Read on below to find out more about Alabama's allopathic and osteopathic medical schools.
Alabama is home to several underrated allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. For example, US News & World Report placed the University of Alabama—Birmingham 32nd in its Best Medical Schools: Research rankings list. Alabama is also ranked among the 12 best states to practice medicine in, based on medical environment, opportunity, and competition.
So, how do you get into a medical school in Alabama? To help you get started, we’ve provided a brief overview of each school before diving into their course requirements, class profiles, tuition fees, and admission statistics.
Alabama is a varied state with large mountain ranges and major urban and rural centers. Prospective medical students in Alabama can practice in these diverse clinical settings and explore different health care experiences.
The state of Alabama ranks among the ten lowest numbers of doctors per 100,000 residents at 63.6. As such, every med school in Alabama is committed to producing quality MDs and DOs who will meet the state’s health care needs, especially those of its underserved populations. While every program adopts a similar goal, the curriculum, structure, and location of each vary significantly. So, let’s explore the unique qualities of each medical school in Alabama.
Alabama is home to two allopathic and two osteopathic medical schools. Here, we’ll explore where they are and what you need to get into their medical programs.
Located in Mobile, Alabama, USA COM has provided students with an excellent medical education since 1973. It’s the school’s small student-to-faculty ratio and above national average medical student satisfaction levels that speak to its excellence at preparing students to enter residencies and future medical careers.
USA COM offers two degree programs: the Liaison Committee on Medical Education accredited four-year MD program and the PhD program in Basic Medical Sciences. MD students complete their first two years on campus in the Medical Sciences Building and the remaining two in the community and USA Health System Hospitals and clinics.
USA COM’s mission statement reads: “As a diverse community focused on the science and practice of medicine for Alabama, the central Gulf Coast, and beyond: We educate, We discover, We serve.”
In-state students at USA COM pay a $32,830 annual tuition fee, while out-of-state applicants pay $64,764. USA COM’s estimated total costs, including fees, transportation, and accommodation, total $61,204 and $93,138, respectively. Below is a break-down of these costs for the first year of med school:
Source: USA COM
USA COM’s admissions requirements include:
Incoming students must complete the following coursework requirements to be considered for admission at USA COM:
The school also recommends applicants take courses in:
USA COM primarily focuses on educating current residents from the state of Alabama. However, they will consider exceptional candidates who “have strong ties to Alabama” and meet the following requirements:
USA COM doesn’t provide a lot of information about the CASPer on their website, but you can contact them for more information.
Every applicant is asked to submit a letter packet of composite evaluation by the premedical committee of their undergraduate university. If they cannot obtain this, or no committee exists, you must submit five letters of recommendation.
Three of these letters must be from faculty who have taught you, with at least one from a science faculty member. The remaining two letters can come from “people who have known and observed you on a personal basis.” You are encouraged to request a med school recommendation letter from your employer if you’re employed, especially by a company in health care.
The school interviews you to get to know more about you and for you to understand more about the institution and program. USA COM’s interviewers look for several qualities during your interview, including your:
All of USA COM’s interviews are conducted virtually via Zoom currently and last approximately 40 minutes. Here’s an example of how your interview day may be structured:
Source: USA COM
The UAB Heersink School of Medicine is home to one of the United States’ largest academic hospitals: University Hospital. The school has nearly 800 students, 1,400 full-time faculty members, and over 1,000 residents across 27 academic departments.
UAB Heersink is spread across four campuses in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, and Montgomery. MD students spend their first two years in Birmingham and the remaining two years at one of the other three regional campuses.
UAB Heersink is “dedicated to excellence in the education of physicians and scientists in all of the disciplines of medicine and biomedical investigation for careers in practice, teaching, and research. Central to this educational mission are the provision of outstanding medical care and services and the enhancement of new knowledge through clinical and basic biomedical research. We embrace the University of Alabama at Birmingham's commitment to creating an inclusive environment that values differing perspectives and experiences. This diversity is essential to fulfilling the enduring mission of our medical school.”
