Chapter 2, Part 5 – Chiropractic Colleges Educational Standards

Educational Standards

Dr. Budden also participated actively in national professional politics and was a highly visible and outspoken advocate for increasing the quality of education taught at all chiropractic colleges.

In 1935, the House of Delegates of the National Chiropractic Association (NCA), forerunner of the American Chiropractic Association, appointed a Committee on Educational Standards (CES). The charge of the committee was to conduct a thorough evaluation of the curricula offered at the 37 chiropractic colleges operating at that time. It was a formidable undertaking under any circumstances, but was made all the more difficult because of the proprietary and protective nature of most of the colleges. They considered their curricula to be their business, literally. Curricula differed widely, content varied profoundly, and programs ranged in length from 18 months to 4 years. Many of the colleges emphasized training before education and dogma over objective science.

Nevertheless, the CES moved forward to complete its charge over the next three years, finishing its work in 1939. In 1940, the findings of the committee were shared with the delegates of the NCA at their annual convention. The attendees were stunned to hear the CES recommend that only 12 of the 37 colleges be accredited. This landmark event signaled the beginning of the process by which chiropractic colleges are accredited, a process now conducted by the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE).

The two individuals most credited with bringing about educational standards to the chiropractic profession were John J. Nugent, first NCA Director of Education; and Dr. Alfred Budden, who late in his career would become the president of the National Council on Education. Despite their collective efforts, creating standards for quality chiropractic education was painstakingly slow and took years to firmly establish. Although renowned for his patience, Dr. Budden was impatient with the slow progress of chiropractic education, and he was willing to “go it alone” when faced with senseless foot-dragging or meaningless delay.

By 1936, WSC offered a 4,000-hour, four-year (nine months per year) degree program to chiropractors and naturopaths, and was the first chiropractic college to do so. By 1938, the programs for each discipline had expanded to 4,680 hours.