Academic Programs Catalog

College of Osteopathic Medicine

Professional Program in Osteopathic Medicine

Osteopathic medicine embraces the following philosophic principles.

  • There exists an intimate relationship between structure and function in the human body.
  • Within this unity of organization, health is a reflection of  an integrity of self–regulatory and self–healing mechanisms.
  • The ability of the body to maintain this integrity in spite of an ever–changing external and internal environment is mediated through an elaborate homeostatic system, of which the circulatory  and neuromusculoskeletal systems are important components.
  • Certain distortions within these components reflect a level of disturbed health as a part of the process of disease.
  • Some manifestations of these distortions are accessible within the neuromusculoskeletal system through the clinical use of osteopathic diagnostic procedures.
  • Osteopathic medicine is dedicated to the amelioration of these disturbed structure–function relationships by the clinical application of osteopathic diagnostic and therapeutic skills developed within this distinctive orientation.

The college is dedicated to assisting in the solution of the ever–growing public demand for physicians who can provide comprehensive and continuing health care to all members of the family. While the educational program of the College of Osteopathic Medicine is geared primarily to the training of primary medicine physicians, the curriculum and educational programs are designed also to meet the continuing need for medical specialists and teacher–investigators. Traditionally, osteopathic education seeks to prepare physicians who are especially concerned with maintaining continuing personal relationships with patients, their families, and their optimum interaction with the community environmental patterns. This emphasis is reflected in the nature of the curriculum and particularly reinforced during clinical clerkship rotations through a variety of clinical disciplines in both hospital and non–hospital settings.

Early clinical involvement in patient care enables the students to study the biological and behavioral sciences that are relevant to what they are seeing and doing in the clinical area. With the help of the faculties in the biological and behavioral sciences, students learn to apply current concepts and principles to the clinical problems related to patient care. The entire teaching program emphasizes this important cooperative relationship between basic sciences and clinical practice.

The concepts of medical education of the college are consistent with osteopathic philosophy and are based on the following tenets:

  1. The focal point of the curriculum is patient care.
  2. The holistic nature of osteopathic medical care of patients in their environments requires the integration and application of the biological, clinical, social, and behavioral sciences.
  3. The basic sciences are not necessarily preclinical topics, but subjects that become meaningful and relevant when applied to the art and science of clinical osteopathic medicine.
  4. The students should have early and significant patient contact, and patient responsibility should increase progressively throughout the program.
  5. A level of performance to criteria is expected of all students in basic and clinical sciences including the art of palpatory diagnosis and manipulative therapy.
  6. Students must be prepared for more than utilization of present knowledge. During their medical undergraduate and graduate education they must develop the foundation and motivation for a lifetime of learning, and the ability to apply new knowledge and skills, including the appropriate use of technology and medical informatics, as they evolve.

The professional program leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree is accredited by the American Osteopathic Association.


The science and practice of osteopathic medicine require an understanding of the relationships among the physical, biological, psychological, cultural, and environmental aspects of human behavior. Thus osteopathic education requires preparation in the natural, social, and behavioral sciences and the humanities. Candidates are expected to demonstrate their ability to work and think independently and in a scholarly manner. The mean grade-point average of students who are admitted to the program is 3.5 to 3.6.

Applicants for admission to the first–year class in the college must meet the following minimum requirements 1. through 3. prior to enrollment and are encouraged to meet items 4. and 5. as listed:

  1. Completion of at least three years (90 semester or 135 term credits) of college training in a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting commission of higher education. 
  2. Completion of 8 semester or 12 term credits in each of the following areas with no grade below 2.0: 
    Biology—including both course work and laboratory work in general biology or general zoology
    Completion of 16 semester credits of chemistry including 3 semester credits of biochemistry.
    Completion of 6 semester or 9 term credits in each of the following areas with no grade below 2.0: 
    English—including both oral and written English, and
    Psychosocial–behavioral sciences including study of individual and/or group behaviors.
    Completion of 3 semester or 4.5 term credits in the following area with no grades below 2.0:
    Genetics—course title must include the word 'genetics'.
  3. The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) must be taken by the end of September of the year application is being made. Scores can not be more than 3 years old. 
  4. Suggested science course electives include anatomy, physiology, microbiology, histology, and statistics at the 300- and 400-levels. 
  5. Suggested medical humanities and ethics electives include course work in philosophy, history of medicine and medical ethics.

