With the growing popularity of osteopathic medicine, you might be wondering about DO school rankings and how to find the best osteopathic medical schools. If you are still deciding between , this blog will help you determine whether DO programs are right for you, provide you with the most up-to-date list of DO school rankings, and give you tips on how to stand out in your . This is the same list we share with our students enrolled in our programs to help them decide and we're sure it's going to help you too.
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The following list of osteopathic schools contains important admissions information, including overall acceptance rate, average MCAT score, and GPA. You can organize the table from highest to lowest , MCAT, or GPA by clicking on the appropriate section at the top of the table. You can also use the toggles to hide any information that you find impertinent.
Applying to DO programs? Here's how we helped our DO applicants get into the best schools:
- Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine (CUSOM) -- 99.85%
- Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine (OSU - COM) -- 99.78%
- (WVSOM) -- 99.75%
- Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine (KCU - COM) -- 99.6%
- (LECOM) -- 99.6%
- A.T. Still University-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU - SOMA) -- 99.5%
- - Nevada (TUN-COM) -- 99.5%
- (ICOM) -- 99.3%
- University of Pikeville - Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (UP – KYCOM) -- 99.38%
- (VCOM) -- 99.38%
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, or DO, is a one of the fastest-growing healthcare professions in the US. To determine if an osteopathic degree is right for you, it is important to consider the mission and values of osteopathic medicine and reflect on whether osteopathic philosophy coincides with the reasons . Osteopathic medicine preaches a holistic approach to patient care and an emphasis on preventative medicine. DO physicians utilize the diagnosis of and manual manipulation of the neuromusculoskeletal system and stress its interconnectedness with every organ system in the body.
Main tenets of osteopathic medicine:
Because osteopathic medicine takes a holistic view, DO physicians often end up practicing in community health, rural and underserved areas. Many DO schools are also located outside of large urban centres, too. Many DO physicians work in primary care roles, which fit well with the tenets of osteopathic medicine.
If you’re considering applying to DO schools, take some time to evaluate why you are interested in pursuing a DO degree and what is drawing you to osteopathic medicine. You’ll need to demonstrate a strong connection to and interest in osteopathic medicine, whether you apply to the easiest DO schools or the most competitive. You should NOT apply to DO schools if your motivation is to find an “easier” route to becoming a doctor. Although DO schools have lower thresholds for GPA and MCAT scores and may have higher acceptance rates than many MD programs, this does not mean DO schools are less discerning. DO school admission committees expect to see strong applications from students who are interested in becoming a DO practitioner, not applicants who turned to DO as a second-choice after being rejected from an MD school.
DO and MD practitioners are identical in practice, but the DO philosophy and approach to medicine differs a bit. Admission committees want to see that you are committed to the tenets of DO practice, and will ask why you are choosing to apply to DO schools.
So, should you consider applying to DO schools? The answer is yes if:
- You have a strong interest in holistic medicine or natural medicinal treatment and techniques
- You’re interested in working in primary care, rural areas or working with underserved populations
- You have a passion for community health and the “big picture” view of medicine
- The tenets of osteopathic medicine align with your values and future goal in becoming a doctor
If you’ve decided that a DO program is the right route for you, knowing the admissions statistics outlined in the table above can help you apply strategically to your chosen schools. But if you’re considering applying to DO schools because you want to know how to score or , this is not the best choice in the long run. Although DO schools are viewed as less competitive and selective than MD schools, this doesn’t automatically translate to a better fit for each individual student, regardless of their grades.
Generally, applying to DO schools means slightly lower admission requirements for your GPA and MCAT scores. However, the admissions process for applying to DO schools is still just as rigorous and time-consuming as it is for allopathic schools. It won’t be in your best interest to apply to DO schools just because of low stats. If your GPA or MCAT is too low, check out the and evaluate their admission statistics to determine where you would be the best fit. Or, you can use the DO school rankings listed in the table above to evaluate at which schools you will have the best chance of being admitted.
