Osteopathic Education

The Global Osteopathic Profession has grown and developed along two distinct practice models with a shared philosophy of healthcare: osteopathy and osteopathic medicine.


Currently there are two international standards for training in osteopathy:

The World Health Organization Benchmarks for Training in Osteopathy (2010). The WHO Benchmarks describes the core philosophy and principles of osteopathy, the main types of osteopathic training programmes, core competencies, and a benchmark training curriculum.

Comité Européen de Normalisation, CEN, issued a European Standard on Osteopathic Healthcare Provision in 2015, (EN 16686) developed in partnership with the European Federation of Osteopaths (EFO) and the Forum for Osteopathic Regulation in Europe (FORE). The CEN standard sets a benchmark for high quality clinical practice, education, safety and ethics for Osteopathy in Europe and has been published in 33 European countries. Read more about the CEN standard here.

NOTE: In compliance with Standards Council of Canada requirements, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Group has published the first edition of CSA Z16686, Osteopathic Healthcare Provision, as a national Standard of Canada. It is an adoption, with Canadian deviations, of the identically titled CEN Standard.

When considering enrolling in a school of osteopathy, it is recommended that you ensure the curriculum meets either the WHO or CEN standards.

** Note that osteopaths are found exclusively outside the United States. Osteopaths may not currently be licensed for practice in the United States.

Additionally, the OIA is unaware of any international legally recognized licensing entity for osteopaths, or any international license or certificate that is recognized by a legal regulatory authority. Licensure is normally overseen by the regulatory authority of the country in which a person is applying for licensure, according to that country’s requirements. **

Osteopathic Medicine

Osteopathic physicians – Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, or DO – are found primarily in the United States, Germany and Russia. The standards for education of US DOs are established by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation. The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine provides information on accredited Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

Osteopathic physicians and physicians who have graduated from a post-medical accredited program of osteopathy will, as a minimum, have met the standards for the full scope of medical practice and have achieved the nationally recognized academic and professional standards within their country.