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The Ultimate Guide to Chiropractic Schools: Before, During And After

Considering a career as a chiropractor? Or just want to learn more about the profession? Then our guide should tell you all you need to know about before, during and after chiropractic school.

Today there are believed to be forty chiropractic schools around the world and 100,000 qualified chiropractors, with the profession look set to grow year on year.

The History of Chiropractic Teaching

Chiropractic care was founded by Daniel David Palmer in 1895, he’d used and witnessed the chiropractic techniques used, however no one had ever looked at what the care actually provided.

He established himself as a chiropractor in 1895 and demonstrated his skill by improving the hearing of a deaf janitor who had suffered from back pain for most of his life.

Palmer went on to create the first chiropractic school and here began the history of chiropractic teaching.

1897 – The first chiropractic school originated in the US and was established by Daniel David Palmer, once referred to as the Palmer Chiropractic School and Cure, and now known as the Palmer College of Chiropractic.

1904 – Palmer worked to help establish a second school in Oregon, the Marshes’ Chiropractic School and Cure, which became Western States Chiropractic College in 1932.

1906 – A graduate of Palmer’s school, John Fitz Allen Howard, went on to become the founder of the National School of Chiropractic.

1935 – The National Chiropractic Association forms a Committee on Education Standards, now known as The Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE).

1908-1990 – Throughout the next 80 years the profession grew and schools of chiropractic opened across the US including Sherman College of Chiropractic in Iowa, Cleveland Chiropractic College and Life Chiropractic College West in California.

1994 – The Association of Chiropractic Colleges was formed to give the community of chiropractic schools a voice and provide support to promote chiropractic education centres.

Today – There are now 20 chiropractic schools across the US with an additional 20 schools across the world.

Did You Know?

Daniel David Palmer, the founder of chiropractic treatment, was once thought of as a ‘quack’ and indicted for practicing medicine without a license, spending time in jail for his offence.

Preparing for a Career as a Chiropractor – What are the prerequisites?

If you’re considering a career as a chiropractor there are a number of common prerequisites required to secure a place on a Doctor of Chiropractic program.

The prerequisites vary from school to school so it’s worth looking at the particular college you’re interested in, (see an example of a school pre-requisite here) however there are a number of key things you need to apply for a course:

Credits – You must have, or have the equivalent of, three academic years of undergraduate study, which is 90 semester hours.

Required Courses – Both lecture and laboratory components in coursework from the life and physical sciences (biology, physics and chemistry) are required, with a minimum of 24 semester hours.

Minimum GPA – 3.0, however some schools appear to consider a lower GPA if other criteria are met, so it’s certainly worth still looking in to if you don’t have the required GPA.

Soft Skills – As well as the educational pre-requisites to consider, there are a number of soft skills the course providers and eventually employers and patients will be hoping to find.

Strong communication skills to help put people at ease and a sense of empathy so you are able to understand the patient’s pain. Passion for chiropractic care is also important, to progress and best showcase the technique.

FAQ: Can you get in to a chiropractic school without a bachelors degree?

FAQ: Can you get in to a chiropractic school without a bachelors degree?

In short yes, there are a number of different educational routes you can take. As long as you have the required sciences, a high GPA and the right number of semester hours, you can apply for a place at chiropractic school.

What to look for in a Chiropractic School

There are many different things to consider when you’re choosing the chiropractic school that is right for you:

Rankings – The simplest way to look at the performance of a school is the official rankings published by the TFE Times, this provides a great overview and is based on results and graduation rates.

Accreditations – The Council on Chiropractic Education has a list of accredited courses on its site, so you can check whether the course is reputable and has the necessary accreditation.

Cost – Prices can vary greatly between schools, see more on cost below, so it’s certainly worth balancing up the points above and work out what you’re getting for your money. Plus it’s not just thinking about the cost of the school but also any relocation or living costs that may be involved.

School Reviews – There are a number of sites online, including Students Review, where you can read candid advice from other students about both the school and the course to give you an honest and open insight.

FAQ: Are there chiropractic schools for animal care?

FAQ: Are there chiropractic schools for animal care?

Yes. The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association oversees the certification of professionals in to the profession. There are a number of postgraduate courses listed on the website and links to the relevant applications forms.

The Best Chiropractic Schools in the USA

If you’re asking yourself which is the best chiropractic school, according to the TFE Times rankings, below are the top 10 best chiropractic schools in the USA:

  1. University of Western States
  2. Parker University
  3. National University of Health Sciences
  4. Logan University
  5. Life University
  6. University of Bridgeport
  7. Palmer College of Chiropractic, West Campus
  8. Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport Campus
  9. Palmer College of Chiropractic, Florida Campus
  10. Southern California University of Health Sciences

There are also a number of chiropractic schools abroad including in Australia, the UK and Japan, if you were considering studying in another country.

Did You Know?

There’s a school of chiropractic in Switzerland? The home of chocolate making? Sound good?

FAQ: Which is the easiest chiropractic school to get in to?

FAQ: Which is the easiest chiropractic school to get in to?

