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Chiropractic Licensure and Education

There are currently 17 chiropractic colleges in the United States, ten of which were established prior to 1945. Over 14,000 young men and women attend these chiropractic colleges each year.

Since 1974, standards for chiropractic education have been established and monitored by the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE), a nonprofit organization located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the specialized accrediting agency for chiropractic education, the CCE sets the standards for the curriculum, faculty and staff, facilities, patient care and research.

Admissions requirements of chiropractic colleges are influenced by CCE standards and chiropractic licensing board requirements. A minimum of two years of undergraduate education is required, with successful completion of courses in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, psychology, English/communication and the humanities. Each required science course must also include a laboratory unit.

Sixty credits or more must be completed prior to admission to a chiropractic college. Two colleges currently require 75 units, and one college requires 90 units. Currently, six state licensing boards require a bachelor's degree in addition to the doctor of chiropractic degree for licensure, and that number is continually on the rise.

A chiropractic program consists of four academic years of professional education averaging a total of 4,822 hours of course work. Several areas of study are emphasized during the course of chiropractic education:

1) adjustive techniques/spinal analysis
2) principles/practices of chiropractic
3) physiologic therapeutics
4) biomechanics

The practice of chiropractic is licensed and regulated in all 50 states in the U.S. and in over 30 countries worldwide. State licensing boards regulate, among other factors, the education, experience and moral character of candidates for licensure, and protect the public health, safety and welfare.

The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) was established in 1963 and functions quite similarly to the National Board of Medical Examiners. The NBCE maintains consistency and fairness among the state licensing boards. The NBCE also administers the national board examination necessary to practice as a chiropractor. This exam is divided into several specific sections:

Part I covers the basic sciences and may be taken after the first year of chiropractic college education

Part II covers clinical sciences and is administered when students are in their senior year of chiropractic college

Part III is a written clinical competency examination that requires a student to have passed parts I and II and be within eight months of graduation (or already graduated).

For more information please visit:

Council on Chiropractic Education (e-mail)
Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB)
National Board of Chiropractic Examiners
Chiropractic Training
Licensure and Legal Scope of Practice


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