Chiropractic Vs. Medical Education

How much education does a chiropractic doctor have? The facts may surprise you. Today, highly specialized training is required to graduate and earn licensure. Chiropractic school is quite similar to that of medical school, especially during the first 2 years of the 4 year program. A Chiropractic program consists of 4 academic years of professional education after completion of a 4 year undergraduate degree. Chiropractic education averages a total of 4,822 hours, ranging from 4,400 hours to 5,220 hours in the 16 colleges. This includes an average if 1,975 hours in clinical sciences and 1,045 hours of clinical clerkship. The minimum hours for accreditation by the Council on Chiropractic Education is 4,200 hours. Chiropractic doctors are well trained to refer to other health care providers when clinically necessary. It is for this reason that a chiropractor’s training includes courses such as Cardiology, Gastrointestinal, Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Pathology amongst others.

In comparing the curricula of these two professions into subjects and how much is taught? They are relatively similar in total student contact hours: an average of 4,822 hours in chiropractic schools compared with 4,667 hours in medical schools (Coulter, et al, submitted). Basic science comprises 25-30 percent of the total contact hours in both the chiropractic and medical programs and the two programs have roughly similar contact hours in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Pathology. Chiropractors receive substantially more hours in Anatomy education and Physiology but many fewer in public health.


Class Hours

Chiropractic Students

Class Hours

Medical Students

Additionally Required Studies

Spinal Manipulation Nutrition

PhysiotherapyAdvanced RadiologyGeneral Surgery
TOTAL HOURS4,4854,250


Comparisons of the Overall Curriculum Structure for Chiropractic and Medical Schools

Chiropractic SchoolsMedical Schools
Total Contact Hours4822100%4667100%
Basic ScienceHours141629%120026%
Clinical Science Hours340671%346774%
Chiropractic Science Hours197541%0%
Clerkship Hours140529%346774%

Source: Center for Studies in Health Policy, Inc., Washington, DC. Personal communication of 1995 unpublished data from Meredith Gonyea, PhD.

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