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Medicine

Medicine is the science and practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Physicians practice medicine by earning a doctorate degree from an allopathic medical school (M.D.) or an osteopathic medical school (D.O.). Entering into a medical school and becoming a physician is a highly competitive endeavor that requires a student to demonstrate the highest levels of academic achievement as well as a strong desire to serve others.

Pre-Med is not a major or formal track at the University of Houston. Therefore, you will need to pick a major that reflects what you are actually interested in learning. Indeed, there is no "best" or preferred major for pre-Med students. Many pre-Med students select a STEM major, such as Biology, because many of the required courses for admission into medical school are already included as a part of the degree-program. However, medical school admissions committees do not care which major you choose, as any major can lead to a career in medicine. So when choosing a major, you should be looking for a field that you are interested in and one that will challenge you academically, rather than the major you believe will help you "stand out." In fact, accepted UH applicants to medical school in recent years have come from over 15 different majors.

While GPA is important, having a 4.0 is not required for admission. Medical school admissions committees can easily identify when an applicant has selected coursework or pathway that is not challenging. You will benefit more from taking difficult classes together, than taking each course in isolation.

The requirements outlined below are true for most medical schools; however, it is important you review the specific requirements for each school you are interested in applying using the medical school admissions webpage, the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) Handbook (for allopathic programs), and the Choose DO Explorer Tool (for osteopathic programs).

The basic course requirements for admission into medical school include:

  • Biology: BIOL 1361/1161 & BIOL 1362/1162 (*BIOL 1306/1106 & BIOL 1307/1107)
  • General Chemistry: CHEM 1331/1111 & CHEM 1332/1112 (*CHEM 1311/1111 & CHEM 1312/1112)
  • Organic Chemistry: CHEM 3331/3221 & CHEM 3332/3222 (*CHEM 2323/2123 & CHEM 2325/2125)
  • Biochemistry: BCHS 3304
  • Physics: PHYS 1301/1101 & PHYS 1302/1102 or PHYS 1321/1121 & PHYS 1322/1122 (*PHYS 2325/2125 & PHYS 2326/2126)
  • English: ENGL 1303 & ENGL 1304 (*ENGL 1301 & ENGL 1302)
  • Statistics: MATH 2311 (*MATH 1342), MATH 3339, PSYC 3301 (*PSYC 2317)
  • Additional Advanced Biology Courses (at least 2): BCHS 3305 (Biochemistry II), BIOL 3301 (Genetics), BIOL 3324 (Human Physiology), BIOL 4323 (Immunology), BIOL 4374 (Cell Biology), BIOL 2321 (Microbiology), etc.
  • Recommended Electives: PSYC 2301, SOCI 1301, COMM 3301, SOCI 3380, SOCI 3353, PHIL 3354, HLT 3325, HLT 4303, HLT 4306, ANTH 3351, ANTH 4331, SPAN 1501/1502/2301/2302, SPAN 3343.

*Course names/numbers effective Fall 2021

**In addition to the above, TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine requires applicants to complete:

  • Genetics (BIOL 3301)
  • Physiology (BIOL 3324 or BIOL 2301/2101 & BIOL 2302/2102)
  • Two Humanities courses (These include, but are not limited to, art, music, theater, speech and communication, foreign language, philosophy, religion, gender and women studies, ethics, literature)
  • Two Social Science Courses (These include, but are not limited to psychology, cultural anthropology, sociology, economics, health care administration, public policy, public health, family studies, history, political science, social work and behavioral health)

You do not need to complete all prerequisite courses to apply to medical school, but should have completed most of the required courses. All prerequisites will need to be completed by July of the year you plan to matriculate.

Can I use AP/IB credit?

Generally speaking, our office recommends students do not use AP/IB credit to satisfy prerequisite courses for medical school (i.e, courses in Biology, Chemistry, English, Physics, and Mathematics). While AP/IB credit can prepare students for the rigor of courses at the University of Houston, they may not always provide an equivalent foundation for advanced courses. If you are unsure of your overall mastery in a particular area (e.g., Biology or Chemistry), we encourage you to consider beginning with the introductory courses to better prepare for advanced courses (e.g., Genetics, Biochemistry) and be on equal footing to your peers.

That said, TMDSAS-participating institutions will accept AP/IB credit as long as the specific credit hours and course for which AP/IB credit is used is clearly defined in your transcript (which it is at UH).

NOTE: Baylor College of Medicine does not currently accept AP/IB credit for required coursework. It is highly recommended that you take additional upper-level courses in the areas in which credit for introductory level courses was given. Non-TX medical schools are varied with regards to AP policy. It is important you review the specific admissions policies of all programs in which you to hope to apply.

Can I take prerequisite courses at another institution, such as a community college?

Yes, to a certain extent, you may complete prerequisite courses outside of the University of Houston. However, our general advice is that if you are enrolled at the University of Houston, you should only take courses that fulfill prerequisites or coursework for your major at the University of Houston. Taking 1-2 courses at an institution other than UH (e.g., community college) is not a big deal, but avoid making it a habit.

