Curriculum Overview

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Curriculum highlights

  • Hands-on techniques begin in the first trimester
  • Supervised in-class adjusting in trimester three
  • Strong foundation in the basic sciences
  • Exposure to multiple techniques to improve patient care
  • Training in physiologic therapeutics, nutrition, rehabilitation and health promotion
  • Extensive radiology training
  • Business and practice management throughout entire curriculum
  • Early clinical training experiences
  • Electives including sports injuries and specialized techniques

Curriculum detail

Course descriptions

Curriculum outline

Degrees offered

Program length

  • 10 trimesters (seven 15-week and three 17-week trimesters)
  • Completion time for doctor of chiropractic program typically 3 1/2 years

Program schedule, credits and contact hours

  • Full-time day program, classes held Monday through Friday
  • More than 220 trimester credits and 4,300 contact hours 

Program admission

Curriculum organization

The doctor of chiropractic curriculum is comprised of 84 course offerings, organized by eight academic and clinical departments. The sequence provides a strong basic science basis upon which the chiropractic and clinical sciences are built.

Basic sciences

Courses include biochemistry, anatomy, embryology, histology, immunology and microbiology, neuroscience, pathology and physiology. These courses provide a firm foundation for developing the clinical skills and knowledge needed to progress through the chiropractic school curriculum.

Chiropractic studies

Courses in chiropractic principles and philosophy provide students with the history of the chiropractic profession and the nature of the chiropractic healthcare model. You take chiropractic methods courses, including lectures and labs, physiological therapeutics, exercise and rehabilitation.

Diagnostic and clinical sciences

A full six trimesters are devoted to the skills of making a diagnosis. Courses include:

  • Clinical skills which prepare students to obtain a medical history and perform a physical exam
  • Clinical pathology
  • The diagnosis and management of a variety of health and chiropractic problems
  • Lectures, small groups, labs, self-directed study and online learning

Health promotion and wellness

These courses introduce you to the unique needs of pregnant patients, infants and children, women and the elderly. Additional courses cover how chiropractic plays an important role in public health, health promotion and wellness.

Diagnostic imaging

This sequence covers the role of imaging technology in diagnostic decision-making. You’ll begin with courses covering normal radiographic anatomy. Later courses include interpretation of advanced imaging and the diagnosis of chiropractic and medical pathologies.

Business and professional foundations

You learn the business of clinical practice in themost extensive business curriculum in chiropractic school education:

  • Business and practice management: accounting, budgeting, finance and investing
  • Elements of the office visit: history-taking, exam procedures and report-of-findings
  • Diagnosis and treatment coding and third-party reimbursement
  • Marketing your practice
  • Goal setting for personal and professional development
  • Professional communication skills
  • Networking for practice opportunities

Clinical education

You deliver progressive levels of patient care at the direction of professional mentors - preparing you for competent and successful clinical practice following graduation from chiropractic school. You train in Northwestern’s public clinic system and with chiropractors working in community-based private practices.

Read more about clinical experience.

Elective courses

You take four advanced electives in specialized topics and techniques in Trimesters 7-9.

For the list of elective courses, consult the curriculum outline.

Northwestern Health Sciences University reserves the right to change or discontinue academic programs at the University’s discretion.

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