Whether you are planning to apply to DO vs MD degrees in Texas, you will need to submit your applications using TMDSAS, the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service. This unique medical school application process is meant to secure and meet the educational and medical needs of Texans, first and foremost. Medical schools in Texas are not easily accessible to out-of-state and international students, even though some of them are the easiest medical schools to get into. In this blog, you will learn absolutely everything you need to know about TMDSAS, including its application components and timeline, how to fill out your employment and activities history, how to write stellar TMDAS essays, and how to proceed with your TMDSAS secondaries!

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What is TMDSAS?

The TMDSAS application is somewhat similar to AMCAS. There are components highly reminiscent of AMCAS Work and Activities and AMCAS most meaningful experiences, as well as AMCAS personal statement. However, TMDSAS is distinct in many ways and has its own set of deadlines, components, and expectations for applicants. Many, but not all, medical, dental, and veterinary schools in Texas utilize TMDSAS, and it is up to the student to know which institutions do and do not use this unique application system. Note that this is a summary of the key aspects of the TMDSAS application process for med school applicants. Students should still review the full application handbook for specific dates for each cycle, and other key information about this multifaceted application service.

Important note: Anybody wishing to apply to med school through TMDSAS should know that according to the latest medical school acceptance rates and DO school rankings, Texas medical schools give unprecedented preference to in-state applicants. And while there is a small number of out-of-state matriculants, the goal of prioritizing the local population and their educational needs is the reason why Texas has devised its own independent medical school application system. 

TMDSAS Participating Medical Schools

  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
  • McGovern Medical School
  • Long School of Medicine, UT Health San Antonio
  • Texas A&M University College of Medicine
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in Lubbock
  • University of North Texas – Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Texas Tech University Heath Sciences Center El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine
  • The University of Texas at Austin, Dell Medical School
  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine
  • Sam Houston State University College of Medicine 
  • University of Houston College of Medicine 

If you want to apply to any of these schools, you must apply through TMDSAS. 

Here's a quick recap of the most important elements of the TMDSAS application process:

TMDSAS Timeline & Application Components

Aside from standard personal information, demographic information, education history, information about financial status, and the like, the TMDSAS requests all information on your educational history, employment, professional affiliations, and extracurriculars for medical school. In addition, letters of evaluation (sometimes referred to as letters of recommendation), and information about any standardized tests may be required for your chosen discipline. Please refer to the following medical school application timelines to coordinate your TMDSAS application:

Transcripts and Education Information

Transcripts can be arranged by the applicant, so long as they arrive in an official, sealed envelope from the school’s Registrar and are less than 1 year old. TMDSAS also has a Transcript Request Form, where you can submit an official request for transcripts to your educational institution(s) through the application system. You need to submit transcripts from all colleges/universities you've attended in the U.S., U.S. Territories, and Canada. Note that the TMDSAS website recommends applicants use this Transcript Request Form to expedite processing of your transcripts, and to ensure there are no errors that could delay your application.

Along with transcripts, TMDSAS also requests you include information on all institutions attended, coursework, marks as indicated in your transcript, and credit hours, as part of the application process. This also includes a space to enter planned enrollment and coursework yet to be taken, as well as for information on any disciplinary action, violation of conduct, or similar institutional punitive action that may be present in your permanent/academic record.

Did you know that 29% of all TMDSAS medical school matriculants had a GPA between 3.9 and 4?

TMDSAS Employment and Activities

Entering Employment and Activities

In filling out your activities and descriptions of those activities, there are different regulations depending on the program to which you are applying – Medical, Dental, or Veterinary. Much of the application process up to this point is universal across programs, so you must be very careful to ensure you’re following the instructions specific to your desired program as you move forward. We’ll highlight those aspects specific to medical school applicants, to help you focus your efforts as you put together your application. 

There are multiple categories for your employment experiences and activities. Medical school applicants would focus on the following: Academic Recognition, Non-Academic Recognition, Leadership, Employment, Research, Healthcare (human healthcare related activities only), Community Service, Extracurricular and Leisure/Hobbies, and Planned Activities (i.e., activities to be done after applying but before beginning the program to which you are applying). Many students struggle to determine which hobbies and leisure activities to include in their application. If you need help with this section, check out our AMCAS hobbies examples to get some ideas. While entering your Employment and Activities items, you should include all relevant activities from the time of your high school graduation to the present, minus any gaps longer than 3 months.

Please select one category that best describes each of your experiences. Healthcare and employment activities may be listed in both categories if the experience was a paid position. Otherwise, do not list the same experience in multiple categories. It is difficult to decide under which category to list your activities, however, you will have to choose the section that you feel best represents your experience. 

