Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Programs in the U.S.

Learn about programs specializing in doctor of osteopathic medicine. Find out courses commonly required, how long it takes to complete the degree, and how it differs from a doctor of medicine by reading below. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Kinds of Programs Are There for Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine?

A doctor of osteopathic medicine, abbreviated as DO, is a type of medical professional who helps to treat patients in a wide variety of areas, using specialized knowledge of the muscular and skeletal systems. They are licensed physicians, like a doctor of medicine (MD), with similar levels of education who have followed a slightly different path. While DOs are not as common as MDs, there are still dozens of universities around the US offering the opportunity to pursue a degree in the field. Programs which result in a DO degree are graduate-level programs, and often require four years to complete, much like medical school for MDs.

DO Programs 4-year graduate programs, resulting in a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree
DO vs. MD DOs take a holistic approach to the body and are concerned with prevention, while MDs often focus on treatment
Requirements Bachelor's degree, passage of MCAT, completion of undergraduate courses in biology, chemistry, etc.
Common FeaturesExtensive lecture and class time, clinical hours at hospitals and other medical facilities
Required Courses Biochemistry, anatomy, immunology, pharmacology

What Makes a DO Different From an MD?

The key difference between a doctor of osteopathic medicine and a medical doctor is one of philosophy. While MDs often treat symptoms and will try to find the source of a problem within the body, a DO is going to look at problems within the framework of a whole person, rather than within one particular organ or system. DOs concern themselves almost equally with prevention as they do treatment. Their knowledge of the connections between muscles, bones, and nerves helps them to identify how injuries and illnesses may spread through the body. A DO will often start treating a new patient first by interviewing them about the concern and examining the aspects of their life that may be causing or exacerbating the issue. Doctors of osteopathic medicine also practice what is called Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, or OMT, during which they use their hands to help diagnose and treat injuries to encourage the body's healing mechanisms.

What Are The Requirements To Apply For a DO Program?

To apply to most DO programs, applicants need to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and have completed the designated amount of undergraduate courses in subjects like biology, chemistry, and biochemistry. Students must take and pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) before applying, and include the scores in their application. Other courses at the undergraduate level may be highly recommended, but not required, including subjects like philosophy and ethics, anatomy and physiology, and higher science courses like genetics or microbiology. A history of volunteer or professional work at hospitals or clinics is also recommended.

What Does a University DO Program Include?

DO programs are usually divided into two halves, with the first two years consisting of lectures and typically structured classes. The third and fourth years are dedicated to performing a clerkship of clinical training in a wide variety of areas and specialties, including surgical rotations and medicine rotations. Electives are available during both periods, and might include topics like spirituality in medicine, autopsy observation, sports OMT, and medical Spanish. Finally, passage of certification exams to work as a doctor are often required before graduation.

What Courses Are Typically Required as Part of a DO Program?

Osteopathic medicine programs often start out by establishing the core ideas and philosophies that differentiate it, in courses with names like foundations of osteopathic medicine or osteopathic patient care. Classes in anatomy and biochemistry, building off what the undergraduate prerequisites should have taught, are also common early on. Courses on clinical sciences and more in-depth medical topics like pharmacology and immunology are also typically required, as well as courses that deal with specialties like pediatrics, internal medicine, and surgery. As the third and fourth years begin, classes will vary greatly, depending on the nature of the clerkships chosen and the specialties one begins to build towards.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Western University of Health Sciences

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Pomona
  • West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine

    Campus Locations:

    • West Virginia: Lewisburg
  • University of Pikeville

    Campus Locations:

    • Kentucky: Pikeville
  • University of North Texas Health Science Center

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Fort Worth
  • University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

    Campus Locations:

    • New Jersey: Newark
  • Touro University Nevada

    Campus Locations:

    • Nevada: Henderson
  • Touro University California

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Vallejo
  • Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences

    Campus Locations:

    • Oklahoma: Tulsa
  • William Carey University

    Campus Locations:

    • Mississippi: Hattiesburg