What are the current educational requirements to be a doctor of chiropractic?

(Excerpted from ACA)

Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions.

The typical applicant at a chiropractic college has already acquired nearly four years of pre-medical undergraduate college education, including courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology and related lab work. Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic college, the requirements become even more demanding — four to five academic years of professional study are the standard. Because of the hands-on nature of chiropractic, and the intricate adjusting techniques, a significant portion of time is spent in clinical training.

Doctors of chiropractic — who are licensed to practice in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in many nations around the world — undergo a rigorous education in the healing sciences, similar to that of medical doctors. In some areas, such as anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation, nutrition and public health, they receive more intensive education than their MD counterparts.

Like other primary health care doctors, chiropractic students spend a significant portion of their curriculum studying clinical subjects related to evaluating and caring for patients. Typically, as part of their professional training, they must complete a minimum of a one-year clinical-based program dealing with actual patient care. In total, the curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. The course of study is approved by an accrediting agency which is fully recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This has been the case for more than 25 years.

This extensive education prepares doctors of chiropractic to diagnose health care problems, treat the problems when they are within their scope of practice and refer patients to other healthcare practitioners when appropriate.

Post Graduate Requirements

The state of New Mexico requires 16 CEUs a year of post-graduate instruction for a chiropractic physician’s annual license renewal.

The curriculum includes the following disciplines:

    • Biochemistry
    • Cardiovascular Disorders
    • Clinical Human Behavior
    • Dermatology
    • Diagnosis: physical, neuromusculoskeletal, regional, and roentgenological diagnosis
    • Dissection: human dissection and topographical anatomy
    • Embryology
    • First Aid and Emergency Procedures
    • Human Anatomy: myology, osteology, arthrology, histology, angiology, genesiology, splanchnology
    • Laboratory procedures
    • Neurology: central nervous system and peripheral nervous system
    • Nutrition
    • Orthopedics
    • Otolaryngology
    • Pathology: microbiology, general pathology, hematology, public health and sanitation, neuromusculoskeletal pathology cardiovascular pathology, gastrointestinal and urogenital pathology
    • Pediatrics
    • Physical Therapy
    • Physiology: cellular physiology, general physiology, cardiovascular physiology, endocrine physiology, neurophysiology, digestion and nutritional physiology, renal and pulmonary physiology
    • Psychology
    • Spinal analyses: principles and practice of chiropractic: manipulation, mobilization, manual therapy, adjustive techniques, and clinic
    • Roentgenology: physics, positioning and diagnosis



These courses fulfill the concept of the chiropractic physician as set forth within the Educational Standards of the Council on Chiropractic Education and the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB). The FCLB has recommended to the various state licensing boards that a rule of law be adopted, either by statute or by administrative regulation, wherein it will be provided as follows: “All applicants for licensure who matriculate in a chiropractic college after October 1, 1975, must present evidence of having graduated from a chiropractic college having status with the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Chiropractic Education, or its successor, or from a chiropractic college which meets equivalent standards thereof.”