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UConn Traditional Chinese Medicine in Beijing, China (Faculty-led) (Summer)

Students are not required to be studying Pharmacy to participate in this program!

This program typically runs from mid-May through mid-June.

The Program

This program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to study Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) alongside seasoned professionals in the field in the bustling city of Beijing. Within the ancient Chinese capital city of Beijing, over 18 million inhabitants dwell. Although western medicine is practiced in China, you will find that most of these citizens also rely heavily on TCM. Contact with western medicine has not displaced TCM; in fact, you will encounter western medicine and TCM being practiced side-by-side during your stay. Currently utilized as a complementary medical system in China, TCM consists of a range of medicinal practices that developed over thousands of years including herbal medicine, acupuncture and massage therapy. This program will focus on herbal medicine, which is becoming an increasingly popular method of treatment in the West. Students enrolled in the program will experience field trips to herbal farms, TCM factories, hospitals, and community practice sites where they will come across doctors prescribing and dispensing herbal medicines.

This program is designed to provide the student with a basic understanding of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This will include the history and the philosophy behind TCM, and an overview of the resources (including sources, chemistry, analysis and formulation into medicines). The program will include formal lectures, discussions, and field trips. Field trips will include field collection of medicinal plants, as well as visits to TCM manufacturers and TCM departments of hospitals. Students will take 28 hours of basic Mandarin. In addition, several cultural activities are planned.

The Academics

You will receive six credits on this program, issued as PHAR 3095: Special Topics in Clinical Rotations: Traditional Chinese Medicine. Lectures will be given by faculty members of the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Peking University, one of the top pharmacy schools in China.

1. Traditional Chinese Medicine Seminars –
For the remainder of the program, students will take a series of seminars in TCM taught in English by the faculty at Peking.

  • Development history of traditional Chinese medicine (9 hours). Brief summary of the development process of TCM since its early stage from the Han dynasty to the modern age. The philosophy behind TCM will be included. Famous TCM books and representative figures will be introduced.
  • Basic theory of traditional Chinese medicine (9 hours) The basic theory of TCM including the Yin-Yang theory, the Zang-Fu theory, etc., will be introduced so that students will learn the principles used by ancient people to think about the human body and treat diseases.
  • Brief introduction to Chinese herbs and minerals (resources, morphology, chemistry, quality control and clinical use) (24 hours) There are over 11,000 species of Chinese herbs used by Chinese doctors and local herbal practitioners, but only about 500 commonly used herbs which are recorded in Chinese Pharmacopeia. Approaches to the authentication, chemistry and quality control methods for these herbs and minerals will be introduced. After the course, the students will have a basic knowledge of these herbs and minerals.

2. Field Excursions
During the program students will participate in a number of field excursions and practice site visits. There are eight full day field excursions planned. The program will conclude with a day long program wrap up with the instructors and Chinese students. Field excursions will include the following:

  • Visit to Tongrentang Pharmaceutical Group (The oldest TCM manufacturer) (2 days). In this trip, the students will visit workshops that prepare TCM herbs and spices. This will show the students the oldest way to process the herbs as well as modern processing methods. Students will also see how the major TCM dosage forms are manufactured, including: pills, powders, tablets, capsules etc. Through this visit, students will learn the whole manufacturing process of traditional Chinese medicine, especially the traditional way.
  • Visit to Tianjin Tasly Pharmaceutical Group (Modern TCM manufacturer) (2 days) This is a representative TCM company for modern TCM production methods. From this trip, students will experience a modern TCM manufacturer and learn about the production of modern TCM products. The modern facilities and modern dosage forms will be exhibited.
  • Field collection of medicinal plants (2 days) The possible sites for this field trip include: Badaling (great wall tour sites, 100 km away from Beijing) and Huairou county. Commonly used TCM herbs will be collected and students will be taught to recognize some of the most important plants (tentatively 50 species). The students will also be taught to prepare sample specimens for storage and future use.
  • Visit the TCM pharmacy departments of different hospitals (2 days) These will be Peking University Health Science Center affiliated hospitals, including People Hospital, Third Hospital and Peking Union Hospital.

3. Beginner Mandarin
Upon arrival in Peking, students will receive an orientation to the city and take 28 hours of instruction in Mandarin (2 Credits for language course).

The Experience

TCM study abroad courses will be conducted at the Peking University School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, a sister school to the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy. During the stay, students will be housed in dormitories at the university’s main campus in the heart of Beijing. Excursions will be taken to many famous sites including the breathtaking Great Wall of China, Forbidden City, and Summer Palace, among other fascinating points of interest.  For more information please contact Professor Diane Burgess at


Please note that the only type of financial aid that can be applied to the cost of this program, other than scholarships, are Federal Stafford Loans. Click the link below for this program’s budget sheet and contact the UConn Office of Financial Aid Services for information regarding your individual financial aid package.

Budget Sheets:
The Details

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Dates / Deadlines:

Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date

Fact Sheet:

Class status: Academic area:
Language of instruction: Prior language study required:
Open to non-UConn students: Required GPA: