Chiropractic Education

Entrance into a chiropractic college requires three to four years of college undergraduate work with basic science requirements of biology, anatomy, chemistry, physics, and more. Once the undergraduate requirements are complete, the 10 semesters (five years) of chiropractic education begin. In addition to classroom work, the training includes an internship period in clinics operated by the school. In the clinic setting, student interns care for patients under the supervision of chiropractic instructors and often participate in an externship program where they can work under the supervision of private physicians.

To sit for the state licensing examination in the state he or she wishes to practice, each student must pass the standardized National Board of Chiropractic examination. Each state has individualized licensing laws, and these tests and licensing requirements vary.

Many people are curious about how chiropractic education compares to a traditional medical curriculum. The following chart was compiled from a review of the catalogs of 22 medical schools and 11 chiropractic colleges and updates from the National Health Federation Bulletin.

Chiropractic College Medical School
520 Anatomy 508
420 Physiology 326
300 Pathology 401
130 Chemistry 325
520 Bacteriology 114
420 Diagnosis 324
320 Neurology 112
217 X-ray 148
225 Orthopedics 156

Obviously, there are additional subjects that diverge from medical school curricula. Chiropractors take extensive courses in nutrition, physiotherapy and rehabilitation. Medical students take classes in pharmacology (drugs) and general surgery.

When medical doctors graduate, they do not yet have a specialty. In order to become a specialist in musculoskeletal care, a medical doctor must complete a residency in orthopedics and becomes an orthopedist. A chiropractor gets approximately 2,500 hours of musculoskeletal education “mixed in” with his/her five-year chiropractic course. Thus, a chiropractor is a musculoskeletal specialist.

I cannot tell you how many people are surprised to find out that chiropractic school is a five-year program after college. The education is comparable to a medical doctor degree.