Each activity must be categorized, and must include the full details of the activity, including your role or title, relevant start and end dates, location information, hours (if applicable), and a brief description of the entry (300 characters, including spaces). You must ensure you have full and accurate information for each and every entry. Ideally, you will keep a record of all such information as you complete each activity, or you will begin compiling such a list as soon as possible. It is advisable to begin such a list in your first year of university, if you are planning to apply to med school in the future. Having a clear and thorough record, including dates, hours, contact information for supervisors or verifiers, and the like, can save a lot of headaches later.

300 characters for each entry is precious little space - just 2-3 sentences. So, you'll really want to craft a clear and specific role or title for yourself that highlights your key function, in that section of the entry. That is to say, you won't just want to refer to yourself as a "Lead Volunteer", but rather, "Lead Hospice Volunteer, Patient Companion and Team Manager"; not simply a "Flautist", but rather, "Flautist, First-Chair, Wind Ensemble"; and so on. Then, use precise action verbs and concise language to summarize the most impactful and pertinent aspects of your experience. For example, the entry, "Lead Hospice Volunteer, Patient Companion and Team Manager", you could say something like, "Provided emotional support and companionship to palliative care patients; managed scheduling for team of 8 part-time volunteers; prioritized patient well-being by providing comfort and conversation, facilitating family visits, and communicating with staff regarding patient needs." (280 characters, including spaces) The order in which you presented such information would be dictated by what you want to emphasize as the most meaningful aspect of the experience.

Chronology of Activities

In composing each entry, it's worth noting that the application system will automatically generate a "Chronology of Activities" as you enter this information. This is a summary document that is included with the information sent to schools. I mention this because only the first 50 characters (including spaces) of your activity description carry over to this auto-generated document. So, it's important to think strategically about how you structure the information you provide, ensuring you highlight key aspects of your activity description in the first 50 characters. Schools will be able to access the full description of each activity in your application, but this summary acts as an eye-catching cover sheet of sorts, so you want to entice them as a way of encouraging a detailed review of your activities. You also want to think strategically about which information you give priority in each entry, so that this overview gives a well-rounded impression of your list of activities, employment, and other experiences. 

In the above example, "Lead Hospice Volunteer, Patient Companion and Team Manager", the first 50 characters of the experience description I've provided would be: "Provided emotional support and companionship to p..." That means that I'm emphasizing the more humanistic and patient-centered aspect of the experience. If, on the other hand, I wanted to use this experience to emphasize my managerial skills, ability to lead, and attention to detail, I might begin with, "Managed scheduling for team of 8 part-time volunte..." (50 characters, including spaces).


Check out stellar TMDSAS personal statement examples in our video:

Personal Statement (5000 characters, including spaces)

Prompt: The personal essay asks you to explain your motivation to seek a career in medicine. You are asked to include the value of your experiences that prepare you to be a physician.

Your personal statement is the most challenging component of your medical school application and therefore it must be your best. Excellent personal essays explain who you are and why do you want to be a doctor, outline your values and motivations, and demonstrate what makes you the perfect candidate for medical school. Remember, it is crucial to show, rather than tell, what experiences prepared you for medical training and practice. Before you sit down to write your personal statement you might want to read some TMDSAS personal statement examples to get an idea of what’s expected. You can also read medical school personal statement examples and AACOMAS personal statement examples to see the quality of thought and writing that’s required of any medical school applicant.

Your personal essay should be a coherent story of how and why you are motivated to pursue medicine. Much like an academic essay, your personal statement will be composed of an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Your introduction can easily make or break your essay. The first paragraph of your statement must have a gripping first sentence that captures the reader’s attention. The rest of your introductory paragraph, albeit short, must act as a road map to the reader and help them understand the purpose of your statement. If you’re having trouble starting your statement, you can try writing the introduction last, since you will already have a complete narrative. At the end of your introductory paragraph, you must include a good transition sentence that allows the reader to understand that the introduction is over and hint at what will be discussed in subsequent paragraphs. Transition sentences and phrases are important tools in creating a natural transition from one experience to the next.

That being said, the body of your personal statement should be structured around 1 to 3 experiences that demonstrate how you came to the very important decision of becoming a physician. You should be selective in the type of experiences you choose to include. Remember, you have a limited amount of space to impress the reader with your story, so focus on the quality of your experiences. They must demonstrate your motivation and dedication to the medical profession. Use concrete examples to showcase the most relevant qualities and meaningful experiences. Make sure your personal statement is consistent with the rest of your application components. For example, avoid writing that you want to practice in underserved or rural areas if you cannot support this aspiration with activities or extracurriculars you listed in the activities section. Your desire may be genuine, but you must show, rather than simply tell, that you understand what issues and challenges medical professionals in these areas face. If you write that you care about patient interaction, your employment and activities history must show that you have solid patient-oriented experiences. Using concrete examples to support your personal qualities and skills will show the reader the depth of your self-awareness. Showcase your abilities and limitations in the professional field and do not compensate by including baseless assertions about your candidacy.

