The Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine (RVUCOM) has three campus locations in Colorado, Utah and Montana. The DO program at the campus in Colorado is the one that we will spotlight here, although the curriculum, academic offerings and admission requirements are the same for all campuses. The school in Colorado is also important because it is only the second medical school in Colorado, after the University of Colorado School of Medicine. The entire university network is a for-profit venture, which means the school does not show any preference for geographic origin and is a very out-of-state-friendly medical school. This article will detail all the admissions requirements, prerequisites and curriculum highlights of the RVUCOM program.
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“Rocky Vista University provides quality healthcare education while inspiring students to serve with compassion, integrity, and excellence.”
The school has a singular focus on health care education as its founding principle, which rings true, given its origin as a place to help alleviate primary care shortages in medically underserved areas of Colorado. But being a private, for-profit institution means the school can accept a wide range of students from out of state. Only 36% of its most recent class were Colorado residents and the school regularly takes in students from feeder states such as California, Florida and Texas.
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Overall Acceptance Rate: 28%
In-State Acceptance Rate: 7.3%
Out-of-State Acceptance Rate: 21%
Average MCAT of Incoming Class: 504.4
Average GPA of First Graduating Class: 3.54
Preference for Masters or PhD: No
Since the school is private, it does not have any legal obligations to admit students from in-state, and its classes are often composed of residents from many different states. International applicants are also encouraged to apply, as the school does not have any visa requirements, but international students must have permanent residency or be US citizens, as the school does not sponsor visas.
Applicants who do not have a bachelor’s degree from the US or Canada, must have their foreign grades and coursework verified by an approved accrediting agency. They must also demonstrate English language proficiency by taking the TOEFL exam and submitting their scores. International students who have completed at least some of the required coursework or attended a US or Canadian institution of higher learning will be shown preference.
MCAT and GPA
Minimum MCAT: 500 (standard minimum for most DO schools)
Minimum GPA: 3.0 or higher
Competitive MCAT: 506
Competitive GPA: 3.6
The school takes many factors into consideration when receiving and reviewing DO school applications, not just MCAT scores and GPA. It takes a holistic approach to reviewing applications, and other factors such as your extracurriculars for medical school, personal statements, secondary essays and interview results all matter equally.
With that said, the school does not have a minimum medical school GPA requirement, but it does suggest that competitive candidates shoot for having a GPA somewhere around 3.6. The same goes for the MCAT, as students are encouraged to reach at a minimum 500, but score at least 506 if they want to be considered a competitive applicant.
Coursework and Undergrad
RVUCOM has a standard set of medical school requirements that require all applicants to the DO program to have at least a bachelor’s degree. From the most recent class, 60% had a bachelor’s degree, while the other 40% held a Master’s degree or PhD, but should you be wondering “do you need a master’s or PhD to apply to medical school?”, as it concerns RVUCOM, no, you do not. A bachelor’s degree is enough.
Prerequisites and Recommended Courses
The school requires all applicants to have passed and received a C grade or higher in the following list of medical school prerequisites. Students who took required courses online during the pandemic can submit their scores, including virtual lab work to complete the lab requirements.
The school also recommends students take upper-level courses in the following subjects to better prepare them for the rigors of the medical school curriculum at RVUCOM.
- Human Anatomy
- Cellular Biology
AACOMAS Experiences and Achievements
RVUCOM participates in the AACOMAS online application portal that all DO schools in the US use (except DO schools in Texas) to accept and review medical school applications. The service was created by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) to help schools and students by streamlining the application process.
Even though the school operates on three different campuses in three different states, the application process for all three is the same, but you do have to indicate on your primary application which campus you want to attend. After submitting your primary AACOMAS application, which often contains the following elements:
- MCAT and GPA scores
- Official transcripts
- AACOMAS letter of recommendation
- AACOMAS personal statement
You will then submit a secondary application the school sends to all eligible applicants. You must complete and submit the secondary application by April 15, which is one month after the primary application deadline of March 15. The school takes anywhere between 3 and 6 weeks to process your primary application, but you are encouraged to apply as early as possible as the school uses a rolling admissions policy to send out interview invitations and acceptances.
