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.
The History of Chiropractic Teaching
Chiropractic care was founded by Daniel David Palmer in 1895. He’d used and witnessed chiropractic techniques, 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 centers.
Today – There are now 19 chiropractic schools across the US with over 20 more schools across the world.
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 into 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, for example, 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.
Can you get into a chiropractic school without a bachelor’s 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.
Are there chiropractic schools for animal care?
Yes. The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association oversees the certification of professionals into 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.
|Rank||Chiropractic School||Location||NBCE (National Board of Chiropractic Examiners) Exam Pass Rate|
|1||Parker University||Dallas, Texas||85%|
|2||National University of Health Sciences||Lombard, Illinois||88%|
|3||University of Western States||Portland, Oregon||88%|
|4||University of Bridgeport||Bridgeport, Connecticut||87.18%|
|5||Logan University||Chesterfield, Missouri||90%|
|6||Life University||Marietta, Georgia||81%|
|7||Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport Campus||Davenport, Iowa||91.2%|
|8||Palmer College of Chiropractic, Florida Campus||Port Orange, Florida||79.6%|
|9||Palmer College of Chiropractic, West Campus||San Jose, California||82.1%|
|10||Life Chiropractic College West||Hayward, California||78%|
There are also a number of chiropractic schools abroad including in Australia, the UK and Japan, if you were considering studying in another country.
Which is the easiest chiropractic school to get into?
There is no easy route into chiropractic care, however certain schools are more flexible on entry requirements than others.
Cleveland University for example offers an Alternate Admissions Track Plan for those with a lower GPA than 3.0 or those that don’t have the required sciences. They also provide additional support so you can still meet the requirements of the course.
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.
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, using the chiropractic program at Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport as an example.
It estimates on top of the $9,120 cost of yearly tuition, you would require $8,744 per year for housing costs and $1,950 for books and supplies.
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.
How much debt will you be in after chiropractic school?
It depends on individual circumstances, however a survey by The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association found professional degree students in the US had an average of $80,000 of debt.
Which is the cheapest chiropractic school?
University of Western States is one of the cheapest chiropractic schools in the US, with a total tuition cost of roughly $125,000.
Career Prospects for a Chiropractor
Career prospects are good for a future chiropractor.
You can earn an average salary of $70,720 per year, with the market estimated to grow 4% between 2019 and 2029.
It’s a good outlook for a career as a chiropractor.
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.
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 of specialists, referring work between each other to ensure the patient is getting the most appropriate level of care.
Now you know everything about the chiropractic profession, it’s time to learn more about the benefits of the practice.
Click here to discover 18 advantages (plus 3 risks!) of visiting a chiropractor.
- American Chiropractic Association (2021). Origins and History of Chiropractic Care [Online]. Available from: https://www.acatoday.org/About/History-of-Chiropractic [Accessed 29 April 2021]. ↩
- Palmer College of Chiropractic (2021). The Palmer Family Heritage and the History of Palmer College of Chiropractic [Online]. Available from: https://www.palmer.edu/about-us/history/palmer-family/ [Accessed 01 May 2021]. ↩
- University of Western States (2013). inTOUCH The History Issue [Online]. Available from: https://www.uws.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/inTouch_6.pdf [Accessed 01 May 2021]. ↩
- https://www.uws.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/inTouch_6.pdf (2021). a list of u.s. chiropractic schools [Online]. Available from: https://www.palmer.edu/about-us/chiropractic-schools-origins/ [Accessed 01 May 2021]. ↩
- The Council on Chiropractic Education (2021). Historical Development of the Council on Chiropractic Education [Online]. Available from: https://www.cce-usa.org/History.html [Accessed 01 May 2021]. ↩
- Grassi, R. (2018). The History of Chiropractic [Online]. Spine Universe. Available from: https://www.spineuniverse.com/treatments/chiropractic/history-chiropractic [Accessed 01 May 2021]. ↩
- Wikipedia (2021). Chiropractic education [Online]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiropractic_education [Accessed 01 May 2021]. ↩
- TFE Times (2021). 2021 Best Chiropractic Programs [Online]. Available from: https://tfetimes.com/best-chiropractic-program-rankings/ [Accessed 01 May 2021]. ↩
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021). Chiropractors [Online]. Available from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/chiropractors.htm [Accessed 01 May 2021]. ↩
- Wikipedia (see footnote 7) ↩
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (see footnote 9) ↩
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (see footnote 9) ↩