Want to know how to get into ATSU SOMA? The A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona is one of two medical schools in Arizona offering a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program. ATSU SOMA, like its sister schools in Missouri and California, focuses heavily on research and serving medically underserved populations across the US. ATSU SOMA is well regarded among DO school rankings and is somewhat competitive to get into with an acceptance rate just above 5%. Applicants with extensive community service or research experience have a significant advantage in admissions. This blog will guide you on how to craft a terrific application for ATSU SOMA and all the admissions stats and requirements you need to know to get accepted.

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Article Contents
9 min read

Mission Statement Admissions Statistics Eligibility Selection Factors Interview Formats Acceptance and Waitlist Information Application Timeline Tuition and Debt Funding Opportunities Residency Match Rates Available Programs Academic Curriculum Campus and Faculty Affiliated Teaching Hospitals Contact Information FAQs

Mission Statement

ATSU-SOMA mission:

“Prepare individuals through high-quality, innovative, learning-centered undergraduate and graduate medical education programs to become compassionate osteopathic physicians and healthcare leaders who serve medically underserved populations with a focus on research and community-oriented primary care.”

A.T. Still University of Health Sciences mission:

“A.T. Still University of Health Sciences serves as a learning-centered university dedicated to preparing highly competent professionals through innovative academic programs with a commitment to continue its osteopathic heritage and focus on whole person healthcare, scholarship, community health, interprofessional education, diversity, and underserved populations.”

Both the mission of the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona and the parent university of A.T. Still University of Health Sciences mention preparing osteopathic physicians to serve in underserved populations. In particular, this could mean addressing the healthcare gap in rural communities or Native communities in Arizona and across the United States. Applicants to ATSU SOMA should also take note of the school’s focus on research, innovation and a strong history of osteopathic medical care. In your application, emphasize any research experience and community volunteering you have. Take special care to mention why you want to study osteopathic medicine and your knowledge of the practice in your medical school personal statement, too.

Admissions Statistics

  • Overall acceptance rate: 5.3%
  • In-state acceptance rate: 12.02%
  • Out-of-state acceptance rate: 88%
  • Average GPA accepted: 3.45
  • Average MCAT accepted: 505
  • Around 20% of ATSU SOMA’s accepted students are non-science majors.

While applicants to ATSU SOMA are not required to have research and clinical experience, it is strongly recommended for applicants to seek out premed research opportunities and gain clinical work experience and community volunteer hours before applying. Having a strong history of volunteer work, research experience and clinical work, especially in osteopathic medicine, will give you a definite leg up in the admissions process.

ATSU SOMA highly recommends students seek out opportunities to help underserved populations, for instance working in soup kitchens or homeless shelters, or volunteering for the Peace Corps. Applicants can also find opportunities to shadow a doctor, in particular a DO practitioner, or earn healthcare experience through the best premed jobs.


As we can see from ATSU SOMA’s out-of-state acceptance rate, out-of-state applicants do not have a significant disadvantage when applying. In fact, ATSU SOMA is one of the more out-of-state friendly medical schools in the US and accepts all applicants. There are no additional application components required for out-of-state applicants.

International applicants cannot apply to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program at ATSU SOMA at this time. If you are not a US citizen or permanent resident, you are not eligible to apply to the DO program.

However, international applicants can enroll in several online programs at ATSU SOMA, regardless of their country of residence. International applicants can also attend the following on-campus programs, with an F-1 visa:

  • Doctor of Audiology
  • Doctor of Dental Medicine - Arizona
  • Doctor of Occupational Therapy
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy
  • Master of Science in Orthodontics
  • Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (Arizona)
  • Master of Science in Occupational Therapy
  • Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology

Want to know the secret to getting into DO schools? Check out this video:

Selection Factors

ATSU SOMA’s admissions process evaluates students on “academic accomplishment, personal characteristics of a healer, and propensity to serve the underserved”.

The admissions committee will look closely at your clinical experience, leadership qualities, community and volunteer service record, and your knowledge of osteopathic medicine. If you meet the requirements, you will be invited for an interview.

While the academic accomplishment portion of the evaluation is important—meaning, you should aim to meet or exceed the average accepted GPA and MCAT scores, and complete all necessary prerequisites—the qualitative aspect of your application to ATSU SOMA will be critical. Let’s look at the academic side of the selection factors first:


Unlike its sister school ATSU-KCOM, the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona does not list a minimum requirement for your MCAT score or GPA. However, as the average accepted score at ASTU SOMA is 505, it is recommended to get above this score to be considered a competitive applicant.

Coursework and Prerequisites

A completed undergraduate degree is necessary to apply to ATSU SOMA. There is no preference for science majors, and around 20% of applicants do not have a background in the sciences when applying. Students can choose any undergraduate major, so long as they complete the prerequisite courses for medical school:

For the qualitative side of the selection factors, your personal statement, work and experiences, recommendation letters and secondary application can make or break your chances of getting an interview, and therefore getting accepted.