Your conclusion should not be a dry summary of the essay. You can re-emphasize the most important points of the essay, but the conclusion should also include something new and insightful to leave a lasting impression. Perhaps you can address the relationship between medicine and the human condition or reflect on your journey and purpose to become a medical professional.

Some general tips:

1. Revise your essay carefully. Let 2 to 3 qualified people read and comment on your statement, i.e. your former teacher, professor, or a TA. Make sure your statement has good structure, flow, and no grammatical errors. It's important that you don't have too many people review your personal statement as too many differing ideas and thoughts can result in your statement becoming disjointed and confusing. It's always a good idea to have your statement reviewed by a professional who can objectively review your statement and give you personalized feedback.

2. Avoid using the passive voice in your statement. Instead of writing “I was taught by my parents to…”, write “My parents taught me to…”

3. Make sure to avoid clichés and unsubstantiated statements.

4. Be concise and avoid any “fillers”. You do not need to fill the entire character count, so choose quality over quantity.

5. Be genuine about your journey, but don’t turn your personal statement into an autobiography.

Personal Characteristics Essay (2500 characters, including spaces)

Prompt: Learning from others is enhanced in educational settings that include individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Please describe your personal characteristics (background, talents, skills, etc.) or experiences that would add to the educational experience of others.

This prompt for your TMDSAS personal characteristics essay is meant to investigate whether you would be a valuable addition to your medical school cohort. This is your opportunity to describe some personal attributes that would enrich the educational experience of your med school classmates. This can include personal background and family history, talents, and skills, as well as experiences that shaped you into the person you are today. This essay is meant to specifically address diverse backgrounds, abilities, and experiences, so you can think of it as a diversity essay for medical school prompt. For this type of essay, you could discuss your sex, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation and their impact on your life and decision to become a physician. You can write about your family’s socio-economic struggles or successes and how they shaped your work ethic and determination to be a medical professional. Reflect on your unique experiences like military service or immigration, as these are cataclysmic events that alter the course of people’s lives. Additionally, you can discuss challenges of bilingualism, integration (whether post-military or cultural), alienation, and other aspects of your background. Perhaps you will want to address your disadvantaged status and how it affects your career- and life-choices, including your choice to become a doctor. 

The TMDSAS personal characteristics essay is your chance to reflect on your journey and circumstances that make you a unique candidate for medical school specifically. Do not simply tell your story without linking it back to your decision to become a doctor. It provides an additional perspective of your candidacy to the medical school adcoms. Your essay should demonstrate what others can learn from you and what personal experiences can broaden your classmates’ horizons. Not everyone in your class will have experience living in a different country or serving in the army, not everyone will know what subsidized housing or a free meal program is, few get to represent their country in international sports events, and not everyone has to work through their undergraduate degree to support their family. Reflect on your life and consider what circumstances could be composed into a great narrative. Remember, each one of your essays for TMDSAS must be excellently written with no grammatical mistakes. Revise and rewrite your essay as many times as necessary. You only have 2500 characters to make a memorable statement about your journey to medical school. Make sure to keep in mind the essay’s prompt and consider your experiences from another person’s perspective: would your personal journey add to the educational experiences of other medical students?

Do you need more help writing your TMDSAS Personal Characteristics Essay? Check out this video:

Optional Essay (2500 characters, including spaces)

Prompt: Briefly discuss any unique circumstances or life experiences that are relevant to your application which have not previously been presented.

The TMDSAS Optional Essay is available to all applicants but is not considered to be a requirement of the TMDSAS application. You do not need to fill in the entire character count, what's most important is that your essay is well structured, in-depth and tells whatever story you wish to tell eloquently. Be sure to focus on quality over quantity, so do not feel that you have to use all the character space.

Traditionally, the optional essay was not offered to veterinary applicants, but now this type of essay is available to students applying to any of the three programs participating in TMDSAS (medicine, dentistry, and veterinary). It is important to know that the optional essay is not truly optional. Your choice to dismiss this portion of the application may be used against you in the weeding out process. The optional essay is your chance to provide the admissions committee with a deeper understanding of who you are as an applicant and who you are as a person. Many students do not know how to approach this essay, as the prompt is very open-ended and lacks a specific question which the applicants must answer. The beauty and difficulty of the optional essay is that the topic can be anything. This is your time to be creative and impress your admissions committee.

Your optional essay cannot be just a continuation of your personal statement or other application essays. Do not reiterate what you have written previously. This is a chance for you to address any topics or themes that have not been previously covered. Your personal statement and personal characteristics essay have already covered a large portion of your journey to becoming a doctor. You might be wondering what kind of skills and experiences you can bring up in your optional essay. Let’s examine what kind of content your optional essay could include.

