Part 1: Introduction

Western University of Health Sciences offers multiple avenues for students to receive their medical education. The College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific has been around since 1977 when it was created to graduate more Primary Care Providers to care for patients in the western United States.

Western University of Health Sciences has multiple learning outcomes and core competencies that they expect all students to possess. Learning outcomes include critical thinking; interpersonal communication skills; ethical and moral decision-making skills; an attitude conducive to life-long learning; evidence-based practice; and medicine that revolves around patient care

Core competencies include knowledge and understanding of the osteopathic philosophy and practice of medicine; medical knowledge with specific attention to one’s field of practice; patient care that revolves around treating the patient’s body, mind and spirit; professionalism; practice-based learning and improvement; and systems-based practice that provides qualitative care.

Prospective students who want to master these learning outcomes and core competencies should consider applying to Western University of Health Sciences. We’ve created this definitive guide to help future doctors of osteopathic medicine in their search for the right school to attend. In the next four parts, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Western University of Health Sciences, including the programs offered, expected grades and scores for new students, essay questions with samples and details on the interview process. By the time you’ve read through this entire guide, you’ll be a Western University pro. 

Part 2: Programs Offered at Western University of Health Sciences

Between doctoral degrees, master’s degrees and certificate programs, Western University of Health Sciences offers 24 programs.

Doctoral Degree Programs

Master’s Degrees

Certificate Programs

As you can see, Western University of Health Sciences has a lot to offer. We’ve linked all their programs, so you can click on what interests you to be taken directly to their website. In this article, we’ll go into more detail on their DO and PA degrees.

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

The field of osteopathic medicine is designed to take a comprehensive approach to a patient’s mind, body and spirit, instead of treating specific conditions in certain parts of the body. Western University of Health Sciences strives to keep this at the forefront of its curriculum for this program. 

The program is split into two phases: pre-clerkship and clerkship, which is also common for MD programs. The pre-clerkship phase begins in the first semester and includes all the necessary core science classes, while also implementing the principles of osteopathic medicine into what is taught. The remainder of the pre-clerkship program is spent teaching students about ten human organ systems.

The clerkship phase covers the next two years of education. It is comprised of 20 different rotations in all the primary medical fields and electives. These rotations will give you a broad enough picture of medicine to narrow down what interests you. 

Upon completion of this program, you’ll be prepared to enter the medical field as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. 

Master of Science in Medical Sciences

If you want a stronger education in the biomedical and clinical sciences, the Master of Science in Medical Sciences degree at Western University will be right up your alley. This 12-month program is designed for you to work under the mentorship of a faculty advisor. Your advisor will help you pick a thesis to work on throughout your time in the MSMS program. The program is outlined as follows:

  • A total of 46.50 semester credit hours
  • 28 hours of didactic study
  • 12 hours of clinical shadowing
  • 6.50 hours of research, study and laboratory work for your final thesis

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

The two-year Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies will prepare you to practice medicine under the supervision of a DO or MD. Your critical role in the healthcare field will be re-enforced as you work side-by-side with medical students to treat patients. The curriculum is as follows:

  • Patient Centered Cases I & II
  • Medical Terminology
  • Structure and Function I & II
  • Clinical Skills I & II
  • Physical Assessment I & II
  • Health Promotion/Disease Prevention I & II
  • Introduction to Adult Medicine I & II
  • Pharmacology and Therapeutics I & II
  • Pediatrics I & II
  • Pathophysiology I & II
  • Research Methods I & II
  • OB/GYN
  • Psychosocial Dynamics
  • Geriatrics
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Professional Roles and Responsibilities
  • Healthcare Delivery System
  • Introduction to Clinical Education

Tuition Costs

Western University of Health Sciences doesn’t have the cheapest tuition, but it’s not the most expensive, either. 

Each full year you spend in the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program will cost you $91,000, with $61,107 being your tuition. For a four-year degree, that adds up to $364,428. 

For the Master of Science in Medical Sciences degree, you’re looking at $27,495 in tuition and $26,481 in living expenses. That’s just under $54,000.

