors and staff explore cooperative education with Five Branches
  • The Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine program is established
  • The Chinese Master’s Degree program is established at the San Jose campus
(2009 -2014)
  • Five Branches University celebrates its 25 year anniversary
  • The Korean Master’s in Oriental Medicine program is established at the San Jose campus
  • Five Branches students travel to Taiwan for the annual Study Abroad program
  • Five Branches receives the maximum 7 years institutional and Master’s degree programmatic re-accreditation
  • Five Branches DAOM program receives full accreditation
  • The Stroke and Rehabilitation Center is established
  • The Mind-Body Medicine Department is established at the San Jose campus


Five Branches University, a Graduate School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, is dedicated to educating students to become exceptional practitioners, educators and researchers.

Our Purpose

Five Branches University is dedicated to:

Provide the highest level of professional education in Traditional Chinese Medicine and integrative medicine in the U.S. and internationally.

Develop highly-skilled TCM clinical practitioners, educators and researchers.

Advance the practice of TCM as an independent medical modality through clinical practice, education and research.

Encourage professional collaboration among TCM practitioners, faculty, patients, and other health care providers to transform the worldview of healthcare; to recognize TCM as a significant component of world medicine.

Support an international and diverse cultural community by offering our programs in three languages and by providing students the opportunity to study abroad.

Foster a professional environment for faculty, staff and students which promotes academic excellence as well as personal growth and development.

Provide exceptional TCM and integrative medicine patient care to the community through the Five Branches University health centers.

Educate the general public about the significant benefits of TCM healthcare through continuing education programs and community lectures.

Vision and Values

Over the next 20 years, Five Branches University will evolve into an international university, teaching high-level TCM education in English, Chinese, and Korean and offering TCM healthcare in an integrative medicine environment throughout the U.S. and worldwide.

TCM philosophy views medicine as a compassionate response to human suffering. We will embrace this philosophy by encouraging supportive and humanistic academic and healthcare environments. Our faculty members will be chosen based not only on academic excellence but also the passion they emanate while teaching and mentoring students. Our students will be chosen for academic competence as well as their compassion and commitment to serve others.

Four trends will influence our vision over the next 20 years:

An increasing number of patients will continue to seek highly qualified TCM practitioners as primary healthcare providers. TCM schools will continue to improve their programs to provide highly skilled TCM clinical practitioners to meet this growing demand.

TCM universities in China and medical experts in the U.S. will continue to collaborate and share their expertise in TCM and Western medicine, a vital component for the advanced development of TCM doctoral programs and research.

Scientists, researchers and medical institutions will continue to research the depth and efficacy of TCM, resulting in greater acceptance of Chinese medicine among medical professionals and medical schools.

A greater demand for integrated healthcare will evolve as healthcare professionals join together to address the population’s full health needs by educating one another about their work and collaborating to provide effective treatment, prevent disease and promote optimal well-being for patients.


Welcome to Five Branches University. For over 30 years we have set the standards for excellence in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and integrative medicine education.Our five degree programs in Traditional Chinese Medicine are among the most highly regarded in the U.S. and abroad:

Graduate Degrees

  • Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine – DTCM
  • Master of Traditional Chinese Medicine – MTCM
  • Master of Acupuncture – MAc

Postgraduate Degrees

  • Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine – DAOM
  • Joint DAOM/PhD Degree with leading Chinese Universities

The University also offers certificate programs in Asian Bodywork and Qigong programs. We attribute our success to our family of doctors, faculty and staff who are dedicated to the long-term growth and success of our students and the profession.