The personal statement is a staple of applying to any professional school and it gives all applicants the opportunity to speak directly to the admissions committee, in case they do not make it to the interview stage. A medical school personal statement is where you explain to admissions committee members why do you want to be a doctor, as well as detailing what kind of preparation you have done to excel in medicine.
Akin to a personal statement, a medical school secondary essay is another place for you to explain in writing how you are prepared for medical school and how you are an ideal candidate. Osteopathic and allopathic schools all send applicants secondary applications that are based around specific medical school secondary essay prompts, which are formulated around something unique about the school’s mission and values.
Prompt: “What unique characteristics, abilities, or skills will you bring to help advance the mission and vision of RVUCOM?” - no word or character limit
I think it’s my determination and perseverance that will help me carry out RVUCOM’s mission along with my problem-solving skills. I knew that having a 2.9 GPA would be a problem, and I didn’t want to risk applying with that GPA, so I started looking for a solution. Rather than take my chances and hope that the admissions committee would make an exception for me, I decided that I would spend the previous application cycle doing something about my low GPA. I heard about the Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences post-bacc program you also offer, and I thought the only way to improve my GPA and my chances of getting into medical school is to earn this degree.
I had all the prerequisites and my GPA was good enough, so I applied and I got in. But even that was not enough for me. Getting in only meant that there was more work ahead. I didn’t want to rest on my laurels and told myself that my work was not complete and there was still far to go to get to where I really want to be: RVUCOM. It was the hardest nine months of my life, but I’m grateful for every second. At the end of the program, I did well enough that the MSBS Program Director decided to recommend me to the DO program and now I’m here. I’m happy that I chose the more difficult path rather than hope you would show me mercy and admit me.
The RVUCOM places a lot of importance on medical school recommendation letters, as it allows students to submit up to six letters, but the minimum required amount is three letters, from various sources including:
- A DO or MD (DO physician preferred)
- An academic letter (former science faculty instructor; or a pre-medical committee letter will suffice)
- A personal reference letter of your choosing (excluding from family or friends)
You can include letters from former or current employers, or anyone who has experience with your leadership, academic or service qualities. You can also include letters from supervisors from any of your extracurricular activities or someone who can vouch for your readiness to enter and study at medical school.
Upon receipt of your secondary application, the admissions committee then makes a decision on whether to invite you to a medical school interview, or not. As the school practices holistic admission, there is no one factor that determines whether you receive an interview invitation or not, so you should strive to make your application as attractive and competitive as possible.
The interview itself is an open-file, panel-style interview where your interviewers will have your completed application in front of them. If want to know how to prepare for osteopathic medical school interviews, then you should know that the interview lasts approximately 40 minutes. They will ask you common medical school interview questions such as “tell me about yourself” medical school interview question, and “why should we choose you?”
Sample Interview Questions
- “What is your favorite book?”
- “Talk about a time you failed.”
- “Why Colorado and not Utah?”
Sample Interview Answer #2
This is my second time applying to the RVUCOM so I think the failure that feels most raw and recent is last year when I received a letter of regret saying I was not accepted. I don’t know what I was thinking. At the time, a part of me was blinded by optimism and positive thinking; I didn’t allow for the possibility of failure or rejection, so when it came it hit hard. But what I learned from that rejection is that it is possible to come back from anything. I was told that my application lacked any clinical experience, so I started shadowing a DO physician and increased my shadowing hours. But this time, I’m not setting myself up. Even though I’ve made it this far, I know now that there is a possibility I won’t be accepted and that is something I can take and not feel like it is the end of the world.
