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Copyright 1964, American Medical Association
Reprinted from JAMA 190:763-756, 1964.

Requirements for Admission
to Schools of Chiropractic (1964)

Department of Investigation
American Medical Association

What are the admission requirements for schools of chiropractic? During the summer of 1963 a study was undertaken to evaluate chiropractic claims that "Today's prospective doctor of chiropractic cannot enter upon his professional training without having had basic general education through high school." [1] To verify such claims, attempts were made to gain admission to various schools of chiropractic through the use of fictitious applications.

Study Design

The selection of the specific schools for inclusion in the study was guided by a desire to apply to the supposedly better schools, and at the same time achieve a balanced geographical distribution for the applications.

In this study, letters of inquiry were sent to seven of the 15 chiropractic schools in the United States. At that time (1963), the schools were accredited by either the International Chiropractors Association (ICA) or the National Chiropractic Association (NCA). Since that time, the NCA has changed its name to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).

Each letter of inquiry sent to the seven chosen schools requested information about the school and expressed a desire by the writer to become a chiropractor and to attend the school in question. The letters requested admittance to the fall, 1963, class. The letters, all from fictitious persons having inadequate educational, academic, and social backgrounds, were ill prepared, each having poor construction and numerous spelling and punctuation errors. All seven schools replied to these letters by forwarding applications. catalogues, and other promotional literature.

Upon receiving replies to each letter of inquiry from every school to which a letter was sent, the alleged applicants filled out the various applications and returned them to the schools with the required registration or matriculation fee. There then followed additional correspondence between the applicant and the school until each application was either accepted or rejected.

A summary of the case history of each inquiry follows.

The Applications

Application 1. A letter of inquiry was sent to a Midwestern school, supposedly by a single girl, 32 years old, who claimed she had been operating a massage parlor in Chicago for five years. The letter mentioned that the writer had only finished the eighth grade of grammar school. The writer expressed a desire to engage in a more "respectable occupation." In response to this letter, the school forwarded an application form for admission, a catalogue, and other promotional literature. The application form was completed and returned to the school with the matriculation fee of $10. After an exchange of correspondence with the admitting officer, the application was given tentative acceptance "pending receipt of high school equivalency," which the school stated could be obtained through the taking of General Educational Development (GED) tests during the first quarter of instruction.

Application 2. A letter of inquiry was sent to a Midwestern school from a "truck driver, 21 years old, a high school graduate." The letter admitted that the writer "wasn't too good of a student in high school." In response to this letter, the school forwarded an application form for admission, a catalogue, two Iowa Tests of Educational Development (ITED) to be completed, and other promotional literature. The application form and the two tests were completed and returned to the school with the registration fee of $10. The two tests were purposely failed by the applicant so that less than a tenth-grade level of achievement was reflected. After the applicant stated that he was unable to forward transcripts from high school because "they were lost," conditional acceptance was granted to him. The school informed the applicant that equivalency tests would have to be administered during the first quarter of instruction.

Application 3. A letter of inquiry was sent to a Western school from a person claiming to be a recent high school graduate, aged 18. The writer stated that he did not want to "waste my time at regular colleges because everyone I ever knew who went to Illinois, Loyola, DePaul, and other colleges around here always flunked out and wound up doing something that didn't have no future." He added that he wanted to "make a lot of money and still not have to go to school all your life like some doctors." In response to this letter, the school forwarded an application form for admission, a catalogue, and other promotional literature. The application form was completed and returned to the school with the application fee of $5. Two recommendation forms which were sent to the applicant were filled out by "friends" to indicate that the applicant possessed very mediocre characteristics, and the forms were returned to the school separately. The application was accepted prior to receipt of high school records, with the possibility of the application being reconsidered in the event transcripts show less than a "C" average.

Application 4. A letter of inquiry was sent to a Midwestern school from an "elevator operator, age 25, 10th grade high school level." The writer stated that he felt there was "no future for me in this job," and "being a chiropractor seems to offer a real chance to be somebody." He stated that he was taking a night school course to obtain a high school diploma. In response to this letter, the school forwarded an application form, a catalogue, and other promotional literature. The application form was completed and returned to the school with the matriculation fee of $15. Two letters of recommendation from "friends" were sent to the school, casting doubt on the applicant's qualifications. The application was accepted on the condition that high school equivalency examinations be completed before "the first of the year."

