A Guide to TMDSAS | MedSchoolCoach

TMDSAS: A Guide to the Texas Medical School Application Process

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While many U.S. medical schools use the AMCAS or AACOMAS application process, Texas requires applicants to use a different application system: the TMDSAS. This guide will prepare you for the TMDSAS application process to enter med school in the state of Texas.

What is the TMDSAS?

TMDSAS stands for Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service.  This medical school application process is unique to programs in the state of Texas. Texas schools often have s different requirements, deadlines, and objectives than other US-based medical schools, and so the TMDSAS is a unique application process. 

If you want to attend a medical, dental, or veterinary education program in Texas, the institution will likely require you to apply via  the TMDSAS.

Why does Texas need its own medical school application process?

Texas uses the TMDSAS system to benefit both applicants and institutions. The TMDSAS Match program ensures the right students enroll at the right school.

If you’re not a resident of the Lone Star State, it may be difficult for you to be accepted into a Texas medical program — although not impossible. Texas legislature sets a 10% cap on non-resident med school students. This is meant to address Texans’ health needs by giving preference to resident applicants. Texas’ independent TMDSAS system is designed to enable that goal and care for local communities.

TMDSAS Medical Schools

  • Baylor College of Medicine (BCM)
  • College of Medicine at University of Houston
  • Dell Medical School at UT Austin 
  • Long School of Medicine (LSOM) at UT Health San Antonio
  • McGovern Medical School at UT Health Houston
  • Sam Houston State University (SHSU) College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Texas A&M University School of Medicine
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in Lubbock 
  • The University of North Texas Health Science Center – Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNTHSC/TCOM)
  • The University of Texas at Tyler School of Medicine (TSOM)
  • The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston
  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) School of Medicine
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School (UTSW)

You can view an up-to-date list of medical, dental, podiatry, and veterinary schools that use TMDSAS on the program’s website. Our Med School Explorer tool can help you learn more about these institutions and find your best fit. 

Medical Schools That Don’t Use the TMDSAS

Some private institutions in Texas don’t require the TMDSAS, including:

  • Burnett School of Medicine at Texas Christian University (TCU) uses AMCAS
  • University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine (UIWSOM) uses AACOMAS

TMDSAS Components

Some TMDSAS elements are similar to the AMCAS or AACOMAS applications. Here are the main features you’ll need to satisfy. Don’t forget that some schools may require you to submit secondary applications directly to the institutes in addition to your primary application through TMDSAS.

1. GPA and MCAT Scores

As with any medical school application process, your GPA and MCAT scores matter. For the TMDSAS and Texas schools, a good premed GPA is typically 3.75 or above; a good MCAT score is 511 or above. The higher these scores, the more likely you’ll be accepted — which is why you need to ace the MCAT.

Need some help? Take our free MCAT practice exam!

Download our MCAT prep app for sample questions and insightful videos to ace the exam!

Many Texas medical schools will also require you to take the CASPer, so make sure your schools of choice receive your results.

2. Letters of Recommendation

The TMDSAS requires 3 letters of evaluation and lets you optionally submit a 4th. Each of the individual letters should be from a highly respected, reputable professional who knows you well and provides glowing praise. Don’t submit any lukewarm or run-of-the-mill writeups!

3. Personal Statement

Medical schools want to know about you as an individual, including your personal characteristics and motivations. You’ll provide this personal perspective in a testimony that’s 5,000 characters or fewer in length. Some of the thoughts you can share include:

  • Why you’re entering the medical field 
  • What your professional plans are as a physician
  • How you’re different from other applicants
  • What drives you to succeed

Example Personal Statement: 

“When I was a child, I adored the color of my little blue-and-white pills, but I hated EEGs for the sticky material they left in my hair. Though I was taking medicines and getting tests, I did not understand why. Instead, I felt that something was “wrong” with me – a feeling that was validated each time teachers scolded me for staring blankly into space. I was told that I had absence seizures, but those words went right over my head. For patients like myself, a diagnosis is not simply a medical term – it has physical, mental, and social implications that I wish had been explained to me then. As a physician, I want to empower patients with a full understanding of their conditions beyond just a label and tackle systemic barriers to treat them holistically.

I witnessed the physical impacts of a diagnosis as a teenager, when my grandfather, or Papa as I knew him fondly, developed Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). Living with Papa as he suffered from this terminal neurodegenerative disease, I questioned how someone with such a passion for food and travel was now reliant on a G-tube for meals and a wheelchair for mobility. Seeking answers, I turned to science. I avidly read about the tau protein and its relation to PSP to try and make sense of this disease. Papa passed on, but my fascination with the human brain and its complexity continued to grow. As a freshman at UCLA, I seized the opportunity to study the role of astrocytes in Huntington’s disease by tracing glial cells in digital images of mouse brains. Soon my curiosity expanded beyond just the brain to the intricate workings of the entire human body, and I decided to major in Physiology. It was during my first anatomy lab that I dissected a complete left arm. I got chills as I gently tugged at a tendon and watched the lifeless finger in front of me suddenly flex with ease. I knew I wanted a career where I could feel this same awe every day, and I found that in medicine.

