Part 1: Introduction
If you want to be a Doctor of Medicine (MD), you’ll apply to medical schools using the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). But if you want to be a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, you’ll apply to osteopathic medical programs through the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS). To understand the differences between these degrees, check out this article.
In today’s article, we’ll be walking you through the application process for the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. From here on out, we’ll refer to this as AACOMAS.
We understand how stressful it can be to fill out a long application with multiple parts. That’s why, in this definitive guide, we’re going to walk you through each section, step by step. We hope that, by doing so, you’ll feel ready to fill out the application. In addition to this guide, we also offer consulting services on our website. So, if you’d like someone to review your application before you submit it, we’d be happy to do so.
Part 2: The Definitive Guide
The #1 piece of advice we can give you is to start your application process as early as possible. AACOMAS recommends the following timeline, which also provides a quick glimpse into what the application process is like. More details will be provided on each section later.
Before you start your application…
- Determine which schools you want to apply to and find out what their application deadlines are.
- Take note of each school’s application fee and their grade requirements.
- Learn the requirements for your evaluators, and contact qualified individuals to request them to fill that role. (Your evaluators are the ones who will write your letters of recommendation.)
- Request your transcripts. Note that some schools might require your transcripts to be sent directly to them from the Registrar’s office.
- Start writing your personal statement.
- Create your account. You can’t use AACOMAS without having one. Click here for a helpful guide to create your account. If you’ve applied with AACOMAS in the past, you can use the account you’ve already set up. There is an option to reset your password if you don’t remember it.
When you begin…
- Begin going through the application process. You’ll fill out the Colleges Attended and Evaluations sections.
- Request all transcripts to be sent to AACOMAS.
- Type in your coursework in the appropriate sections.
- Pay for the Professional Transcript Entry Service if you choose to use it.
- Make sure that your evaluators have received the necessary information to fill out the evaluations for you.
- Submit your application two months before it’s due. Become familiar with the verification process. Keep an eye on your application. If anything comes up, resolve it immediately.
By following these steps, you’ll ensure that your application process goes as smoothly as possible.
While AACOMAS is comprehensive, not every osteopathic medical school participates in the program. Here are the schools accepting applications through AACOMAS for the current application cycle.
- Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine of Midwestern University
- Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine
- A.T. Still University – Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (MO)
- A.T. Still University – School of Osteopathic Medicine (AZ)
- Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine at New Mexico State University
- California Health Sciences University – College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine
- Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine of Midwestern University
- Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Auburn
- Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Carolinas
- Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Louisiana
- Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Virginia
- Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine – Bradenton Campus
- Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine
- New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM)
- NYITCOM at Arkansas State University (Jonesboro, AR)
- Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine
- PCOM South Georgia
- Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Rocky Vista University School of Osteopathic Medicine
- Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine
- Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine – New York
- Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine – California
- Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine
- University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
- University of Pikeville – Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine
- University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine
- Western University of Health Sciences / College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific
- Western University of Health Sciences / College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Northwest
- West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
- William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine
If any of the schools that you want to apply to aren’t listed here, check that school’s website for their application process.
School Application Deadlines
While AACOMAS provides the platform to submit your application, they do not set deadlines for the schools. It’s imperative that you submit your AACOMAS application before the first application is due. Check each school’s website for their application deadline.
AACOMAS Application Deadlines
2020-2021 Application Cycle:
- Application opened: May 5, 2020
- Application closes: April 12, 2021, at 11:50 p.m. ET
- Last day to submit transcripts: April 20, 2021, at 5 p.m. ET
- Last day for letters of recommendation: April 20, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. ET
- Last day to approve Professional Transcript Entry (PTE): April 22, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. ET
- Last day to resubmit application in Undelivered mode: April 22, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. ET
- Last day to be verified: April 26, 2021, at 5 p.m. ET
All application processing closes.
The cycle closing means that it’s the last date you can take action for the current application cycle. That includes uploading documents or submitting your application.
So, what is the difference between school deadlines and AACOMAS deadlines?
- AACOMAS is an application service that schools have the option to use. AACOMAS sets deadlines for when their application service will open, accept documents and then close.
- Schools that use AACOMAS will set their deadlines within AACOMAS’s set timeframe.
- Schools that don’t use the AACOMAS system set their deadlines without regard for AACOMAS’s time frames.
As an application service in and of itself, AACOMAS charges you per program you apply to. The first program costs $196 and each program after that costs $46. So, if you apply to ten different programs, you’re looking at $610 in AACOMAS fees. And that only covers AACOMAS fees. There will be fees for submitting your secondary applications to each individual osteopathic college.
If you can’t afford the fees, AACOMAS has a fee waiver program. Unfortunately, all their waivers have been given out for the current application cycle. But, should you apply for future cycles, you can apply for the waiver if you meet certain income requirements. If you live by yourself and your income is below $25,520, you’re eligible. Add $8,960 for each additional person who lives with you. If you fall below that income level, you’re eligible for the waiver.