That said, if you are a transfer student bringing in credits from another institution (or dual-enrollment), then you do not need to retake prerequisites for your professional school application at UH. That includes transfer students who are transferring from community college as well as four-year institutions.

The various applications for medical school (TMDSAS, AMCAS, and AACOMAS) calculate GPA in several different ways:

  • Overall (Undergraduate + Graduate, BCPM)
  • Undergraduate (overall, BCPM, non-BCPM)
  • Graduate (overall, BCPM, non-BCPM)

Your Overall GPA includes all coursework completed at the college-level. This includes all courses taken at the University of Houston, but also any coursework completed at other institutions (e.g., HCC, Lonestar, etc.). Additionally, all attempts are included in the GPA calculation, even if you withdrew (W) or received a better grade. You must submit a transcript from every institution attended to each application service.

Science GPA

Science GPA is generally understood to mean BCPM: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics. Coursework in other fields, even those in STEM (e.g., Engineering, Kinesiology, etc.), is excluded from the BCPM GPA. Some non-BCPM courses can still be factored into the BCPM GPA if they include >50% Biology content. If you received an A in a course and are unsure of how it may be categorized, include it as BCPM. Each course will be evaluated during the application verification process and you will be allowed to appeal specific course decisions.

In the United States, pre-Med students have two pathways to a career as a physician: allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO).

Osteopathic medicine involves a holistic or "whole-person" approach to healthcare and osteopathic physicians receive specialized training involving the musculoskeletal system. Specifically, osteopathic treatment usually involves a system of therapy known as Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM).

Osteopathic physicians are licensed to practice the full scope of medicine in all 50 states. They practice in all types of environments, including the military, and in all types of specialties, from family medicine to obstetrics to surgery. However, the primary focus of osteopathic medicine is primary care.

If you are interested in learning more about osteopathic medicine, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) serves as a valuable resource.

Admission requirements for DO programs in the US can be found using Choose DO Explorer.

There are three osteopathic medical schools in Texas:

Why apply to an osteopathic medical school?

The major of students who apply to an osteopathic medical school feel they may not be as competitive for allopathic (MD) medical schools. Indeed, the admission requirements for most osteopathic schools are lower compared with their allopathic counterparts. That said, admission into osteopathic medical school is still very competitive and it is important to perform well on both the MCAT and in your science courses, just as you would for allopathic programs.

Average GPA/MCAT for accepted students in 2018: 3.5/3.4 (overall/science) and 504 (total MCAT)

For more information:

Medical school can be divided into four groups. Each of which will use a separate application:

Texas Medical Schools

You will complete the TMDSAS application service to apply to:

  • Public Texas Medical Schools
  • Baylor College of Medicine

Out-of-state Medical Schools and Private Texas Medical Schools

You will complete the AMCAS application to apply to:

  • Out-of-state Allopathic (MD) Medical Schools
  • TCU and UNT-HSC School of Medicine

Osteopathic Medical Schools

You will complete the AACOMAS application to apply to:

  • Out-of-state Osteopathic (DO) Medical Schools
  • University of the Incarnate Word - College of Osteopathic Medicine

Caribbean & Foreign Medical Schools

To apply to medical schools outside of the US, you must apply directly to each school, rather than using a centralized service.

It is common for pre-Med applicants at the University of Houston to apply using at least two or more of the application services above. Fortunately, the applications are very similar in the sections that need to be completed as well as their overall timelines.

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is the standardized, multiple-choice exam that medical school admissions use as a standardized metric to measure student preparation for medical school.

Students are required to the read the MCAT Essentials before submitting an application to test.

Length: 7 hours and 30 minutes

Sections:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Cost: The basic registration fee for the MCAT is $310, which covers the cost of the exam, as well as distribution of your scores. Late registration and changes to registration will result in additional fees. Applicants with financial need may apply for the AMCAS Fee Assistance Program to receive reduced MCAT registration fees.

Scores: Scores range from 472-528. Individual sections are scored from 118 to 132. Generally, medical schools require a minimum score of 125 on each section.

As of 2021, the average accepted applicant in Texas scored a 510. High MCAT scores do not guarantee admission and should not be expected to outweigh a low GPA. Further, you should only take the MCAT once you are adequately prepared for the exam. Ideally, you should strive to take the real exam only once, though many applicants do attempt the test twice. The key is you must improve on your second attempt; therefore, retakes should not be taken lightly.

Timeline: The Pre-Health Advising Center recommends that applicants start studying for the MCAT only AFTER all required MCAT coursework has been completed. This means you should complete all MCAT coursework at least three months before you plan to start studying. Students should plan to take the MCAT no later than May in the year they plan to apply.

2022 MCAT Testing Dates2022-mcat-us-calendar.jpg

MCAT Preparation: Preparation for the MCAT can take many forms, whether through self-study or a formal test-preparation course. Most applicants dedicate at least 3-4 months to preparing for the MCAT. This includes content review and practice tests. It is recommended that you complete at least 5-6 full-length practice tests before sitting for the real exam. Doing so will allow you to build endurance for the exam as well as give you a better idea of where your "true score" lies.

