Students considering a broad career in medicine often find a home in osteopathic medical schools.
These programs offer an approach simultaneously more and less traditional: training lasts three to eight years, and graduated licensed medical doctors and osteopaths follow the same matching process and residency training periods.
Osteopathic programs educate their students in all forms of treatment, considering the human body as an integrated system. Osteopaths look to solve health problems by finding a root cause within the whole patient, not through treating isolated symptoms.
Certain body manipulation techniques also characterize osteopathic treatment. Special training in musculoskeletal structure and connections give osteopathic doctors skills that have proven successful in treating migraines, sinus disorders, carpal tunnel, and other chronic physical conditions.
Programs in osteopathic medicine focus on producing doctors with general medical expertise, from pediatrics to surgery. These programs often have committed to providing medical care in parts of the world where little or no health services exist.
Students in osteopathic programs staff clinics in remote rural areas and in urban clinics. They travel for clerkships to clinics in areas of the world touched by violence, poverty, and natural disasters.
Osteopathic medicine’s model of preventative health and whole-body focus appeals more and more to health care consumers and to practitioners: 25% of current medical students study in osteopathic medical programs.
The following accredited programs are ranked by average MCAT of incoming students, as reported by BEMO Academic Consulting at the time of this writing.
For schools with the same average MCAT, lower acceptance rate determined higher ranking.
Here are the 10 best osteopathic medical schools in the US.
10. New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (Westbury, NY)
The New York Institute of Technology provides a choice of two initial tracks for its osteopathic candidates, allowing students to choose lecture-based or problem-based pedagogy.
Campuses in Long Island, New York and Jonesboro, Arkansas feature the most up-to-date technological resources in research labs and training simulations.
In addition to a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) degree, New York Tech offers several other graduate degree options. Students interested in public health or academic careers can consider Master’s programs in academic medicine, public health, medical simulation, biomedical sciences, and a PhD in osteopathic medicine.
The program’s second two-year phase places students among a range of clinical experiences, partnering with large hospitals and community clinics. The program’s consortium of associated hospitals and clinics gives program graduates a wide range of options for clinical placement.
NYITCOM provides a list of required undergraduate coursework, along with additional coursework students are urged to consider taking as preparation for application to the program.
The first osteopathic degree program in New York, NYITCOM focuses on lifetime learning for medical providers, service to rural and inner city communities lacking medical care, and the search for new medical knowledge in order to solve the health problems of all global communities.
9. Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (Lynchburg, VA)
Liberty University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine aligns with the school’s Christian mission, grounding their medical training in Christian principles and practice.
Following osteopathy’s holistic approach, Liberty considers Christian faith a part of the whole patient and a part of medical training.
The four-year program begins with two years of actual and simulated lab-based pathology education, including clinical training and experience. Year three includes continuing online coursework while students work in clinical environments.
Rotations make up the fourth-year curriculum, including surgery, emergency medicine, and local and global electives. Students licensed and board-certified through Liberty’s program can practice medicine in every state and internationally in at least 65 countries.
LUCOM requires at least a 3.0 average in undergraduate science courses for application, though successful candidates should have a 3.4 or higher. LUCOM prefers an MCAT score of 504 or greater.
Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, LUCOM strongly focuses on bringing quality, patient-focused medical providers to rural and underserved populations. The Virginia Tobacco Commission provides funding for this program.
8. Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine (Parker, CO)
Rocky Vista University serves the western mountain region with Colorado, Utah, and soon-to-be Montana locations, cultivating medical providers for both urban and rural, underserved areas.
Rocky Vista’s recursive curriculum model reinforces comprehension by introducing each anatomical system twice: once in the first year as a normally-functioning entity, then again in the second year in the context of clinical approaches and pathophysiology.
Students work in teams, and the program encourages cooperation in the classroom and in clinical settings. Graduates move on to residencies in areas from anesthesiology to pediatrics to research locations in hospitals and clinics throughout the country.
The program offers a Doctor of Osteopathy degree, along with a Master of Physical Assistant Studies and a Master of Biological Sciences. Rocky Vista also provides medical training for students planning to enter active military service through its Military Medicine Program.
Tracks and Special Programs add training opportunities to the core curriculum at RVUCOM like Rural and Wilderness Medicine or Long Term Care.
Rocky Vista continues to expand the research component of its medical program, encouraging all RVUCOM students to engage in some form of research as part of their education as health care providers.
7. Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (East Lansing, MI)
Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine dates back to 1969, making it one of the older programs on the list. Its annual number of around 300 graduates enjoy high placement rates and test outcomes.
Three sites offer flexibility: two satellite locations in southeast Michigan augment the main campus in East Lansing.
The Macomb University Center campus provides a wide range of professional opportunities among seven hospitals; the Detroit Medical Center houses the other auxiliary campus, offering experience in a busy, urban environment.
MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine offers its students a variety of community health service experiences, including a sports medicine track where students treat MSU student-athletes.
In downtown Detroit, MSU COM students staff a medical clinic for Detroit citizens experiencing homelessness. International electives and clerkships give students a chance to serve areas with almost no health care resources.
Dual-degree (DO-PhD and DO-MBA) and dual-enrollment (DO-MPH) programs give future osteopaths several options to fit their career plans. The Master of Science in PA Medicine at Michigan State works with the College of Osteopathic Medicine to expand candidates’ understanding of patient care.
6. Touro University (California) College of Osteopathic Medicine (Vallejo, CA)
A former U.S. Navy installation on Mare Island in the north San Francisco Bay provides the setting for Touro University California, an autonomous health sciences university connected to the larger Touro College and University System.