- Make sure you meet or exceed the GPA and MCAT score requirements
- Check that you’ve completed all for DO schools
- Find out the school’s location and the in-state and out-of-state acceptance rates
- Research the mission and values of your schools to determine if they fit with your personal goals and values
- Research the available programs and clinical opportunities at your chosen DO schools
- Look into costs and available financial aid programs
- Check the specialty match rates so you have a better chance of later matching to your desired residency specialty
- Compare your list of schools so you can selectively apply to your top choices
DO Admission Requirements and Curriculum
It is important to know DO’s admission requirements and curriculum to understand what the life of a DO student looks like and see whether you measure up.
According to , although applicant selection for osteopathic programs is fairly competitive, they are generally much easier to get into than MD programs. Whether it’s the DO or the , DO programs typically have lower admission requirements than allopathic medical schools. Many of the osteopathic programs in the US are some of the easiest medical schools to get into, but this does not mean that DO schools are of lesser quality or not as well regarded as MD schools. In fact, DO schools in the US are very well respected
Average GPA for Accepted DO Matriculants
Average MCAT score for Accepted DO Matriculants
Osteopathic schools pride themselves on accepting students from all walks of life. Many matriculants into DO programs have non-traditional backgrounds and come to osteopathic medicine as a second career from a diverse set of experiences. But to be accepted, you must meet some science and non-science medical school prerequisites, including:
In general, MD and DO programs have similar curricula divided into four years. DO programs provide training to prepare students for a variety of specialties, but the majority of DOs end up in primary care. The first two years of training focus on the biomedical and clinical sciences and the second two years focus on patient-oriented clinical training.
Clinical education follows a distributive model in which DO students get to practice medicine in different health care settings. These include in-hospital experiences, as well as training in community hospitals and out-of-hospital ambulatory settings. Students in many DO programs are required to participate in community-based primary care rotations in rural or underserved areas.
The Residency Match for DO Students
You might be wondering how a DO degree will affect your chances of matching with your desired specialty and program. Based on recent data from the National Residency Match Program (NRMP), having a DO rather than an MD does decrease your chances of matching. According to the NRMP Main Residency Match, DO students experience lower success rates of matching compared to MD graduates for the majority of specialties, in both . For example, even though DOs are competitive in primary care residencies where they have strong acceptance rates, they still have much lower acceptance rates than MDs. According to the latest statistics, in the state of New York, DO seniors matched 179 residency spots in internal medicine, while MD seniors matched 616 spots. The same trend can be observed in other primary care specialties such as pediatrics. While 175 MDs matched to residency spots in pediatrics in New York, only 46 DOs were matched in the same specialty.
With this said, following the unified graduate medical education accreditation system, the process of matching for DOs is becoming easier. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) grants accreditation to residency programs for both MDs and DOs. Graduate programs previously accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) only are now accredited by ACGME, which levels the playing field between DO and MD graduates. This unified GME accreditation system makes the application and participation process for DO graduates much easier than before. It puts osteopathic graduates in many of the same programs as MDs. This system broadens opportunities for osteopathic graduates to participate in GME programs along with MDs.
Standing out in an osteopathic medicine application means using many of the same strategies as an MD applicant would use, but the key is to tailor your application to the DO profession. Your entire application should present a strong interest and aptitude for osteopathic medicine, from your extracurriculars to your personal statement. DO school admissions committees want to see that you’re truly interested in osteopathic medicine and its philosophy and principles. They do not want applicants who are applying because they think DO is the “easy” way to get into medical school or because their GPA or MCAT scores aren’t competitive enough at MD schools.
Let’s look at some strategies on how to increase your chances of getting into a DO program.
#1 Personal Statement
Osteopathic medical schools require applicants to submit a personal statement as part of the DO school application. Just like the length of the , the AACOMAS personal statement is limited to 5,300 characters including spaces. This should provide plenty of space to tell your unique story of why you chose to apply to a DO program.
Remember, if you’re applying to both MD and DO programs, do not simply repeat your MD personal statement. Your DO essay should be personalized and rewritten for the osteopathic program, because ultimately, DO programs will want to know why you’re choosing to become an osteopath, rather than an allopath. You’ll need to provide a compelling reason why you’re interested in a DO program, what qualities you possess that are geared towards osteopathic medicine and what experiences you have pursued due to your interest in a career as a DO. Before you write your DO personal statement, get an idea of what kinds of applicants DO programs admit. Check out the list of qualities of a successful DO student from AACOM’s official website.