Check out how to write your TMDSAS Optional Essay:

Address Problems Within your Application

Many students choose to address any problem areas of their application in this essay. A well-written optional essay can explain and compensate for the shortcomings of your candidacy. For example, if you have none or little extracurricular activities, perhaps you could describe the circumstances that prevented you from participating in extracurriculars. Maybe your financial situation forced you to spend the majority of your time working in a job that did not have anything to do with medicine, so you could not commit enough time to extracurriculars. Are there gaps in your educational journey? Explain the reasons for these interruptions. Maybe you had to take academic leave because of family circumstances? Did you switch programs or institutions during your undergrad? Provide your motivations for this decision. It is important to understand that if you choose to address weaknesses or gaps in your application, it's important to take responsibility for your choices and actions and don't play the victim. Your circumstances may have been out of your control and difficult, but do not just describe what happened. Rather, focus on demonstrating how you overcame those circumstances by making the choices you made - show your strength and maturity to the admissions committee by sharing what strategies helped you overcome any challenges. This can help you frame this type of essay in a positive light.

Personal Stories

A good writer can author a compelling and convincing essay based on any circumstances and life experiences that do not seem to be necessarily related to medicine but that indicate a unique personality and creative mind. The reason your optional essay’s prompt is so vague is the admission committee's desire to see how creative and inventive applicants can be. Even though it is an open prompt, don’t forget that your essay should be well-written, succinct, and have a purpose.

For example, if you are involved in the arts, the optional essay could be the space to discuss your artistic endeavors and experiences. What have they taught you? How has singing, painting, or playing an instrument impacted your journey to medical school? Sports and athletics can be another source of inspiration. How has your involvement in sports affected your motivation to become a physician? Activities like the arts and sports are also good ways to show, rather than tell, your personality traits and skills, such as dedication, perseverance, reliability, time management, and leadership.

Family Circumstances

Your family members, their lives and experiences are strong sources of influence on how your life is shaped. You may have had the chance to incorporate certain family circumstances into your medical school application, i.e. your socio-economic status, your parents’ education and profession, your background, and other personal factors. Your optional essay can also touch upon this area of your life experience. For example, if a family member such as your sibling or parent has struggled with an illness or disease that impacted you, this could be a source of inspiration for your optional essay. This does not mean that you are to exploit their situation. The essay should not be about describing their condition, but about what you learned from the experience, how it changed your perspective, and how it's made you a better, more resilient person moving forward. Perhaps their struggle is something that forced you to encounter the medical field, even though the circumstances were less than ideal.

Diversity & Cultural Competence

You can discuss how you are a diverse applicant, either because of your background or experiences. Your diversity can come from many facets: gender, age, educational background, race or ethnicity, immigration status, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, or your work with different populations. Medical schools value students who bring unique experiences into their student body, so you can share what you learned based on your experiences. Perhaps you have traveled a lot and learned and connected with other cultures. Perhaps you are an immigrant and your journey has shaped you into the person you are today who is pursuing medicine. Maybe you have unique experiences working with rural or remote communities and have learned about the challenges they face. Reflect on your life experiences and think if what you have done could contribute to the diversity of thought and experiences a medical school may be looking for. To learn how to write about diversity, challenges, and experiences that shaped your life, check out some examples of adversity essays for medical school.

Unique Achievements

A select number of students may have achieved success in a particular field at a very high level. For example, were you a national-level athlete or performed on stage to a large audience? These are very unique activities that you may not have thought to include on the rest of your application, but achievements at this level are rare and can be mentioned here. Don’t just mention being selected; ensure you talk about all of the training and preparation you did over the years and how that influenced your personality and abilities. You can even talk about how you will translate those skills to the practice of medicine.

Remember, these are just ideas of what you would include in your optional essay – it’s for you to decide how to present yourself as a unique applicant. Your optional essay is meant to exercise your creativity and make a memorable statement about your candidacy.  

Let's recap what you can cover in your TMDSAS Optional Essay:

Dual Degree Essays (5000 characters, including spaces)

Essay Prompt for MD-PhD and DO-PhD: 1. Explain your motivation to seek an MD/PhD or DO/PhD dual degree. Discuss your research interests and career goals as an applicant to a dual degree program. 2. Describe your significant research experiences. Include the name and title of your research mentor as well as your contributions to the project. List any publications that have resulted from your work.

Essay prompt for DDS-PhD: 1. Explain your motivation to seek a DDS/PhD dual degree. 2. Describe your significant research experiences, research interests, and career goals as appropriate for an applicant to the DDS/PhD dual degree program.

