American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

About Osteopathic Medical School

The Uniqueness of Osteopathic Medical School

One unique aspect of the osteopathic student’s education is how rotations are conducted in community hospitals and physicians’ offices across the country. Because few osteopathic colleges have their own hospitals, the schools partner with community hospitals across the country to deliver the third and fourth year curriculum as well as internship and residency training. This model of medical education developed by the osteopathic profession has been touted as the new model for all medical education. Current pilot studies are being developed on a national level to evaluate this model of medical education.

Four-year Overview​

Many osteopathic colleges have students assigned to work with physicians beginning early in the first year. This process continues throughout the second year in conjunction with the necessary science courses. In the third and fourth years, osteopathic medical students spend time learning about and exploring the major specialties in medicine.

First and Second Years

  • Geared toward the basic sciences
  • Students learn a core set of clinical examination skills
  • Courses cover the various systems of the body
  • Lectures and laboratories designed to prepare the student for the last two years of medical school

Third and Fourth Years

  • Clinical clerkship years

Specific courses in the curriculum may vary from college to college.

Information used with permission by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.



 Sample Curriculum


​This is an overview of osteopathic medical school curriculum. Check with individual colleges for specifics.

Year 1

Anatomy Neuroscience
Physiology Histology
Clinical Skills Biochemistry
Radiology Pathology
Osteopathic Principles and Practices Doctor/Patient Communication


Year 2

Gerontology Respiratory
Cardiology Ethics and Jurisprudence
Gastrointestinal System Family Medicine
Hematopoietic System Genitourinary System
Osteopathic Principles and Practices Reproductive System
Endocrinology Pediatrics/Growth and Development

Years 3 and 4 (clinical clerkships)

Family Medicine Internal Medicine
Gastroenterology Oncology and Hematology
Nephrology Emergency Medicine
Surgery Orthopedics
Psychiatry and Behavioral Science Osteopathic Principles and Practices
Pediatrics Radiology
Cardiology Pulmonary Medicine
Neurology Obstetrics and Gynecology
Anesthesiology Otorhinolaryngology
Laboratory Medicine