For the two-year Master of Science in Physician Assistant program, tuition will cost you approximately $45,000 per year, with living expenses estimated at $30,000. You’ll be looking at $150,000 to receive your PA training at Western University of Health Sciences.

Part 3: Class Stats, GPAs and Test Scores for Western University of Health Sciences

Since the DO, MSMS and MSPA degrees are all separate schools, we’ll look at the stats for each school. 

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

  • 5,872 applications received
  • 746 interviews
  • 227 new students enrolled
  • 3.68 overall average GPA
  • 3.66 average science GPA
  • 3.72 average non-science GPA
  • 510 average MCAT score
  • 7% of students had already begun graduate-level work
  • 52% male
  • 48% female
  • 3% underrepresented minorities

Prerequisite Courses

A series of prerequisite courses are necessary to complete, including biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry and physics, all with labs. 

Master of Science in Medical Sciences

  • 254 applications received
  • 43 interviews
  • 28 new students
  • 3.17 average overall GPA
  • 499 average MCAT score

Prerequisite Courses

A bachelor’s degree with a heavy emphasis in science courses is required to be considered for admission at Western University of Health Sciences. Additionally, you must have a 2.5 minimum GPA.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

  • 2,114 applications received
  • 485 interviews
  • 98 new students
  • 3.66 overall GPA
  • 3.67 average science GPA
  • 3.75 average prerequisite GPA

Prerequisite Courses

  • College English & English Composition
  • College Algebra
  • Human Anatomy & Human Physiology with their respective labs
  • Microbiology with lab
  • Human or General Genetics
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Introductory Statistics
  • Organic or Inorganic Chemistry with lab
  • Humanities
  • Spanish is highly recommended but not required.

You must pass all courses with a C or above. Western University will not accept a C- or below for any of the required, prerequisite courses. Western University requires students to complete all prerequisites no later than the spring semester before they begin studying. In other words, if you begin your studies in August, you’ll need to have completed all prerequisites by May of the same year. If you matriculate in January, you’ll need to have completed your prerequisites by May of the previous year

These numbers, courses and grade requirements are competitive, but not as competitive as some of the Ivy Leagues we’ve looked at in the past (like Perelman or Brown).

Submitting Your Application


Like most DO programs, Western University of Health Sciences uses the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine for primary applications. If you’re applying for medical school in 2022, the application opens on May 5, 2021 and is due by February 1, 2022. Your secondary application is due two weeks after you receive it via email or by February 1, whichever date comes first. It’s imperative that you submit your MCAT scores with your secondary application, even if you submitted them with your AACOMAS application.

We highly recommend filling out and submitting your applications as quickly as possible, just like we recommend for the AMCAS for medical school. Once the class is full, no new students will be accepted, even if the application deadline hasn’t yet passed. 

International Students

Western University of Health Sciences accepts international students. If you completed your coursework abroad, you’ll need to have it reviewed by Josef Silney & Assoc. or World Education Services (WES). Once it’s been approved or denied, it will automatically update on the AACOMAS application. Links to the secondary application are automatically emailed to all prospective students who fill out their AACOMAS application completely.

CASPer Exam

In addition to the MCAT, Western University of Health Sciences expects all prospective students to take the CASPer exam. While the MCAT evaluates your knowledge, CASPer evaluates your personality, interpersonal communication skills, professionalism, ability to work with others and more. It evaluates what kind of doctor you’re likely to become. Use the same email for your AACOMAS application, secondary application and CASPer test. This will ensure that all your information matches and is processed correctly and in a timely manner. 

List of Things You Need

We totally get it: information overload. Here’s a simplified list of everything we explained in this section.

  1. Western University of Health Sciences receives applications using AACOMAS. Your application is due by February 1 of the year you anticipate matriculating.
  2. Your secondary application will be emailed to you. You have two weeks to complete it and send it back. Include your MCAT scores with your application.
  3. You must take a CASPer exam, which measures what kind of doctor you’re likely to become. This is required in addition to the MCAT.
  4. Western University uses a rolling admissions process. Applications are accepted until the class is filled, which could be before the official deadline. Apply as soon as the application opens to be considered before the class is full.