If you are applying to DDS-PhD, DO-PhD or MD-PhD programs, you will need to submit an essay detailing your motivation to pursue the combined degree. The content of your essay will outline your research experience, interests, and career goals in relation to your desired program. If you’re applying to DDS-PhD, your essay should speak to your abilities, experiences, and suitability to pursue dental research. You can check out some dental school personal statement examples to see how your statement should outline your journey to dental school. Your DDS-PhD essay, on the other hand, should demonstrate how your research experiences and patient interactions have led you to apply to the DDS-PhD program. If you’re applying to the DO-PhD or MD-PhD programs, your essay should answer the question of why you wouldn’t be satisfied with a career that doesn’t involve both medical research and clinical practice. Your essay must explain why you didn’t choose to pursue only an MD or only a PhD. Make sure you do not come off as indecisive and unable to choose between the two. You must show that you understand and appreciate the intricate relationship between medicine and science and that you are willing to dedicate the next 7 to 8 years of your life to medical research. While your personal statement typically focuses on why you want to be a doctor, your MD PhD essay should demonstrate your experiences and interests that combine scientific research and medical practice. MD-PhD programs are looking to prepare the future leaders of medical scientific innovation, so make sure to structure your essay around the quality research experiences you have had. Ideally, you will include 2 to 3 research experiences that can be connected to clinical practice. This does not mean that research experiences you include in the essay have to do with medicine, rather, reflect on what the research experiences taught you that can be used in your future career as a physician-scientist. Many research skills can be applied to a variety of disciplines and fields, so even if your research experience had nothing to do with medicine include it. Just make sure that the experiences you include are meaningful and valuable to your growth as a researcher interested in medicine.

Ideally, you will be able to relate your research experiences and interests to clinical practice. Remember, your essay cannot be focused on research only, because adcoms will wonder why you’re not pursuing a stand-alone PhD program. Application of research to clinical practice must be a part of your essay. Make sure to include your meaningful experiences working in a clinical setting with patients or a physician, even if they were short. If clinical experience is not your strong suit, try to envision how your research interests and experience can be applied to solving medical issues facing your community, your country, or the world. Remember, MD-PhD essays must demonstrate a balance between your research and clinical experiences even though the combined degree does focus on research. You cannot ignore the clinical aspect of the program so make sure to address your suitability for both components of the program in the essay. Remember to review the pros and cons of MD PhD vs MD. It is important to understand the differences and nuances of each program before you apply. 

Check out our tips for writing the best MD-PhD essays:

Determining Residency for Admission and Tuition Purposes

The state legislature of Texas limits the number of non-residents who can go to each medical school in Texas to 10%. So, at the time of your application, you will be categorized as either a “resident” or “non-resident” of Texas and placed into an applicant pool accordingly. Note that not all schools/programs that use TMDSAS will consider international applicants; some will only review and consider applicants who are U.S. citizens or legal Permanent Residents. As well, whether or not you are a resident of the state of Texas will impact your application's consideration and the medical school tuition you will pay, if accepted. State residency is determined by one of two processes: Residency through High School Graduation or Residency by Establishing Domicile. If you have not lived in Texas for long (or have not lived there at all, or have lived there previously, but not recently), you must carefully review the standards for establishing and proving residency. Residency determinations are made at the time of application, and if there is a change in your residency after applying, you are responsible for notifying all schools of such a change. This may result in reclassification of your application, based on each school’s individual regulations and discretion.

Non-residents can make up no more than 10% of matriculants in public health programs in Texas:

Supporting Documentation

Note that, if you are still collecting some supporting documents – specifically, standardized test scores, transcripts, and letters of evaluation/recommendation – you can still submit your application for processing to begin. TMDSAS will begin processing and forwarding your application to schools, and you can submit these documents at a later date, as they become available.


Applicants must upload a digital photo (max 100KB, in jpg, gif, png, or bmp format). It is recommended that you take a “headshot” style photo: forward facing, in professional attire, with good, clear lighting.

Test Scores and Dates

Letters of Evaluations

The type of acceptable medical school recommendation letters are determined by the program to which you are applying, as noted below. In general, however, such letters are written by evaluators (sometimes called “referees”) who know you well and who have the capacity to evaluate you academically and personally. Most evaluators will be professors who can speak to your specific competencies in the discipline, your academic achievements and strengths, your general collegiality, and so on. Each letter of evaluation should be completed on official letterhead, must include the contact information of the evaluator (phone number and/or email address), and the signature of the evaluator. If any of these criteria are not met, the letter will not be accepted as part of your application. 

Medical Applicants

Applicants to medical programs must have three individual letters of evaluation OR one Health Professions Committee Letter/Packet. As well, you have the option to submit one extra letter for the admissions committee to consider.

Health Professions Committee Packet

If your institution utilizes a Health Professions Committee Packet, your Health Professions Office can deliver your packet via a direct upload to your application, through an electronic portal like Interfolio, or by traditional mail. You can speak to the administrators in your institution’s Health Professions Office, as they will know how your specific institution processes these. Note that, if you are using the HP Committee Packet, you must answer “Yes” to the question, “Would you like to release your information to the health professions advisor at any school(s)?” and indicate the school that will be uploading the packet, in the “Colleges Attended Questions” section of the TMDSAS. As well, you must select the institution that will provide the packet, after completing the “Colleges Attended” section of the TMDSAS.