There is no easy route in to chiropractic care, however certain schools are more flexible on entry requirements than others.

Cleveland University for example offers a Alternate Admissions Track Plan for those with a lower GPA than 3.0 or those that don’t have the required sciences, and offers additional support so you can still meet the requirements of the course.

FAQ: Can you study for a chiropractic degree online?

FAQ: Can you study for a chiropractic degree online?

No. Online options are available only for continuing education credits not for Doctor of Chiropractic qualifications.

What you can expect when attending Chiropractic School

When you commit to attending chiropractic school the average course lasts four years and involves a combination of roughly 4,200 theory and practical teaching hours and 1,000 hours of supervised clinical training.

You can find an example curriculum from the founding college of chiropractic Palmer College of Chiropractic online, however as an overview all courses cover the basic sciences, technique and also instil the principles of chiropractic care in their students.

At the end of your course you’ll need to gain accreditation by sitting the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam before you can legally practice as a chiropractor.

Quick Facts:

Average Length of Course: 4 Years

Average Number of Teaching Hours: 4,200

Average Number of Supervised Clinical Training Hours: 1,000

Cost of Attending Chiropractic School

The cost of attending chiropractic school varies vastly so it’s certainly worth doing your research to ensure you’re making the best investment.

Typically the cost of attending chiropractic school is estimated to be $120,000 for the four years, working out at between $9,000 and $15,000 per quarter with the top ten chiropractic schools in the USA falling within these brackets.

If you’re looking for more detailed costings, CollegeCalc, provides a full breakdown as an example if you chose to study to be a Doctor of Chiropractic at Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport.

It estimates on top of the $8,991 cost of yearly tuition, you would require between $9,500 and $11,389 per year for housing costs and $1,950 in annual cost for books and supplies.

FAQ: How long is chiropractic school?

FAQ: How long is chiropractic school?

Typically chiropractic courses last four years, and involve both theory and practical teaching hours, as well as supervised clinical training.

FAQ: How much debt will you be in after chiropractic school?

FAQ: How much debt will you be in after chiropractic school?

It varies widely between colleges, however if you look at Palmer College of Chiropractic, each student lives with an average of $37,172 in debt per student.

FAQ: Which is the cheapest chiropractic school?

FAQ: Which is the cheapest chiropractic school?

Cleveland University is currently believed to be the cheapest chiropractic school in the US, with a total tuition cost of roughly $114,000.

Career Prospects for a Chiropractor

Career prospects are good for a future chiropractor. You can earn an average salary of $68,640 per year and with an estimated market growth of 12% from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than the average for most other occupations, it’s a good outlook for a career as a chiropractor.

FAQ: Is a Chiropractor really a Doctor?

FAQ: Is a Chiropractor really a Doctor?

Doctors of Chiropractic don’t hold a medical degree so are not considered Doctors in the traditional sense of the word.

FAQ: Where can a Chiropractor work?

FAQ: Where can a Chiropractor work?

A chiropractor can set up their own practice and accept work based on referrals, or work in a clinic or hospital. Often they work as part of a network specialists, referring work between each other to ensure the patient is getting the most appropriate level of care.

Did You Know?

The average chiropractor earns $68,640 per year.


  1. American Chiropractic Association (2019) Origins and History of Chiropractic Care. [Online] Available from: https://www.acatoday.org/About/History-of-Chiropractic [Accessed 20 February 2019].
  2. Palmer College of Chiropractic (2019) A List of U.S. Chiropractic Schools and Their Origins. [Online] Available from: http://www.palmer.edu/about-us/chiropractic-schools-origins/ [Accessed 20 February 2019].
  3. Palmer College of Chiropractic (see footnote 2)
  4. Palmer College of Chiropractic (see footnote 2)
  5. The Council on Chiropractic Education (2019) History of CCE. [Online] Available from: http://www.cce-usa.org/History.html [Accessed 20 February 2019].
  6. Grassi, R. (2018) The History of Chiropractic. [Online] Available from: https://www.spineuniverse.com/treatments/chiropractic/history-chiropractic [Accessed 20 February 2019].
  7. Wikipedia (2019) Chiropractic education. [Online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiropractic_education [Accessed 20 February 2019].
  8. TFE Times (2019) 2019 Best Chiropractic Programs | Top Chiropractic Schools. [Online] Available from: https://tfetimes.com/best-chiropractic-program-rankings/ [Accessed 20 February 2019].
  9. Cleveland University-Kansas City (2016) Doctor of Chiropractic. [Online] Available from: https://www.cleveland.edu/academics/college-of-chiropractic/doctor-of-chiropractic [Accessed 20 February 2019].
  10. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019) Chiropractors. [Online] Available from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/chiropractors.htm [Accessed 20 February 2019].
  11. World Health Organization (2005) WHO guidelines on basic training and safety in chiropractic. [Online] Available from: http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/documents/s14076e/s14076e.pdf [Accessed 20 February 2019].
  12. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (see footnote 10)
  13. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (see footnote 10)

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