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Acceptance and Waitlist Information
After completing your interview, the admissions committee forwards your application to the Dean of the Medical School who is responsible for every admittance decision, whether acceptance, rejection or placing a candidate on a waiting list. The admissions committee makes recommendations to the Dean, about each candidate, but the decision lies ultimately with the Dean.
There is little to no information about the medical school waitlist nor what the school recommends that you do if you are placed on the waitlist. What the school does say, is that all rejected applicants are encouraged to re-apply at the appropriate time, after they have spoken with the admissions committee, as the Office of Admissions makes itself available to provide advice and guidance to rejected applicants.
Primary AACOMAS Application: March 15
Secondary RVUCOM Application: April 15
The school has a set schedule for accepting and reviewing applications, but you are still encouraged to apply as early as possible. It does use a rolling admissions practice to notify applicants of whether they are invited for an interview as well as whether they are accepted into the medical school or not, so the earlier you submit your application, the sooner you will hear back from them.
Tuition and Debt
Tuition Fee: $62,080
Health Insurance (mandatory): $4,589
Average Yearly Living Expenses: $31,510
Average Student Debt of Graduating Students: $235,983
The RVUCOM offers its students several opportunities to help offset medical school costs and lets them apply for all of them, whether it is federal student loans, private loans, work-study programs and, of course, external and internal scholarships. The medical school scholarships listed here are all internal and are offered by the school and the RVUCOM Alumni Association. The eligibility requirements are revealed to students on their school’s online application portal, which is made available to them after they matriculate.
1. Brandon Trusell Service COM Scholarship
A commitment to service is this scholarship’s only defining requirement, and it is open to all incoming, first-year osteopathic medical school students. Successful applicants are awarded a tuition waiver in the amount of $5,000 - $2,500 for each semester – and the prize is limited to only their first-year and is not renewable.
2. Robert Bruce Told Scholarship
This scholarship is aimed at students from rural areas who also demonstrate a commitment to serve in medically underserved rural areas in Colorado and beyond. The prize money amounts to $10,000 and is renewable over three years of medical school. To qualify, applicants must have graduated from a rural high school.
3. RVU Challenge COM Scholarship
Students who have and continue to have ongoing struggles that impede their lives and education are the main demographic for this scholarship. Applicants must demonstrate what or how they have been challenged in their life and what they have done to overcome those obstacles to be able to attend medical school. The prize amounts to a tuition waiver of $2,500 per semester for one year of medical school.
4. RVU Healthcare Leaders Scholarship
This scholarship aims to reward an incoming medical student from a minority background with a tuition waiver in the amount of $5,000; $2,500 per semester. The student may be from any minority group including, but not excluding, Black, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander, or Hispanic. The scholarship is renewable for up to three years.
5. RVU Hope Scholarship
Students who are the first generation to attend college or university are the prime candidates for this scholarship. The Hope Scholarship aims to give an eligible student a $10,000 tuition waiver for up to three years so they can complete their studies. The scholarship is renewable but students must reapply every year.
Residency Match Rates
The RVUCOM has had a near perfect match rate for its graduates since its inception. Its last class reached a 98.7% success rate for matching graduates to their preferred residency program, but combined with students from the Utah campus, nearly 100% of all RVUCOM students matched successfully.
As is typically the case with most osteopathic schools, graduates matched mostly into primary care specialties, as the top residency chosen by graduates was a family medicine residency with 37 graduates choosing that specialty. The runners-up were also based in primary care. There were 19 students who chose an internal medicine residency followed by 13 who choose to go into emergency medicine.
Review of Available Programs
1. Four-Year DO Program
The school’s DO program lasts for four years, where students are expected to earn the 204-credits required to complete the program and graduate successfully. The curriculum is divided between pre-clinical and clinical years that is typical for most medical schools. What sets the program at RVUCOM apart is the number of different tracks, or “concentrations”, as the school refers to them, which cover several different areas of medicine from palliative/end-of-life care and rural medicine to digital health and global medicine.
