Manual osteopathy is taught in diploma or degree formats.
The osteopathic colleges that offer diploma programs either issue a DOMP (Diploma in Osteopathic Manual Practice, a DO (Diploma in Osteopathy, not be confused with the Doctor of Osteopathy), a DMO (Diploma in Manual Osteopathy) and so on, ranging from 4 months full time to 5 years part time.
The osteopathic universities offering degree programs either issue a DO (Doctor of Osteopathy), BSc (Bachelor of Science in Osteopathy), MSc (Master of Science in Osteopathy), and so on, ranging from 3 to 6 years full time.
The diploma programs are generally offered in USA & Canada. In the diploma programs of osteopathy, medical diagnosis is not taught. Spinal and joint manipulations are also not taught as these two are controlled acts in Canada and USA. Manual osteopaths in Canada and USA are not permitted to render a medical diagnosis nor may they do manipulation. They can use hundreds of other osteopathic techniques though such as mobilization, muscle energy techniques, soft tissue therapy, etc.
As a result the diploma program in manual osteopathy is a lot shorter in time than the degree programs. The diploma programs generally include 800 to 2000 hours of lectures.
The World Health Organization (WHO) report on osteopathic education recommends a total number of 1000 hours of osteopathic education for students with previous health education, and 4200 hours of education for students without previous health education. National Academy of Osteopathy offers a diploma in osteopathic manual practice that fits in this category. It takes 4 months of condensed education for students with prior health education to complete the DOMP program of NAO.
NAO graduates with a DOMP degree can work in all countries of the world as osteopaths. However in USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, & United Kingdom they must work as osteopathic manual practitioners, as the term osteopath is either reserved for osteopathic physicians (in USA & Canada) or is used by those with a degree program in osteopathy (in Australia, New Zealand & UK).
NAO also offers a post graduate 4 years (4200 hours) fellowship program for manual osteopaths in Osteopathic Rehabilitation Sciences for those interested in postgraduate studies.
The degree programs offered in osteopathic education range from 3 to 6 years full time. Most require 2 to 3 years of prior university education, and some are available only to health professionals.
In the degree programs students learn full medical diagnosis, with a lot of emphasis on practical training and they learn more diverse techniques. National University of Medical Sciences (www.numss.com) for example offers two degree programs in osteopathy, a full time 3 years bachelor of science in osteopathy & a 4 years full time doctor of osteopathy. Students with prior health education can finish the degree programs faster, as per WHO guidelines.
For example, physiotherapists can finish the BSc in 6 months or the DO in 1 year. This depends to the university offering the degrees. Some do not offer any advanced credits, as the case is in Italy, where they accept physiotherapists only to the osteopathy program and then they must study 6 more years.
World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that osteopathic schools give advance credits to students who are health practitioners and recommends 1000 hours of study for them.
It is important to note that manual osteopaths with either a diploma or a degree program can work in all countries, without exception. All they need is to pass the board exams of the International Osteopathy Examining Board and then become a member of the International Osteopathic Association. They will receive a license number which allows them to obtain malpractice insurance, and then either work in a clinic or to open their own clinics.
It is understandable that a number of osteopaths with degrees, such as the ones in Italy, who have studied 9 years to become an osteopath (after paying up to $90,000 in tuition) feel bitter and resentful towards the new osteopaths with a diploma who in 4 months (after paying just $5026 for tuition) are able to work as osteopaths in Italy and elsewhere.
Thousands of manual osteopaths with a DOMP diploma have been practicing more than 30 years in Canada & USA and are offering excellent osteopathic care. Knowledge of medical diagnosis is not necessary to practice manual osteopathy. Massage therapists for decades have been providing great services to patients without ever being able to medically diagnose a patient. The practice of manual osteopathy is actually quite safe when medical diagnosis is removed as the manual osteopath can just focus on treatment.
In summary, the diploma in osteopathic manual practice is for those students who want to graduate quickly, pay less tuition, and have a more relaxing osteopathic practice. The degree programs in osteopathy is for those students who wish to become doctors, who wish to have advanced knowledge of the body and deep mastery of the osteopathic techniques. For this they have to pay more tuition & spend more time studying.