The Pre-Health Advising Center does not endorse any specific test preparation resource. We encourage you to explore each of the different options to determine which will best fit your needs.

Topic specific:

CARS:
  • Blueprint/NextStep and Examkrackers CARS resources and practice passages are a popular preparation option for many UH students seeking additional help with the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Section (CARS). Many of these materials can be found on Amazon for a reasonable price. Additionally, the AAMC's CARS Diagnostic tool is also a useful supplement.
Additional Resources:

Beyond completion of the pre-requisite coursework, medical schools also expect applicants to use their time outside of class engaged in extracurricular activity. These activities can typically be categorized as: Shadowing, Volunteering, Research, Leadership, Employment, and Hobbies. 

Importantly, building a competitive application to medical school is not about checking boxes off of a list. It is not necessary that you participate in an activity within each category. Instead, consider your interests. What do you want or need to do? If you have to work a part-time job and can only shadow a few hours a month, that is fine. If you would rather volunteer in a local clinic than participate in research, that is fine.

Medical schools do not want robots! The strongest applicants are those that seek out opportunities, not because they feel obligated or because they believe the activity will make them "look good", but because they are sincerely interested and feel they will gain a new skill or learn more about an aspect of healthcare or their community. It is also ok to participate in activities simply because they are fun and a great way to meet new people and immerse yourself in the Houston community or on campus.

Shadowing

Shadowing involves observing healthcare professionals (i.e., physicians) in action. Shadowing should be viewed as your opportunity to "test drive" the profession you hope to dedicate your life to and gain more insight in to the the day-to-day life of a physician and patient care. It is merely a means to an end, not the end itself. Shadowing should help you confirm whether this is the career path you wish to pursue or if another career would be more suitable. As such, you should not be concerned with the number of hours you have shadowed. In fact, most medical schools refrain from specifying a set number of shadowing hours in order to allow an applicant to decide for themselves whether they have sufficient exposure to feel confident in their decision to apply to medical school. It is recommended that you try to shadow more than one physician and, ideally, more than one specialty in order to gain multiple perspectives of the field of medicine.

Again, there is no set minimum number of hours in which you should shadow, but most applicants will have 20-100 hours. How much you shadow will be dictated by your level of access to physicians, your own schedule, and how well you feel you can explain your reasons for pursuing a career in medicine. Often, your time is better spent volunteering or participating in other, more engaging activities than shadowing, so you should not plan to shadow indefinitely (or at least, it should not be the only thing you are doing outside of class).

Importantly, shadowing also means hands-off observation only. Please refrain from participating in activities that could be construed as practicing medicine. You are not yet licensed nor trained as a healthcare professional, therefore, use ethical decision-making in the choosing the activities you observe and participate in.

Finally, while medical experiences abroad can be fruitful, it is expected that the bulk of your clinical experience is gained in the United States, especially if you plan to complete medical school/residency and practice in the US.

Volunteer

Just like shadowing, volunteering is not just a box to check. It is an opportunity to display your desire to serve others, so there is no minimum number of hours. Indeed, when asked why they are interested in becoming physicians, many applicants say because the wish to help people. While this may be true, saying it alone is not enough, you must prove it! Do not wait until you are a doctor to be a service to others. Approach volunteering from the view that this is just something that you do for its intrinsic value, rather than because you are obligated.

You do not need to volunteer in ten different settings and no amount of volunteer work will ever substitute for a poor GPA or MCAT score. Think about how you'd like to serve others. What kind of environment or what population of people do you think needs your attention and help? Find an organization that works in that area and try to dedicate a few hours every week. If you grow tired of a particular setting, find a different one and commit your time and effort in the same way. Medical schools can sense when an applicant is participating in activities only to pad their resume versus someone who is investing in opportunities in which they are most interested.

Research

Research is not required for admission into medical school, though many admissions committees appreciate students that have participated in a research project or laboratory. Whether a medical school values research will often depend on the mission of that program. Indeed, many medical schools that prefer to focus on community health and primary care (e.g., University of Houston College of Medicine) will not weigh research as heavily when making their admission decisions, compared with volunteerism or community activism.

If you are not interested in research, you are better off engaging in other activities that you are more passionate about. Remember that admissions committees appreciate you following your interests, rather than simply checking off a box of activities you feel are necessary for admission.

If you are interested in research, you should not feel limited to wet-lab/bench or life-science research. Indeed, feel free to explore research projects outside of medicine, healthcare, or translational science if you are interested in other areas. It is more about being passionate and productive in a project, than the specific content or research topic. You are also not required to do research as part of a formal program (though those options exist!), but can simply be an undergraduate volunteer in an on-campus research lab.

If you are interested in MD/PhD or other dual-degree programs, research will often be more important (or required) for building a competitive application. If you are interested in a dual-degree program, please feel free to contact our office to discuss recommended steps.

Finally, conducting research is also another opportunity to secure a strong letter of evaluation from a faculty member.

Leadership

The strongest applicants are those that not only participate in activities such as research or volunteering, but show a propensity for leadership as well. Leadership opportunities can be gained both on- and off-campus, such as serving as a supervisor or manager at your job, or team captain of a sports team, or as an officer in a student organization. The type of activity that you are a engaged in is often less important than the experience and skills you gain from serving in a leadership capacity.

The most common form of leadership for many applicants comes from serving in officer roles within student organizations. Consider joining a club within your Freshman/Sophomore year, gradually becoming more involved over time, and applying for any available officer positions in your Junior/Senior years. There is no requirement that you serve as President, as other roles may offer ample opportunity to develop leadership, organization, and teamwork skills.

Employment

An often overlooked activity is simply working a full- or part-time job. Indeed, our office is often asked by pre-Med students whether admissions committees will care that they worked while in school. The answer is YES!. Medical schools value applicants that have shown a clear ability to balance their academic responsibilities with other activities, including a job.

It is also not that important that your job may not be directly healthcare related. Certainly, there is merit in working as a medical scribe, EMT, or certified nursing assistant, but a lot can be gained from working "regular" jobs as well. Serving as a cashier at HEB offers an opportunity to showcase a number of the aforementioned Core Competencies: Teamwork, Reliability/Dependability, Social Skills, Ethical Responsibility, etc.

Hobbies

As mentioned above, medical schools are not interested in robots. Therefore, it is perfectly fine to participate in activities that are not directly related to medicine or healthcare. Sports, music, dancing, etc. can all fall into this category. Admissions committees recognize applicants are individuals whose lives do not revolve fully around medicine (this is true for physicians too!) and appreciate those that participate in activities that help foster a healthier, more well-balanced lifestyle. Indeed, engaging in hobbies is a useful strategy for managing stress in medical school as well.

Short answer is yes.

That said, which organization(s) to join is completely up to you. One misconception that students make is that you must join all pre-Med or pre-health clubs. Instead, consider what hobbies and interests you have and seek out like-minded people. General advice for any UH student is to join at least one academic club and one social club. Academic clubs include professional clubs like pre-med clubs but also clubs for a major of an academic discipline. Social clubs include Greek life, hobbyist clubs, and other clubs that allow you to explore a variety of extra-curricular activities.

Generally speaking, the impact of joining an student organization (besides gaining friends and learning about a particular area) on your application will depend on your level of involvement. Medical school admissions committees strongly value leadership in applicants. Therefore, it is not enough to simply attend organizational meetings, but you should look for ways to further the mission or cause of the organization. This could mean becoming an officer, but may also mean engaging in activities organized by the club, such as fundraisers, food-drives, volunteer activities, etc. If you are more involved, you will have more to include on your application and discuss during an interview.

There is no formula that will make you the perfect applicant, but a competitive applicant has:

  • Strong GPA (>3.5 for both overall and BCPM).
  • Strong MCAT (>510 total;>125 on each section).
  • Pattern of taking challenging coursework and credit-load (>12 hours/semester).
  • Extracurricular involvement (leadership in student organizations, research, employment, etc.).
  • Consistent volunteer experience, especially activities based in your community.
  • Experience in or exposure to the medical field (through shadowing, volunteering, or employment). [Tips for clinical/community opportunities]
  • Personal essay that conveys clear interest in medicine and specific reasons for pursuing a career as a physician. [Tips for writing personal statements]
  • Three letters of evaluation (from faculty, physicians, supervisors) that detail strengths and overall suitability for a career in patient-care and medicine. [Tips for requesting letters]

The key is to perform well in your science classes, do well on the MCAT, and pursue activities and opportunities that introduce you to the field of medicine. It also important that you follow your interests as well, even if they are not directly related to being a doctor or healthcare. Admissions committees value applicants that are well-rounded and have interests outside of medicine.

Our office encourages prospective applicants to review the AAMC Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students. Successful medical school applicants are able to demonstrate skills, knowledge, and abilities in these areas. Reflect on the activities and experiences you have engaged in and whether they provide "proof" of one or more of these competencies.

If you do not feel that you are competitive, you may consider taking a gap-year to address any weaknesses in your application. [Tips for planning a gap-year]

EY2022 Application Information

Typically, you will apply to medical school during the Summer term between your Junior and Senior years. That said, one of the most important decisions you will make in the application process is deciding when to apply. There is no one timeline that fits all students. It all depends on when you can submit your strongest possible application.

A lot of planning must go into preparing a competitive application, so it's important to carefully consider your timeline. Our office emphasizes the importance of applying when you are the most competitive applicant you can be; do NOT rush your application timeline. Being competitive relies on both academic AND extracurricular experiences. You will need to assess when you will be the most competitive applicant.

Things to consider when determining your application timeline:

Academic Accomplishment

  • Have you finished ALL prerequisites? When will these be completed? All prerequisites must be completed by July of the year you hope to start medical school.
  • How have you performed in those courses? Do you need more time to improve? Did you receive lower than a B- or opted for a Satisfactory in any prerequisites? Do you need to retake any courses?
  • When will you be ready to take the MCAT? You should not plan to take the MCAT multiple times.