Application 5. A letter of inquiry was sent to a Midwestern school from a "recently discharged serviceman who had served as a medic in the Army Medical Corps." The writer had no high school education and had received a General Discharge from the Army. In his letter, he admitted that because of his lack of schooling he could not go to medical school. He added, "besides, some of those medical doctors are real butchers anyway." The school responded to this letter by forwarding an application form, a catalogue, and other promotional literature. The application form was completed and returned to the school with the $5 matriculation fee. The applicant was accepted as a "provisional student." He was informed that during the first semester of school he would have to provide proof of high school equivalency or a GED certificate plus a satisfactory score on a college entrance examination to be given at the chiropractic school.

A later letter was sent to the applicant from the registrar of the school after the applicant failed to register for the September enrollment. It reads as follows:

We were very disappointed not to see you numbered among the new students in the September 1963 Freshman class. We enrolled a large class and these students are now well on the way to learning a fascinating career. Our next semester opens January 20, and I hope we may have you with us then. Won't you please let us know what your plans are?

Applications 6 and 7. Although the two remaining schools replied to the ludicrous letters of inquiry which were sent them by forwarding to the writer application forms, catalogues, and other promotional literature, the applications were not accepted after the schools were unable to receive high school equivalency certificates from the applicants.


This study indicates that the actual admitting practices followed by five of the seven schools contacted do not meet the professed standards set up by the two chiropractic organizations, as well as those standards that the schools have set for themselves according to their own catalogues [2-4].

Despite the many declarations by chiropractors that their schools are professional in character, the study indicates that one does not have to be a high school graduate to be admitted to many of these chiropractic schools. Yet, upon graduation, these persons are issued diplomas which ostensibly confer upon them the right to be called "doctors."

The observations, made in 1949 by a committee appointed by the Governor of the state of New Jersey to study chiropractic, remain valid today and underscore the basic weakness of the requirements for admission to chiropractic schools. The committee observed in its report:

The Committee is of the opinion that almost irrespective of the subjects studied, a college level of study is required before an individual can fully absorb professional training. Maturity comes largely with the passing of time. Few individuals coming directly from high schools at the age of about 18 are mature enough, especially intellectually, to satisfactorily undertake what should be the equivalent of a medical school course. The members of the faculty of the Chiropractic Institute of New York which the Committee interviewed said frankly that, because none of the sciences taught in high school are a prerequisite for admission, their teaching of such sciences as biology and chemistry must begin on the lowest level. [5]

The failure of chiropractic schools to comply with their own professed requirements for admission merely compounds the inadequacy of such requirements.

It is not surprising, therefore, that no chiropractic school is accredited by any of the recognized regional accrediting bodies in the United States. The only accreditation mentioned in chiropractic literature is their own.


1. Anderson, D. The Present Day Doctor of Chiropractic. Washington, DC: Public Affairs Institute, 1956, p 6.
2. National College of Chiropractic, Lombard, Illinois. Bulletin of Information, Catalogue Issue 1963-1965, p 17. The stated requirements for admission include: "The candidate must have completed, with at least a 'C' or 2.0 average, a four year course of at least 15 units in a standard, accredited high school or other institution of secondary level, or have equivalent training as determined by an authorized agency of an accredited college or university."
3. American Council on Education or the American Chiropractic Association. Vocational Guidance -- Chiropractic --Your Career (undated). The section entitled "Educational Requirements and Licensure " contains the following statement: "In accordance with state laws governing chiropractic, high school graduation is the minimum requirement for entrance to approved chiropractic colleges. In twenty-six states the minimum educational requirements include at least two years of prechiropractic college work. Within a short time, this preprofessional preparation is expected to extend throughout the United States and Canada. The prospective student will find it valuable to have at least two years, or 60 semester hours, of prechiropractic college work."
4. Chiropractic Education Commission, International Chiropractors Association. Your Career as a Doctor of Chiropractic (undated leaflet). The "Educational Requirements" section states: "High school graduation or its certified equivalence is mandatory for admittance to any accredited college of chiropractic. High school courses in biology, chemistry and physics are advisable although not required."
5. Committee Report on Licensing and Regulating the Practice of Chiropractic to the New Jersey Legislature, Dec 28, 1949.

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