In-state students pay around $62,000-65,000 in annual tuition. Out-of-state tuition is around $96,000-99,000.
Applicants must report at least 90 hours of course credit from an accredited college or university in the United States. Prospective students are also required to achieve at least a “C” in the following courses:
Although UAB Heersink doesn’t require a specific major, it requires Alabama residents to achieve a 3.0 Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math (BCPM) undergraduate GPA to receive a secondary application invitation. Out-of-state applicants must earn a 3.3 BCPM undergraduate GPA or higher to be considered.
UAB Heersink typically invites in-state applicants with a total MCAT score of 493 or 494 and all other applicants with a score of 495 to complete a secondary application. The school asks for your scores from every MCAT test taken, but only your most recent scores are assessed by the admissions committee when deciding to interview you or not.
UAB Heersink also recommends you sit the AAMC Situational Judgment Test. The AAMC SJT exam is designed to go beyond your test scores and evaluate your personal and professional characteristics. Although the SJT is optional, it provides an excellent opportunity to stand out from the crowd and humanize your application.
The SJT assesses pre-med students’ core pre-professional competencies, including:
UAB Heersink, like USA COM, doesn’t provide much information about the CASPer on their website, but you can contact them for more information.
You can fulfill the school’s letters of recommendation requirements in three ways: committee letter, letter packet, or three individual letters.
A committee letter is written by a pre-health advisor or committee and reflects “your institution's evaluation of you.” Colleges produce letter packets but do “not include an evaluative letter from your pre-health committee or advisor.”
If you choose to submit three individual letters, you must obtain one from a faculty member and two others from other faculty or individuals. Heersink recommends you ask at least one science faculty member to write a letter for you.
If UAB Heersink is impressed by your AMCAS application, it may send you a secondary application. This application contains several essay questions which must be answered in 750 characters or less:
Heersink invites a select number of applicants to complete a series of virtual interviews. You will complete a nine-station MMI and one traditional one-on-one interview.
UAB is an extremely selective school with an acceptance rate of 8.87%. As such, its 186-strong class profile is full of high-achieving students; the average GPA and MCAT scores of Heersink’s admitted students are 3.78 and 509, respectively.
Located in Dothan, Alabama, ACOM is focused on producing Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) passionate about addressing Alabama’s primary care medical needs. It enrolled its first class in 2013.
ACOM’s mission is to “provide quality, learner-centered osteopathic education, research, and service, while promoting graduate medical education, with emphasis on patient-centered, team-based primary care to serve the medically underserved areas of Alabama, the Tri-State area, and the nation.”
ACOM’s in-state and out-of-state students pay an annual tuition rate of $55,440.
ACOM’s admissions requirements include:
Applicants must complete the following coursework before enrolling at ACOM:
Prospective students must submit a recommendation letter from a DO, although an MD will do, and another pre-med advisor or committee letter. If you cannot provide an advisor or committee letter, you can submit two letters written by Biology, Chemistry, or Physics faculty members instead.
If ACOM invites you to complete a secondary application, you must complete two short answer prompts and one essay question. Aside from paying the $50 supplemental application fee, you must also complete the online CASPer assessment, which assesses your impersonal characteristics and non-cognitive skills.
The main goal of ACOM’s personal interview is to analyze a student’s interpersonal skills and motivation for the profession. It also provides an opportunity for you to learn more about ACOM and its faculty, program, and student life.
ACOM’s acceptance rate is just over 4%, and its admitted students achieved equally competitive GPAs and MCAT scores of 3.45 and 504.26, respectively.
VCOM is committed to addressing Alabama’s shortage of primary care physicians “with a focus on addressing the physician shortage in southern Appalachia and the Delta regions.” US News & World Report places it among the top 10 schools in the country in its Most Graduate Practicing in Primary Care Fields rankings.