Firstly, your statement should address your personal, academic, professional, volunteer and other experiences in relation to the principal tenets of osteopathic medicine, which I listed above. Remember, it is always better to go for quality over quantity, so choose one to three of your strongest experiences and build your personal statement around them. Your personal statement should demonstrate how you first became interested in a career in medicine and which event inspired you to pursue osteopathic medicine. Explain in your statement which experiences you had which led you to choose osteopathic medicine. You must show the admissions committees that you are the perfect DO candidate for their school, rather than someone who is simply trying to get any medical school to accept them. To do this, your personal statement must distinguish you as a dedicated student and follower of the osteopathic medical approach. For instance, share your experiences in shadowing a DO physician, volunteering at a community health clinic or participating in a DO-focused research project.
Your personal statement must demonstrate your knowledge of and experience in osteopathic medicine, and most importantly, how it shaped your choice to practice medicine as a DO. Remember, the DO philosophy markets itself as a holistic approach to medicine. Instead of focusing on a patient’s disease or disability, osteopathic medicine aims to consider the patient as a unity of body, mind, soul, and even the patient’s environment. In your personal statement, try incorporating and emphasizing the moral-ethical, social, and environmental factors of the relationship between the physician and the patient. This is an important component of osteopathic philosophy, so be sure to reflect on how your own experiences are in line with DO philosophy.
Bear in mind, it is always better to show your relationship to osteopathy, rather than simply talk about it. It is not enough to simply say that osteopathic tenets interest you, you must be able to back your personal statement claims with evidence. Be ready to outline your path to osteopathic medicine by bringing in concrete examples of your involvement in and dedication to osteopathic philosophy. Be sure to check out our blog for some high-quality and other .
Working on your personal statement for med school? Watch this video!
Perhaps you are wondering what kind of experiences should be included in your DO personal statement. These are completely up to you – this is your story. A good writer can compose a compelling statement from a variety of experiences, including:
This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you a start to reflect on your own experiences. Most importantly, remember that your personal statement should reveal a unique story of how you came to osteopathic medicine.
Your experiences for the AACOMAS application will fall into 4 categories:
- Extracurricular Activities
- Non-healthcare Employment
- Non-healthcare volunteer or community enrichment
- Healthcare experience
You can enter any number of experiences, with a character limit of 600 per entry. For each entry, you’ll need to indicate the name of the organization, the name and contact information of your verifier, the date range of when the experience took place, your average weekly hours, and a brief description. You can also enter awards, honors, presentations, publications and scholarships in the Achievements section. You’ll select the type and name of the achievement, the organization and date the achievement was awarded, and a brief description of no more than 600 characters.
Although it might be obvious to state, if you’re planning to apply to DO programs, try to select extracurriculars that would directly benefit your chances of getting into osteopathic schools. Instead of reaching out to MDs to get necessary experiences for medical school applications, such as shadowing experience, reach out to DOs. For example, make sure you get clinical experience working with a DO doctor, rather than only an MD. Working or volunteering with a DO physician in a clinical setting will show admission committees that:
- You are a dedicated advocate of osteopathic medicine
- You have seen and experienced what the DO profession will be like
- You have been exposed to the practice of osteopathic medicine. If you are looking to shadow a physician, make sure you shadow a DO. Learn and .
Research is a wonderful extracurricular activity, and it will be even more valuable in your osteopathic medical school application if you have a DO angle, i.e. a research project under the leadership of a DO principal investigator or helping a DO physician with his or her research. This will, yet again, show your dedication to the development of osteopathic medicine and your desire to increase its prestige. Looking for is highly recommended for any medical school applicant, but DO applicants should try to find opportunities geared especially towards osteopathic medicine. can be found through your university or college, your professors, your peers or even directly from the AAMC. If you’re lacking opportunities, you can also explore . If you are applying for a research position or interested in applying to summer research programs to boost your experiences section, be sure to prepare ahead of time. Check out some you’ll need to know and read a sample so you can knock your application out of the park.
