FAQ's - Chiropractic Education vs Medical Education




A Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), like a Medical Doctor (MD), must FIRST complete 2 to 4 years of undergraduate study, THEN 4 years of graduate school.


This includes over 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Diagnosis, Radiology, all the -ologies.


The biggest difference is the treatment taught. Chiropractors learn spinal analysis & adjustment techniques, nutrition and exercise physiology, while medical students learn about drug therapy and minor surgery.


All doctors must pass rigorous National Board Examinations covering all aspects of their education. Plus, State Board Exams for each state they practice in.


Both must attend annual post graduate courses to maintain their primary health care provider status.

(A more detailed explaination below)


Chiropractic Education vs Medical Education

The educational requirements needed to become a (Medical Doctor (MD) are often exaggerated, and that of Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) underestimated.


Chiropractic colleges today actually require more courses for admission and more classroom hours for graduation then many medical colleges. The documentation below is a matter of public record that anyone can easily verify.


Unfortunately, despite the facts, most people will tenaciously hold to their false beliefs about chiropractic education. Nonetheless, truths are more likely to be accepted, eventually, if broadcast persistently. So, with this in mind, I present the documentation.


Education of DCs and MDs

Both chiropractic and medical schools require certain course work for admission. These vary from school to school. Very few schools of either type require a bachelor's degree, although some specify that they prefer the applicant have one.


Chiropractic colleges do not require the MCAT. Some medical schools do. Contrary to common belief, some medical schools (including high profile institutions) require the bare minimum of undergraduate requirements.


We took the admission requirements for medical schools from the publication titled: Medical School Admission Requirements, 1997-1998: United States and Canada, 47th edition (published by The Association of American Medical Colleges). Admission requirements for accredited chiropractic schools are dictated by the Council on Chiropractic Colleges (the agency appointed by the U.S. Dept. of Education to accredit chiropractic colleges).


The Parker College study reported that on average, chiropractic college involves 372 more classroom hours than medical school. Chiropractic students also have more hours of training in anatomy, physiology, diagnosis, and orthopedics (the musculoskeletal system).

It should be apparent from looking at the data below that in general, the chiropractic student has a more extensive classroom education and practical training in these areas, particularly in diagnosis, than the medical student.


Requirements for Admission to Chiropractic and Medical Schools

College Courses

Parker Chiropractic College

Harvard Medical School

Stanford University

Biological Science (with lab)

1 year

1 year

1 year

General or Inorganic Chemistry

1 year

1 year

1 year

Organic Chemistry (with lab)

1 year

1 year

1 year

Physics (with lab)

1 year

1 year

1 year

English or Communicative Skills

1 year



1/2 year


Humanities or Social Sciences

22.5 quarter hours



6-to-18 quarter hours.



Degree Requirements

These basic educational requirements for graduates of both chiropractic and medical schools show that although each has its own specialties, the hours of classroom instruction are about the same. (The class hours for basic science comparisons were compiled and averaged following a review of curricula of 18 chiropractic colleges and 22 medical schools.)


Minimum Required Hours

Chiropractic College


Medical School


























Obstetrics & Gynecology









Total Hours for Degree



College Faculty

The U.S. Department of Education, through the separate accrediting agencies for chiropractic and medical schools, dictates the credentials of faculty members. In both chiropractic and medical schools, the classes for the first two academic years are usually basic sciences.


Faculty members in the basic sciences divisions are either Ph.D.s in each subject taught (such as microbiology or biochemistry), or D.C.s, M.D.s, or D.O.s who also have bachelors, masters, or Ph.D. degrees in the basic science subjects being taught. Classes in the clinical sciences division are usually taught by D.C.s, M.D.s, or D.O.s.


In many chiropractic colleges, M.D.s or D.O.s are permitted to teach certain courses, such as laboratory diagnosis. However, D.C.s must teach courses in which M.D.s or D.O.s don't have sufficient education or practical clinical experience.


Some chiropractic colleges have active research departments in which researchers conduct both basic science and clinical studies. The subjects of study range from biomechanics to biochemistry.


Traditionally, chiropractic colleges had only minuscule research funding compared to medical schools. I recall political medicine using this fact as evidence that chiropractic wasn't legitimate.


However, the medical critics failed confess that the minimal funding or lack of it was a result of political medicine doing everything in its power to block funding of studies in chiropractic college.


Obviously, political medicine used a circular and disingenuous argument to deceive the public. Today, chiropractic colleges are receiving more funding for research.


Some medical schools have D.C.s as full-time faculty members. The University of Colorado School of Medicine, for example, has a full-time chiropractic radiologist as a faculty member.

Dr. James P. Barassi, a chiropractor, is Research Fellow in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. D.C.s occasionally teach part-time or special classes through medical schools.


It's not unusual for D.C.s and M.D.s to co-teach both medical and chiropractic audiences. Most often, chiropractic physicians and medical neurologists or neurosurgeons co-teach.