Part 4: Seconday Essay Questions with Samples

Unlike some osteopathic medicine programs, Western University of Health Sciences does ask students questions on the secondary application. There are five in total, and you have 500 words to answer each question. In this section, we’ll go over each question by explaining how to answer it. We’ll also include sample responses to help you connect the dots. 

Question #1
Share an experience you had while shadowing a physician that nailed down your desire to become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.

The primary difference between MDs and DOs is the focus. MDs primarily treat symptoms and specific diseases, while DOs focus on the whole body, mind, and spirit. They have a holistic approach that goes beyond the prescription pad. In this essay response, choose an experience that showcases what being a doctor of osteopathic medicine is about, and how its meaning impacted your decision. 

Question #2
Share your most meaningful experience participating in community service.

This question is as straightforward as it gets. Here’s an example:

I volunteered at a pediatrician’s office the summer after I graduated high school. I remember one day when a little girl came in with a broken wrist. She had been playing baseball with her brothers and broke it when her brother accidentally swung his bat so hard that it flew out of his hand and hit her. She was in a lot of pain, but she was mostly disappointed when the doctor told her that she wouldn’t be able to play any sports until her wrist had healed. The doctor told her that she would make her injury worse and it would take much longer to recover if she wasn’t careful. She looked at the doctor with the saddest eyes. Realizing that this little girl’s spirits needed to be lifted, the doctor told her everything she could still do. She could play games that didn’t require her wrist, like charades or board games. She could learn to use her non-dominant hand to write and color. But most of all, she could get the brother who hurt her to do things for her! She started smiling and laughing at that last part. 

This experience was meaningful to me because the pediatrician wanted his patient to take care of herself so she could heal as quickly as possible. But he also recognized that she was a little girl who just wanted to have fun. By reminding her of all the things she could do, he helped her be good so she could heal. I had the pleasure of being there when the cast came off. She told me all about the fun she’d had over the summer and all the things she made her brother do for her. It warmed my heart to know that her broken wrist hadn’t spoiled her summer.

This essay response works because she meets all the requirements. Her story is 300 words, which is well within the 500-word limit. She shared her most meaningful experience, and she made sure it was an experience where she was serving her community by volunteering at a pediatrician’s office.  

Question #3
Why do you want to attend Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine in California?

This is the classic “why us?” question. Western University of Health Sciences wants to know why you want to attend the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. As you answer this question, make sure to discuss your desires and how they fit in with the learning outcomes and core competencies of the College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

Here’s an example:

Learning how to work with different healthcare systems is very important to me. I live in a rural area and, as a diabetic, this has been difficult for me. There’s only one doctor in my town, and the nearest metropolitan area is over an hour away. So, my options were limited. The doctor I went to had a terrible healthcare system. The system was always either offline, broken or needing to be updated. When I had to go to a specialist, they almost canceled my appointment because my doctor’s office hadn’t sent my records to them. I had been on a waiting list for over three months to see this specialist, so this was very upsetting to go through. When I become a doctor, I want to know/learn software that will work well for my medical practice and make patient care as seamless as possible.

Interpersonal communication is also important to me. Since graduating from high school and moving across the country to attend my university, I’ve had the opportunity to try several different doctors and specialists when my diabetes has started to interfere with my quality of living. I had the most amazing experience with a specialist who worked seamlessly with her nurse and PA. During my first visit, the specialist was out sick, so the nurse took my vitals, and the PA saw me for my initial consultation. When I came back for a follow-up appointment the next month, the PA wasn’t there, but the specialist was, so I saw her instead. I was amazed at her professionalism and her knowledge of my case. I had anticipated needing to repeat my whole story to her, but the PA had both documented my case and discussed it the day before with the specialist. I left her office feeling very well taken care of and truly cared for. 