Experience

  • Community Service should be substantial and consistent. If you just started, you are likely not ready.
  • Have you gained clinical experience? Can you clearly explain why you are interested in being a physician? Can you list specific reasons and provide "proof" that you understand what you are getting into?

Support

  • Do you have at least three people who can write strong letters of support? Letters should come from those who can speak highly of your qualifications and suitability for success in medical school. These may include faculty, physicians, volunteer coordinators, research mentors, job supervisors, etc.
  • Are your family/friends are supportive of your goals? Are they open to you applying to a broad range of medical schools, not just those close to home?
  • Have you utilized UH Pre-Health Advising services? Are you familiar with the Health Professions Advisory Committee evaluation process to receive a committee letter?

Your professional and personal goals

  • Are you sure of your professional goal? Have you sufficiently investigated the field of medicine such that you are confident that the career of a physician is one you wish to pursue, at the exclusion of other careers in healthcare (i.e., nurse, physician assistant)?
  • Do you need/want some time for other experiences between undergrad and medical school? Are you burned out? Medical schools are looking for mature students read to accept the challenge. If you need more time to prepare yourself, take it!
  • Do you need time to save for/pay for medical school?

School Selection

Number of schools: UH students typically apply to between 10-20 medical schools. Our office recommends applying to at least all Texas-based schools (15-total).

Factors to consider:

  • Location I: Students have the best chance of admission at the public medical schools in their state of residency. Outside of your in-state school(s), consider private schools and other state public schools that accept a reasonable number of out-of-state residents. Use the MSAR to help constrain your list.
  • Location II: Urban vs. rural setting, proximity to family, recreational opportunities, cost of living, weather, etc. You will do your best work in a place that makes you feel comfortable.
  • Mission Statements: You should look for schools with mission statements that fit with your own goals. Not every medical school is the same. Some will emphasize primary care and community health, others are more research focused. It is important that you outline how your goals align with the mission of the school in which you are applying in your secondary essays and interviews.
  • Curriculum: Seek out information about the curriculum and consider how it fits with your learning style. Pass/fail courses? Recorded lectures? Problem-based learning? Small-groups?
  • Cost: Consider tuition and type of financial aid available.

Do not focus on “rankings”. In fact, the governing bodies of the medical schools (AAMC and AACOM) do not rank or endorse any ranking of the accredited schools and programs within their organizations. There are no "safety" medical schools. Each and every accredited medical school in the U.S. has rigorous admission standards.

Once you have decided to apply, you will need to review the various application services used by the different medical schools:

Texas Medical Schools (Allopathic and Osteopathic Primary Application)
  • Centralized Application Service: Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS)
  • Number of Participating Schools: All public Texas medical schools (11 allopathic, 2 osteopathic)
  • Cost: $150 flat fee, which includes all TMDSAS participating medical schools.
  • Fee Assistance? No fee waivers available
  • Personal Statement: Two required, One optional. Additional essay required for MD/PhD or DO/PhD applicants.
    • Required: "Explain your motivate to pursue a career in medicine. Include the value of your experiences that prepare you to be a physician." 5,000 character limit
    • Required:"Learning from others is enhanced in educational settings that include individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Please describe your personal characteristics (background, traits, skills, etc.) or experiences that would add to the educational experience of others." 2,500 character limit
    • Optional: "Briefly discuss any unique circumstances or life experiences that are relevant to your application which have not previously been presented." 2,500 character limit
  • Application Timing: Students will apply in the summer of the year preceding their planned matriculation. TMDSAS opens in early May. Submission is allowed in mid-May. Students applying after Junior year should wait until their Spring grades are posted before applying.

Allopathic Medicine Primary Application:

  • Centralized Application Service: American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS)
  • Number of Participating Schools: 149 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico
  • Cost: $169 which includes one medical school designation. Each additional school is $39.
  • Fee Assistance? Yes, through the AMCAS Fee Assistance Program, which includes a waiver for all AMCAS fees for up to 16 medical schools, along with other benefits. Applications for FAP open in January. Apply early. 
  • Personal Statement Prompt:"Use the space provided to explain why you want to go to medical school." 5,300 character limit.
    • Applicants will write 3 additional essays on their most meaningful activities (1,325 characters).
    • MD/PhD applicants will 2 additional essays explaining their motivation for pursuing an MD/PhD and a detailed explanation of their research.
  • Application Timing: Students will apply in the summer of the year preceding their planned matriculation. AMCAS application opens in early May for edits; Applicants can submit in late May.
Osteopathic Medicine Primary Application
  • Centralized Application Service: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS)
  • Number of Participating Schools: 33 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico
  • Cost: $195 which includes one medical school designation. Each additional school is $45.
  • Fee Assistance? Yes, through the AACOMAS Fee Assistance Program
  • Personal Statement Prompt:"In the space provided, write a brief statement expressing your motivation or desire to become a DO." 4,500 character limit.
  • Application Timing: Students will apply in the summer of the year preceding their planned matriculation. AACOMAS application opens in early May for submission.

The Early Decision Program (or EDP) allows an applicant to submit an application to a single medical school and receive a relatively quick decision.

