Is ATSU a Good Medical School? (Major Pros & Cons)

ATSU is a good medical school for prospective students interested in osteopathic medicine, primary care, or providing medical services in rural areas. ATSU offers many programs at its three campuses and has excellent graduation and match rates. 

Let’s discuss the details and determine if ATSU might be a good fit for you. I’ll talk about their programs, tuition and financial aid, acceptance rate, match lists, and more. I’ll also highlight the school’s pros and cons and show you honest student reviews. 

Interested in learning more about specific medical school pros and cons? Check out our Medical School Guides here – we cover all osteopathic (DO) and allopathic (MD) schools.

ATSU Programs

A.T. Still University has three campuses, with one in Kirksville, MO, one in Mesa, AZ, and one in Santa Maria, CA. Each of these campuses has various degree tracks, so let’s break them up by campus. 

A.T. Still University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine

ATSU’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, or ATSU-KCOM, is ATSU’s original campus and home to the world’s first osteopathic medical school. 

However, just because it was the original, that doesn’t necessarily make it better than the other campuses. Most prospective D.O. students choose the Arizona campus over the Kirksville campus since it has much higher prestige and offers a newer learning environment. 

As a primarily osteopathic school, they offer these degree programs: 

  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. 
  • Master of Biomedical Sciences. 

ATSU also offers a school of Dentistry and Oral Health on their Kirksville campus. 

A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine/Arizona School of Health Sciences

SOMA and ASHS are two schools on the ATSU campus in Mesa, Arizona. Of all ATSU locations, these schools have the most available programs for med students. 

SOMA is the most popular ATSU campus for D.O. students and has gained a tier-1 reputation among residency programs. 

The program offerings at the ATSU campus in Arizona include: 

  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. 
  • Doctor of Audiology. 
  • Doctor or M.S. of Occupational Therapy.
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy. 
  • Doctor or M.S. in Athletic Training. 
  • M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology.
  • Doctor of Medical Science.
  • M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies.

ATSU also offers programs in Dentistry and Oral Health on their Mesa campus. 

ATSU Santa Maria College for Healthy Communities

ATSU’s Santa Maria campus is their latest, and they only offer Physicians Assistant Studies degrees. Although there’s only one degree program at this campus, it is the perfect fit for students who want to serve in rural or underserved communities since the college is dedicated to training individuals to serve in these areas. 

ATSU’s Match Data

ATSU’s students see fantastic success during match day. 98% to 99% of ATSU students match with residencies yearly — an incredibly impressive statistic. 

In 2022, D.O. students found placement in 38 states, with most staying in Missouri and the surrounding area. However, some graduates went on to attend residency in places as far as Hawaii. 

Most D.O. graduates of ATSU take residency in primary care, which is consistent with the school’s desire to provide primary care physicians to rural communities. However, ATSU also produces graduates from various specialties. 

In 2022, 67% of graduates went into primary care, while 25% went into pediatrics. The other students went to residencies including specialties such as:  

  • Family Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Psychiatry
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • OB/GYN
  • Neurology
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Diagnostic Radiology
  • Dermatology
  • General Surgery 

So, although ATSU graduates generally choose primary care, you can successfully place with a specialty in a wide range of areas. 

Likewise, residencies were at many hospitals, including some prestigious ones such as the Mayo Clinic and Duke University Medical Center.

ATSU Acceptance Rate

ATSU is moderately selective, and the acceptance rate for KCOM is 9%. 

Accepted students generally have a GPA of 3.69, with MCAT scores averaging 504. So, you don’t need to be an undergrad valedictorian to get into ASU. However, you must show promise as a med student, as with any medical school. 

However, ATSU’s ASHS campus is usually more stringent than the Kirksville campus regarding admissions since more people choose to apply to the higher-ranked D.O. program in Arizona. 

KCOM and ASHS’ acceptance and average admission rates reflect their desire to keep D.O. classes as small as possible. 

While the Admissions Board will pay close attention to your academics, they generally only accept people with remarkable personal statements, recommendation letters, or extensive experience in healthcare. ATSU takes pride in its ability to train students who wish to practice in understaffed, underserved, rural communities, so these components of your application will be critical to the Admissions Team. 

In doing so, they maintain their status as a college with diverse yet small classes full of passionate med students who will work hard to succeed and go on to fill the gaps in the American healthcare system.

