Of all of the , the University of Colorado School of Medicine (CUSOM) is the only one that has recently reformed its medical school curriculum. The new TREK curriculum is mountaineering-themed, given the school’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains, and introduces longitudinal patient experience into the four-year medical school degree, rather than isolating it in the final two years like with typical medical school curriculums. The school shows preference for Colorado residents, but it is an as every new class is a mix of in-state and out-of-state students. This article will detail other interesting facts about CUSOM, how to get in and what is new about their reformed curriculum.
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“The mission of the University of Colorado School of Medicine is to provide Colorado, the nation and the world with programs of excellence in:
Education - through the provision of educational programs to medical students, allied health students, graduate students and house staff, practicing health professionals and the public at large;
Research - through the development of new knowledge in the basic and clinical sciences, as well as in health policy and health care education;
Patient Care - through state-of-the-art clinical programs which reflect the unique educational environment of the University, as well as the needs of the patients it serves and,
Community Service - through sharing the School’s expertise and knowledge to enhance the broader community, including our affiliated institutions, other healthcare professionals, alumni and other colleagues, and citizens of the state.”
Education is the school’s top priority according to its mission and that is evidenced by the fact that it is the oldest medical school in Colorado, its 60+ research centers and institutes, and over 1,500 different health sciences course list. The school has become a hub of medical education for the surrounding area and routinely receives over 10,000 applications a year for only 184 seats in the medical school, which means it has one of the lowest out of all the .
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Overall Acceptance Rate: 1.6%
In-State Acceptance Rate: 13.4%
Out-of-State Acceptance Rate: 0.8%
Average MCAT of Incoming Students: 515
Average GPA of Incoming Students: 3.81
Preference for master’s or PhD: No
Percentage of Accepted Applicants with Research Experience: 92%
Percentage of Accepted Applicants with Paid Clinical Experience: 66%
Percentage of Accepted Applicants with Medical Volunteer Experience: 86%
Percentage of Accepted Applicants with Non-Medical Volunteer Experience: 84%
Percentage of Accepted Applicants with Military Experience: 2%
Percentage of Accepted Applicants with Shadowing Experience: 87%
The school is a public state school so it is obligated to show preference for Colorado residents when reviewing medical school applications. But admission into CUSOM is as competitive for in-state applicants as it is for out-of-state applicants, as shown by the acceptance rates. Out of state applicants do not have any other admission requirements to follow but international students must have permanent residency or US citizenship to apply. International students, like all applicants, must also have completed a bachelor’s degree but they can include foreign credits and courses on their official transcript only if it has been verified by an accrediting agency.
MCAT and GPA
Minimum GPA to Apply: 3.0
Minimum MCAT to Apply: 500
The above figures are only averages that all medical school applicants should aim for and hopefully exceed to make their applications more competitive. The last graduating class had GPA and much higher than those listed above, as they scored an average of 512 on their MCAT and had a cumulative GPA of 3.75. The school does not list any minimums that you need to meet to apply, but you should always strive to score as high as possible on your MCAT and all your premed coursework, even if you think you know .
Students applying to the CUSOM must also complete the collection of situational judgement tests, which comprise the CASPer and tests. The CUSOM is one of the so, all applicants must complete the test and submit their scores with their secondary application.
Coursework and Undergrad
The school is clear about the fact that all applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree to apply to the school. They are also clear about the fact that the degree or major does not matter, as your academic rigor, aptitude, curiosity for learning count more toward impressing the admissions committee rather than your undergraduate major. If you are thinking “” then the answer is “no”, since the school does not require it.
Prerequisites and Recommended Courses
Even though your major does not matter, you still have to complete a series of required courses to apply to CUSOM. The school lists four different subjects where applicants must “demonstrate competency” via their “academic achievements and letters of recommendation”, although it does not give students a specific credit or semester requirement nor does it list whether they should be completed with corresponding lab work. The school does not list whether students must pass these courses with a letter grade, only saying that students who have received pass/fail grades can submit those scores.