Specifically, the EDP application deadline is August 1 and a decision provided by the medical school by October 1. If admitted EDP, the applicant is obligated to attend that school for that particular year only (the acceptance cannot be deferred). Therefore, it is important to apply for early decision only at an institution you would consider your "first-choice."

Note: In order to apply EDP, you must complete the MCAT early enough for you to receive your scores before the August 1 deadline.

If you are rejected during the EDP process, you will still have the opportunity to apply to additional programs. However, there is a risk that many interview opportunities at the other schools may have been already offered to other students. Furthermore, it is possible to be admitted at the same school at which you were rejected during EDP during the regular admission cycle, especially if an interview was completed in the EDP process.

Our office recommends that only applicants with an excellent chance of admission should apply through EDP, since only a small portion of applicants are admitted via EDP each year. Applicants whose GPA is lower than 3.5 or whose MCAT score is lower than 510 are unlikely to be accepted through EDP. 

Early Decision Programs in Texas:  

TMDSAS EDP Applicant Requirements:

The rules of a formal Early Decision Program stipulate that an applicant cannot apply to ANY OTHER medical school in the U.S. until he or she receives the EDP decision. This includes medical schools outside of Texas via AMCAS or AACOMAS.

All EDP applicants are required to do the following:  

  • Indicate in the [Select Schools] section that they are applying through one of the restricted Early Decision Programs.   
  • Submit the TMDSAS application by August 1st.  
  • Submit any required secondary applications by August 1st.  
  • Submit MCAT scores, all required transcripts, and letters of evaluation to TMDSAS by September 15th.  
  • Attend the selected school if offered acceptance through the Early Decision Program.  

An applicant who is offered admission is obligated to attend the medical school. He or she must obtain a formal  release from the school they applied to, to be eligible to apply to other schools. 

If not accepted as an EDP candidate, the applicant is eligible to apply to other schools as soon as the formal notification letter is received from the school.   

To apply to other TMDSAS schools for regular admission consideration, you must send an internal message system  within the application by the application deadline, listing all schools you would like added to your application.

International Medical Graduates (or IMGs) are graduates of foreign medical colleges outside of the United States and Canada, including graduates of Caribbean medical schools. While is uncommon for most UH medical school applicants to apply to a foreign or Caribbean medical school, there are a few applicants every year. While most foreign medical school applicants have a desire to work as a physician in a foreign country, most apply due to lower admissions standards. Whatever the case may be, our office encourages applicants to strongly evaluate their options as well as the increased obstacles that this route may present to your medical education and eventual career as a physician.

Indeed, although many graduates of the best Caribbean medical schools go on to have successful careers in the United States, it is generally more difficult to do so than for their U.S.-educated counterparts. Caribbean medical students must achieve a very high GPA, score high on the USMLE exams, secure prestigious rotations during Years 3 and 4, and receive stellar letters of recommendation from clinical supervisors to give themselves the best odds.

On top of this, graduates of American medical schools are still the most likely to secure a spot in a U.S. residency program: In 2021, 92.8% of US MD graduates and 89.1% of US DO graduates matched vs. only 59.5% of US IMG graduates. Further, matching into highly competitive specialties like anesthesiology or surgery is the exception and not the rule for Caribbean medical school graduates—most IMGs specialize as primary care physicians. In 2021, 69.2 percent of IMGs who successfully matched into a residency program ended up in one of the three primary care specialties: internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics.

Additionally, Caribbean medical schools often have much larger class sizes (as many as 900/year) compared with US-based medical schools (100-200/year), which can lead to less individualized attention from professors and face-to-face guidance from advisors. The rate at which students drop out of medical school is also much higher (~3% for US MD programs vs. ~20% for Caribbean MD programs). Finally, tuition and fees are much higher on average for Caribbean medical schools compared with US MD programs.

Therefore, due to the positive impact attending an American medical school (either allopathic or osteopathic) can have on your future career prospects compared with attending a Caribbean or Foreign Medical School, our office strongly recommends applicants work to improve their medical school application and candidacy instead of seeking (less desirable) routes to medical school that have lower admission standards. This could include committing to a gap-year to retake the MCAT, enrolling in a post-bacc or Special Master’s Program, or considering an alternative career in healthcare.

If you are certain that you wish to apply to a Caribbean medical school, it will be important that you try to answer the following questions:

  1. Can I afford the tuition/fees associated with this medical school? Am I still eligible for Federal Financial Aid assistance?
  2. Are graduates of this medical school eligible to apply for licensure in all 50 states?
  3. What is the residency matching rate for this medical school?
  4. What is the attrition rate at this medical school?
  5. Where are clinical rotations conducted? Does this medical school have US-based affiliate hospitals?
  6. What is the contingency plan at this medical school in the event of a hurricane or other national disaster?

It is also advised that you limit your application to the following foreign programs:

Additional Reading:

International students in the US on a Visa without permanent U.S. resident status ("Green Card") often find it surprising that it is much more difficult to enter a U.S. medical school (M.D. or D.O) than it is to enter a U.S. university or graduate school to study for a Ph.D. or M.S. degree.

