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The Texas Application System: TMDSAS


Texas residents wanting to attend Texas public medical schools have an entirely separate system for the medical school application process. Called the Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS), this process starts about a month prior to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS); TMDSAS opens May 1 whereas AMCAS opens in early June for submissions. AMCAS includes all US allopathic medical schools outside of Texas and the only private Texas school, Baylor. TMDSAS applicants should read the TMDSAS Application Handbook to be sure they follow the guidelines carefully since the Texas application process is somewhat convoluted and not quite as straightforward as the AMCAS process. Here are the chief differences in the TMDSAS process vs. AMCAS:

1. All secondary applications for the TMDSAS-participating schools are available on the TMDSAS website and should be submitted at the same time as the centralized application. In other words, the TMDSAS application, unlike the AMCAS application, is not processed prior to secondaries being released.

2. Not all of the TMDSAS schools require a secondary application. The following schools require a secondary:

  • UT Southwestern
  • Texas A&M
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine (Lubbock)
  • University of North Texas – Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine (El Paso)

3. TMDSAS applicants must indicate whether courses were taken online; in the AMCAS application there is no capability for distinguishing in-person courses from those taken online.

4. In the “Employment & Activities” section of the TMDSAS application it is recommended that you list the same activity multiple times if it spans more than one category. (This is not recommended for the AMCAS application, which limits the number of activities to 15.) Space is limited in the descriptions of activities; only 300 characters are allowed. There are seven categories of activities, as follows:

  • Academic Recognition
  • Non-Academic Recognition
  • Leadership
  • Employment
  • Research Activities
  • Healthcare Activities
  • Community Service
  • Extracurricular and Leisure Activities
  • Planned Activities (unlike in the AMCAS application, the TMDSAS application allows applicants to include future activities).

You are not required to select three activities as your “most meaningful” in the TMDSAS application as you must do for AMCAS.

5. The space given for the personal statement in the TMDSAS application is 5000 characters, including spaces, which is shorter than AMCAS at 5300.

6. There are two additional optional essays in the TMDSAS application but it is very strongly recommended that applicants complete these essays.  The prompts for these essays are:

  • “Briefly state any unique circumstances or life experiences that are relevant to your application. This is not an area to continue your essay or reiterate what you have previously stated: this area is provided to address any issues which have not previously been addressed.”  The space allotted for this essay is 2500 characters, including spaces.
  • “Describe any personal characteristics and/or important or challenging experiences you have had that will contribute to the diversity (broadly defined) of or provide educational benefits to the student body.” Again, the space for this essay is 2500 characters, including spaces.

7. MD-PhD or DO-PhD applicants must write two additional essays (similar to the AMCAS application) of no more than 5000 characters each. The first must explain their motivation for seeking the dual degree, along with an explanation of their research interests and career goals; the second must describe their research experiences in detail.

8. MCAT scores may be no more than five years old (this is longer than the rules set by most AMCAS-participating schools).

9. The interview season for the TMDSAS schools is much earlier than for AMCAS schools. Interviews span from July to early December.

10. Applicants must release their MCAT scores to TMDSAS using the MCAT Testing History Report System (in AMCAS the scores are automatically uploaded to the application).

11. The letter requirements in the TMDSAS application are much more stringent than AMCAS. For TMDSAS only two letters are allowed OR one health professions committee letter/packet. Applicants have the option of submitting one additional letter.

12. The TMDSAS application fee is a flat $140 (the fee doesn’t change regardless of the number of schools applied to).

One of the chief differences between AMCAS and TMDSAS is that the Texas system has a match process. However, non-Texas residents and joint degree applicants (MD-PhD, DO-PhD, MD/MBA) do not participate in the match; those applicants follow rules that are similar to AMCAS (offers of acceptance can be extended to those applicants beginning October 15, as with AMCAS). From November 15-December 31 offers of acceptance can be made to TX residents; this is considered the “pre-match period.”  Applicants may hold multiple offers but then must rank their preferences by January 21st. Match results are announced on February 2nd. After that date acceptances will offered as they occur.  The following rules apply to the TMDSAS match process:

1. Applicants must rank all schools where they interviewed.

2. If an applicant holds multiple offers prior to the match, after the match process that applicant will have only one offer.

By May 15 (April 15th for schools which begin prior to July 30th) applicants in the TMDSAS process must have made a decision about where to enroll otherwise an admission offer may be rescinded. Unlike with AMCAS, however, in the TMDSAS process no medical school may offer an acceptance after June 1 to an applicant already accepted at another school.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting


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