The four subject areas include:
- Social Sciences and Communication
Again, there is no set credit or course requirement for these subjects, but you are recommended to complete upper-level courses and take them in your final two years of undergraduate, as the admissions committee reviews those scores most of all your undergraduate coursework. The school also lists a few recommended subjects for applicants to take:
- Computer sciences
The CUSOM participates in the AMCAS application service run by the American Medical Association. All applicants must submit their application documents, which typically include:
- Official and unofficial transcripts
- Letters of recommendation
- MCAT scores
- CASPer and Altus Suite scores
- Personal statement
There are individual sections of the online application that applicants must also fill to complete their application. These two sections are called the and , and they allow applicants a space to mention important pre-med experiences – academic, professional or personal – that helped prepare them for medical school and a career in medicine.
Looking for great experiences to include in your application? Check out our tips on volunteering hours you should gain:
The medical school personal is one of the few places where applicants can communicate directly with the admissions committee and tell them their personal story. The admissions committee have access to an applicant’s grades, MCAT and CASPer scores, but they do not relieve a candidate’s true motivation for wanting to become a doctor, which is why all medical schools ask students to submit an with their primary application.
Students also get a chance to talk about themselves if they are invited to an interview along with answering common such as and “”. A personal statement should contain personal details about you and upbringing, which have some connection to your decision to pursue medicine.
are compulsory across the board. All medical schools ask for them and the CUSOM is no different, as it makes writing an essay a requirement for your secondary application, if you are invited to submit a secondary application. Along with paying a fee and indicating which degree program you wish to enter, the secondary application also gauges your interest and familiarity with the school’s unique traits such as its mission, location and curriculum. You will also include your Altus Suite scores with your secondary application, rather than submitting them with your primary application.
1. The pillars of our curriculum are Leadership, Curiosity, and Commitment.
Tell us about how you have embodied one or more of these attributes in your path to medicine thus far. In which of these areas do you see the most opportunity for personal growth and why? Limit this response to 500 words.
2. Reapplicant to Colorado
Please explain how you and your application has changed since your previous submission. (Limit this response to 1500 Characters.)
3. Fort Collins Track
Please tell us why you are interested in being a part of the 4-year CUSOM at CSU (Fort Collins Branch campus)? With the background that FCB’s smaller class sizes and unique structure lead to a highly interactive curriculum, please tell us how this campus matches your learning style and personal philosophy. (Limit your statement to 1500 characters, including spaces (approximately 300 words).
4. Rural Track
Describe your personal and professional goals in becoming a rural physician. In particular, describe your interest and ability to spend your clinical year in a rural community. You may also include how past experiences living and/or working in a rural area and your ties to or interest in rural Colorado communities aligns with your goals. (Limit your statement to 1500 characters, including spaces, approximately 300 words).
Sample Answer #1
I think never-ending curiosity is something that serves anyone, in any walk of life, but especially in medicine and the medical sciences. I know that in my life, curiosity has always been a driving factor for me, which is something I think I got from my brother. Now my brother is a mechanical engineer, but back when we were kids, he had the stereotypical knack for taking things apart and then putting them back together. I took that same approach when I enrolled in a Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where I was matched to a research lab and worked under the supervision of a faculty member.
Aside from the typical work of processing blood and tissue samples, growing cultures in Petri dishes and watching reactions of Polymerase Chains, I also spent time at the school’s simulation labs, and practiced with high-fidelity models on how to draw blood, but the thing that interested me most about the labs was watching students interact with live patient models. One aspect of the simulation lab was to develop student's patient interaction and problem-solving skills, as they would have to work through a particularly complex ethical scenario involving a patient model and their family.
I didn’t participate in these exercises but I came to watch how each student dealt with the problem in their own way. The scenario involved being in the middle of discussion amongst a patient’s family debating whether their family member should go through with a risky operation or not. Every student took a different approach to dealing with the family’s dilemma, and it taught me a lot about the value of listening and compassion, which are things I never would have learned working in a lab all summer.