An application must be completed and all official transcripts submitted to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS), 6110 Executive Boulevard, Suite 405, Rockville, Maryland 20852: it is highly recommended that the application be submitted no later than June 1 of the application year for students who wish to begin classes the following spring. The Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine forwards to all applicants a secondary application. Early application is essential because the college admits its students on a rolling basis. Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine classes begin in late June. Most Admissions Committee reviews are conducted between September and March. Selection of students for the fall class and for the waiting list is generally completed by early April.


The curriculum leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree includes the preclerkship curriculum which consists of seven semesters of on–campus courses, and the clinical clerkship curriculum consisting of six semesters (84 weeks) of community–based clinical courses. It is designed to meet the following educational objectives:

  1. To assist students in the integration of basic science, behavioral science, and clinical science concepts related to the tenets of osteopathic philosophy.
  2. To provide the student with comprehensive medical knowledge and skills which will serve as a foundation for a lifetime of learning.
  3. To produce osteopathic physicians with the skills necessary to enable them to enter graduate medical education in a primary care or a medical or surgery specialty program.

The curriculum is divided into two components: the preclerkship curriculum, presented in the first two years; and the clinical clerkship curriculum, scheduled in the third and fourth years.  The first two semesters of the preclerkship curriculum focus on introductory basic science (anatomy, biochemistry, genetics, physiology, cell biology, microbiology, immunology, pathology, and pharmacology), courses.  The following four semesters focus on  the body systems (integumentary, neuromusculoskeletal, hematopoietic, cardiovascular, respiratory, urinary, gastrointestinal, endocrine, and reproductive) with instructional input provided by clinical, basic science, and behavioral science faculty.  The core preclerkship courses are supplemented by osteopathic patient care, the young and the aging adult, and osteopathic manipulative medicine courses that are included in each semester of the preclerkship curriculum. Their learning objectives are integrated with the concurrently scheduled basic science and organ systems courses. In addition ethics, professionalism and law are covered.

The clinical clerkship curriculum includes 84 weeks of clinical training in community hospitals, clinics, and private practice offices affiliated with the college.

The required clerkship courses include an initial 40 weeks to be completed in the third year in 4 week blocks, including ambulatory family medicine, ambulatory internal medicine, ambulatory or in-patient pediatrics, in-patient internal medicine, neurology, psychiatry, obstetrics/gynecology, general surgery, and emergency medicine, and anesthesia (2 weeks) and radiology (2 weeks).

In addition to the required courses, students are required to complete 8 additional weeks, 4 in internal medicine based rotation, and 4 in surgical specialty based rotation as they select. Selectives are defined as rotations that may be conducted in any one of our base hospital affiliated sites. Following these rotations, it is the expectation that the student will take COMLEX level 2 CE as well as COMLEX level 2 PE with final scores in early to mid-fall to make the student competitive for graduate medical education interviews.

The fourth year consists of 36 weeks of selective and elective rotations of which 4 weeks will be an advanced family medicine ambulatory experience, and 4 weeks will be an advanced in-patient internal medicine experience. The remaining 28 weeks may be completed as selective rotations (completed in our base hospital system) or elective rotations (completed in any institution approved by the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine with advanced planning and scheduling on the part of the student. Half of the weeks must be in a surgical field and half must be completed in a medicine related field. A list of possible rotations for each group is available from the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Requirements for Graduation

To graduate from Michigan State University with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree, a student must satisfactorily complete all required courses in the preclerkship and clerkship portions of the curriculum and pass both of the COMLEX-USA Level 2 examinations of the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners.

In addition, each graduating student must receive the endorsement of the Committee on Student Evaluation and an affirmative vote from the faculty of the College. A copy of the Policy for Promotion, Retention and Graduation is available to each student on admission to the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Transfer Credits

For a student who is pursuing a full-time M.B.A. degree from MSU jointly with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree from Michigan State University - College of Osteopathic Medicine, a maximum of 12 credits from the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine may be transferred to the full-time M.B.A. degree program.