Fully online chiropractic degree programs are unavailable due to the nature of chiropractic training. However, some lower-level coursework may be available online through an associate's degree program, which students may be able to either transfer into an on-campus Doctor of Chiropractic program or complete concurrently with an fully on-campus D.C. program.
To work as a chiropractor, one must complete at least three years of an undergraduate degree program, followed by a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree program accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education. Some D.C. programs require the completion of a bachelors degree prior to enrollment. All states require chiropractors to be licensed.
Joint Doctor of Chiropractic
A Doctor of Chiropractic degree program is not offered entirely online due to the high level of hands-on learning required. A small number of schools offer transfer or joint admissions programs online to be taken in preparation for or in conjunction with a Doctor of Chiropractic program. Students can earn an Associate of Arts (AA) degree online or take pre-chiropractic courses toward a bachelor's degree online, but must complete their doctoral chiropractic training through on-campus instruction.
Program Information and Requirements
The online portions of the transfer or joint admissions programs are usually accessed through an online course delivery system such as Blackboard. Courses are typically delivered in an asynchronous fashion that means lectures and assignments can be downloaded and worked on at any time as long as certain deadlines are met. Coursework taken as part of a bachelor's degree in an area such as general science or biology typically fulfills the prerequisites for entrance into a Doctor of Chiropractic program. Some schools allow students to pursue their bachelor's degree while simultaneously working towards their doctorate.
By itself, the D.C. program generally lasts 13-14 quarters. Students attend on-campus classes and learn how to perform cervical, pelvic and thoracolumbar techniques. Coursework also generally includes clinical practice where students take patient histories and perform adjustments under supervision.
Common Chiropractic Courses
The Doctor of Chiropractic program consists of classes in areas such as anatomy, pathology, rehabilitation and chiropractic business. The clinical and technical nature of many of the courses is a major reason for this program's inability to utilize online elements.
Students study the terminology, structures and functions of the bones in the vertebral column and thoracic cage in depth, as well as the connections between the skeletal, muscular and neural systems. The spinal joints are also examined.
The political, ethical and legal elements of the chiropractic field are discussed. Special attention is given to the major hypotheses of the subluxation complex, including causes and prevention. Students use the philosophical principles learned in this class to develop as a chiropractor.
Students learn techniques for imaging the skeletal system. Radiologic technology and equipment is examined in depth. Certain skeletal disorders and traumas are evaluated through the use of procedures such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
A license is required to be employed as a chiropractor. After completing a Doctor of Chiropractic program, one must pass state and national examinations to become licensed. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May 2020 there were 34,760 people employed as chiropractors with a median yearly salary of $70,720 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also predicted an occupational growth of 4% between the years 2019-2029, the average of all occupations.
Every state requires that chiropractors enroll in a certain number of continuing education hours per year ranging from 12-50 depending on the state. Some continuing education in the chiropractic field is available in an online format. Chiropractors can further their understanding of the occupation through courses in areas such as electrodiagnostics and chiropractic forensics.
Those wanting to pursue an online degree and become a chiropractor will not be able to due to the nature of the career, however pre-chiropractic associate's degrees allow students to take some of the course work online and transfer the credits to an on-campus D.C. program. These associates degrees cover courses on the science, techniques and philosophy of chiropractic.