These experiences have taught me about healthcare that goes beyond textbook learning. When I think about being a doctor, the first things that come to mind are a patient’s symptoms. I want to learn about all the environmental and situational factors that could be affecting them, and I want to perform a full-body examination to ensure that I’m not missing anything. But if these were the only steps I took to care for my patients, I wouldn’t be a very good doctor. I want my patients to know that they’ll be cared for. And should I need to refer them to a specialist, I want them to have confidence that their records will be sent to the specialist in a timely manner, and that our software will not fail us. I want my patients to have peace of mind by knowing they will be well-cared-for. Based on the College of Osteopathic Medicine’s learning outcomes and core competencies, I believe this is the perfect place for me to receive my education and makes my goals a reality.

This response comes in at 490 words, so it makes the cut. It works because all the directions are followed, and he clearly draws from his experiences to illustrate what he wants to do and how Western University of Health Sciences will help him get there. 

Question #4
Share with us why you’re a good “fit” for our school.

Instead of asking why you want to be admitted, they’re asking why they should consider you to be one of their students. Much of the advice we gave for Question #3 applies here as well. In your response, hone in on the mission, the learning outcomes and the core competencies that Western University of Health Sciences expects for its students. Discuss how you will contribute to the university, and why it makes sense to you that you should be admitted. Showing confidence will show the admissions committee that you truly want to attend Western University of Health Sciences.  

Here’s an example:

There aren’t enough doctors who practice osteopathic medicine in the United States. When looking through all the doctors in her network, my aunt was unable to find an osteopathic physician when she really wanted one. I love the concept of osteopathic medicine because my aunt suffers from cataplexy, a condition that affects the whole body, as well as the mind and spirit. Finding a doctor who understood that was next to impossible. It was very difficult for my aunt to see a medical doctor, a psychiatrist and a therapist. They all had different methods of treatment, and, as a result, I witnessed her spend several days in bed from the stress of miscommunication between her providers. 

I’ve wanted to become a doctor for some time now, but I only discovered the osteopathic field through my aunt two years ago. I want to attend Western University of Health Sciences because I believe your university is where I need to go to accomplish my goals.I believe I’m a good fit for Western University of Health Sciences because your learning outcomes are things I want to learn. I don’t know how I could be a good doctor without learning to think critically, communicate professionally with PAs and nurses, and be aware of ever-evolving healthcare systems. By accepting me into your university, you will be admitting a student who is passionate about osteopathic medicine and providing the right treatment for patients who need healthcare that goes beyond writing a prescription.

Question #5
Is there anything in your application that you would like to explain to the admissions committee?

This is a wide-open question, which is both a blessing and a curse. It gives you the opportunity to discuss anything, but it also gives you the responsibility to pick a strong topic to discuss. Appropriate things to discuss here could be any gaps in your education, poor test grades, family emergencies or anything that significantly impacted your ability to accomplish a goal you set. 

Part 5: Interviewing at Western University of Health Sciences

Click here if you’re applying to the Master of Science of Medical Sciences program and here for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. Read the following paragraph for details on the interview process for the College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

Your interview at Western University of Health Sciences will take place virtually to keep college staff and prospective students safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are details on the interview.

  • Your interview will last 30 minutes.
  • Anywhere from two to four people will be present. This can include staff, faculty and current students.
  • Your interviewers will have access to your AACOMAS and secondary applications.
  • Notes will be taken on your responses.
  • It’s OK to ask for clarification.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions at the end.

After your interview, you won’t have to wait too long. Your acceptance or rejection letter will be mailed to you within two weeks of your interview date. 

Where We Come In

International Medical Aid is here for you on your medical school journey. We offer global internships in South America, East Africa and the Caribbean. We also have services to help you prepare your medical school applications. This includes reviewing your primary and secondary applications, looking over your essay responses and conducting practice interviews with you. Visit our website to schedule your appointment with us today. We’re here to help with whatever you might need. 

We highly recommend applying to multiple medical schools. While most of us have a “dream school” we’d like to attend, it’s good to have a back-up plan. We regularly update our blog with free guides on how to get into various medical schools. Check out our list, and be sure to check back as we update our list frequently.

Don’t be afraid to apply to schools that feel “out of reach” to you, as long as you meet their admissions requirements. Here at International Medical Aid, we believe in shooting for the moon and landing on the stars. We wish you the very best of luck as you apply to medical school.