Educational Requirements for Chiropractors

Before a chiropractor can go into practice, there are two requirements that he or she must fulfill: a degree from an accredited chiropractic college, and a license in the state where he or she intends to practice. Licensing requires the candidate to pass an exam in four parts, one of which is administered at the midpoint of the doctor of chiropractic program. The focus of this article is on educational requirements needed to obtain and keep a license to practice chiropractic.

Chiropractic Colleges

There are 18 accredited chiropractic colleges in the United States. The accrediting body is the Council on Chiropractic Education, and it is certified by the U.S. Education Department. A degree from an accredited program is required to obtain a license and gain membership to a professional chiropractic organization.

Admission Prerequisites

An undergraduate degree is typically not required for admission to a chiropractic school, although this may vary by individual institutions. Generally, however, the CCE requires at least 90 semester hours of undergraduate coursework for admission, which amounts to approximately three years. The CCE also requires that, during the undergraduate coursework, students maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. It is recommended that undergraduate coursework focuses on the physical sciences, but the CCE does not require that specific classes be completed for admission.

Doctor of Chiropractic Degree Program

The classroom, clinical, and laboratory experience required to complete the program and obtain a D.C. degree amounts to 4,200 hours at minimum. This is usually completed over four to five years in chiropractic school. It includes the care of actual patients during a one-year internship. Clinical training makes up a significant portion of the time spent in the degree program, due to the hands-on nature of chiropractic treatments. 

In some ways, the education in the healing sciences that a chiropractor receives is similar to that of a medical doctor. As a matter of fact, a chiropractor actually receives more intensive training than an M.D. in areas such as rehabilitation, physiology, and anatomy, as well as public health and nutrition.

Continuing Education

Ongoing research means constant changes and improvements to the practice of chiropractic. In order to maintain licensure, a chiropractor must undergo continuing education. Requirements vary by state, but chiropractors typically must complete a set number of CE credits every one to three years.

It is important to choose a chiropractor who has received the necessary education and is properly licensed. Contact a chiropractor to see if he or she might be a good fit for your needs.