To stand out against hundreds of candidates, be sure to demonstrate that DO is your number one choice, rather than a fallback option. To do this, try to get involved in DO clinical practice and research as soon as you can. Work to have extracurriculars that would emphasize your dedication to osteopathic medicine.
Want help getting into medical school? Watch this review from one of our students!
#3 Recommendation Letters
As a DO applicant, you must have support from other professionals in the field. You can have a maximum of 6 evaluators, or recommendation letter writers. All your evaluators will need to submit their letters electronically through the Letters by Liaison portal used by AACOMAS. In the application portal, once you create your account, you’ll be able to request an evaluation and send an invitation to your evaluator directly. From there, your evaluator will need to submit their letter through the platform.
For your AACOMAS application, have at least one DO recommender. Having only MD is not going to be enough. Plus, a lack of DO representation among your recommenders will be a red flag. DO admissions committees might question your sincerity to become an osteopathic physician if you do not have a DO professional supporting your candidacy for the program. Shadowing a DO physician or healthcare provider is one of the best ways to both gain some firsthand experience in DO practice and secure a strong DO recommendation letter. While AACOMAS does not list preferences for evaluators, it is best to ask DO physicians you have shadowed or worked with, DO physicians who supervised you on research projects, and undergraduate science or humanities professors. Your evaluators should be able to speak about your candidacy with sincerity and depth, so choose recommenders who know you well and with whom you have established a good relationship. Your letters should include solid examples of how you exemplify the principles of osteopathic medicine, your personal qualities and skills which would contribute positively to osteopathic medicine and any significant accomplishments you have.
While it is better to ask DO supervisors to write an evaluation for you, you can ask professors in the sciences or humanities who might know you well or be able to speak to your fitness to the practices of osteopathic medicine. If your referee asks you to create a draft of your recommendation letter, learn .
#4 Medical School Secondary Essays
The biggest advantage of is that you get to tailor each essay for the school you are writing to. While your AACOMAS personal statement should be a general story of why you want to become a doctor, and specifically a DO doctor, your secondaries can demonstrate why you chose a school specifically. This, of course, is one of the reasons why researching schools beforehand is the first step to choosing the best DO schools.
However, before we begin the discussion of prompt, it’s important to mention that you are likely to run into the prompt as well. Why? This is another chance for the admissions committee to test whether your “actions speak louder than words” in terms of your interest in osteopathic medicine. Let’s say you are using DO schools as a back up if you do not get into MD programs and you only did one activity that relates to osteopathic medicine in order to show at least some experience. You probably already mentioned it several times in your personal statement and the Experiences section, and maybe this experience is also the source of your only DO reference. If you use this same event in your “why osteopathic medicine?” secondary essay, then the committee will know that you have no real commitment to their tenets. Use the secondaries to convince them otherwise!
Secondaries is truly your chance to discuss experiences, skills, and knowledge that you have not had the chance to disclose in your primary application. Remember, many schools send out secondaries because they did like your primary application, and they want to learn more! Do not repeat yourself. Use the “why osteopathic medicine?” essay to show that many other experiences you have had can be related back to DO practices and tenets. For example, do you have experience working or volunteering in underserved communities? Relate this back to the need for primary care physicians and accessibility to healthcare that is so important for DO philosophy and how you plan to address it. Do you plan to become a family physician or join internal medicine residency when you graduate med school? Express your dedication to becoming a primary care physician. Do you hope to return to your community in a Northern region like Alaska to serve remote populations? Speak about this in your essay! There are truly multiple ways you can use this essay to stand out as a perfect DO applicant.
The same strategy should be used in writing your “why our school?” essay. How do your experiences relate to the school’s mission, goals, values, and future outlook? For example, is your school big on research? If you have valuable research experience in any field, mention it in your essay and connect it to the overall goals of your school. The key is to review each school’s profile closely before you sit down to write your essay. Whether it’s an MD school or a DO program, find ways to connect with your school and demonstrate how you can contribute. And remember, try not to repeat yourself too much. If you have already written about an experience in your primary application, try to use something else or expand on it from a different angle when you submit the medical school secondary essays.