While my interest in medicine was sparked by my passion for science, I was drawn to the humanistic aspects of the field. I began clinical research with Dr. Sapru at UCLA, where I evaluated the long-term psychological well-being of parents who had lost a child in the PICU. It was difficult for me to hear the pain felt by these parents with the knowledge that I could never reverse their loss, but I knew that an open, attentive ear could help ease their suffering. I will never forget the hours I spent reassuring a weeping father feeling guilt over his daughter’s death, or listening to the vivid memories of a mother who still “saw” her little boy around her. Moreover, I will always remember the gratitude they expressed for the simple opportunity to share their stories. These experiences demonstrated my capacity to handle the intense emotions that so often accompany challenges in medicine. I know that I will balance compassion with composure in difficult situations to provide my patients with proficient clinical care. 

In speaking with bereaved parents on such a sensitive subject, I understood the critical role of clear communication in care. I had first seen its importance when confronting language barriers abroad. At the age of 17, I set out as the sole Spanish interpreter on a medical mission trip to Honduras. When a cardiac murmur was detected in an infant, his mother could sense the tension in the room but could not understand what was wrong with her child. When told by the physician that her child needed hospitalization, she was hesitant. I stepped up to reassure her that her child was in safe hands and talked her through the diagnosis and plan of care in her native language. It was only after she had this more comprehensive understanding that she allowed us to start treating the baby. I wondered how often lack of access to an interpreter might have compromised patient care and felt fortunate to have been able to directly help this young mother and ensure the safety of her child. I will use my multilingual proficiency to deliver consistent and personalized care across diverse patient populations.

My Masters degree in Global Health Sciences at UCSF allowed me to further explore barriers to equitable care around the world and the cultural values that shape them. Having grown up with Indian parents in the US, I was personally aware of the varying definitions of gender roles across cultures. My capstone study further examined the effect of these gender differences in ophthalmologic care-seeking in South India. My research demonstrated the ways in which gender, as well as residence, age, occupation and socioeconomic status, exacerbates health inequities. Drawing from my cultural background and capstone research, I will address these social determinants of health at the individual level for each of my patients.

Looking back at the little girl who felt something was “wrong” with her, I realize that my understanding of healthcare has come a long way. From using shared language as I reassured fearful mothers, to researching the determinants of holistic care, I have developed a well-rounded understanding of medicine. Rooted in these values, I will be a physician who empowers patients with empathy and works to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable care.”

This personal essay example was written by a student accepted to Florida Atlantic University COM, Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, Western University of Health Sciences, and California Health Sciences University COM

4. Mini Essays

The TMDSAS application provides additional essay opportunities and activities sections. Use these to emphasize your extracurricular achievements beyond standard coursework. 

Activities: Discuss relevant medical, healthcare, leadership, or service-oriented endeavors you’ve performed since high school graduation, such as community service. (300 characters each)

Example: During the summer following my second year of college, I led a missions trip with my local church youth group. We went to Haiti and helped provide medical care to several towns. I was responsible for overseeing the first aid provided by the teenagers. 

Meaningful experiences: Describe your most profound personal moments and why they were impactful. (500 characters each)

Example: My most profound personal moment occurred while I was working in a soup kitchen. I watched a 12 year old boy who was clearly hungry stop eating to help an elderly homeless person sit down to eat. It was so selfless. It reminded me that we all have our own personal battles to overcome and yet it is in helping others that we come to understand the meaning of life.

Upcoming activities: List any planned activities you’re involved in between now and the application review deadline. (300 characters each)

Example: I am finishing a research opportunity at my university’s medical hospital, as well as working as a nurse aide at a long term care facility. 

Topical essays: Provide clarifications on your military experience, criminal record, or status as a non-traditional candidate. (character length varies)

Example: I have not been part of the military and I do not have a criminal record. I am also not a non-traditional candidate.

Personal characteristics: Identify which of your traits give you an advantage in the medical education arena. (2,500 characters)

Example: I’ve always been an overachiever. The desire to do all things, and do them well, comes with a lot of pressure. Pressure that I put on myself to be a success. Over time, I’ve come to accept that this drive to do more and to do it better contributes to a moderate level of constant anxiety. Facing my mental health diagnosis head on — not ignoring it or denying it — has allowed me to develop intense compassion for others who struggle with mental health difficulties. My advantage is that my anxiety drives me to do more for others, and has led me to discover my calling — Psychiatry. 