2. Pre-Doctoral Osteopathic Principles and Practice Fellowship
This fellowship is limited to four students every class and aims to prepare students by blending intensive clinical experiences with a better understanding of Osteopathic Principles and Practices. Students must apply before they matriculate and there is a separate application and interview process to be admitted to the fellowship.
If accepted, students will perform the majority of their fellowship training and duties within the last two years of their medical school training, although participating in this fellowship adds another year to the four-year program. Students will have the opportunity to examine live patient models, while also fulfilling their clinical rotations.
3. Predoctoral Anatomy Fellowship Program
This second fellowship program gives accepted students a more specialized education in anatomy and trains them on how to approach research and investigations into anatomy later on in their careers. Students must apply separately to this program, and it is a highly competitive process, as only two students are admitted each class. Accepted students will begin their training in the final two years of medical school, as admittance adds one year to the program.
4. DO/Masters in Biomedical Sciences
This dual-degree program is in collaboration with the Colorado State University Department of Biomedical sciences and gives qualified students a foundation in biomedical sciences to better prepare them for the medical school curriculum. Students must complete the master’s degree with a 3.4 GPA and meet all the other academic and non-academic requirements to enter the DO program.
Academic Curriculum DO Program
The curriculum of the DO program at RVUCOM is distinguished by the several tracks, or concentrations, it offers to students to gain experience, knowledge and understanding of several areas of medicine that are not covered by the typical medical school curriculum. The standard DO curriculum for students takes them through a combined focus on systems of the body and osteopathic practice and principles.
But students who wish to participate in any of the seven different tracks can apply to receive a more well-rounded medical school education, especially if they have an innate interest in any of these fields. For example, students interested in rural medicine can apply for the Rural and Wilderness track that sees them go out into rural areas and clinics to shadow rural doctors, as well as receive hands-on clinical experience.
The Urban Underserved Track has a similar focus, but in a different environment. This track is only available to students at the Colorado campus and has the same aim as the Rural Track, in that students first receive didactic training on how underserved communities are ignored and what kind of obstacles they face to receiving medical care.
Students then enter the field – all tracks combine pre-clinical and clinical phases – to put into practice their training. In the case of the Urban Underserved track, students will perform clinical rotations at inner-city clinics to interact with these underserved communities, which can consist of several different minority groups from Indigenous people to members of the LGBTQ+ community. The Urban Underserved track also gives students the chance to interact with other health care professionals, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners to give them added training on how to work in a medical team.
The Global Health and Digital Health tracks follow similar progression, as students first take courses or participate in seminars specifically dedicated to the subject, and then enter a clinical phase. The Global Health track requires students to complete at least one rotation abroad, which brings with it extra costs, along with the extra time and effort required to complete all these concentrations.
Campus and Faculty
The Colorado campus of the RVUCOM is the original campus that was opened by the school’s founder, Yife Tien. The entire campus is located in Parker, Colorado, which is about 20 miles southwest of Denver, so it is a blend of urban and suburban. The main medical school building is housed within a 145,000 square-foot building that contains several lecture halls, classrooms, simulation centers, labs and libraries. The campus also hosts several training sites and facilities that are used by students and visiting students. Residents and students can also take advantage of the Rocky Vista Health Center (RVHC), which provides primary care and internal medicine services from both DOs and MDs.
Affiliated Teaching Hospitals
- Parkview Hospital
- Boulder Medical Center
- St. Anthony North
- North Suburban Medical Center
- Brush Family Medicine Clinic
- North Colorado Medical Center
- Grand Junction Community Hospital
- Grand Valley Surgical Center
- St. Mary’s Hospital
- Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children
- St. Anthony’s Hospital
- Salud Health Centers
- Sky Ridge Medical Center
- Evans Military Hospital
- Memorial Hospital
- Peak View Behavioral Health
- Peak Vista Health Center
The school hosts several research centers and institutes and participates in several research initiatives started at the school or have faculty participating. The RVUCOM also has several faculty which have published research articles on subjects as diverse as COVID-19, issues in osteopathic medicine, conceptualizing new teaching and research methods, telehealth and telemedicine, use of drones and robots in health care delivery, mass casualty incidents, measuring stress levels in health care practitioners and examining wellness among those in the medical professions.