Check out some medical school secondary essay prompts you need to know!
In many ways, the way you prepare for your osteopathic medical school interview will be the same as for MD programs, if you are applying to both. However, there are some nuances we need to discuss in order for you to stand out.
Firstly, be prepared for common medical school interview questions like “” or “why should we choose you over all the other candidates?” These are bound to come up and you must have your talking points ready. You must know the details of your DO school’s mission statement, goals, and curriculum in order to choose the talking points you will include. For example, for your “tell me about yourself” answer, figure out what elements of your personal and professional life would be the most interesting for your admissions committee based on the school’s profile. The same strategy can be applied to many other you face on the day of the interview.
However, you must also be prepared to answer questions that are more unique for osteopathic medical school interview, such as “” or “Are you applying to both MD and DO schools?” and other questions related to the reputation of DO medicine. In all three cases, you must be able to demonstrate the following:
- Your genuine interest and desire in becoming an osteopathic physician.
- Your knowledge of and dedication to osteopathic philosophical tenets.
- Solid experience in DO medicine.
To convince the admissions committee that you are truly dedicated to this career path, you have to be well-versed in what DO philosophy and goals stand for. And in order to know them, you must have some real-world experiences to include in your answers. Remember, always show rather than tell what steps you took to be present in this interview.
Look, there are many students who pursue both DO and MD programs, and there is truly nothing wrong with that. The key is how to choose your medical schools based on what career goals you have rather than philosophical tenets. Many allopathic and osteopathic schools have similar goals, such as serving the undeserved populations, focusing on primary care, training healthcare professionals for remote areas, and so on. Instead of focusing on DO vs MD differences, find points of overlap. During your interview, if you are asked whether you applied to MD schools, discuss why you chose them based on their mission statement, curriculum, clinical opportunities and more. Do not discuss the strengths and weakness of DO and MD philosophies – this does not tell the committee anything about you and your candidacy. Rather, focus on why you chose the schools you chose.
Preparing for a med school interview? Check out this video for tips!
First and foremost, you must determine if osteopathic medicine and its philosophy is right for you. Indeed, DO programs are still met with a certain level of skepticism. DO graduates do have a tougher time matching into residency spots and generally have less choice when it comes to medical specialties.
However, DO programs' reputation and presence in the medical field are growing exponentially, especially in the US. Additionally, the majority of patients cannot tell the difference between a practicing MD and a practicing DO as they both have the same responsibilities and clinical abilities. Your choice to apply to DO should stem from a genuine interest in this medical career and a dedication to patient treatment. With your application, you will have to convince DO admissions committees that you are not just seeking an easier way into a medical school. If you get invited to an osteopathic medical school interview, there is a chance that many of the medical school interview questions will test the sincerity of your desire to become a DO.
Although DO programs tend to be less competitive than MD, do not treat your DO medical school applications lightly. Your lack of sincerity and interest will be evident if you are negligent with regards to your DO application. Even if a DO program is not your number one choice, your goal should be to have strong DO-centric application components, including your personal statement, extracurriculars, recommendation letters, and, eventually, osteopathic medical school secondary essays.
1. My medical experiences and recommendations relate to allopathic medicine. For my DO applications, wouldn’t it be more impressive to have an MD referee and allopathic clinical experience?
While it’s great to have MD clinical experience, as well as support from the allopathic medical community, for your DO applications it is vital to have osteopathic experience and at least one DO recommendation letter. Remember, to stand out as a perfect candidate, you must show your dedication to osteopathic medicine and its core values. If you apply to a DO program having only MD clinical experience, shadowing, and extracurriculars, why would a DO program believe in your interest?
2. Do osteopathic physicians have the same practicing rights as MDs?
Yes, DO doctors can write prescriptions, order tests, and have the same practice privileges and responsibilities as MDs.
