Online PhD programs in chiropractic medicine prepare students for the responsibilities of working within the health care profession. Enrolled students take classes in patient care, musculoskeletal disorders, and methods of diagnosis and treatment. They also learn about medical ethics, communications, and public service. The goal of online PhD programs for chiropractic medicine is to prepare future practitioners to interact with patients on a professional level and to accurately diagnose and treat ailments. They will also learn the skills necessary for leading medical staff members and, if the students so choose, for opening up their own practices.
Most programs involve instruction from current practicing doctors, which gives students the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals. While online classes are conducted over the Internet, students will likely need to practice some of what they learn in a hands-on environment. For that reason, many programs will require students to complete internships or clinical hours prior to graduating. Once students have fulfilled all degree requirements, they generally go on to become practicing doctors, college instructors, or both.
About Online PhD Programs in Chiropractic Medicine
The doctor of chiropractic online degree requires students to take classes in anatomy, diagnostic imagery, and clinical practice. Students will also learn about public health and therapeutic techniques. Most graduate degrees in chiropractic medicine require students to fulfill laboratory requirements as well. Finally, having an understanding of biology is very important to medical practice, so students will learn about biochemistry and microbiology. Specific classes that chiropractic medicine doctoral students may take include those listed below, which are derived from New York Chiropractic College‘s Doctor of Chiropractic program.
- Issues in Chiropractic Research. Research is an important part of earning a doctoral degree in chiropractic medicine. In this class, students will learn about the issues addressed by current field research.
- Spinal Radiology. This class provides an in-depth study into the use of radiology to identify spinal issues.
- Clinical Microbiology. This course is concerned with the study of microorganisms, especially those that are responsible for disease.
- Extremities Radiology. By exploring the use of radiology to diagnose musculoskeletal problems, this class teaches students how to detect and identify problems with x-rays, ultrasounds, and other equipment.
- Musculoskeletal Physiopathology. This class provides an extensive study into the musculoskeletal problems, diseases, and disorders that patients may face.
- Bone and Joint Imaging. This course shows students how to use imaging techniques to determine the causes of bone and joint pain and misalignment.
Though students will be expected to conduct research as part of their online Ph.D. programs in chiropractic medicine, they may not be required to complete dissertations. In lieu of research projects, students will be expected to fulfill hands-on experience requirements in clinical settings. They will gain experience through internships and outpatient practice. In addition, students will typically study aspects of marketing, office management, and private practice before earning their degrees.
Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Chiropractic Medicine
Online degrees in chiropractic medicine are a good choice for students who eventually want to go into practice. Those who are interested in musculoskeletal conditions and their treatments could benefit from a Ph.D. in chiropractic medicine. In addition, students who want to teach chiropractic medicine at the university level should consider pursuing the doctoral degree. On the other hand, students who are not interested in the pathology of bone and muscle problems may want to consider a different degree program. Those who prefer to earn a Doctor of Medicine degree may want to consider a different field as well.
When it comes to chiropractic medicine, online degrees can be complicated. While all class work can be completed from a student's home, the laboratory and clinical requirements must be completed under direct supervision at approved sites. Students may therefore need to fulfill these requirements by enrolling in internships in their areas. If they cannot gain access to chiropractic facilities, they may need to find alternatives. However, for students who do have access to such facilities, an online Ph.D. program may be a good choice, as long as they are self-motivated and organized.
Application & Admission Requirements
Potential applicants to chiropractic doctoral degree programs should have at least a bachelor's degree, preferably in a health field. They will need to submit transcripts, references, and a personal statement. Work experience within a health or medical field can make a candidate stand out among the pool of applicants. In addition, supplying copies of published work is another way to stand out to admissions officials.
Career Options & Job Market
Graduates from doctoral degree programs in chiropractic medicine typically go on to become practicing chiropractors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that chiropractors earned an average of $67,200 annually. In addition, the field is experiencing faster than average growth and is expected to expand by 28% by 2020. As an alternative, graduates can also enter the field of post secondary teaching, which can earn them around $62,050 annually, according to the BLS. This field is projected to grow by 17% by 2020. Keep in mind, however, that salary figures vary by experience, location, and other factors.
Where to Find Information
- American Chiropractic Association A professional association that provides access to continuing education, research, and resources.
- International Chiropractors Association A professional association that spans international borders and encourages advocacy and research within the field of chiropractic medicine.
- Christian Chiropractors Association A professional association specifically for Christian practitioners.
How to Get Funding
Professional societies like those listed above sometimes provide fellowship and scholarship opportunities to doctoral students. There are also many private organizations and companies that provide funding opportunities. In addition, state governments have aid programs for students as well. As an alternative, doctoral students can seek funding from the sources listed below.
- Federal Direct Stafford Loan. A federal loan program that provides up to $12,000 annually for doctoral students at a fixed interest rate of 6.8%.
- Federal Perkins Loan. A need-based federal loan program, this loan gives students the opportunity to earn an average of $3,500 at a fixed interest rate of 5%.
- Campus-Based Aid. Students also have the option of getting aid through their universities. There are many campus-based tuition assistance programs that students can pursue by contacting their financial aid offices.
- Take science and health classes while enrolled in graduate classes to prepare for the course work that you will take as a doctoral student.
- If possible, try to get laboratory and clinical experience before you apply for a doctoral degree program. This will make you into a more marketable candidate and will help you stand out among other candidates.
- Even if you don't think you'll qualify for financial aid, you should still apply. It's possible that you may qualify for a small loan or some other form of financial aid, and when it comes to tuition costs, every little bit helps.
- If you are having trouble picking the perfect program for your interests, don't be afraid to contact professors to get an idea of their teaching and research interests. This will help you decide which program will best meet your needs.