Are you considering applying to medical school in Colorado? Full of majestic, towering mountains, lush forests, deep canyons, and pristine lakes, Colorado is a nature lover’s dream—the state offers some of the best hiking, camping, fishing, and skiing opportunities in the entire country. It’s also packed with Old West history, national parks, over 400 breweries, world-famous Palisade Peaches, and delectable American cuisine.
It’s a great place to live. But what’s it like to attend medical school there, and how do you get accepted?
In this post, we’ll break down everything you need to know about going to medical school in Colorado, including how many MD and DO schools are located there, what it’s like to live there, how to apply, and tips for gaining acceptance to medical schools in Colorado.
Here’s what to expect below.
- How Many Medical Schools Are in Colorado?
- Colorado Medical School Locations
- How Much is Tuition in Colorado?
- The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
- Updated CUSOM Curriculum: LIC Model
- University of Colorado In-State vs. Out-of-State Applicants
- How to Apply to the University of Colorado School of Medicine
- Application Requirements
- Application Deadlines
- Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine
- How to Apply to Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Tips to Gain Acceptance at Colorado Medical Schools
- Craft a Cohesive Narrative
- Research the School and Its Surroundings
- You’ll Need to Own a Car
- Is Going to Medical School in Colorado Right for You?
How Many Medical Schools Are in Colorado?
There are only two medical schools in Colorado: the University of Colorado School of Medicine (CUSOM) and the Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathy.
If you’re only interested in applying to allopathic (MD) medical schools, then you only have one option. And if you’re only interested in applying to osteopathic (DO) medical schools, well, you get the idea.
List of Medical Schools in Colorado
Allopathic Medical Schools in Colorado (MD)
Osteopathic Medical Schools in Colorado (DO)
Colorado Medical School Locations
The University of Colorado School of Medicine (CUSOM) is located at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado. Anshutz is one of four University of Colorado campuses. It’s six miles east of downtown Denver at the junction of Interstate 225 and Colfax Avenue.
The Colorado campus of the Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathy (RVUCOM-CO) is located in Parker, Colorado. Parker is a small town in Douglas County. The nearest major city is Denver, which is about 20 miles away—30 minutes by car or about 40 minutes by bus.
How Much Is Medical School in Colorado?
So, how much does medical school cost in Colorado?
Colorado Tuition Costs (2022 Data From MSAR)
|Colorado Medical School
|Yearly Tuition In-State
|Yearly Tuition Out-of-State
|University of Colorado School of Medicine
- Additional fees not included.
Additionally, you need to factor in the cost of medical school applications, which can add up across primary fees, secondary fees, exam fees, study resources, and interview travel costs. Learn more: How Much Do Med School Applications Cost? The Full Price Analyzed.
Plus, there are many other factors to consider, including housing, transportation, food, exercise, and events. Colorado ranks 19th in cost of living, so you’ll only really notice a difference if you’re coming from a state with the highest cost of living or lowest cost of living.
The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
The University of Colorado School of Medicine (CUSOM) was founded in 1883. In 2008, the school moved to the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.
CUSOM’s mission statement is as follows:
“Our mission is to enhance learners’ knowledge, competence, performance, or patient outcomes through continuing medical education activities that are linked to practice and focused on health care quality gaps. We expect learners apply new knowledge and skills in order to improve performance and patient outcomes in their practice settings.”
The University of Colorado medical school is part of a bioscience center that includes schools of pharmacy, public health, nursing, and dental medicine. The campus features a depression center, three research towers, the University of Colorado Hospital, and Children’s Hospital Colorado. A new Veterans Hospital opened in 2018.
There are two regional campuses as well for CU medical students:
- Colorado-Colorado Springs Branch Colorado Springs
- CO Colorado-Fort Collins Branch Fort Collins, CO
CUSOM receives over 10,000 applications and interviews about 700 applicants each year for 184 positions in the entering class. The program ranked #8 in the US for primary care, according to US News 2023 “Best Medical Schools”,
Median Academic Scores of Matriculants:
- Median GPA: 3.81
- Median MCAT: 515
Updated CUSOM Curriculum: LIC Model
In 2021, CUSOM updated its curriculum to focus on patient care and community engagement. The change gets students into hospitals in their second year for hands-on clinical training instead of waiting until third year.
The new curriculum also changes the learning model from a traditional block rotation system to a longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC) model. The LIC model puts a group of students in one hospital for a full year so that they can interact with the same group of preceptors on a regular basis and follow patients through all stages of care. LIC students also stay together as a cohort throughout the year, meeting weekly to discuss their experiences and what they’ve learned.
This enables students to develop meaningful, longer-term relationships with patients, fellow students, and preceptors.