Many U.S. medical schools give preference to legal residents of the geographic state in which the school is located. Eligibility for many U.S. Federal Government sponsored financial loans may require being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

International students should review the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) to determine the medical schools they are interested in accept international applicants.

Which Texas medical schools accept applications from International and DACA students?

How do I apply as an international applicant?

How do I apply as an undocumented/DACA applicant?

Graduate Scholarship Resources for Undocumented or International Applicants

Following submission of your primary application (e.g., TMDSAS, AMCAS), you will begin to receive secondary (or supplemental) applications.

Secondary applications are program-specific and usually include additional essay questions in an attempt to learn more about an applicant's motivations for pursuing medicine as a career and, more importantly, why they are interested in attending a specific medical school. Therefore, when writing your secondary essays, be sure to be as specific as possible in your reasons for wanting to attend a given medical school. Review the program website, brochures, and missions statement for more information. Does the school offer a unique curriculum, research or clinic opportunities, access to a particular clinical population, or student organizations that you find attractive? General answers that could be applied to every medical school will not be viewed as favorably.

Medical schools usually send invitations to complete a secondary application as soon as an applicant's primary application has been submitted; however, others will wait until the primary is processed and only send secondary applications to selected applicants. While you wait to receive a secondary application, you may wish to Google secondary prompts from previous years to get a jump-start on your answers.

Note: Some medical schools (e.g., Baylor College of Medicine, Texas A&M) provide access to complete secondary applications on their website instead of notifying applicants by email. 

The Pre-Health Advising Center recommends applicants submit secondary applications within 2 weeks of receiving them (especially high-priority programs). 

Many medical schools now require applicants to complete the Altus Suite of assessments as part of the application process.altus-suite-handout-image.jpg

The Altus Suite consists of three separate tests: Casper, Snapshot, and Duet.

Importantly, some medical schools may only require the Casper, while others may require completion of the entire Altus Suite.

The Casper is a situational judgement test involving a series of realistic, hypothetical scenarios and asks applicants to indicate how they would respond if they were to be in that particular situation.

Medical schools purportedly use the Casper to assess an applicant's non-academic, personality and interpersonal competencies, such as professionalism, communication, ethics, empathy, and motivation.

Casper results are not released to applicants, so be wary of companies/test-preparation services that claim to offer guaranteed techniques for obtaining a high score. 

Which schools require the Casper?

Currently, the CASPer is required by the following TX medical schools:

  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Long School of Medicine, UT Health San Antonio
  • Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Texas A&M University College of Medicine
  • Texas Tech University HSC School of Medicine
  • Texas Tech University HSC, Paul L. Foster School of Medicine
  • The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
  • UT Southwestern Medical School
  • McGovern Medical School

What is the structure of the Casper?

Please review the Casper FAQ

The Casper consists of 12 sections to be completed in 60-90 minutes, with an optional 15-minute break after six sections.

Each section is comprised of either a video-based or word-based scenario and a set of three associated questions. You are asked to type out your response to each question in the designated text box. You have 5 minutes to respond to all three questions.

When the timer is up, you are automatically directed to the next section where you are presented with a new scenario.

How do I prepare for the Casper?

Technically, the Casper is not designed to be “studied” for in a traditional sense, as it is supposed to evaluate your in-the-moment decision making and problem-solving skills. Responses are not categorized as right or wrong, but instead should be viewed as appropriate vs. inappropriate. That is, evaluators consider how comprehensive and thoughtful your response is to any given scenario.

As the Casper is similar in nature to a Multi-Mini Interview (MMI), our office recommends using example MMI prompts to simulate and practice a Casper scenario (including keeping to the strict 5-min time constraints). After outlining your responses, discuss your answers with a friend for feedback and to brainstorm any variables you may have overlooked. It may also be useful to familiarize yourself with the stance/position that the primary medical organizations (e.g., AMA, etc.) have on current medical issues and hot-topics, as this could help you formulate your own opinion and how you would respond to specific scenarios.

Our office also recommends approaching each scenario in a similar fashion:

  • What are the facts? What information is provided in the prompt? What information is not provided or do you wish you had?
  • What is the primary issue or question being asked?
  • Who would be affected by your response? These individuals may not have been included or mentioned in the scenario
  • Does your response produce the greatest good/least amount of harm?
  • As you write your response, are you including your thought process/reasoning behind the decisions and assumptions you have made?
Additionally, given the the limited time allotted to write your reponses, it is also important that you practice your typing skills. Our office suggests "warming-up" just prior to beginning your Casper exam. Casper raters are trained to disregard spelling mistakes when evaluating responses, so do not worry about correcting any minor mis-types as you are writing. Focus on getting your point across. Raters will also will accept any typed answer, whether it be in summarized, bullet-point form or complete sentences.

What is the structure of Snapshot?

Snapshot is a one-way video interview tool that takes 10-15 minutes to complete. It is used to help programs get to know their applicants better by assessing verbal and non-verbal communication skills, as well as motivation for the profession.