When you’re filling out your application, you’ll see the option for the Fee Assistance Program. Fill out the details, and submit the form. You’ll know if you got the waiver within 10 business days. If you receive the waiver, you have 14 days to submit your application. So, while you wait for your waiver request to be processed, make sure all parts of the application have been filled out. Please note that applying for the Fee Assistant Program does not guarantee that you will receive the waiver. But it does guarantee that you will be considered for the waiver. Without submitting an application for the waiver, you won’t be considered for it at all.
Entering Your Coursework
An important part of the AACOMAS application is entering your coursework. Colleges need your transcripts to determine if you’ve taken all the prerequisite courses necessary for admission into their programs. The following types of classes should be entered.
- Study Abroad Courses
- Honors Courses
- Other Test Credits
- Advanced Placement (AP) Credits
- Repeated Classes
- Primary College
A comprehensive guide on how to submit your coursework is available here.
Letters of Evaluation
Letters of evaluation are a critical part of your application. It’s where mentors in your academic career testify of your goodness and worth. They affirm why you should be accepted into the program to which you’re applying. Because these letters are so important, there are strict rules regulating what will and won’t be accepted.
- Letters must be sent directly from the evaluator to AACOMAS. If you write your own letter, don’t submit it yourself. Send it back to your evaluator for them to submit.
- Electronic submissions are the most popular format via Letters by Liasion.
- Brief each of your evaluators on the program requirements so they can personalize and tailor the letter for you.
- Provide your evaluators with email@example.com and ask them to add the email to their address books. That will prevent the Letter of Evaluation request from going to their spam folder.
When you reach the evaluation section, you’ll enter the names and emails of your evaluators, and they’ll be sent the requests. You can send six letters to AACOMAS. If you have more than six evaluators (good for you!), send each additional letter directly to the individual programs.
Go here if you have any additional questions.
Professional Transcript Entry Service (PTE)
If you don’t want to type in all your information yourself, there are people who are paid to do it for you. The costs are as follows.
- $69 for 1-3 transcripts
- $95 for 4-6 transcripts
- $145 for 7+ transcripts
PTE can take over a week, so fill out your application and submit it to PTE at least two weeks before it’s due. Also, keep in mind that PTE only types in what is on your official transcripts. They will not include courses you are currently taking or courses taken at unlisted schools.
They are not responsible for errors. If something needs to be fixed, that will be your responsibility when you verify your application before your final submission.
Here’s the essay part. You have 5,300 characters to write your personal statement. Having characters instead of words means that spaces and punctuation count as characters. You’ll have a text box where you’ll write or paste your personal statement. In the bottom, right-hand corner, you’ll see how many characters you have left. Keep an eye on that as you write. It will help you determine how much space you have left to write about what is most important to you.
Your personal statement should be about you as an individual and why you want to become a doctor of osteopathic medicine. Because your interests might change over time, AACOMAS highly recommends writing a generalized letter. That means not going into the specifics of what kind of medicine you want to practice, but rather why you want to practice medicine in general.
Altogether, you have about a page and a half to share why you want to be a doctor of osteopathic medicine. Here’s an example of a generalized personal statement.
My mom broke her back doing yoga when I was about nine years old. While her injuries could have been worse, she was crippled and has been in a wheelchair ever since. As her son and oldest child, I was responsible for helping my younger siblings. Mom was pretty independent, but there were some things I did for her. She was a single mother, widowed when my father was killed in a car crash, and she lacked the funds necessary to make our house wheelchair-friendly. She slept downstairs, but my siblings and I slept upstairs. It became my responsibility to get them ready for school in the mornings and to get them to bed at night. I had two sisters and a brother. It was an exhausting responsibility, but until Michael was old enough to help more, I was the man of the house. I took that responsibility seriously. I would not let my mother down.
Mom’s pain was the hardest part of her paralysis. While Mom couldn’t feel her legs, she could feel the rest of her body. When she broke her back, she herniated a disc and frequently dealt with nerve pain from it. She wasn’t able to stretch her body the way she needed to, so she needed physical therapy. Sometimes it took a while to get her there because the PT office got booked far out. She had regular appointments, but she couldn’t predict when the worst of the pain would hit. I remember more than one occasion when she fought back tears as she cared for me and my siblings.
This problem didn’t get resolved until my mom had been paralyzed for several years. I was about 13 years old when we found Dr. Gutsmann. The kind, German doctor was a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. She had been practicing medicine for over 20 years and had multiple patients who were paralyzed. Meeting some of her other patients in the waiting room helped me understand that, while my responsibilities felt like a lot, they could be far worse. I remember meeting one patient who was paralyzed from her shoulders down. I could not imagine my mother being that paralyzed. If Mom couldn’t use her hands, I would have to do all the cooking for our family.