Individual Letters of Evaluation

If individual letters of evaluation are accepted and you plan to have these submitted, you will need to fill out a letter placeholder at this stage of the application. You will include the evaluators name, relationship to you (e.g., advisor, professor, supervisor, etc.), an indication of how the letter will be submitted (through the TMDSASA via Evaluator Portal, through Interfolio, or through regular mail), the evaluator’s email address, and an indication of whether you will waive your right to access and view the letters of evaluation submitted for you. Be aware that due to busy schedules and other commitments, some referees may ask you to draft your own recommendation letter that they will sign. Use this opportunity wisely and learn how to write your own letter of recommendation

Final Primary Application Components

At this point, you will be prompted to pay any necessary fees, certify your application, and submit!

But wait, there's more!

While you will have completed and submitted your application at this point, the fun isn’t over yet! You must continuously update your application with each term, sending updated transcripts at the end of each term you complete, reviewing prescribed course work to ensure you are staying on top of the required coursework for your field, and updating your coursework history to reflect newly completed or planned/in-progress courses, as you continue your education.

As well, you must continuously check your application, to ensure everything is received, processed, and updated appropriately (the initial processing can take several weeks), and – critically – to look for any secondary application invitations or materials to complete. Links to secondary applications are available on the TMDSAS website, and should be completed as soon as possible. However, these secondary documents and any additional fees are sent directly to the school, not to TMDSAS.

Check out this video for 3 unique aspects of the TDMSAS:

TMDSAS Schools that Require Secondary Applications and Submission Details

After submitting your primary TMDSAS, you must submit your medical school secondary essays to each school separately. The fees, supplementary documents, and any other components of the secondary application must be sent directly to the schools, not through TMDSAS. Any questions you have about a specific secondary must be directed to the respective school. Each medical school participating in TMDSAS will have its own procedure for secondary applications. It is important to remember that you are responsible for your secondaries. Some schools will send out emails to invite you to complete the secondary application, while others will give no notification. To submit your secondary application for some of these schools, you will be personally responsible to create your own login account. In this case, do not wait for email invites from schools to submit!

Check out examples of TMDSAS secondaries in our video:

The following list includes medical schools that require secondary applications after you send in the primary TMDSAS application.

Dell Medical school

Applicants will receive an email invitation to complete their secondary application after the initial review of their TMDSAS application. What's unique about Dell Medical School is that if selected, you'll receive an email invitation with details on how to prepare and submit your video answers through a free online portal. The secondary application consists of questions that address specific aspects of the school's mission. In a two-minute response to each question, you should address how your experiences will help you contribute to Dell’s medical program and the medical field in general. You may request to have a written secondary application if you feel that you represent yourselves better in writing. There is no fee for the video secondary application. If you chose the written version of the application, please confirm if there’s a fee.

McGovern Medical School

You will receive an email invitation from the school containing a link and instructions to complete secondary application after McGovern Medical School has received your complete application from TMDSAS. McGovern’s secondary application fee is $50.

Sam Houston State University, College of Osteopathic Medicine

You will receive an email invitation from the school to complete the secondary application after your completed primary application has been received from TMDSAS. There is a non-refundable fee of $75 for the secondary application. The secondary application and fee are required to be considered for admission.

University of Texas Southwestern Medical School

You may submit your secondary application after the school receives the primary application from TMDSAS. You will get an email prompting you to create an account to access the secondary application once your primary application is transmitted. There is no fee.

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine

You will receive an email invitation from the school to complete your secondary application after the initial review of the TMDSAS application. Once the secondary application is completed and returned, your application will be randomly assigned to an admissions committee member for review and consideration for interview. The secondary application fee is $45.

Texas A&M University College of Medicine

This medical school does not send email invitations to complete the secondary application. You must create your own account in the school’s Application Processing Portal to receive the secondary application. There is a non-refundable application fee of $60. The secondary application and fee are required to be considered for admission.

Texas Tech University HSC School of Medicine

After the school receives completed TMDSAS applications, they will send out email invites to eligible candidates. Secondary application prompts are generally broken down into two main sections: areas of interest and supplemental information. The application fee is $60.

The University of North Texas HSC -Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine

This school does not send out email invites to complete secondary applications. You must access secondary application through the admissions portal. Information that you provide in this application will be used in conjunction with your TMDSAS application during the review process. There is no fee for the secondary application.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine

You will receive an email invite from the school to complete their secondary application after the school receives your completed TMDSAS application. The secondary application fee is $60 and is non-refundable.

University of Houston College of Medicine

You will receive an email invitation to submit a secondary application via email. The email will contain a link to the submission portal along with instructions and additional information. There is no fee for the secondary application.

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB)

You will receive an email invitation from UTMB with instructions on how to complete the secondary application once the TMDSAS application has been processed. No applicant will be invited for an interview without the submission of a completed secondary application. The secondary application fee is $70.