It was my sheer curiosity that gave me all those insights. If admitted, I know I would have many more chances to study and learn how to interact with patients on a human-level, but that time I spent watching students in that simulation lab was something I did on my own, since it was not part of the research program. And that unbridled curiosity is something that I think will serve me well, here, at the School of Medicine.
The school has a standard requirement that all students must comply with to apply. The requirements are not as stringent as with other schools, either allopathic or osteopathic schools. You can submit anywhere between three to five letters, with at least two of them being from either a former faculty instructor, past employer or research supervisor, current employer, etc.
If you can obtain a pre-medical advisory letter in lieu of any other letters, the school will allow you to submit only that letter to fulfill the requirements. But you can still submit more letters if you choose, but only from accepted sources. Any letters from personal friends or family members will not be accepted or read.
Interview day at CUSOM is a big occasion and the interview process can take up the entire day. The school uses a holistic approach to considering both your primary and secondary application and will take many factors into consideration when deciding who to invite to an interview. Interviews for the most recent and upcoming application cycle are virtual so students do not have to travel far, or figure out , since the time and date are given to you.
The interview season begins in the fall, after both primary and secondary applications are received. The school typically follows a schedule divided by the fall and summer. The fall being where students submit their applications for the following year’s application cycle, while the summer months are when acceptances are sent out and when classes begin eventually.
The entire day comprises more than one interview, and you will meet with a variety of CUSOM representatives from current students, admissions committee members, faculty, and administrators. You will also participate in a group exercise, which is part of the entire interview process. There is no involved, as CUSOM is not one of the , but you will have panel and individual interviews with several different faculty and administration members.
Sample Interview Question
“What is a time that you have felt invisible, and how can you help others who feel so because of their background?”
Sample Interview Answer
I was in the Moldovan countryside with a friend of mine when we missed our bus back to Chișinău and to the hostel we were staying at. On top of that, we had spent all our money and we didn’t have any way to get more. At the bus station, they told us that there would be another bus in a few hours but without any money to buy a ticket we didn’t have a way to get back. Now it seems like a trite story, but at the time, it was probably one of the first times when I felt desperation.
I didn’t have a place to sleep. I didn’t have any money and I was in a country where I didn’t know anyone and didn’t even speak the language. There was no one I could call and no one was coming to help me. But that knowledge motivated me. My survival was something I was going to have to figure out myself and I felt ready. My friend and I decided to stay in the small city center, at the bus station, and beg for money. It was the only thing we could think of to get the money we needed.
Begging for money wasn’t easy and it was a glimpse into how life on the margins can be. I know my one afternoon of begging for bus fare can’t compare to a lifetime of invisibility, but it is the only way that someone from my white, privileged background was able to feel unwanted and undesired by society. That feeling of not having anyone and not having any recourse was momentary but memorable and it grew my compassion for people who are invisible for reasons they cannot control.
After completing your interview, your interview scores, along with all the other aspects of your secondary application are sent to the admissions committee, who will then decide whether to send you a letter of admission or regret. However, the third option is to be waitlisted. The CUSOM uses a to place applicants who are qualified but are not as qualified as those sent offers. Students will be notified via email whether they will be placed on the waitlist and whether there are any open spots available.
Primary AMCAS Application Deadline: October 15
Secondary Application Deadline: November 30
The school gives applicants ample time to complete their secondary application and submit it, if they are sent a secondary application. The school uses a policy, although its entire application cycle goes along a more or less set schedule with acceptances usually being sent out in the spring and summer.
In-State Tuition: $42,390
Out-of-State Tuition: $83,290
Average Yearly Cost-of-Living Expenses (in-state and out-of-state): $6,594
Average Debt of Graduating Students: $221,847
The school gives students several opportunities to pay for as well as other common medical school costs, such as . You can either apply for federal student loans, which over 85% of the current study body are using, since it is one of the most common ways for or you can apply for various external and internal .