Optional essay: Provide additional insight into you as a person beyond what your personal statement touched on. This is a good place to show diversity as an applicant. (2,500 characters).  

Example: I am a first-generation college student. My dad is a truck driver, and my mom is a server at a restaurant. They’ve encouraged me to pursue my dreams and to view education as a way out of near poverty. We never had a lot of extras growing up; I started working at the age of 14 to begin providing for myself. This experience instilled an intense work ethic in me and will carry me through when the demands of being a doctor are upon me. 

TMDSAS Application Timeline

What is the TMDSAS deadline? The exact dates shift every year, but the submission deadline for Texas medical school applications is in the last week of October or first week of November. All applications must be fully answered and submitted by then, as TMDSAS does not grant any extensions. Early Decision Program (EDP) applications are due earlier — by September 15th.

The TMDSAS timeline is:

  • May 1: Applications open
  • August 1: Early Decision Program (EDP) application deadline
  • September 15: EDP letters, transcripts, and test scores due
  • October 15: Medical schools begin extending offers of acceptance
  • October 30: Medical and dental application deadline
  • November 15: Letters of evaluation deadline
  • December 15: Dental schools begin extending offers of acceptance
  • February 19: Ranking of School Preference submission deadline
  • March 5: Match results announced and rolling admissions period begins
  • April 30: Applicants with multiple offers must decide which program to attend and withdraw from all other schools

TMDSAS Match Process

The Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service uses a matching process that all applicants should know about. 

What is the TMDSAS Match process? The TMDSAS Match process gives certain applicants Pre-Match offers, which serve as a non-binding offer of acceptance. Applicants can accept to reserve their spot at that school; in return, TMDSAS will withdraw their application at any other schools the applicant was less interested in. 

This system helps facilitate the distribution, acceptance, and withdrawal of applications among med schools during the cycle. TMDSAS has annual deadlines for the Pre-Match offer period, Match preference deadline, and Match results announcement.

Once you accept a Pre-Match offer, you should begin preparing for the medical school interview.

Common Mistakes Applicants Make

The TMDSAS application process is not complicated, but there are ways you can inadvertently ruin your submission. The most common errors include:

  • Not giving yourself enough time to apply. TMDSAS recommends that you start filling out your application and gathering documentation well before the year you plan to matriculate. Don’t wait until the day before the application deadline. 
  • Not preparing before your application. Before you even begin your application, you need to gather important documentation to have on hand. These include a high school transcript, SAT/ACT score, a resume, college transcripts, and more.
  • Not thoroughly triple-checking your application. You can only submit one application through TMDSAS per cycle, which will cover all the schools you select. If you mess up, you’ll have to wait until the next cycle to re-apply — and will show schools that you didn’t follow directions.
  • Not providing correct information. Whether through mistyped or falsified means, incorrect data can wreck your application. It will be flagged when sent to schools, which could ruin your long-term chance of acceptance.
  • Not seeking advice from expert application advisors. Professional coaching services from a company like MedSchoolCoach can help you avoid mistakes and produce your best application. Why not get guidance from people familiar with TMDSAS?

TMDSAS FAQs

How much does TMDSAS cost?

The current TMDSAS application fee is $200 as of the 2023 application cycle, regardless of how many schools you apply to. This cost is non-refundable and not waivable for any reason.

Do I have to live in TX to apply to med school there?

No, you do not have to be a resident of Texas to apply to a Texas-based medical program. However, your chances of acceptance are much lower. The state government limits non-resident students at Texas medical schools to 10% of the student body.

With fewer slots available to non-Texas residents anyone from out-of-state will need to work harder to impress admissions committees.

How long do I have to live in TX to be considered a resident?

You have to live in TX for the 12 consecutive months prior to the application deadline. You should also be prepared to maintain a home in Texas for the 12 consecutive months after applying to med school.

Is TMDSAS the same as AMCAS?

No, the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service is a different system of medical school application than the American Medical College Application Service. Most AAMC schools outside of Texas use the AMCAS application system as their main method. These systems have similarities but differ in their requirements, format, and deadlines. Learn more about the AMCAS here.

How do I get an application fee waiver for TMDSAS?

According to tmdsas.com, the organization does not grant any application fee waivers. You will need to pay the $200 application fee regardless of your personal or financial circumstances.

Does the TMDSAS application have a disadvantaged essay?

The TMDSAS does not allocate a specific part of the application to identifying the applicant’s disadvantages or disabilities. However, the optional essay, personal characteristics section, and personal statement are all valid places to mention your unique situation.

Picture of Renee Marinelli, MD

Renee Marinelli, MD

Dr. Marinelli has practiced family medicine, served on the University of California Admissions Committee, and has helped hundreds of students get into medical school. She spearheads a team of physician advisors who guide MedSchoolCoach students.

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