What You Need To Know About Chiropractic Education

Undergraduate requirements, how to choose a chiropractic college & more....


There are numerous chiropractic colleges in the United States, and there are a growing number of programs around the world, including established campuses in Canada, Great Britain, and Australia.   For more information on the standing of individual colleges with accrediting agencies, you can contact the colleges you are interested in directly. A list of colleges affiliated with the ICA, with their web sites and other contact information, is also provided for your convenience.


In order to qualify for admission to a four-year chiropractic college program, requirements may vary in different countries, and you will need to check directly with individual admissions offices at the colleges for updated information.  In the US, for example, in general, applicants must have completed high school and also must furnish proof of having completed a minimum of specified credit hours of college credit leading toward a baccalaureate (bachelor) degree.  The required undergraduate credit hours must have been earned at institutions accredited at the college level by an agency nationally recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, and must have been acquired with an overall cumulative grade point average that meets the current stipulations for application by the individual schools.  In addition, individual schools may stipulate that no more than 20 semester credit hours (or quarter equivalent) may be acquired through the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) or other college proficiency exams such as DANTES,  ACT,  PEP,  New York Board of Regents College Exam or through challenging courses.   Proficiency credits may only be considered by an individual chiropractic college if the applicant has had certification of these credits posted on his or her official undergraduate transcripts.  As a general rule, however, proficiency examination credits do not tend to be accepted in the following subjects:  biology, chemistry and physics.

The Association of Chiropractic Colleges may also have information on requirements, credits and prerequisites, as well as the individual colleges:

Association of Chiropractic Colleges
4424 Montgomery Avenue, Suite 102
Bethesda, Maryland 20814

There are a number of regional licensure boards requiring the Bachelor’s degree prior to completing the educational prerequisites and commencing chiropractic education, or, prior to seeking licensure.  Some individual chiropractic colleges provide for a bachelor’s level prerequisite course of study on their own campus or through a coordinated curriculum or other program with a nearby college or university.



There are many factors involved in choosing the chiropractic institutions you might like to apply to.  These can of course include features such as geographic location, climate patterns, and the size and nature of the campus.

In addition, you may hold preferences for the orientation of individual institutions.  For example, there are schools which emphasize an academic priority to uphold and advance research, development and education in the context of the founding principles of chiropractic as a separate and distinct healing art, reflecting the elements of chiropractic science that distinguish it as unique from other health care disciplines.  For instance, does a college teach chiropractic philosophy, art and science as a distinct discipline and seek to instruct about the many elements of chiropractic case management and its effects on the different systems of the whole patient through the control and coordination of bodily functions through the nervous system?  Or, does the college teach chiropractic practice as a modality of care that is limited to biomechanical issues like “low back pain” and pain management?  It is important that you build some awareness of chiropractic and its founding principles and gain a clear sense of why you are choosing this profession to pursue as a healing art and as a career.



In general, chiropractic colleges involve a minimum of four academic years of resident study leading to the Doctor of Chiropractic degree.  The specific format of this education is outlined in individual college catalogs.

There are different agencies which undertake to support the quality of education in the institutions they accredit.  For example, several chiropractic colleges are recognized with regional accreditation, such as those with Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).  The Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) is an accrediting agency that reviews programs and institutions offering the doctor of chiropractic degree.

Council on Chiropractic Education
8049 North 85th Way
Scottsdale, Arizona 85258-4321
Telephone: 480-443-8877 Fax: 480-483-7333
E-Mail: cce@cce-usa.org  Website: www.cce-usa.org

There is also a Council on Chiropractic Education International, http://www.cceintl.org, and there are several other educational accrediting bodies.  The contact information for individual agencies is available via the websites provided below:

There are also different reciprocity arrangements with accredited chiropractic institutions in different countries that relate to academic degree, accreditation, and eligibility of national board examinations.  It is important to become aware of the requirements and to keep track of any transitions that may take place in different locations and jurisdictions if you wish to practice in countries other than where you are attending chiropractic college.  For example, students with either pre-chiropractic education or chiropractic degrees earned outside the U.S. seeking to practice in the United States, or students attending college in the U.S. who may wish to consider practicing in another country, should contact the jurisdiction(s) in which they plan to practice about special requirements and reference information.



Please be sure to contact the Admissions Office of the chiropractic college(s) in which you have an interest as early as possible and ask to obtain their college catalog.  College catalogs contain detailed information on admission requirements, grants/financial aid, specific requirements and other related information.  Admissions offices will not only provide you with application forms, they can give you personalized advice on preparing for admission and pursuing any outstanding prerequisite credits.

While over time there are additional programs in development in different locations, they do not have a sufficiently established presence or complete informational resources available at this time.



Doctors of Chiropractic are licensed in all 50 states and many different countries.  While the process of qualifying for licensure for chiropractic practice in a specified state, province or country jurisdiction is undertaken shortly before or following graduation from chiropractic college, it is important to be aware of the scope of practice and local statutes for an individual region in which you might intend to practice early in your career.  A listing of chiropractic practice statutes in the US is posted on the ICA web site at https://www.chiropractic.org/legislation/state_statutes.htm and can also be reached by selecting the “Legislative Affairs” button along the gray bar on the top of the Home Page. This will also lead you to a link for listings of State Chiropractic Licensing Boards and a Directory of Chiropractic Associations with links and contact information.  In addition, a roster of personnel and contacts for licensing boards is maintained by the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB) and can be requested by contacting them at the following address:

  • Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards
    901 54th Avenue, Suite 101, Greeley, CO 80634-4400  USA
    970.356.3500   FAX 970.356.3599
    e-mail: fclb@fclb.org   www.fclb.org



The Financial Aid Office at each college can provide details about financial aid programs you may be eligible for, including regional scholarship and aid programs and national agencies like the Health Education Assistance Loan Program (HEAL).  Many programs such as the Federal financial programs require all applicants to complete a needs analysis process.   In addition to federal assistance programs, colleges offer their own institutional scholarships.  The eligibility requirements and award administration of these scholarships are highly variable, and information on these scholarships is disseminated by each college.

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