1. Internal Scholarships
The CUSOM offers scholarships to all medical students through five different categories comprising four of the school’s guiding principles (Leadership and Merit; Diversity and Equity) and three categories dealing with specific topics such as Research, Primary Care and Rural Care. These scholarships are exclusive to medical students and you must apply separately to each scholarship within each category. All applicants must comply with application requirements including writing all necessary letters or documentations and submitting a
2. ASH Minority Medical Student Award Program
The American Society of Hematology sponsors this award designed to help minority students pay for medical school, while also raising awareness of hematology as a medical specialty for students who are still learning . The award extends to a student who meets the eligibility requirements which include:
- Self-identify as a minority
- Be a current MD or DO student
- Be in the first or second year of medical school for Summer Projects
- Be in the first, second, or third year for Flexible/Yearslong Projects
- Permanent residents or US or Canadian citizens
- Have a research mentor who is a member of the ASH
The CUSOM boasts a perfect match rate for its graduates, as all 180 graduates of the previous class matched to their preferred specialties making the CUSOM one of the . The most popular of all programs was internal medicine, as 30 students from the class decided to train in an .
Emergency medicine (27) and anesthesiology (13) were the two next most popular residencies for graduates of CUSOM, while the next most popular were primary care specialities. 11 students each decided to take either a or a pediatrics residency, while 6 students chose to enter OBGYN residencies.
1. Four-Year MD Program
The CUSOM curriculum has been recently reformed to blend all aspects of medical school education into a cohesive, longitudinal stretch rather than isolating clinical experiences for the later years. To be sure, the new curriculum at CUSOM also includes pre-clerkship and clerkship phases, but they are under a different name and start earlier than the traditional four-year curriculum the school used previous.
The last class was the one to use the old curriculum and the upcoming class will be the first to learn this new curriculum, which was a years-long project that involved almost 600 different participants ranging from medical school students, faculty, school administration and other pedagogical experts.
The new program still last four years and covers basic medical sciences in the first years, while also introducing more systems-based approaches that sees students interact with patient models early on. The five COMPASS modules within the first-year offer students an introductory perspective on different systems of the body every four weeks, where they address a new malady or patient issues surrounding that system.
2. Global Health Track
The Global Health Track is one part of the old curriculum that will persist at CUSOM. Students in their first year can apply for this track, which involves taking clerkships abroad, learning more about global health policy, and having a natural desire to address global health concerns both locally and abroad.
Students must first complete the Introduction to Global Health course during their first year of medical school, then they can apply to the program. The program has its own application requirements such as submitting a completed application form, and submitting a medical school CV. The program is taken concurrently with your four-year degree in the form of specific classes taken throughout the four years such as Refugee and Immigrant Health, and Global Health and Disasters.
3. Research Track
The Research Track is another specialization within the four-year MD program that allows students to develop and see a research project through to the end of their four years at medical school. Students in the first year may apply to the program by filling out an application and creating a research plan for the next four years, along with demonstrating a commitment to follow a regimented research schedule.
Aside from their MD program requirements, students enrolled in the Research Track are expected to keep up with their research schedule and other commitments such as spending their first- and second-year summer breaks attending research seminars and other important research meetings.
4. Rural Program
The Rural Program also has its own application requirements and you must indicate on your secondary application whether you want to be considered for this program. You must also submit a personal essay detailing why you want to enter the program, and what connections you have to rural Colorado or to remote areas, in general (the program is open to everyone, regardless of geographic origin).
What’s unique about the Rural Program is that students enter a rural clinical setting in their second year, rather than having to wait for their clerkship years. The clinical sites for the Rural Program are all spread out throughout the state, and there are a total of 20 students enrolled in the program for every class.
5. MD/MS Aerospace Engineering
The school has announced this latest dual-degree program for students to pursue both their medical school degree, while also taking two years to receive a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. Perhaps due to its proximity to aerospace giants such as Lockheed Martin and the Air Force base at Colorado Springs, the school has decided to meld these two disciplines to give students a four-year medical degree along with an understanding of how human health is affected by air and space travel.