Snapshot includes 2 mandatory practice questions to allow applicants to get familiar with the format and to test their audio and video capabilities. After you complete the practice portion, you will move on to record responses to 3 standardized interview-style questions. You will have 2 minutes to record each response. You will have time to read and consider each question during a 30-second reflection period before they begin recording. All recorded responses will be submitted to the program for review. 

What is the structure of Duet?

Duet is a 15-minute value-alignment assessment that compares what you value in a program with what the program has to offer.

You will be shown a pair of characteristics within a given category and prompted to quickly select the one that is more important to you. After completing the comparisons within all categories, you’ll be asked to compare each of the categories in pairs. As you did for the characteristics, choose the category that is most important to you.

For in-state Texas applicants applying through the TMDSAS application, offers of admission are provided through a match process.

Applicants are required to rank order every Texas medical school in which they were invited to interview by preference. Similarly, each medical school provides TMDSAS a list of applicants they wish to admit. TMDSAS then matches applicants’ preferences and the schools’ preferences in a systematic method and releases the results during Match Day.

For example, if you interviewed at three TMDSAS-participating medical schools: University of Houston, McGovern Medical School, and Dell Medical School, you will submit a ranked list in your TMDSAS application based on your first-choice school preference, second-choice, and so on. During Match Day, if more than one of your ranked schools includes you on their list, you will receive an offer of admission from only the highest ranked school on your list. You will not rank any schools in which you did not receive an interview.

For AY2020:

Applicants must submit their rankings by 5:00PM on February 19th, 2021 .

Match Day is to be held on March 5, 2021.

What is "pre-match"?

Pre-match is a process in which TMDSAS allows Texas medical schools to offer admission to highly-qualified applicants prior to the official Match Day. Importantly, applicants may receive multiple pre-match offers.

If you receive one or more pre-match offers, you must still submit a ranking list in TMDSAS. On Match Day, you will only receive an offer of admission from your highest ranked pre-match school (unless you have been accepted by a medical school that you did not receive a pre-match offer with but ranked higher than your pre-match schools).

An applicant who receives more than one offer should decline any pre-match offer from a school that he/she definitely does not plan to attend as soon as that decision is made (but you will still be asked to rank that school).

For AY2020, pre-match will begin on October 15th, 2020 and continue through January 31st, 2021.

What if I do not receive any pre-match offers?

If you did not receive a pre-match offer, you are still required to submit a ranked list to TMDSAS by the stated deadline. Importantly, you are still eligible to receive an offer of admission during Match Day, so do not fret about not pre-matching.

What if I have multiple pre-match offers?

If you receive multiple pre-match offers, you must still rank each school with whom you interviewed based on your individual preferences. On Match Day, you will be automatically accepted by your highest ranked pre-match school (unless you have been accepted by a medical school that you did not receive a pre-match offer with but ranked higher than your pre-match schools). 

What if I have a pre-match offer, but wish to rank another school higher?

Pre-match offers are not binding. If you pre-match with one or more schools, but still wish to rank a school with whom you interviewed but did not receive a pre-match offer, you may do so. If you are offered acceptance to that school, it will take precedent over your lower-ranked pre-match schools.

For example, let us assume you interviewed with 5 medical schools (UH, UTMB, Dell, McGovern, Long), received only 3 pre-match offers (UH, Long, Dell), but still believe McGovern is your first choice. You would rank your schools something like:

  1. McGovern (interview, but no pre-match)
  2. UH (interview, pre-matched)
  3. Long (interview, pre-matched)
  4. UTMB (interview, no pre-match)
  5. Dell (interview, pre-matched)

On Match Day, if you receive an offer of admission from McGovern, it will supercede all other offers (including pre-match) since you ranked McGovern first. However, if McGovern does not offer admission, then you will automatically receive an offer from UH, as it is your highest-ranked pre-match school.

What if I have match to a TMDSAS-participating school, but wish to attend an out-of-state medical school or Baylor College of Medicine?

Again, pre-match offers are not binding. If you receive an offer of admission from a non-TMDSAS participating medical school and wish to accept, simply notify all other medical schools in which you have been accepted of your decision to decline their offers as soon as possible.

Click here for more information on the TMDSAS Match Process

University of Houston Medical School Admissions Data for EY2021*

*NOTE: The following information includes only applicants who designated University of Houston as their primary institution and agreed to release their application information to our office. Data includes TMDSAS, AMCAS, and AACOMAS.

  • UH Applicants: 251
  • UH Accepted: 141
  • UH Acceptance Rate: 56% / Texas Average Acceptance Rate: 45%
  • HPAC applicants vs. non-HPAC Acceptance Rate: 66% vs. 45%
  • Applicants from the University of Houston were accepted into:
    • Over 31 different allopathic medical schools, including Columbia, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, and every allopathic medical school in Texas.
    • Over 21 different osteopathic medical schools, including VCOM, William Carey University, A.T. Still University, and every osteopathic medical school in Texas.
  • Accepted applicants came from over 18 different majors, including those in the sciences, humanities, and business.
University of Houston Medical School Applicants (EY2021)
Overall GPA Science GPA MCAT Average
Applied 3.67 3.55 506
Accepted 3.75 3.65 509

 

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