ATSU SOMA uses the AACOMAS DO school application, so familiarize yourself with the components of this application service well before applying.

AACOMAS Experiences

ATSU SOMA values three key types of experiences in applicants:

  1. Community or volunteer experience, especially serving underserved populations
  2. Research experience
  3. Clinical experience or shadowing hours

You should pursue opportunities in all these areas, and be sure to keep meticulous records for your med school CV and the AACOMAS Experiences section.

Clinical experience or work opportunities can be found by reaching out to hospitals or clinics or checking premed job boards online. Some jobs may require some training before you can apply, but they will provide you with excellent clinical experience, i.e. a certified nursing assistant or EMT. For shadowing experience, you can find shadowing programs for premed students.

Volunteerism is especially important to highlight. ATSU SOMA recommends looking at opportunities both locally and nationally. For example, volunteering with the Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity, or volunteering to work in local soup kitchens and food banks.

Personal Statement

Your AACOMAS personal statement for ATSU SOMA should highlight why you have decided to pursue osteopathic medicine specifically, what you have done to prepare yourself for a career in the field and your knowledge of osteopathic medicine and its tenets.

Your statement should present a strong reason for “why do you want to be a doctor” and why osteopathic medicine, in particular. Share anything you have done personally or professionally to enhance your knowledge of osteopathic medicine and how you’ve prepared yourself to become a DO. Align your experiences and values with the tenets of osteopathic medicine and the focus of ATSU SOMA.

Here are some experiences you can emphasize:

  • How your volunteer work or experiences with underserved communities have shaped your desire to become a DO
  • What you’ve learned from your research experiences and how they have helped prepare you for medical school
  • Why you’ve chosen osteopathic medicine over allopathic medicine
  • Why you’ve chosen this medical school
  • What experiences you’ve had that developed your sense of compassion, empathy, leadership or community-mindedness
  • How you will contribute to the program 

Secondary Essays

Below is the list of medical school secondary essay prompts for ATSU SOMA’s secondary application. All the prompts have a word limit of 500 words.

  1. Describe your experience with Community Health Centers or free clinics.
  2. Describe your activities in any gap longer than three months in your college or postgraduate record.
  3. Describe your experiences with osteopathic physicians. Have you ever shadowed a DO, if not explain why? Do you have a letter of recommendation from a DO, if not explain why?
  4. Describe your understanding of SOMA by answering ONE of the following questions: What unique feature of SOMA appeals to you? What specific feature of SOMA concerns you? What would be your strongest attribute as a SOMA student? What would be your weakest? How do you plan to be involved with medically underserved populations in your medical career? How have your past volunteer experiences influenced your plans?

Want to know more about DO schools? Here's a quick guide:

Recommendation letters

You will be required to submit 2 medical school recommendation letters as part of ATSU SOMA’s secondary application. At least one of those letters should be from a DO practitioner, although it can be an MD. Your other AACOMAS letter of recommendation can be from a premedical advisor, premedical committee or a science faculty member. It is highly recommended you ask for a reference letter from a DO physician you’ve shadowed, as well as an activities supervisor who can speak to your experiences volunteering in medically underserved communities.

Your reference letter writers should have plenty of experience with your work, research, volunteerism or academic performance. For example, a science faculty member at your undergraduate university can speak to your academic strengths, while a premedical advisor can emphasize your extracurricular experiences and how they have helped you develop both personally and professionally. Your clinical supervisor or any doctors you’ve shadowed can provide a reference letter highlighting your professional conduct and qualities, such as maturity or empathy for patients.

Interview Formats

ATSU SOMA uses both traditional panel interviews and MMI for medical school admissions. Interviews are conducted by the admissions committee. Ideal candidates are aligned with ATSU SOMA’s mission and values, demonstrating an understanding of the philosophy of osteopathic medicine and a commitment to working in medically underserved populations, as shown through their volunteer work.

Here's a guide to acing your DO school interview!

Acceptance and Waitlist Information

ATSU SOMA does use a medical school waitlist in its admissions process. If you are invited for an interview and then waitlisted, there is still a chance for you to be accepted. You can submit a medical school letter of intent to indicate that ATSU SOMA is your #1 choice of medical school and that should you be accepted, you will commit to enrolling in the program. This kind of letter expresses your interest in attending the school and can convince the admissions committee to accept you off the waitlist first should a spot open up.

Application Timeline

Tuition and Debt

The medical school tuition at ATSU SOMA is $62,526. The program also includes a one-time medical equipment fee of $1,000 in year one and a student technology fee of $1,150 every year. These costs do not include accommodation, textbooks, supplies and other fees accrued by students.

Funding Opportunities

Aside from federal and private loans, students at ATSU SOMA can apply for a federal work-study program or medical school scholarships to help offset medical school costs. Military members and veterans may also eligible for tuition assistance or veterans’ education benefits.

Residency Match Rates

ATSU SOMA is one of the DO schools with the best match rates with a 99.3% match rate for students to osteopathic and allopathic residencies, as well as military internships.

