A physician (M.D., D.O., D.P.M, or D.C.) must meet requirements for college education and credits before attaining status as a licensed practitioner of medicine.

The Facts

There are many doctoral degrees available in the medical professions, all with individual requirements for degree conferment. Admission requirements for medical degree programs can vary.

Doctor of Medicine

An undergraduate degree is typically required before entering medical school. Some schools do, however, allow three years of undergraduate credits. Candidates then study for four years in medical school to earn a doctor of medicine (M.D.) degree, followed by two to eight years of residency.

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

The initials D.O. follow a physician with a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree. Osteopathic doctors and M.D.s have the same undergraduate and post-graduate training requirements.

Doctor of Podiatric Medicine

Podiatrists, or D.P.M.s, are required to have at least three years of undergraduate credits, although a full degree is preferred. A four-year podiatric degree follows, with two to four years of residency after graduation.

Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine

Chiropractors, or D.C.s, need two years of undergraduate course work before admission to a chiropractic program. A four-year undergraduate degree is preferred. Four years of doctoral coursework follows. No residency is required.