The school is spread across four locations:
Edward Via’s mission “is to prepare globally-minded, community-focused physicians to meet the needs of rural and medically underserved populations and promote research to improve human health.”
The annual tuition fee for VCOM’s DO program is $46,900, and the estimated cost of attendance is around $75,000-79,000. The school’s tuition fees are the same across all campuses.
VCOM’s admissions requirements include:
Students applying to the DO program must achieve at least a “C,” although a “B” is preferable, in the following undergraduate classes:
VCOM also asks you to complete at least six “additional biomedical science credit hours at the 200 level or above.” You can fulfill this requirement by taking classes in:
Candidates must achieve at least a 3.2 cumulative and science GPA to be considered for admission. Additionally, while VCOM has no minimum MCAT score, the average score achieved by admitted students is around 500, and it typically doesn’t consider scores under 494.
VCOM’s website doesn’t provide much information about the CASPer, but you can contact its admissions staff for more information about its testing requirements.
Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation: one from a physician and another from a science faculty or pre-medical committee member. It’s recommended you obtain a rec letter from a DO, but an MD will be accepted if you can’t. Please note that you must obtain a letter from a DO within 30 days of admission if you are accepted after submitting an MD rec letter.
If you’re invited for an interview, you will complete three in-person one-on-one interviews with VCOM faculty or administration members.
The average GPA and MCAT scores of VCOM’s admitted students are 3.69 and 502, respectively. While the school doesn't publicly release its acceptance rate, it’s a competitive school so you should try to aim for the average GPA and MCAT scores noted above.
We’ve provided several tips below to help you ace your application and enroll at one of the medical schools in Alabama.
Research your preferred school’s selection criteria, mission statement, and values to uncover what they look for in an ideal applicant. For example, UAB Heersink values an applicant’s potential to meet the needs of “the state of Alabama, particularly those of underserved populations in the state. These needs include primary care medical needs of racial and ethnic minorities and rural populations.”
Your personal statement or secondary application essays are the best places to align your application with a college’s vision. Use specific and detailed examples to show you have done your research, and it will increase your chances of admission.
Every medical school in Alabama evaluates your GPA to see if you can handle the challenging workload. Christina Grabowski, Associate Dean for Admissions and Enrollment at the UAB School of Medicine, says med schools are particularly interested in your science GPA. “Whether you're a psychology major or a business major or a biology major,” she explains, “we are going to look at how you did in science coursework specifically.”
Med schools specifically look at your science GPA because this provides the best indication of how you will handle the med school workload. If you can’t prove you can handle the academic workload, your application profile will be weakened significantly.
Of course, it is possible to get into med school with a low GPA. However, aim to achieve a 3.5 GPA or higher to ensure your application is competitive, and you will increase your chances of attending a medical school in Alabama.
We’ve outlined several tips below to help you understand more about Alabama’s medical schools and how you can get into one.
No, ACOM is the only Alabama medical school that requires applicants to complete the CASPer.
Yes, every medical school in Alabama requires applicants to submit MCAT scores.
USA COM has the lowest tuition fees for in-state applicants, and VCOM has the lowest fees for out-of-state applicants. Here is a concise breakdown of the tuition fees for each medical school in Alabama:
The average GPAs of admitted students at medical schools in Alabama are:
No school in Alabama requires the SJT. However, UAB Heersink recommends its Rural, Early Medical School Acceptance Program Advanced Standing, Transfer, and Medical Scientist Training Program applicants sit the exam.
Yes, as outlined above, the medical schools in Alabama are selective and have low acceptance rates.
Each of the unique medical schools in Alabama contains a varied curriculum, structure, and setting. However, they are all bound by a similar mission; they seek to meet the health care needs of Alabama and its underserved populations. Do your research and select the program that best suits your personality and ambitions.
If you apply to a medical school in Alabama, align your application with your preferred school’s mission and values. This will show you have done your research and selected the school because you will be a great fit for it. Additionally, maintaining a competitive GPA will make you a more competitive candidate. Good luck with your application!