This system of schools and colleges dates back to 1970 when it was founded to cultivate and support Jewish heritage while serving the American community as a whole.
Students at the Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine spend their first two preclinical study years absorbing the biological science coursework, training in ethics and professionalism, and learning osteopathic manipulative medicine from the TUCOM faculty.
Facilities provide simulation experiences through trained standardized patients and human simulators. Realistic modeling at the Clinical Skills and Simulation Center prepares students for clinical situations.
Faculty continue their training alongside students at TUCOM, maintaining an ongoing understanding of new techniques in medicine and in instruction.
Program-run clinics serve the community; staffed by faculty, the clinics allow students to shadow their instructors and gain clinical experience in a variety of fields.
TUCOM students can take part in the program’s Global Health courses, apprenticeships, rotations, and summer programs.
By training professionals to serve in places like Ethiopia, Israel, and Mexico, TUCOM emphasizes how global health problems affect the world at a local level.
5. Touro College (New York) College of Osteopathic Medicine (New York, NY)
The Touro College and University System operating the private, nonprofit Touro University California opened Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harlem in 2007.
In addition to its Harlem location, TouroCOM occupies the former Horton Hospital in Middletown, New York. Both locations aim to provide needed health care in communities without access while training physicians to serve in a variety of contexts.
Academic content delivery at TouroCOM maximizes efficiency without sacrificing content knowledge. Pre-recorded lectures, “clicker sessions,” and online testing streamline preclinical training through the use of innovative educational technology.
Clinical placements for third and fourth-year students include rotations in family and emergency medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery.
Students train in clinics and hospitals throughout the metropolitan New York area before participating in the National Residency Match Program.
Students interested in providing medical care in underserved areas can often find scholarship support through TouroCOM’s affiliations with county and municipal programs.
4. University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth – Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (Fort Worth, TX)
The Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of North Texas’s Fort Worth Health Science Center focuses directly on solving the shortage of primary care physicians, especially in rural areas.
TCOM offers a DO degree along with DO/MPH, DO/MS, and DO/PhD dual degree programs.
The program comes in at #57 among best medical schools for primary care nationwide, according to U.S. News, making it a competitive choice even among allopathic programs.
Third and fourth-year students receive training in all major areas, including manipulative medicine, surgery, OB/GYN, and others. Rotations take place in hospitals and clinics in both urban and rural areas in the North Texas region.
The Fort Worth Health Science center also contains the Center for Human Identification, focused on forensic study, along with the North Texas Eye Research Institute.
The co-location of the Texas Center for Health Disparities offers TCOM students a chance to learn about specialized research in health equity, a central concern to osteopathic programs.
3. Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine (Des Moines, IA)
Offering a Doctor of Osteopathy degree through its Medicine & Health Sciences School, Des Moines University is the second oldest osteopathic program in the country.
It began at the turn of the century as Still College, started by S.S. Still, the nephew of Andrew Taylor Still, the founder of osteopathy.
Des Moines University sees the early introduction to clinical skills found in osteopathic education to be an advantage for its students, making them better prepared for rotations and ultimately more patient-centered doctors.
Des Moines is home to several medical degree programs, and its Iowa Simulation Center provides state-of-the-art medical simulation facilities to serve them, including the osteopathic programs.
Training in the Standardized Performance Assessment Laboratory with mentorship and faculty supervision prepares students fully for their clinical assignments.
The Osteopathic Manual Medicine program at Des Moines represents a more complete and nuanced approach to one of the central traits of osteopathic practice.
A department and clinic devoted to OMM and an additional year-long fellowship for Des Moines DO students in OMM stand out from other programs where OMM exists as one part of preclinical instruction.
Des Moines University DO candidates in the Class of 2022 had the highest pass rate on the licensure exam, COMLEX, for any graduating class in the nation.
2. Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University (Downers Grove, IL)
Located southwest of the city, the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University prioritizes the patient-centered aspect of osteopathic care.
The osteopathic program shares a campus with programs in optometry, dentistry, psychology, and other medical fields; facilities and clinics also support the Osteopathic Postdoctoral Training Unit.
The campus location provides proximity to the urban clinic in Chicago itself as well as private practices outside the city for clinical training. A second CCOM campus in Arizona follows a similar curriculum.
The curriculum at CCOM undergoes modifications and enhancements regularly, maintaining rigorous academic standards. Placement rates and National Board pass rates usually meet or exceed the national averages.
Midwestern University Medical School overall ranks at #17 for best medical schools for primary care. The program ranks #1 for most graduates practicing in primary care fields and #22 for most graduates practicing in rural areas.
1. Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (Pomona, CA)
Enrollment for the program is competitive; successful candidates should demonstrate academic preparedness and a commitment to the community.
Pre-clerkship curriculum consists of a foundational semester rooted in basic science coursework, followed by three semesters of in-depth human organ system study. Osteopathic Principles and Manipulative Medicine underscore the coursework.
For the third and fourth years, students participate in 20 rotations in the major medical fields. Some students become part of faculty research projects or start their own with faculty support.
The program’s Office of Learning Enhancement & Academic Development provides support for students in a variety of ways.
A summer program for incoming students helps prepare new candidates, while individual counseling, stress and time management training, and other services help support students throughout the program.
COMP’s main campus in Pomona was the first osteopathic program west of the Rockies. In 2011, the school opened a branch campus in Lebanon, Oregon.