Texas A&M University College of Dentistry

This school requires the submission of secondaries in addition to the primary application. The secondary application is available for electronic submission on the Texas A&M Health Science Center Application Processing Portal. You can register to log in when you visit the portal.

Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine

This school does not send out email invites to complete secondary applications. You must access secondary application through the admissions portal. Application fee is $75.

TMDSAS Schools that Do Not Require Secondary Applications

The following schools do not require students to submit secondary applications:

Long School of Medicine, UT Health San Antonio

Texas Tech University Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine

The University of Texas Health School of Dentistry Houston

The University of Texas Health San Antonio School of Dentistry

Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine

Secondary Essays

Secondary essays are more difficult to plan and execute, as you usually have a shorter period of time to prepare them. While you can take time to write your primary application essays, your secondary essays should be submitted within two weeks after you receive the invitation. Be aware that some schools give you a specific deadline to submit your secondaries, so be sure to follow their instructions. To get ready for your secondary application, read some medical school secondary essay examples. To see some outstanding examples of secondary essays, check out UCLA secondary essay prompts and examples and UCSD secondary essay prompts and sample essays.

A Final Note

As should be evident, the TMDSAS application process is long, trenchant, and nuanced. As such, you absolutely MUST start early! Not only is the application itself time-consuming, many schools begin interviewing in July and August of the year prior to anticipated admission, so early applications have a better chance of consideration. The application itself is also multifaceted, and if you’re applying to schools through both AMCAS and TMDSAS (or, possibly even AACOMAS), the components will not carry over or be identical for each application (even if only because of all the varying character limits, as well as the additional essay options for TMDSAS), so attention to detail is key. This is not something that can be done in a couple of days – or even a couple of weeks! – prior to the application deadline. Rather, a strong application can take months to craft.


1. Why do I need to use TMDSAS instead of AMCAS or AACOMAS to apply to medical schools in Texas?

The main reason most schools in Texas do not use AMCAS or AACOMAS is Texas State Legislature, which limits the number of out-of-state and international students that can attend public medical, dental, and veterinary schools in Texas. The TMDSAS controls the number of out-of-state and international students who apply and are admitted. Only up to 10% of non-Texan residents can be admitted to public schools’ programs. This is done to ensure that Texas residents’ medical education is prioritized.

2. Are there Texas medical schools that do not use the TMDSAS application?

Yes, there are. These include Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Christian University the University of North Texas Health Science Center (TCU UNTHSC), and the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine (UIWSOM). You can apply to them through AMCAS and AACOMAS respectively.

3. Is the TMDSAS application easier than AMCAS or AACOMAS?

No, it is not easier because all three application systems ask for similar components. Additionally, TMDSAS applications ask for two additional essays, the personal characteristics essay and optional essay, which is not really optional. You will still need to submit your work history and extracurriculars for medical school to TMDSAS, as well as your personal statement, medical school recommendation letters, and standardized test scores.

4. Is it more difficult to get into TMDSAS participating schools if I’m not a Texas resident?

Unfortunately, yes. It will be more difficult to get in if you’re an out-of-state applicant. Priority will be given to residents of Texas. Plus, out-of-province students pay higher tuition fees. You may qualify as a Texas resident if you graduated from a Texas high school or received a General Education Development (GED) there. Living in Texas continuously for 12 months right before you apply to med school can also make you eligible. Check with the program of your choice to see how you can qualify as a Texas resident. To prove your residency, you will need to provide supporting documents such as significant gainful employment documents, property ownership, ownership of a business entity, or a marriage certificate showing that you’re married to a Texas resident. You can check out our blog to find a list of out of state friendly medical schools.

5. What should my personal characteristics essay and optional essay include?

Your personal characteristics essay must demonstrate what personal skills and experiences will contribute to the learning experience of your medical school cohort. You can view it as a diversity essay prompt. Include the experiences that make you unique. Remember to always link your essays to your aspiration to become a healthcare professional.

Your optional essay is another chance to impress the admissions committees. The prompt is very open-ended, so it allows you to write about anything you want. This is your opportunity to cover a topic that you haven’t had the chance to discuss in other parts of the application. You can address your special talents and achievements, personal and family history, and discrepancies in other application components. Check out the optional essay section in this blog to learn more.

6. I am interested in the MD-PhD program. How much research experience should I have to be a competitive applicant?

What matters is the quality of your research experience, rather than quantity. You can be a great addition to the program even if you have one meaningful research experience. In your essay, you can detail your progress in and commitment to a research project. Include the highlights of the experience and significant lessons and skills you learned. Focus on your accomplishments and successes, but do not be afraid to talk about what you learned from mistakes and setbacks. 

7. How long can I take to write my TMDSAS secondary essays?

If the school does not send you any deadline specifications, ideally you will want to submit your medical school secondary essays within two weeks of receiving it. Do not rush and submit subpar essays; always focus on quality over speed. But remember, these schools have rolling admissions, so the earlier you submit your secondary essay the faster you may receive an invitation to an interview. Remember, you will not use TMDSAS to submit the secondary essays but send them directly to the school.

