Looking forward to next application cycle, one consideration prospective applicants have to think about is what type of schools to apply to, a big distinction between medical schools is the degrees they offer: MD and DO!  Our Pre-Med Hub staff decided that making  an  series of easy-to-navigate charts would be a great resource for all of you who don’t yet know the difference between the two, or haven’t made a decision about which ones to apply to.Please feel free to reach out or drop into advising hours for more specific assistance based on individual circumstances.

A special thanks to guest blog contributors Cindy and Daphne!


Applicants: 502

Matriculants: 503

DO AVG GPA – 2018

Applicants: 3.46

Matriculants: 3.56



MD Matriculants:  513.3

DO Matriculants: 506.2

UM  AVG GPA – 2018

MD Matriculants:  3.71

DO Matriculants: 3.48



Applicants: 506

Matriculants: 512

MD AVG GPA – 2019

Applicants: 3.58

Matriculants: 3.73

What is MD?


MD stands for Medical Doctor

Philosophy: closer to the idea of a traditional science-based approach, most of the emphasis is placed on the diagnosis and treatment of a patient.

  Applicants describe themselves as more “technoscientifically” oriented — driven by intellectual and technical challenges of medicine. Applicants may be more likely to pursue dual degrees with a PhD or are looking for careers as physician scientists. Many MD schools focus more on discovery and innovation than the average DO school (they have well-established research programs that draw applicants interested in pursuing academic or scientific medicine). 

There are 33 DO schools total. We only have 1 option for DO school in MI (albeit a great one).

What is DO?


DO stands for Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

Philosophy: holistic approach to health and considers how all parts of the body influence each other; DO schools put a heavy emphasis on prevention and osteopathic manipulative treatment.

This means mind, body, spirit are all thought to be connected. Takes into account multiple aspects to a person’s wellbeing, not just physical healthcare as what usually first comes to mind upon hearing “health”.  Osteopathic physicians focus on prevention, tuning into how a patient’s lifestyle and environment can impact their wellbeing. The focus is not on just treating symptoms.

Applicants describe themselves as more “socioemotionally” oriented — driven by patient-care aspect of medicine. Applicants are more likely to be women, or from rural communities or inner cities (underserved populations or underrepresented in medicine). DOs focus a lot on producing primary care physicians or physicians who practice in rural/underserved areas, which plays into the way they look for potential students (those with a background here could understand the needs of future patients in those areas).

There are 147 MD schools total.  In Michigan alone, we have 6 MD programs which may place higher preference on in-state applicants and have lower tuition rates.

Previously, MD students could only match with programs that were accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and DO students could match with residencies that are accredited by either the ACGME which meant they must take the USMLE—or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

In July of 2020, the accreditation councils  will merge to form, allowing MD and DO students to apply to any residencies. Everyone, including DO students, will use the ACGME’s National Residency Match Program, the NRMP.


Pros vs Cons of MD/DO


More options for residency programs and medical schools. Many MD schools are also well established — all of the oldest schools in the country are MD — so these particular schools can have better reputations when it comes to conducting research and matching into a specialty.

Many of the “top” MD schools are in big cities, which tends to correspond to high costs of living.


Less statistic driven; more holistic approach to admissions.

Extra training (additional 200 hours of training learning manipulation techniques of the musculoskeletal system called OMM) means having an extra tool in your tool-belt. Learning OMM means having a strong overall knowledge of anatomy and physiology and being able to think beyond medications when treating patients.

DO schools tend to be areas that are less metropolitan, which tends to mean lower living costs aside from tuition.

Although public DO schools have a comparable cost to public MD schools, there are  more private DO schools than public.

There are very few public DO schools, so MSUCOM is unique — this explains its significantly lower tuition for in-state applicants.

Often newer schools, so less research funding, opportunities to do research, and grants or scholarships available. However, for those DO schools affiliated with an undergrad institution, like MSUCOM in relation to MSU, opportunities may be higher to find research.

Many MD schools have newly evolving curriculums to focus more on preventative care, public health, and even OMM. This may reduce the edge that DO applicants have during match in the future (big effects have not been seen yet).

Often medical students have to take both the COMLEX and the USMLE exams in order to match into a residency program.



5300 character personal statement (recently increased from 4500 characters)


Must shadow a DO:

Look for UM alumni currently attending DO school or recently having graduated from it in UCAN

System:  AACOMAS

$195 for first application, $35 for following

Schools are often more flexible with secondary fee waivers


 1. Opens May 1 for submission

2. Very fast verification (~2 weeks)

3.Cycles run faster (faster interview cycle and begin acceptance notification faster)

4. Cycles run longer (secondaries may be accepted up to March/April for some schools, but since it is rolling admission, it is better to submit earlier)

5. Formal update process in Jan and April through AACOMAS for academic updates


Depends on the school, but frequently non-refundable

$200 – $3000



5300 Character Personal Statement

Can shadow MDs as well as any other health professionals (interesting ones might be DOs, NPs, PAs, etc. to see the intersections between each career)

System:  AMCAS

$170 for first application, $40 for following


1. Opens May 1 for completion

2. Opens June 1 for submission

3. Verification takes longer (6-8 weeks) before secondaries start rolling in

4. No formal update process through AMCAS, so you will have to research and reach out to individual schools about updating


Depends on the school, but frequently refundable

$100 – $150

Common Misconceptions about DO vs MD:

DO schools are a safety/backup to MD programs. Not true because a lot of considerations go into choosing the best school for you: location, cost, interests, goals, experiences, etc.

Getting a DO degree means you can’t specialize. Although DO program curriculums are often set up to focus on primary care, DOs can actually match into any residency, which means the same specialities and opportunities are available to them if desired.

Another misconception is that you NEED to use OMM in future practice. You don’t have to if you really don’t want to, or go into a specialty that wouldn’t benefit from its usage.

Some think DOs are like chiropractors, which aren’t licensed to do surgery/give drugs. This can affect the mindset of DOs not being “real” doctors. Although there is a focus on OMM in DO curriculums, DOs aren’t limited to using their hands. They’re licensed to give medications, perform surgery, etc just as an MD, but are trained to use OMM as an intervention before those routes are taken— which can be beneficial  to the patient’s healthcare as it can alleviate the need for invasive procedures down the line, stronger drug effects and dependencies, or higher medical bills.

MDs make more money than DOs. Not necessarily true, as salary is mostly determined by the specialty you choose to go into.