- Jennifer Montemayor, PhD, Director of Preclinical Education, Professor of Physiology
- Matthew McEchron, PhD, Assistant Dean of Preclinical Program Assessment, Professor of Neuroscience, Co-Director Academic Medicine & Leadership Track (Colorado)
- Camille Z. Bentley, DO, MPH, FACOFP, Chair, Department of Tracks and Special Programs, Professor of Family Medicine, Co-Director of Global Medicine Track (Colorado)
- Joseph M. Stasio, DO, FACOFP, Chair, Department of Primary Care Medicine, Professor of Family Medicine, Medical Director, PA Program
- Kelli Glaser, DO, MPH, Professor of Family Medicine, Co-Directory of Academic Medicine and Leadership Track (Colorado)
Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine (RVUCOM)
8401 S. Chambers Road
Parker, CO 80112
Main phone: (303) 373-2008
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (720) 874-2477
Fax: (720) 875-2897
1. What is the mission of the Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine?
The university was founded to address doctor shortages in Colorado and other areas, since, before it was created, there was only one other medical school in Colorado. The school has a mission based in education and it is constantly striving to improve its academic offerings, specializations and how it trains and educates future osteopathic physicians.
2. Do I need to take the MCAT and submit my scores?
You do need to submit your latest MCAT score with your primary application, as it forms part of the many selections factors the school reviews of every applicant. There is no minimum score required, but you should always aim to score at least 500 or higher, ideally.
3. What is the minimum GPA requirement?
As with the MCAT, the RVUCOM does not have an official minimum GPA requirement, but the school has been known to reject applicants with a GPA lower than 3.0, which is the unofficial standard for most medical schools, unless they have a stated minimum or cut-off. But just because the school does not have a minimum GPA to apply, only a suggested minimum that does not mean you can apply with a low GPA. Of course, there are ways for how to get into medical school with a low GPA, but you should always strive to maintain a GPA at or above 3.0.
4. What kind of degree do I need to get into RVUCOM?
RVUCOM requires all applicants to the medical school to have a bachelor’s degree or higher to apply. Students can in the progress of completing their degree when they apply, but must have a degree and complete all required course work prior to matriculation.
5. Are there prerequisite courses I have to take?
Yes, the school lists several medical school prerequisites that all applicants must complete, at least with a C grade, to be considered. The courses include behavioral and social sciences, biology, chemistry, physics, English composition or literature, and biochemistry.
6. How can I apply to RVUCOM?
All applicants to the RVUCOM must submit an online application via the AACOMAS service to be considered. The school will determine whether to send you a supplemental application based on your primary. You send your supplemental application to the school directly, which then makes a decision, based on both your applications, on whether to invite you for an interview or not.
7. How much does one year at RVUCOM cost?
The full cost of attendance for all students at RVUCOM comes out to $103,648. But this figure changes with every subsequent year to account for added costs such as COMLEX Level 1 and COMLEX Level 2 CE preparation in the final two years.
8. Is it hard to get into RVUCOM?
RVUCOM is not one of the easiest medical schools to get into but neither is it the hardest. The school is for-profit, which could put some people off, but that does not mean they let anyone in. The benefit of going to a private school is that they have no residency requirements, so anyone, from anywhere can apply. The school has the same admission requirements as many other programs and its specialized tracks are a feature of its academic offerings, so it is an attractive choice, especially since there is only one other medical school in Colorado, the University of Colorado School of Medicine, which is harder to get into.
To your success,
Your friends at BeMo
BeMo Academic Consulting
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