It’s safe to say that Dr. Gutsmann changed Mom’s life. Now that I’m a 21-year-old college student, I’m able to look back on my childhood with a sense of gratitude for the responsibility that I shouldered. Mom remarried when I was seventeen. That allowed me to focus on school and participate in sports during my senior year of high school. But while that year was great, I missed spending time with my mom.
I’ve discussed Mom’s health with her on many occasions, and Dr. Gutsmann almost always comes up. We believe that Dr. Gutsmann helped Mom as much as she did because she always listened. When Mom needed a physical examination, I lifted her onto the exam table, and Dr. Gutsmann paid attention to what we showed her. She didn’t just spend five minutes with us, either. She spent 30 minutes with each patient. She got to know us. She firmly believed that being a doctor meant spending time with her patients so she could truly understand what they were going through. It reached the point where she felt more like our friend than our doctor.
Dr. Gutsmann’s practice became a regular destination. Whenever Mom had nerve pain, she was able to get in to see Dr. Gutsmann’s physical therapist within a day. When she did cry from her pain, it lasted for hours instead of days, which was a great relief for our whole family.
I’m unable to tell you the exact moment when I knew I wanted to be a doctor. I’ve loved science since I was in middle school. Even though my responsibilities were taxing, I loved my mom very much and wanted to help her as much as I could. When my step-dad came into the picture, a great deal of that responsibility was lifted off my shoulders. I got to be a kid for a while. But the responsibility that I shouldered all those years taught me to be a man. I’m grateful that my childhood wasn’t filled with video games, potato chips and yelling at my parents to go away. It was filled with meaningful moments that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
I want to be a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine so that I can change other people’s lives the way Dr. Gutsmann changed Mom’s life. I don’t want to enter a treatment room, take one look at a patient, type on a computer and then leave. I want to sit down with my patient, pay attention to them and learn about them. What brings them into my office matters to me. My inspiration to practice osteopathic medicine comes from seeing the care Dr. Gutsmann had for my mom and seeing how that care made a positive difference in my mom’s life. You never know how your words, attitude and actions will affect other people. Because of that, I want to use mine, paired with extensive medical knowledge, to make a positive impact on as many lives as I can.
This personal statement came in at 4,782 characters. It meets all the requirements. It shares a personal story of how medicine affected this student’s life, and why he wants to be a doctor. Specifically, it explains why he wants to be a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Gutsmann made an impact on him, and he wants to make that impact on others. While he mentions how badly his mother needed physical therapy, he doesn’t narrow his desires down to a specialty. His focus point is on practicing medicine to help his patients.
One of the last steps your application will go through is Verification. As the name suggests, this step is all about verifying all of the information on your application. If anything is amiss, it will show up here. If multiple issues are found, your application will be sent back to you as Undelivered. You will have the rest of the application cycle to fix your application and resubmit it. That’s why it’s very important to start your application as early as you can. You never know when something unexpected will come up.
During the Verification process, the following will happen.
- Your courses will be categorized according to subject.
- Your grades and GPA will be converted to an AACOMAS grade value.
- If you have an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree, these will be confirmed.
If you’re curious about how your grades and GPA will be calculated, AACOMAS provides you with this tool.
Once your application has been verified, you’ll be done. You can submit it to as many programs as you’d like.
International Medical Aid
Applying to medical school is a long and tiring process. International Medical Aid is here to make that process a little less exhausting. That’s why we offer services to help make your experience easier. We’re here for you if you’re a first-generation medical student with a ton of questions. We’re happy to help if you need someone to go over your application before you submit it. We also conduct mock interviews to prepare you for the real deal. You can easily schedule an appointment with us on our website. We look forward to the opportunity to help you.
International Medical Aid also has overseas experiences to bolster your applications and provide you with valuable experience. We take students to East Africa, South America and Haiti, where they have the opportunity to serve patients who live in remote areas and who have difficulty accessing medical care. Our efforts have continued, even while the world has been in commotion from COVID-19. Visit our website for more information on our internships.
Finally, check out our blog if you’re considering which medical schools you want to apply to. We offer comprehensive guides on how to get into Ivy League medical schools and colleges of osteopathic medicine. We regularly update our blog, too, so check back often to see which schools we’ve covered.
- St. George’s University School of Medicine
- Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
- George Washington University School of Medicine
- Sidney Kimmel Medical College
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in PA
- Western University of Health Sciences in CA
- Wake Forest University School of Medicine
- Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago
- Drexel University College of Medicine
- Georgetown University School of Medicine
- Yale School of Medicine
- Perelman School of Medicine
- UCLA Medical School
- NYU Medical School
- Washington University School of Medicine
- Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
- Brown Medical School
We wish you the very best on your medical school application journey! Don’t forget that we’re here for you. Contact us anytime, and we’ll be here to help, wherever you might be on the road to medical school.