Residency match rate at ATSU SOMA

Available Programs

Applicants to ATSU SOMA can earn their DO degree alongside their Master’s in Public Health through the DO-MPH dual degree program.

The DO-MPH program focuses on research, public health policy and community health, with advanced credit courses in epidemiology and biostatistics. The program is geared towards preparing graduates to work in underserved communities.

The following special master’s programs are also offered at ATSU SOMA:

  • Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences
  • Master of Science in Orthodontics
  • Master of Science in Occupational Therapy
  • Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies
  • Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology

If you’re wondering if you need a graduate degree to boost your medical school chances, it is not necessary to obtain a graduate degree before applying to ATSU SOMA. However, if you are interested in pursuing a niche medical specialty applying to one of the special master’s programs above can help you.

Academic Curriculum

ATSU SOMA uses a 1+3 model for its DO curriculum so students can gain clinical experience earlier in their education. In year one, students’ foundational coursework is enhanced by patient interactions, clinical simulations and instruction in osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM).

Starting in year 2, students can begin rotations at one of the school’s community health centre (CHC) partners, engaging in patient interactions while continuing in-classroom instruction from CHC physician faculty and through digital classroom learning.

Campus and Faculty

Located in Mesa, Arizona in a suburban area just outside Phoenix, the ATSU SOMA campus is open to visitors. Visitors can book an appointment with an admissions staff member by contacting the office of admissions. 

Affiliated Teaching Hospitals

ATSU SOMA requires students to spend their first year on-campus in Arizona. Years 2-4 students will spend time at one of the 17 community health centre partners across the country, as part of their clinical rotations. These community health centres are:

  • Adelante Healthcare (Mesa, Arizona)
  • Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services (Ridgeland, South Carolina)
  • Community Healthcare Clinic of Wichita Falls (Wichita Falls, Texas)
  • El-Rio Community Health Center (Tucson, Arizona)
  • Family Healthcare Network (Tulare County, California)
  • HealthPoint (Suburban Seattle, Washington)
  • HealthSource (Mt. Orab, Ohio)
  • Near North Health Service Corporation (Chicago, Illinois)
  • North Country Healthcare (Flagstaff, Arizona)
  • Northwest Regional Primary Care Association (Portland, Oregon)
  • San Ysidro Health Center (San Ysidro, CA)
  • Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation (Centreville, IL)
  • Sunset Park Family Health Center (Brooklyn, New York)
  • Unity Health Care – Washington, D.C.
  • Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center (Waianae, Hawaii)
  • The Wright Center (Scranton, PA)

A.T. Still University also has two other schools of osteopathic medicine offered in Kirksville, Missouri (ATSU-KCOM) and California (ATSU-College for Healthy Communities).

Contact Information

Admissions website: https://www.atsu.edu/department-of-student-affairs/admissions

Email of the admissions office: mailto:[email protected]

Address: 5850 E. Still Circle, Mesa, AZ 85206

Phone: 480-219-6000, toll-free 866-626-2878, ext. 2237


1. What is ATSU SOMA’s mission statement?

ATSU SOMA’s mission statement is to: “Prepare individuals through high-quality, innovative, learning-centered undergraduate and graduate medical education programs to become compassionate osteopathic physicians and healthcare leaders who serve medically underserved populations with a focus on research and community-oriented primary care.”

2. Is ATSU SOMA a good school?

If you’re interested in working in underserved or rural communities, have an interest in research or plan to work in primary care as a DO practitioner, ATSU SOMA is an excellent choice. ATSU SOMA especially emphasizes serving medically underserved populations and enahcing medical care in underrepresented populations.

3. What is the acceptance rate for ATSU SOMA?

The acceptance rate at ATSU SOMA is 5.3%.

4. How can I get into ATSU SOMA?

To get into ATSU SOMA, you should have a competitive GPA above 3.5, an MCAT score above 505, excellent reference letters, a strong personal statement and excellent extracurricular, work and volunteer experiences. You should have at least some research experience, clinical work history and a a proven history of serving underserved populations.

5. What does ATSU SOMA look for in applicants?

ATSU SOMA emphasizes research and community service, particularly service to underserved populations. Applicants should have a strong history of community service and volunteerism, as well as proven clinical or shadowing experience. Research experience is an asset, too. 

6. How many osteopathic schools are in Arizona?

There are only two osteopathic schools in Arizona: ATSU SOMA and the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (AZCOM).

7. How much does an osteopathic doctor earn in AZ?

Salaries for DO practitioners in Arizona fall between $157,077 and $258,479, on average and depending on specialty.

8. What is A.T. Still University known for?

A.T. Still University was the founding institution of osteopathic healthcare education in the world, established in Kirksville, Missouri in 1892. The school has a rich history in osteopathic medical education and research. The ATSU campus in Arizona was established in 2007.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

Disclaimer: BeMo does not endorse or affiliate with any universities, colleges, or official test administrators. The content has been developed based on the most recent publicly available data provided from the official university website. However, you should always check the statistics/requirements with the official school website for the most up to date information. You are responsible for your own results. 

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