3. Can I be a practicing DO in Canada?
Yes, you can, but there are no DO , so you will need to get your degree in another country. After you complete your DO degree and residency, you must apply through the Provincial or Territorial College of Medicine for medical practice. Each province has different regulations and requirements to obtain a medical license in that province. Be sure to check to learn more. Some provinces will require the Medical Council of Canada examinations (MCCQE), while others accept USMLE and COMLEX exams. If you are looking to attend medical schools in the United States, make sure to read our blogs about .
4. How competitive are DO graduates for residency spots?
As I mentioned before, DOs tend to have lower matching rates than MDs. However, the single GME accreditation system promises to equalize matching opportunities for MDs and DOs. The graduate medical accreditation system allows graduates of osteopathic and allopathic medical schools to complete residency and fellowship education in ACGME-accredited programs with a focus on common competencies and consistent evaluation. According to AACOM, this system recognizes the unique principles and practices of osteopathic medicine and ensures that osteopathic students and graduates have unrestricted access to training opportunities in the specialties and locations of their choosing. It will also provide new training opportunities for MDs in osteopathic principles and practices.
5. As a DO, what kind of licensing exams must I write to match to my preferred residency program?
Each graduate program sets its own selection criteria, including examinations. While some programs accept the osteopathic licensing exam COMLEX-USA, most DOs who want to participate in the allopathic Match will have to take the USMLEs. Make sure to reach out to your program of choice to find out what selection factors they prioritize.
6. Are osteopathic medical schools more expensive than MD programs?
Generally, DO and MD programs’ costs are comparable. MD tuition costs in private schools average around $60,000, while private DO programs cost around $53,500. MD public schools’ tuition for in-state students is around $37,556 and $60,000 for out-of-state applicants. DO public schools’ programs cost around $30,833 for in-state students and $56,671 for out-of-state students.
7. What is the easiest DO medical school to get into?
Based on overall acceptance rates, Lincoln Memorial University, DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) is the easiest DO school to get into.
8. Do DO programs accept Canadians?
Yes, many do accept Canadians. If you are a Canadian citizen, ensure you reach out to your desired DO program and ask them how they evaluate Canadians. Do they treat Canadian students as out-of-state (friendlier) or international students (not as friendly)? You can also ask if they have taken any Canadians in the last 1 or 2 cycles and how many.
9. How do I shadow a DO in Canada?
There are DOs who completed their education in the US and now practice in Canada. While it is certainly more challenging than shadowing a DO in the US, this is an important part of your application and you must show initiative. You can seek out DO graduates in your local area by looking online, at your university’s faculty, or searching networking sites like LinkedIn. You may also need to be comfortable traveling a bit out of town to shadow if the nearest DO is not too close, so consider setting up a shadowing block of 1 or 2 weeks rather than aiming for a few hours weekly for several months or years. You will probably need to do this well in advance of applying so you have time to find a DO to shadow. So, think about doing this at least 1 year in advance of your application so you can get everything organized.
10. I have been put on a waitlist for my dream DO school. What can I do to get that offer of acceptance?
Being put on a is quite common, so do not panic! It is much better than receiving a rejection. What you can do is find out whether your school of choice allows applicants to send . In this letter, you can reinstate that this is your top-choice school and that if you are sent an offer, you will accept it without hesitation. Additionally, you can reiterate your dedication to osteopathy and include any updates regarding your application.
To your success,
Your friends at BeMo
BeMo Academic Consulting
Disclaimer: although we have made every effort to provide the most accurate information, admissions information changes frequently. Therefore, we encourage you to verify these details with the official university admissions office. You are responsible for your own results. BeMo does not endorse nor affiliate with any official universities, colleges, or test administrators and vice versa. If you see an error here, please notify us with the updated information, and we’ll send you a FREE copy of a BeMo ebook of your choosing! You can receive our Ultimate Guide to Med School Admissions, our Ultimate Guide to MMI Prep, our Ultimate Guide to Medical School Personal Statements & Secondary Essays or our Ultimate Guide to CASPer Prep! Please email us at [email protected] with any corrections, and we’ll arrange to send you your free ebook upon confirming the information.