Five Branches University Santa Cruz and San Jose have received full 7 years accreditation for both Master’s and Professional Doctorate programs:
San Jose Campus | Santa Cruz Campus 

Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (DTCM)/ Master of Traditional Chinese Medicine (MTCM)

The Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine degree program, taught in parallel with theMaster of Traditional Chinese Medicine, is presented in English at our Santa Cruz campus, and in English and Chinese at our San Jose campus. The DTCM/MTCM program is the foundation for understanding and practicing the “five branches” of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Acupuncture, Herbology, Tuina (Chinese medical massage), Energetics (Qigong and Tajiquan) and Dietetics (Nutritional medicine). Western medical studies provide you with knowledge of Western diagnosis and pharmaceuticals, essential for the appropriate diagnosis of your patients while in-depth clinical practice, comprising one-third of the curriculum, allows you to work closely with highly skilled faculty in a clinical environment. Our dual degree DTCM and nationally accredited MTCM program prepare you for the national and state examinations required to become a licensed acupuncturist. The DTCM/MTCM program is eligible for Federal financial aid.

Master of Traditional Chinese Medicine (MTCM)

Students who have two rather than three years of undergraduate studies may enroll in the Master of Traditional Chinese Medicine (MTCM) degree program, a four-year graduate professional degree program comprising 3435 hours in length and a total of 195.5 units. The program, taught on a trimester basis, is presented in English at our Santa Cruz campus, and in English and Chinese at our San Jose campus. The MTCM programs are daytime programs. Enrollment on a part-time basis is available based on consideration and approval by the Academic Dean and Admissions Director. The MTCM program is eligible for Federal financial aid.

Master of Acupuncture (MAc)

The Master of Acupuncture (MAc) program is offered in English only at our Santa Cruz and San Jose campuses. It is specifically designed for students who wish to practice outside California, or those interested in developing a practice emphasizing acupuncture. The program includes both academic and clinical training, with a focus on working in an integrative medical environment, or establishing a Community Acupuncture Clinic. The MAc program is eligible for Federal financial aid.

Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM)

The Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine program at our San Jose campus is for TCM practitioners interested in developing advanced TCM knowledge, medical specialization, or a career in TCM research and education. Our 1280 hour program has a flexible modular structure created specifically for two year completion by acupuncturists in private practice. Our renowned senior TCM faculty and biomedicine experts from China and the U.S. as well as partnerships with Stanford University and Zhejiang Chinese Medical University provides a collaborative and diverse educational and clinical setting in which to effectively learn advanced concepts of TCM and Western Medicine. The DAOM program is offered in both English and Chinese. Financial aid is available.

Joint DAOM/PhD

The joint Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine / PhD program at our San Jose campus is for TCM practitioners interested in adding a year of study and research to their DAOM and earning a PhD degree with one of our four sister TCM universities in China. After earning the DAOM, students study and research a specialization with a chosen preceptor at one of the Five Branches’ four sister universities in China. The DAOM/PhD program is offered in both English and Chinese. Financial aid is available for the two-year DAOM, and not for the third PhD year.

Specialty Certificate Options

Students enrolled in the MTCM program can receive specialty certifications in Sports Medicine, Medical Qigong, Five Element and Tuina Massage to enhance and distinguish their TCM practice.

Study in Asia

Our Study Abroad program is one of the best ways to experience the authentic practice of TCM integrated with modern western medicine. Travel to Asia to learn TCM from highly knowledgeable doctors and teachers and to receive extensive clinical training in a hospital setting, including earning a Ph.D. at our sister schools in Hangzhou, Tianjin and Shenyang, China.

Massage Certification

Five Branches University offers massage and bodywork professional certificate programs based on Asian bodywork therapies including Acupressure, Shiatsu, Tuina, and Qigong, preparing you to obtain a California massage license and to receive national massage certification.

Medical Qigong Certification

Five Branches University is the first accredited acupuncture school in the U.S to pioneer a comprehensive Medical Qigong Certificate Program. We offer three Medical Qigong Certificates: Self-Cultivation, Medical Qigong Practitioner and Medical Qigong Therapist.

Continuing Education

Extend your education and fulfill your licensure requirements through our Continuing Education courses. Five Branches University offers board-approved CEU’s for L.Ac, RN, MFT, LCSW, LEP, and LPCC.

Five Branches University


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