The dual-degree MD/MBA is a regular fixture among joint degrees offered by medical schools, and this program has many of the same highlights, since it is a degree offered in collaboration with another of the university’s professional schools, namely the Leeds School of Business. The school of medicine allows students enrolled in the MD/MBA program to take a break after their third year to complete the MBA requirements within one year. Interested students must apply independently of their medical school application and depending on which campus they apply to (Boulder or Denver) they may or may not have to take the GMAT.
The joint medical doctor and Master of Public Health degree is another common offering from many medical schools, as the two disciplines are closely linked and there is a demand for professionals with medical and public health training. Enrolled students take a year off in between their third and fourth year to take one year of Public Health courses. They can also apply to take a specialization within Public Health, such as Community and Behavioral Health, Community Health Education, or Environmental and Epidemiology.
8. MD/MS in Bioengineering
This dual degree also gives medical students three semesters to earn a Master of Science in Bioengineering degree, in between their third and fourth year of medical school. The degree is offered to students interested in the biomedical field, prosthetics and other medical technologies used as therapeutics or treatments for a variety of disorders and diseases. Students must present and defend an oral thesis to complete the master’s phase of the degree program.
This dual degree program called the Medical Scientist Training Program brings together several disciplines as it is a MD and PhD program that gives students eight years to complete both degrees. Interested students must indicate on their primary application that they wish to apply for the combined degree and meet the separate academic requirements, along with the regular .
They must also interview separately for the program, outside of their medical school interview. Students complete their first two years of medical school switching in between taking graduate-level courses and medical science courses, while in their third year they can take one or two clinical rotations before going into the four-year PhD program.
As mentioned, CUSOM has unveiled a completely revamped curriculum that incorporates more mentorship, professional guidance, identity formation and other educational concepts to help students transition into physicians by the end of the curriculum. The TREK Curriculum comprises four distinct phases:
- Plains (Year 1 – pre-clerkship phase)
- Foothills (Year 2 – clerkship phase)
- Alpine/Summit (Year 3 and 4 – post-clerkship phase)
In their first year, Plains, students pass through five phases to learn about medical science and systems of the body, each called COMPASS (Coaching, Mindful reflection, Professional identity formation, Assessment, Self-care, Self-directed learning). The COMPASS model sees students paired with guides (senior medical students or clinicians) who provide guidance and support by instilling a growth mindset into students so they grow organically into the role of a physician.
Despite the guides, students are also encouraged to embrace self-directed learning, team-based problem solving and other strategies teaching them in the Foothills and Alpine phases. In the clerkship phase, students enter into Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships, which are meant to mimic real-world patient-doctor relationships where students provide continuous care to a roster of patient models. They keep patient histories, provide follow-up care, and ideally foster genuine, caring relationships with their patient models.
What is novel about this model is that the clerkships are performed at one physical site, with students rotating between patient models who all present with different medical problems, based on that specific rotation (cardiac or respiratory problems, for example). This structure means students do not have to travel far to complete required rotations.
The final two years of the TREK curriculum share many of the same goals as other medical school curriculums, in that students are expected, by their final year, to be independent, self-directed learners who can shape a specialized learning plan based around their interests. There are some requirements in the final years, such as 24 weeks of electives, required Critical Care and Acting Internship rotations, and two Integrated Science courses.
The CUSOM sits on the Anschutz Campus of the larger University of Colorado network that stretches all across Colorado. The School of Medicine has its offices in the main Fitzsimmons building, which also houses the School of Public Health and the Graduate School. The Anschutz Campus is in Aurora, Colorado so it has a suburban feel that fits in with the stereotypical college campus environment.
However, the medical school is divided into two campuses, as CUSOM opened another branch in Fort Collins, Colorado, where students enrolled in the Rural Track of the MD program go to participate in their clerkships, and hosts about ten or twelve medical students every year. But the Fort Collins campus also hosts veterinary and biomedicine students.
