Applying for Residency

What you need to know about Applying for Residency


Taking USMLE

Do I need to take the USMLE Step 1 and/or 2 exams?

Consideration for taking USMLE I and/or II should depend on whether you are “high risk” to fail on the attempt.  To help determine if you are high risk, the following factors should be taken into consideration collectively:

  • Your COMSAE Score (score below 380)
  • Your 2nd CSBE score (take at the end of 2nd year)
  • Your quartile rank (4TH quartile)
  • COMLEX I score (Score below 450)

If the factors above do not put you at “high risk”, then taking USMLE could depend on numerous factors.  The most important is your preparation for the exam.  In addition, there are many variables including Specialty, Geographical location, Performance on COMLEX Level I and if you are considering only osteopathic programs.

Please consult the TCOM Residency Counseling to schedule a “Pre-Residency” Counseling Meeting (OMS I/OMS II) to discuss how this applies to your specific circumstance.  Your required Initial Residency Counseling meeting will take place in fall of your 3rd year of medical school.


Preparing for the Match

How can I best prepare for the the Match?

Follow the TCOM Office of Medical Student Success:

  • OMS I: Attend Introduction to Residency Counseling during Advisory College Meetings that occur Spring of 1st year
  • OMS II: Attend a Careers in Medicine Workshop specifically designed for second year medical students.  Information will be provided directly you via email in fall of your 2nd year.
  • OMS III: Complete Initial Residency Counseling meeting with the TCOM Residency Counseling where an individual action plan will be developed to help you reach your residency goals.
  • OMS III: Attend the various class presentations that will be offered: Residency 100 (December of 3rd year), Residency 101 (Spring of 3rd year), Personal Statement Workshops (Spring of 3rd year).
  • OMS IV: Attend Residency Interview Preparation Workshop offered summer/fall of 4th year
  • OMS IV: Complete 4th year Match Strategy Residency Counseling meeting with the TCOM Residency Counseling where an individual action plan will be developed to help you reach your residency goals.


Academic Profile


  • I took both COMLEX and USMLE which scores do I release?
    Currently, AOA programs will not allow you to release USMLE scores when applying through ERAS, so you would only release your COMLEX scores to these programs. However, since ERAS guidelines state osteopathic students must release ALL score attempts to allopathic programs, you should release both your COMLEX and USMLE scores to ACGME programs.
  • I failed an exam, do I have to release that score to programs?
    The ERAS User Guide specifically states for D.O. Applicants: “If you apply to ACGME-accredited programs, please be sure to request transcripts for all licensure examinations you have taken and assign to these programs”.  You will not be able to submit USMLE scores to AOA programs as it is not allowed in ERAS.  Intentionally withholding scores due to exam failures could be frowned upon and can raise issues of integrity. In addition, once you release your transcript, all attempts to date will be displayed.  Also note that allopathic programs will eventually need your COMLEX transcript to verify passing of COMLEX PE.
  • How do I get my COMLEX and/or USMLE transcripts in ERAS?
    You will need to authorize your transcript to be release from NBOME and/or NBME through ERAS.


Medical School Transcript

  • How do I get my medical school transcript in ERAS?
    Your transcript will be uploaded to ERAS in a timely manner; no request would need to be made on your part.
  • Will programs know where I completed elective and/or audition rotations?
    Your medical school transcript will only display your medical education through the end of third year.  If you completed an elective rotation in third year, it will show what specialty you completed the rotation in, but will not show where.  4th year electives are not included on the medical school transcripts.
  • I have another degree from TCOM (Medical Sciences, MPH, PhD), will this be on my transcript?
    Unless you have completed a PhD program, this information will not be included in your medical school transcript.  For questions or concerns regarding this, please contact the career center at  It is encouraged that you include any additional degrees in your ERAS/CV residency application.


Class Rank

Where will my class rank be listed in my residency application?
Class rank is calculated for internal use only. Besides honors and Dean’s list designations, the only reported metric will be the student’s quartile ranking.  Your quartile will be displayed in graph format in your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) and this will be released to all residency programs you apply to in ERAS.


CV / ERAS Common Application Form

  • Where can I get help with my CV?
    The UNTHSC Career Center can assist students with their CV; submit a request:
  • What should I put in my CV for my residency application?
    Please note that although your CV is an important document to help you build your residency application, that the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS), is the system that you will use to apply for residency and ERAS will be pre-formatted for you add information from your CV – The Word Doc of your CV will not be uploaded or entered into ERAS.
  • The information you provide in your ERAS CV should be key, relevant experiences that support your candidacy for residency.  Your ERAS application will include the following sections: 1. Personal Information, 2. Biographic Information, 3. Education, 4. Experience (Work, Research or Volunteer), 5. Licensure, 6. Publications.
  • Should I add information from undergrad in my CV?
    Unless you have a significant and relevant experience from undergrad that strongly supports your candidacy for residency, this information will not be necessary to include.  The UNTHSC Career Center team can provide more information on what information is considering significant enough to include.