After their year of clinical experience, students go back into the classroom for four months of advanced science classes. Then, they have another year and a half to explore clinical specialties, electives, research, individualized education, and acting internships, which help to make the students’ knowledge and experience especially well-rounded when it comes time to apply for residency.
There are a few different education tracks students can choose. There’s a research track and a global health track, as well as a rural program aimed at increasing the number of CU medical school graduates who will remain in practice in rural Colorado. The rural track is located at the Colorado Springs Branch, but they are separate, distinct tracks.
The rural track has its own didactics, track director, and clinical sites, and you will be sent to rural areas of Colorado. CSB (Colorado Springs Branch) also has its own track director who will be in Colorado Springs for your main clinical rotations.
The bonus of being in the rural track is that there generally aren’t residents on service with you, so you really have to step up to the role of an intern, not just a medical student. Plus, if you’re interested in surgery, you get great exposure because you are the first assist on everything. It’s a chance to get up close and personal with your medical training early on in your schooling.
However, after MS2, everyone comes back together. CSB, Fort Collins, and the rural track students are expected to come back to the main campus to complete their remaining coursework and elective rotations with the rest of the class.
And a note about board exams. Due to the LIC model, you will take USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2 CK basically back to back after your main clerkship rotations during MS2. You do not take Step 1 before your clerkships. But this can be a huge advantage to students, as you will already have hands-on experience and real life examples that will help you to prepare for these major exams.
University of Colorado In-State vs. Out-of-State Applicants
The University of Colorado School of Medicine accepts both in-state and out-of-state applicants. A little less than half of matriculants in 2022 were from out-of-state (82 out-of-state and 94 in-state).
In 2022, CUSOM had 697 in-state applicants and 9625 out-of-state applicants.
Approximately 13% of in-state applicants matriculated to the University of Colorado School of Medicine compared to less than 1% of out-of-state matriculants.
Out-of-state applicants also have notably higher tuition costs. They pay nearly $25,000 more per year compared to in-state applicants.
How to Apply to the University of Colorado School of Medicine
To apply to the University of Colorado School of Medicine, the only allopathic medical school in Colorado, you will use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), the AAMC’s centralized medical school application processing service. It’s the primary application method for first year entering classes for the vast majority of US medical schools.
For Colorado’s only osteopathic school, Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathy, you’ll need to apply through AACOMAS. More on that below.
Here’s what you need to know about the University of Colorado School of Medicine application process.
1 | Application Requirements
There are several different components that come together to form your primary application.
To be an attractive applicant, you’ll need your college transcripts, a high GPA and MCAT score, a persuasive, narrative-driven personal statement, strong letters of recommendation, and a varied and detailed Work and Activities section. Making each of these components as compelling as possible requires a major time investment.
Earning a high GPA means you need to apply yourself throughout all four years of college. Your transcripts need to be submitted as a part of your primary application.
Your MCAT score is also part of your primary application, and it’s one of the key hard metrics schools consider. The amount of knowledge you need to retain to earn a high score on the MCAT, coupled with the reading comprehension and critical reasoning skills you’ll need to develop, means you’ll require three months of full-time studying or six months of part-time studying.
In order to secure at least four strong letters of recommendation, you must cultivate as many strong relationships over the course of your college career or even earlier. CUSOM specifically looks for letters that show longitudinal relationships.
You have space to write about 15 experiences, activities, awards, or hobbies in the Work and Activities section. You’ll need to dedicate a great deal of time to these activities throughout college. Admissions committees are specifically looking for longitudinal commitment to these activities, so get started early. Begin experimenting to see what you like most, and once you find something you enjoy, commit to it.
The University of Colorado School of Medicine requires applicants to complete Acuity Insights. Acuity Insights is a multi-part assessment, composed of Casper and Duet, designed to assess a prospective medical student’s people skills, bedside manner, and values.
Casper (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) is a computer-based 90-110 minute situational judgment test that evaluates 10 non-academic attributes in applicants, such as empathy, ethics, collaboration, communication, and professionalism.
Save our Casper Test Guide, which includes how Casper is scored, prep tips, and FAQs.
Duet is a value-alignment assessment that compares what an applicant values most in a program to what the programs have to offer. Duet only applies to applicants to US medical schools and graduate medical programs.
Learn more with our Acuity Insights Duet Guide.
After you submit your primary application, you will likely receive a secondary application from the University of Colorado School of Medicine two to four weeks later. Unlike the primary application, you can submit your secondary directly to the school. The secondary application fee for the University of Colorado School of Medicine is $100.
The following three questions were asked on CUSOM’s 2023-2024 secondary application.