8. Will I have to take the CASPer test?

As I mention above, some Texas medical schools require their applicants to submit CASPer test scores. Check the list of medical schools that require CASPer. To take the test, you must go to the official CASPer website to sign up for the School of Medicine test (CSP-10111 – U.S. Medicine) and reserve a test using your TMDSAS ID and a piece of government-issued photo ID. Choose your testing date and time. 

9. What GPA and MCAT score will I need to have to be a competitive applicant for medical schools in Texas?

According to the latest data, 69% of Texas medical schools’ matriculants had a GPA over 3.51. 19% of all TMDSAS medical school matriculants had a GPA between 3.91 and 4. 25% of applicants with MCAT scores between 510 and 513 were admitted. Applicants with scores between 506 and 509 had the second best admissions rate of 23%.

10. How long does it take to process my TMDSAS primary application?

It normally takes 2-4 weeks for application to be processed. You will receive an email when your application has been processed and transmitted to the schools to which you applied. TMDSAS does not wait on transcripts, letters or test scores to process applications. It is your responsibility to ensure that TMDSAS has received all supporting documents by the deadline. If review of your application has found errors or inconsistencies, your application will be placed in the problem section?

11. What causes an application to be placed in the problem section?

An application may be placed in the problem section for a variety of reasons, which will delay the processing. You will be notified immediately via email. It is crucial that you are able to receive TMDSAS emails and that you answer promptly.

12. I forgot to include something in my TMDSAS applications! Can I go back and add it after I have submitted it?

Once you have submitted your application, you can only make edits or changes to the following sections: Contact Info, College Attended, College Coursework, Terms Attended, Planned Enrollment, My Account, and Test Scores.

13. The recommender I listed in my application is not longer able to write my reference, so I had to find new people to write my recommendation letters. What should I do?

You must update TMDSAS of this change immediately. Once you have secured a different writer, please notify TMDSAS of the new referee by sending a message through the internal message system in the application. Include the name of the recommender that needs to be removed and provide the following information for the recommender that should be added:

Salutation (i.e. Dr, Prof, Mr., Mrs., etc.)

First and last name of the Recommender

Suffix (i.e. MD, PhD, etc.)

Relationship to you (Academic Advisor, HP Advisor, Professor, Business Associate, Work/Volunteer Supervisor, Other)

Letter delivery method (upload directly to TMDSAS, Interfolio or regular mail)

Email address of evaluator if he/she will upload directly to TMDSAS

14. Will I have to go to a medical school interview if I apply through TMDSAS?

Yes, you will but they will not be set up through the TMDSAS application system. You will be notified by individual schools if they invite you to interview. Practice with common medical school interview questions and MMI questions to get ready.

15. Do graduates of Texas medical schools go through the same residency application process as everyone else?

Yes, if you want to apply to American residency programs you will use the ERAS application system just like all the other candidates applying to match to American residencies.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

About BeMo Academic Consulting (“BeMo”):

BeMo is the most sought-after academic consulting firms in the world famous for helping applicants with admissions to highly competitive programs and its staunch advocacy for fair admissions. BeMo is the leader in CASPer test prep, Multiple Mini Interview prep, traditional interview prep, panel interview prep, and application review for highly competitive graduate and professional programs.

With over  students around the world, BeMo has helped more students get into competitive programs than any other expert in the field. BeMo's high-end consulting programs are often at full capacity before peak seasons and it has grown exponentially because of its outstanding success rate of 93.5%. BeMo has the highest rating of any other Academic Consulting with a 4.8/5 score on Trustpilot. BeMo has published multiple books on admissions including the following Amazon Best Sellers:

Ultimate guide to medical school admissions

Ultimate guide to multiple mini interview

Ultimate guide to CASPer test prep

BeMo’s founder and CEO, Dr. Behrouz Moemeni, is an internationally renowned admissions expert. His motivation-based admissions screening strategy has appeared in Diverse Issues in Higher Education, University World News, and Nature Jobs. He regularly presents thought-provoking presentations to an international audience including appearances at TEDx and Beyond Sciences Initiative. He is also the author of the book 14 Rules for Admissions Screening in Higher Ed: An Antidote to Bias. He is compelled by a vision to change the education system. He believes everyone deserves access to higher education. Specifically, he is determined to create and provide admissions and educational training programs that reduce the barriers to access in higher education.

Image credit: Ted Eytan, via the Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode 

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Ken Chong

Hello, I am interested in the Silver plan for the US medical school application review consulting in the coming week. For the TMDSAS option, does this only cover the personal statement essay review or does it include the personal characteristic essay review and optional essay review?


BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Ken! Thanks for your message! Please feel free to reach out to us for a free strategy call to discuss how we can help you with your TMDSAS application and what kind of assistance you will get with our consultants!