So, if you meet these average academic figures and have experience job shadowing, researching, or volunteering in healthcare, you have a pretty high chance of acceptance. 

ATSU Tuition

The tuition at ATSU as a D.O. student is $60,914 per year. However, the mandatory student technology fee is $1,150, bringing your annual cost up to $62,064. 

This price is above the average $59,555 per year tuition for a private medical school. However, the discrepancy is only a couple of thousand dollars — just a drop in the pond when considering the regularly high price of medical education at a private institution. 

Does ATSU Accept A.P. Credits?

ATSU accepts A.P. credits as part of your undergraduate transcript. ATSU, as a medical school, does not directly transfer A.P. credits to their degree programs, as med school courses have no comparable high school courses. 

If your A.P. credits are already part of your high school and undergraduate transcripts, ATSU will accept them as completed curriculum from your undergrad. 

Related: Do Medical Schools Accept Community College Credits? (Explained!)

Does ATSU Offer Scholarships?

ATSU offers scholarships. You may be eligible for specific scholarships depending on your chosen school and field of study. Internal scholarships from ATSU are typically less than $5,000 per year, and you can apply to all of them via the ATSU student portal.  

ATSU scholarships are available for students in any discipline. You may be eligible based on your academic merit, gender, ethnicity, leadership and service, and financial need. 

Since the scholarships differ depending on your department, you may want to look at ATSU’s scholarship listings, which update yearly. 

ATSU also accepts Federal Student Aid, including work-study and Direct Student Loans. They will also accept private student loans and Military Tuition Assistance. 

Is ATSU Good? 

The Pros

  • SOMA’s 1+3 curriculum exposes you to patients early in your education. 
  • Very modern, cutting-edge facilities. 
  • You will be well-prepared for exams, clinicals, and residency. 
  • Professors are approachable and helpful. 
  • Great match rates. 
  • The lectures are accessible, and all campuses offer online resources such as virtual lectures and study materials from previous students. 
  • There are plenty of out-of-state opportunities for clinical rotations. 
  • ATSU has an excellent reputation as the first D.O. school in the world, helping you find a match. 
  • Two D.O. campuses to choose from. 

The Cons

  • Exam prep is mainly independent. 
  • It is more costly than the average private medical school. 
  • Preclinical years are graded.  
  • Limited “fun stuff” at KCOM since it is in a small, semi-rural town. 
  • Curriculum changes are frequent. 
  • A minority of students take and prepare for Step 1 because ATSU focuses on primary care. 
  • The school is focused on providing primary care physicians to rural communities, although not all students want to practice in primary care. 
  • Moving to another state may be necessary during clinicals. 

Student and Graduate Reviews of ATSU

ATSU is not an easy school, but it will absolutely prepare you for whatever career you choose in the medical field. 

Graduates from the Kirksville and Mesa campuses agree that ATSU is rigorous. Their unique curriculum structure exposes you to patients early in your education, making you more prepared for clinicals and residency than most students. This structure is why almost every student from ATSU finds a residency match every single graduating year. 

However, juggling patients, lectures, labs, assignments, and preparing for exams can be difficult for ATSU students. It takes self-discipline and structure to get it all done in time for graduation. However, if you take advantage of the school’s resources and remember that medical school is supposed to be challenging, there’s no reason why you can’t do it. 

Speaking of the resources, ATSU is a top choice for some students due to its immaculate and very innovative facilities, free study resources and counselors, and encouraging and helpful faculty. Although the curriculum might require multitasking, there’s always someone there to help you. 

Class sizes are also relatively small, with admissions boards limiting accepted students to around 170 per class year. These smaller classes encourage communication, teamwork, and collaboration and ensure you can get your professor’s attention when needed. 

However, students have also expressed several common downsides to ATSU. One thing that many students complain about is the regular curriculum changes. As it stands, ATSU plans to implement a patient-based learning system in 2026, which might not be ideal for some people. In addition, leading up to that change, the curriculum might change yearly. 

Other students have been unhappy that preclinical years are graded. For a school that begins clinical experience in year two and doesn’t spend much class time preparing you for boards, focusing on grades can be overwhelming. 

So, overall, ATSU will do an excellent job preparing you for your future career — perhaps better than most D.O. schools. However, it will take some juggling and multitasking to get through. 

Related Articles