1. The pillars of our curriculum are Leadership, Curiosity, and Commitment. Tell us about how you have embodied one or more of these attributes in your path to medicine thus far. In which of these areas do you see the most opportunity for personal growth and why? Limit this response to 500 words.
2. Please describe how your background and/or your unique lived experiences contribute to our culture of inclusive excellence. Limit the response to 300 words.
3. (If reapplicant) Please explain how you and your application has changed since your previous submission. Limit this response to 1500 Characters.
Note that the third question is optional and only relevant to those who are reapplying. This is why it’s so important to gain acceptance the first time around. It doesn’t get easier if you need to reapply, as schools expect more from you and specifically want to see that you have grown and improved since the first time you applied.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being a reapplicant, read our Reapplicant Guide — 6 Steps to Reapplying to Medical School.
If the admissions committee is interested in you after secondary applications, you could receive an invitation to a virtual interview at any point between the end of August and the spring of the following year.
Learn more about the complete application process: How to Get Into Medical School: AMCAS Application Process.
2 | Application Deadlines
The AMCAS application opens during the first week of May for the following academic year’s medical school class. For example, to begin medical school in the fall of 2025, you’ll need to start the application process in the spring of 2024. Submissions don’t open until the end of May or early June, giving you around a month to prepare the application.
However, the technical deadlines provided by AMCAS are not what you need to follow. Every week or month you delay your application hinders your chance of acceptance.
Applying early, almost as soon as submissions open, is essential. Both allopathic and osteopathic schools utilize rolling admissions, which means applications are reviewed as soon as they are received. The fastest applicants secure the first secondaries and interview spots, and these fill up fast. The later you submit your application, the worse your chances.
The rolling admissions process continues as you receive secondary applications, which you’ll get about two to four weeks after submitting your primary. Secondaries should be prioritized right away and submitted within 1-2 weeks of receiving them.
After secondaries, the next step is interviews, should you receive an invite. Interview season for the University of Colorado School of Medicine begins in September and can run through March of the following year. All interviews will be conducted virtually, and you will be interviewed both by faculty and at least one current student. According to CUSOM’s website, you can expect to receive an admissions decision within 4-6 weeks of your interview day.
The sooner you book and complete your interviews, the better, as medical schools begin sending out acceptances as they interview candidates. **Delaying any aspect of your application could result in someone equally as qualified receiving an acceptance instead of you simply due to timing.
Keep on top of each of your medical school application deadlines with our comprehensive Medical School Application Timeline and Monthly Schedule. (Updated every application cycle.)
Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine was founded in 2006. RVUCOM’s mission statement is as follows:
“To educate and inspire students to become highly competent osteopathic physicians and lifelong learners prepared to meet the diverse healthcare needs of tomorrow through compassionate service, relevant research, and innovative education.”
According to the RVUCOM-CO Class of 2026 Overview, out of the 2712 applicants, 215 were accepted, making the acceptance rate 7.9%. 36% of matriculants were residents of Colorado.
Average Academic Scores of Matriculants:
- Cumulative GPA: 3.54
- Science GPA: 3.49
- MCAT: 504.4
How to Apply to Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine
If you are applying to Colorado’s only DO school, the Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine (RVUCOM-CO), you will need to use the AACOMAS (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service). It’s the centralized online application service for colleges of osteopathic medicine in the US.
Note that there is only one designation for RVUCOM for both the Colorado and Utah campuses. You can select your campus preference on your application. You can also choose whether or not you want to be considered for the other location as well.
The AACOMAS application process is very similar to that of AMCAS. While RVUCOM’s technical deadline for submitting an AACOMAS application is March of the following year, RVUCOM also utilizes rolling admissions, so applying early is essential.
The primary application consists of your transcripts, MCAT, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and an Experiences and Achievements section. You can also expect to receive secondary applications shortly after your primary application is submitted.
But there are a couple of key differences between the applications. The personal statement for any osteopathic medical school must address why you want to be an osteopath specifically.
You can submit a maximum of six letters of recommendation. At least one letter must be written by a DO you have worked with to show that you have an authentic passion for and experience with osteopathy and understand what it means to be a doctor of osteopathy.
After you submit your primary application, you’ll receive an email containing instructions for submitting the supplemental application and fee. It is possible to be awarded a fee waiver for the supplemental fee. According to RVUCOM, fee waivers will also be granted for active duty military, veterans, and immediate family members.
Again, while RVUCOM’s technical deadline for submitting the supplemental application is April 2024 for the 2023-2024 cycle, it’s possible that all interview invitations will be sent prior to this date. Send your supplemental application and fee within 7 to 14 days of receiving it to give yourself the best chance of securing an invitation to interview.
