Overview of the Profession
AACOMAS Profile: Applicant and Matriculant Profile Summary Report – view national data on the demographic characteristics, majors, MCAT scores, and GPAs of applicants and matriculants into osteopathic colleges.
Visit the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) General Admissions Requirements to see the course requirements at your schools of interest, as they vary slightly for each medical school.
To see which UCLA courses satisfy the most common course requirements, refer to the UCLA Pre-Health Requirements Worksheet, found here.
Do I have to be a specific major to be able to apply to DO school?
A: NO. Pre-med students come from a wide variety of undergraduate majors, including biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, liberal arts, and anatomy. It is important that you complete the pre-requisite courses required by the DO programs to which you are interested in applying to.
Centralized Application System
The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service® (AACOMAS®) is the centralized osteopathic medical school application processing service. You may begin completing the application in May the year prior to entry.
Utilize the AACOMAS Applicant Help Center to guide you through all components of the centralized application process.
The Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT®) is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assess your problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. The MCAT exam tests content found in introductory-level courses at most undergraduate institutions, including biology, general and organic chemistry, and physics, as well as first-semester biochemistry, psychology, and sociology.
Financially disadvantaged applicants can apply for the MCAT Fee Reduction Program.
Medical School Admission Statistics by MCAT Section Scores – View how UCLA students’ and graduates’ MCAT scores correlate with admission to medical schools.
When should I take the MCAT?
At the latest, the MCAT should be taken by May of the year you apply to medical school. It is recommended to take the MCAT even earlier (fall or winter before applying) so that you have time to take the exam again if you would like to try to improve your score. Medical schools will see your scores from every time you have taken the MCAT and each program views and considers the scores differently. For this reason, it is important not to take the MCAT until you are fully prepared and as comfortable with the content as possible. Most medical schools only accept MCAT scores within two years of the exam date, though some accept them for three years.
The application requires official transcripts from every post-secondary institution you have attended to be sent directly from the institution(s) to AACOMAS. Please see the Student Guide to Osteopathic Medical Colleges for more information.
Letters of Evaluation/Recommendation
In most cases, osteopathic medical schools request a minimum of three recommendations from some combination of professors, medical practitioners, and supervisors. Be sure to carefully review each school’s requirements when deciding which letters to send to each school. Unless specifically instructed not to send additional letters , applicants commonly send as many as five to six recommendations, including those from additional academic sources, clinical mentors, supervisors in extracurricular activities, and research sources.
The AACOMAS allows you to upload up to six letters of recommendation. The AACOMAS does not allow you to upload different letters for different schools, so make sure that your recommenders know that they should write general letters of recommendation. You should request your letters through AACOMAS, which sends an email to your recommender with instructions on how to upload the letter. When asking people to serve as letter writers for your medical school application, consider sharing with them the AAMC’s Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation for a Medical School Applicant.
DO schools want to ensure that applicants have some exposure to osteopathic medicine. Therefore, you should have at least one letter from an osteopath that you have shadowed or worked with. Research each program’s requirements to determine whether your programs have specific requirements regarding your relationship to the letter writers before listing evaluators on your application. Many programs have strict guidelines and completed evaluations cannot be removed or replaced.
AACOMAS accepts applicants’ letters of evaluation via the Letters by Liaison service and distributes them to participating medical schools electronically. This service enables letter authors to send their letters to AACOMAS rather than to each individual school. Some students choose to use an external letter service instead (such as, but not limited to, Interfolio Dossier).
For additional guidance and UCLA resources for asking for letters of recommendation, visit the Prepare to Apply section of this website.
Choosing Schools & Programs
The Choose DO Explorer is a searchable database that provides information on the nation’s osteopathic medical colleges including school locations, dual degree options, institutional campus setting, mean overall GPA and MCAT scores for enrolled students, and application deadlines.
The AACOM Student Guide to Osteopathic Medical Colleges provides information about the nation’s osteopathic medical colleges, tips for applying to osteopathic medical school, and other resources you may find helpful throughout the application process.
Deciding which medical schools to apply to and attend is a complex and highly individualized process. Visit the Prepare to Apply section of this website for considerations that may help you with these decisions.
Student Organizations at UCLA:
- Pre-SOMA at UCLA
- Students for Integrative Medicine
Many of the colleges require applicants to spend time shadowing a DO physician. This provides the applicant with exposure to the osteopathic profession and enhances awareness of osteopathic medical philosophy. Working with a physician will prepare the applicant for the application interview. Completing this crucial step also demonstrates the applicant’s commitment to the osteopathic profession.
How to find DOs to shadow:
- Osteopathic college admission and alumni offices. Contact them and let them know that you are looking to shadow and learn more about becoming a DO.
- The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) membership office. The AOA maintains an online national directory of practicing DOs. A locality search will give you contact information and in many cases will link you to the website of your state’s osteopathic association. To contact the AOA Membership Office visit the AOA Website: https://doctorsthatdo.org/.
- State osteopathic associations also compile lists of their members who have indicated an interest in having prospective osteopathic medical students shadow them.
- Your college’s health professions advisor.
Once you have found a doctor near you, call or send the doctor a letter. (Remember, most doctors are very busy, so please be understanding if you cannot speak directly to the DO.) If you explain your interest and share your enthusiasm for the profession, many DOs will be delighted to host you for a day or two. They will be able to show you what they do so that you can decide if you want to study osteopathic medicine. Current osteopathic medical students are another good source of information about osteopathic medical education. The colleges have student ambassador programs, alumni, student government leaders and members of the Student Osteopathic Medicine Association, all of whom are eager to talk about their schools with prospective medical students. For further information, contact the admissions office at the schools in which you are interested.
Volunteer Work: Another great way to gain exposure to the field is through volunteer opportunities in various settings such as hospitals, medical centers, nursing homes, free clinics and other settings where DOs work.
Employment: Working in a medical field is a great way to gain hands-on experience and also earn money. You can get healthcare experience by being a (not an exhaustive list):
- Medical Assistant (MA)
- Medical Scribe
- Search for healthcare-related opportunities on Handshake and various job search sites (use keywords: “medical”, “scribe”, etc.).
Visit the Gain Experience page of this website for more ideas on how to gain clinical, research, leadership, and/or community service experience that can help you clarify your goals, develop your skills, and demonstrate your commitment to healthcare.
- American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM): https://www.aacom.org/home
- Choose DO : https://choosedo.org/
- American Osteopathic Association (AOA): https://osteopathic.org/
- National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners: https://www.nbome.org/
- Comprehensive Medical Licensing Examination (COMPLEX): https://www.nbome.org/exams-assessments/comlex-usa/
- Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine: https://doctorsthatdo.org/
- Student Osteopathic Medical Association: https://studentdo.org/pre-soma/