Back to Blog
Atlantis students outside the hospital where they are shadowing (Genoa, Italy).

Applying to Med/PA School

MD vs. DO Applications: What are the Differences and What You Should Keep in Mind When Applying

Marissa profile

About Marissa

Marissa is a recent graduate of Clemson University where she received her B.S. in Health Sciences. During the summer of 2019, Marissa participated in the Atlantis shadowing program in Trento, Italy, and now works as an Alumni Representative with the company. She is currently applying to medical school where she hopes to become a primary care physician.

Applying to medical school can often be a confusing process. As a pre-med who is struggling to write secondary applications, I can tell you from experience that it is tough trying to figure out what schools to apply to. Should I only apply to MD schools? Should I only apply to DO schools? Should I apply to both? When should I apply? Believe me, I have worried my way through these questions time and time again.

The good news is, I worried so that you don’t have to! Below is a breakdown that I made to help me understand the difference in the MD and DO application process so that I was more than ready for my application cycle. 

How do I start the application process?

The first thing to note is that MD and DO schools have separate application processes. If you are planning to apply to MD schools, you will access your primary application through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), a centralized application service under the guidance of the AAMC. AMCAS is responsible for collecting, verifying, and delivering application information and MCAT exam scores to each MD school you choose. AMCAS is not able to make admissions decisions. Note: if you are interested in applying to an MD program at a public medical school in Texas, you will apply through the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDAS).  

If you are planning to apply to DO schools, you will access your primary application through the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS). Similar to AMCAS, AACOMAS simplifies the process of applying to DO schools.

How much does it cost?

For the current application cycle, the AMCAS processing fee is $170 and includes one medical school designation. Additional school designations are $42 each.

Additionally, the AACOMAS charges $197 for the first program you apply to and $48 for each additional program. 

Note: the prices listed above are only for primary applications accessed through AMCAS or AACOMAS. While only some DO programs have additional supplemental fees, every MD school you choose to apply to will include a supplemental fee that ranges in cost.

It is also important to keep in mind that there are other costs that you are expected to pay throughout your premedical journey – such as the MCAT exam and preparation materials, transcript fees, the CASPer exam (if your school requests it), and other travel expenses required to interview. Applying to medical school is a costly process. You can look into Fee Assistance Programs (FAPs) for both MD and DO schools and see if you qualify for financial aid. This can help alleviate some of the financial burden as you apply.

What is the timeline for applying?

The AMCAS applications typically open during the first week of May each year for the following year’s medical school class. Since you are not able to submit your completed primary application until the first week of June, you have about four weeks to work on your application before submitting. I recommend sending your transcripts as early as possible, as this tends to be what delays primary applications from getting verified and sent to the MD schools you selected. 

For specific application dates and deadlines by MD school, click here.

Similarly, AACOMAS applications open around the first week of May and can not be submitted until the second week of June. Again, this means that you have plenty of time to work on your application if you start it as early as possible. 

How do I choose the right medical school for me?

There are a few ways that you can go about doing this. First, I recommend checking out this comprehensive article from Atlantis that directly compares and contrasts the differences between MD and DO school programs. Additionally, you can click here for the average GPA and MCAT scores for every medical school. You want to be as competitive an applicant as possible, so selecting schools (whether they are MD or DO) where you are a strong candidate is important to keep in mind. 

Lastly, you want to see if the passions in medicine you possess (such as research, community service, or dual degree programs) align with the opportunities that the school provides. If you are unsure what you are interested in, there are extracurricular opportunities that can provide you exposure, such as Atlantis shadowing programs over school breaks. At the end of the day, you should apply to the schools that you believe will make you the best physician you can be!

Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.

Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook guidebook — download yours.

Our Alumni Enter Great Medical Schools

John Daines headshot.

John Daines

  • Atlantis '17
  • Brigham Young University '19
  • Washington U. in St. Louis MD '23
Zoey Petitt headshot.

Zoey Petitt

  • Atlantis '17
  • U. of Arizona '18
  • Duke MD '23
Yong hun Kim headshot.

Yong-hun Kim

  • Atlantis '17
  • Stanford '19
  • Mayo Clinic MD '24
Megan Branson headshot.

Megan Branson

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of Montana '19
  • U. of Washington MD '24
Sarah Emerick headshot.

Sarah Emerick

  • Atlantis '19
  • Eckerd College '20
  • Indiana U. MD '25
Snow Nwankwo headshot.

Snow Nwankwo

  • Atlantis '19
  • Catholic U. of America '21
  • Georgetown U. MD '26
Tiffany Hu headshot.

Tiffany Hu

  • Atlantis '16
  • U. of Maryland '17
  • U. of Michigan MD '22
Lauren Cox headshot.

Lauren Cox

  • Atlantis '18
  • Louisiana Tech '20
  • U. of Arkansas MD '24
Kayla Riegler headshot.

Kayla Riegler

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of Kentucky '20
  • U. of Kentucky MD '24

About Atlantis

Atlantis is the leader in pre-health shadowing and clinical experience, offering short-term programs (1-10 weeks) over academic breaks for U.S. pre-health undergraduates. Medical schools want 3 things: (1)healthcare exposure, (2)GPA/MCAT, and (3)certain competencies. Atlantis gives you a great version of (1), frees you to focus on (2), and cultivates/shows (3) to medical school admissions committees.

A student smiling and learning how to kayak.

Watch Video: The Atlantis Shadowing Experience and How it Helps In Your Med/PA Admissions Future

MessengerWhatsAppCopy Link
Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.
Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook — download yours.