- University of Colorado Hospital
- Children's Hospital Colorado
- Denver Health Medical Center
- National Jewish Health
- Veteran's Affairs Medical Center
Being one of the oldest medical schools in the country means the school has an impressive track record when it comes to medical and scientific breakthroughs. Researchers and scientists working at CUSOM have created a new shingles vaccine and identified how melons can help prevent the spread of pancreatic cancers, among a list of other firsts including CUSOM doctors performing the first human liver transplant and identifying the dangers of child abuse to the physical and psychological development of children. Currently, there are over thirty different research centers operating on campus that range in scope and mission from the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center to the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect.
- Aimee Pugh Bernard, PhD, assistant professor of immunology and microbiology, director of the Human Immunology & Immunotherapy Initiative, recipient of the CUSOM Chase Faculty Community Service Award.
- Dave Young, MD, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, volunteered in Ukraine where he helped treat refugees, and taught basic first aid to others.
- Jessica Rove, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, along with CUSOM colleague, Simran Randhawa, MBBS, Assistant Professor of Surgery, performed the first, female-led, concurrent cardiothoracic transplant surgeries at University of Colorado Hospital.
- Valeria Canto-Soler, PhD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, and Natalia Vergara, PhD, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, were awarded $750,000 in prize money by the National Eye Institute for discovering cell-stem therapies to treat patients suffering from disease-related blindness.
- Caitlin Rublee, MD, MPH, assistant professor of emergency medicine, was chosen to be a National Academy of Medicine Fellow in the past year and was only one of seven chosen to participate in the prestigious posting.
- Mark Johnston, PhD, a former University Chair of the Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics department was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
13001 East 17th Place
Campus Box C290
Aurora, CO 80045
1. What is the mission of the University of Colorado School of Medicine?
The mission of the CUSOM is to give their students the best possible medical school training to uphold the legacy of the school, while also serving the community in both Colorado and beyond. The school’s new curriculum points to the fact that the school is constantly wanting to improve its academics to better serve its students and their future patients.
2. Do I need to take the MCAT and submit my scores?
Yes, CUSOM takes a holistic approach to admissions, but they will view all your past MCAT attempts for the last three years. You cannot submit any MCAT results older than three years.
3. What is the minimum GPA requirement?
CUSOM does not have a stated minimum GPA to apply to the medical school, as it considers other factors as well, but all students should aim to have their GPA at the average of the last graduating class, which was 3.81.
4. What kind of degree do I need to get into CUSOM?
You need a full bachelor’s degree to apply to CUSOM. The school accepts foreign course work as long as they appear on your transcript as taken at a foreign institution and verified by an accreditation agency.
5. Are there prerequisite courses I have to take?
All applicants to the CUSOM must complete a series of prerequisites, but the exact number of credits and courses are undefined. The school requires that you have basic competencies in these four subjects: chemistry, biology, mathematics, statistics, physics, social sciences and communication. There are no grade requirements either, but the school will judge your competency in these subjects via your grades and letters of recommendation.
6. How can I apply to CUSOM
The school participates in the AMCAS application service, so all primary applications are submitted online. If you are invited to submit a second application, you submit it directly to the school, along with your secondary essay, CASPer/Altus Suite scores, and letters of recommendation. You also indicate whether you want to participate in the Rural Track or Medical Scientist Training Program.
7. How much does one year at CUSOM cost?
The school is a state school, so it shows preference for Colorado residents, and offers different tuition for in-state and out-of-state residents. Out-of-state residents can apply for Colorado residency before they apply to pay reduced tuition fees, although they are equal to in-state tuition. One year of medical school – all costs included - for Colorado residents is $48,984, while non-Colorado residents will pay $89,884.
8. Is it hard to get into CUSOM?
Yes, it is hard to get into CUSOM. It is a popular school, and has been around for a long time so it attracts a lot of applications (over 10,000, last year). All the same factors come into play including MCAT and GPA, but the school has a holistic approach to admissions so you can always improve your application by taking proactive steps such as shadowing, more clinical experience or improving your overall GPA. The school even hosts a seminar for students who were not accepted to show them how to improve their applications.
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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.