Tips for Acceptance at Colorado Medical Schools
1 | Craft a Cohesive Application Narrative
Each piece of your application must complement the other and flow together to detail your personal journey to medicine. Developing a cohesive narrative about your journey will encourage admissions committees to learn more about you beyond your MCAT score and other academic qualifications. **A story is much easier to remember and more compelling than dry facts.
Although your qualifications are essential, admissions committees can already see them on your CV. There’s no need to repeat yourself, so focus on the events and people in your life that have made you who you are today and crystalized your ambition to dedicate your life to medicine.
Your medical school application is your story, so consider the common thread you want to weave throughout your application. What story do you want to tell? Whatever you decide, be careful not to repeat yourself. Each piece of your application should build upon the other with new anecdotes and fresh insights.
Developing a cohesive, unique, and persuasive narrative will take time, so do not procrastinate. Reflect deeply on your past. What astronomical triumphs or earth-shattering setbacks led you here? How have your struggles made you a stronger person? Be honest; admissions committees want to know the real you.
2 | Research the School and Its Surroundings
It is critical that you understand the school’s mission, teaching and grading style, and unique curriculum. Look beyond MSAR data. What’s the vibe of the school? What research opportunities are available? Is there a professor you’re enthusiastic to study under?
Colorado medical schools have a more laid back approach to education than other US medical schools. Is that something you’re comfortable with? Is that an environment you’d thrive in?
It’s also critical to understand the culture of where you will live, especially if you are applying from out-of-state.
Even if you’re a resident of Colorado, how do you feel about the cities where the campuses are located? Keep in mind that Rocky Vista University is located in a smaller town of just over 60,000 people, and it’s a 30 minute drive from Denver.
Winters are pretty mild (between 45 and 60 degrees), but this is relative, depending on where you’re coming from. Plus, if you’re not used to the outdoors, know that most of the activities in Colorado involve hiking, camping, skiing, fishing, and the like. Denver is a big city, but if outdoor activities and striking natural landscapes aren’t your thing, you may want to reconsider Colorado, as these are the types of activities your peers will be participating in.
3 | You’ll Need to Own a Car
The unfortunate thing about Colorado is that everything is far apart, and there isn’t that robust of a transit system. It’s possible to get by without a car, but it’s rare for students in Colorado not to have one.
If you come from a city with a reliable and multi-facetted transit system, this can be a huge transition. If you haven’t needed to learn how to drive yet, that’s one more thing to add to your already massive to-do list as you apply to medical school.
Bottom Line: Is Going to Medical School in Colorado Right for You?
Colorado is a nature lover’s dream. If stunning natural landscapes made up of majestic mountain ranges, immaculate lakes, bottomless canyons, verdant forests, and open plains sound appealing to you, look no further than the Centennial State. When you’re not studying, you’ll be able to rejuvenate yourself with hiking, camping, fishing, skiing—any outdoor activity you want!
The educational environment is generally more relaxed in Colorado, especially at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Attendings are often asked to be called by their first name, and you rarely have to wear a white coat. This can positively contribute to your wellbeing and stress levels.
While you’ll spend most of your time dealing with the bread and butter pathologies, you’ll also come across many rare pathologies. Strange patient cases from across the state, as well as Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and New Mexico, all get funneled to CU hospitals.
At CUSOM, you’ll also get into the hospital a year earlier than other schools and get to experience a wide range of specialty options, which is great for anyone who is uncertain of the type of specialty they want to pursue. There’s a wide range of rotation sites, so you’ll get an excellent depth and breadth of clinical experience.
If you’re interested in osteopathic medicine, however, keep in mind that you’ll be spending most of your time in a small town, which isn’t for everyone.
Lastly, above all, do plenty of research into every school you want to apply to. Do you align with the goals, values, and teaching styles? Plus, research what it’s like to live in the city where the schools are located.
It’s essential to find a location you feel comfortable in, as you’ll be spending at least four years of your life there. And with interviews being virtual, you may need to make time to visit the state and school campus yourself.
What Adcoms Are Looking for
Adcoms are looking for diverse, well-rounded students who will enhance and expand the student population at their school. They aren’t looking for candidates who are simply checking off boxes.
Med School Insiders can help you craft a stand out application that will get you noticed by Colorado medical schools, as well as any schools at the top of your list. We have a range of services to suit your specific needs, from one-on-one guidance to application editing to mock interviews.
Our services are tailored to meet the needs of each student because we understand that every applicant is unique. Learn more about our comprehensive medical school application packages.
Thank you to Madison Kim, University of Colorado School of Medicine MD Candidate, for being our Insider contributor for this guide.