Osteopathic Medicine (O.D.)

Embarking on a career in osteopathic medicine requires careful planning and preparation. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential steps, from understanding the required and recommended coursework to navigating the medical school application process and beyond.

Three quarters of lecture and laboratory of each of the following sciences are generally required.

  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • General Physics
  • General Biology

In addition, one year of English composition is usually required.

Some programs will have additional requirements that you will need to meet. And though it is not required, it may be helpful to take biochemistry, psychology and sociology as these concepts will be on the MCAT. Regarding AP, CLEP and IB coursework, you will need to check the school admissions requirements for each program’s website.

How the Exam Is Structured

The MCAT exam has four multiple-choice test sections:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

When should I take the MCAT?

When you feel ready! There is no need to rush to take the exam. Sometimes, students will take the MCAT exam the same year they plan to apply to medical school. Before taking the MCAT, be sure you have a study plan to help you prepare.

Create a study plan for the MCAT:

Step 1: Gather Information about MCAT

Step 2: Take a practice test

Step 3: Gather study materials

Step 4: Make a study calendar

Step 5: Study!

Step 6: Prepare for test day

How many times should I take the MCAT?

Ideally, you should only take the MCAT one time. However, students can take the MCAT up to three times in one testing year. The MCAT can be taken up to four times in a two-year period. The MCAT can be taken a total of seven times in a lifetime. Voids and no-shows count toward your lifetime limits.

How long are MCAT scores valid?

Generally, the scores are valid for up to 2 to 3 years. Students should check each school's admissions policy to which they plan to apply.

Is the exam expensive?

The MCAT exam cost is $325.

The AACOMAS application cycle opens in May and closes the following April.

Generally, the AACOMAS application is available in early May for applicants to fill out their information. However, students cannot certify and submit their application until the end of May/beginning of June. Students do not need to immediately apply when the application opens, but they also should not wait until the last minute to apply. Ideally, students should certify and submit their AACOMAS applications no later than August 1. However, some medical schools may offer rolling admissions and review applications, interview candidates, and make decisions throughout the application window.

Students need to contact AAMC to have their official MCAT scores sent to AACOMAS.

Once students have certified and submitted their application and AACOMAS has received all required transcripts, the application enters the processing queue where the information will be verified. This process can take 6-8 weeks. Students are responsible for checking the status of their application to ensure it is error-free to avoid delays, which can result in missed deadlines.

There is a fee assistance program to help with the initial AACOMAS application.

  • You can major in anything! Most students choose a biology or chemistry degree because the required science coursework fits well within their degree plan. However, students can major in art, psychology, criminal justice, etc., and still apply to medical school if they meet the admissions requirements.
  • Students should take academically rigorous coursework (independent study, honors, and research opportunities) to demonstrate their ability to be successful in higher-level coursework.
  • Do not take the MCAT without making a study plan. While your MCAT score is one part of your application, it is still heavily considered.
  • There are 37 accredited colleges of osteopathic medicine in the United States, of which seven are public and 29 are private.


  • Sign up on the pre-health listserv.
  • Pick a major that you enjoy–students can major in anything so long as they complete the requirements for medical school admissions programs.
  • Ensure you register for the correct science courses (general biology and general chemistry your first year).
  • Join the Pre-Health Club on campus.
  • Focus on your grades and develop good time management and study skills to help you start successfully.
  • Start researching the admissions requirements for medical schools you wish to attend.


  • Continue to focus on grades.
  • Think about what aspect of healthcare interests you and gain experience through part-time employment, job shadowing, research, and/or volunteering. Make the experience meaningful to you, not simply because you think it looks good. Students need to be able to reply to the question: Why do you want to pursue a career in medicine?
  • Continue taking academically rigorous courses.
  • Get to know faculty to ask for letters of recommendation when you are ready to apply.
  • Attend admissions fairs, open houses, or events at the schools you are interested in to learn about the different programs and become familiar with each school’s admissions process.


  • Continue to focus on grades.
  • Make a study plan and begin reviewing for the MCAT.
  • Ensure that you have met or are meeting the requirements for admissions to the different programs you are interested in.
  • Attend the Health Professions Evaluation (HPE) information session.
  • Register and take the MCAT. Students should take the MCAT in the Spring quarter in enough time for scores to be released (no later than May).
  • Create a profile on the AACOMAS website and begin work on your AACOMAS application. Take your time on the application so you do not make mistakes and delay acceptance of your application.
  • Certify and submit your AACOMAS application.
  • Plan an academic schedule that will allow you to make time to interview at different medical schools in the Fall and Winter quarters of your Senior Year.


  • Continue to focus on grades.
  • Complete and return secondary applications to medical schools.
  • Verify that all materials have been submitted to each medical school.
  • Respond to interview requests promptly and professionally.
  • Notify all medical schools of your decision as early as possible.
  • Email prehealth@seattleu.edu of your final decision.
  • Send thank you cards as a courtesy to everyone who assisted you.
  • Complete the FAFSA for the medical school you plan to attend.