Personal Statement

  • My letter writers are requesting a personal statement, what do I write?
    Please note that your personal statement for residency will be slightly different than your personal statement for your letter writers since there different objectives. A template of a personal statement for your letter writers is provided in the packet you received during your initial residency counseling meeting.
  • What should I write in my personal statement?
    The strongest personal statements will be reflection of why you for your specialty and why you for residency. You will also want to include appropriate content from life experiences that supports key strengths and qualities that support your candidacy. There is no specific template, however there are some specific topics that programs would prefer you touch on, please reference “Writing a Personal Statement for Residency: What will your Personal Statement say about you in two minutesIn this packet.
  • Should I write a different personal statement for every program and specialty I apply to?
    Making your personal statement specific to each program isn’t necessary; however your personal statement should be specific to your specialty choice. For instance if you are applying for more than one specialty, then you would need a personal statement for each specialty choice.  You may also modify your personal statement slightly for preliminary and transitional year positions.
  • Should I write s Personal statement if I am interested in a certain geographical area?
    Yes, I strongly suggest making a personal statement that is specific to the state/region you are interested in matching into, especially if it is outside of Texas.  Consider including information about your connection to the area.
  • When do I need to start my personal statement?
    When you start your personal statement will depend on your level of comfort in getting it complete timely.  Your personal statement will not be submitted until you apply for residency programs; however, you will want to take into consideration time for your drafts to be reviewed so you can apply feedback. Historically, student begins drafting their personal statements in April of 3rd year.
  • How long should be personal statement be?
    Typical personal statements range from 650 words to 850 words.
  • Who can help me with my personal statement?
    Identify a few people to review your personal statement. I suggest having a specialty advisor or faculty mentor review your personal statement.  A friend and/or family member who knows you, so they can help determine if your personality shines through.
  • Melva Landrum, residency counselor can review Personal Statements for residency ONLY:
  • For review of Personal Statements for LOR writers and/or for audition/elective rotation applications and/or for residency, please submit to the UNTHSC Career Center team:
  • In addition you have the CAP office who will review more for grammar:


Letters of Recommendation

  • How many letters of recommendation should I ask for?
    Most residency programs will request three (3) letters of recommendation, however no more than four (4) letters are allowed to be uploaded through ERAS.  I recommend a minimum of four letters.  Please note, additional letters may be needed for preliminary and/or transitional years.  I also encourage you to have candid conversations with your LORs to ensure you are on the same page regarding specialty pursuit – especially if you have a parallel plan.
  • How many of my letters should be from someone in the specialty?
    There is no exact number and every program may have different preferences, but in general you want to have at least two letters in the specialty you are pursuing.
  • Who should I ask for a letter of recommendation? The strongest letters will come from the faculty and physicians that know you well and can support your candidacy for residency. Clinical letters are strongly recommended.
  • How do I know if I need a Department Chair letter and how do I get one?
    You will need to check the individual program requirements to identify if a Chairman’s letter is needed as a part of your residency application. If a letter is needed by at least one program you plan on applying to you will need to determine the process of the department by contacting the department coordinator.
  • When should I have ALL my letters in?
    Give your letter writers approximately four to six weeks to complete and upload your letter. I suggest encouraging your letter writers to have all of your LORs submitted by September 1st and possibly earlier for early matches.
  • I don’t have all my letters in, can I still apply for residency?
    You want your application to be as complete as possible, but you can apply for residency with a couple of letters uploaded.
  • How do I know which letters to send since my LORs will upload my letters directly to ERAS? You will need to determine the strength of your letters based upon the relationship you have with the letter writer.

For additional information on the process of your Letters of Recommendations (uploading, certifying, where to send, ERAS) please contact the Career Center.


About MSPE

  • What is the MSPE? The MSPE stands for the Medical Student Performance Evaluation formerly known as the Dean’s Letter. The MSPE is an evaluation describing your performance in medical school.  It is a document that is a required part of your residency application and is released on October 1st.   The Career Center handles all coordination of the MSPE and will offer detailed guidance for you in this process.

For more information:  Medical Student Performance Evaluation site


Contact Us:

TCOM Office of Medical Student Success