Please note: The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio will now be called "UT Health San Antonio."

South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program

The South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program is for students who are committed to becoming physician-scientists and who wish to conduct rigorous, hypothesis-driven laboratory or population-based research into some of the most vexing biomedical problems we face, including: cancer, cardiovascular disease, aging, infectious diseases, obesity and diabetes, neurological/psychiatric disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

This dual degree program is a seven-to nine-year program, in which students complete two years in the School of Medicine, then embark full-time on their Ph.D. dissertation research for three to five years and then students will finish their final two years in the School of Medicine.

The program was ranked 5th out of 113 programs nationwide of reported training South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program students during the 2015-2016 academic year and 4th for highest percentage of students who received NIH F30 or F31 grants.

For the program website, click here

Admission Information 

To apply, apply through the  American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) website. You should select the Combined South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio. The AMCAS application is the only application that you need to complete in order to be considered for admissions into our M.D./Ph.D. program. We participate in AMCAS Letters service, and thus, there is no need to send additional letters of recommendation beyond those selected in AMCAS. Please note that if you want also to be considered for admissions into the M.D. program at UT School of Medicine San Antonio, you must submit an application using the TMDSAS application system prior to the M.D. program deadline. In this case, you should check the box that indicates that you also submitted an AMCAS M.D./Ph.D. application.

The deadline for the M.D./Ph.D. AMCAS application is November 1st, whereas the deadline for the TMDSAS application of the M.D. program is October 1st. There is no secondary application for the M.D./Ph.D. program. The admissions sub-committee of the M.D./Ph.D. Advisory Committee will select applicants for combined M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. interviews starting the review in early August. Applicants will be notified via email. In some cases, the M.D. program determines to invite an applicant that had not been reviewed yet or that was selected for the alternate pool for the South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program. In this particular case, please contact the program director to request an administrative review. Please keep in mind that the M.D./Ph.D. program reviews applications until they have been verified by AMCAS which might take 6 weeks, whereas the M.D. program might review the TMDSAS application sooner. Failure to gain an invitation for interview or acceptance into the M.D./Ph.D. program will not jeopardize a decision to invite for interview or extend an acceptance to the M.D. program of the School of Medicine.

The South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program program is seeking individuals who have demonstrated a passion for biomedical research. This passion must be described clearly in the M.D./Ph.D. essay. Sustain inquiry and investigation within a biomedical laboratory for at least one year is typically needed. Presentations and/or publications are not necessary but they improve the quality of an application. Some clinical shadowing experience is needed to develop an informed reflection that leads to the determination for pursuing a clinical degree. M.D./Ph.D. programs are very competitive requiring high academic standards.

After submission of the AMCAS application, the candidates could submit additional information of significance such as publications, presentations, awards, or the result of an additional MCAT score. These submissions should be made electronically to the South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program Program Director. Additional resources for the South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program application can be found on the AMCAS website or AMCAS FAQ


Our interviews are a combined effort with the M.D-program in an intensive 1½ day setting on Thursday-Friday. We value a passion for biomedical science research, curiosity and p.ersistence. Our Academic Program Coordinator will be emailing itineraries about a week prior to your interview. The structure of a typical combined interview is as follows:


12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Optional Lunch at noon (applicants and current students) at STRF

1:15 pm – 3:45 pm Faculty and current student South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program interviews (3 graduate faculty, 1 student)

3:45 pm – 4:30 pm Research Facilities Tour

4:30 pm – 6:00 pm Check-in to hotel(s)

6:10 pm Pick-up for dinner

6:30 pm – 8:45 pm Dinner with Dr. Cavazos at Luce (program presentation)


7:30 am – 8:00 am Continental Breakfast (2 nd floor library room) – program presentation

8:00 am – 9:10 am 7 min Scientific Chalk-talk and Q&A with South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program leadership (2 nd floor library room)

9:15 am – 1:30 pm SOM Interviews (1 M.D. faculty interview)

1:45 pm – 4:15 pm South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program Interviews (4 th floor library room) – M.D./Ph.D. leadership interviews (3 faculty)

4:15 pm Departure to Airport (15 min away from campus)

7:00 pm Optional Dinner with current South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program students

We do not have a secondary application and our South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program program does not fund travel or hotel for this initial interview. If you are accepted into our South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program program, we will pay for travel expenses of your 2 nd visit to our program typically in early March or later. If you are interested to be considered for our M.D. program, you must also submit a TMDSAS application:

The San Antonio airport is about 15 minutes away from campus, and security lines often take 20 minutes or less. Parking on campus is provided. The School of Medicine. Information about suggested hotels can be found at:

More about the Chalk Talk:

It is a verbal presentation without slides about one of your research projects in front of the South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program leadership and with no other applicants attending. The intent is that you don't have to keep repeating the same thing to each of your interviewers, but that you get into a more meaningful discussion, because they heard you talk about one of your experiences and goals. No PowerPoint presentations are allowed, but you are given a Magic Marker (rather than chalk) and a board to draw if you need. You can bring your notes, and only one figure in a letter size (5 copies).

Take one of your research experiences and expand it a bit. You could briefly discuss the main question or hypothesis, what type of experiments you did, which led to a particular outcome in terms of answering that question, and perhaps, presentations or publications. The presentation is intended to be about 7 minutes in duration starting with your prior research and ending on broadly what field or area you want pursue in your PhD research. This is followed with about 3 min of brief questions (not about “grilling” your understanding as a PhD qualifier might be) from the 4-6 interviewers (with goal for a total of 10 min for each applicant in the group). We want to know what you did and why; we are not that interested in what the lab does.

Admission Decision

The Program Director is the advocate for each of the applicants. Decisions for admission are made after careful and holistic review of the interviewed applicants by the  Admissions Committee. We value a passion for biomedical science research, curiosity and persistence.” After October 15th, our South Texas Medical Scientist Training program may extend initial offers of acceptance in a rolling manner but in a limited number. By December 31st, applicants will be notified via email of their South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program status as to whether they are accepted, waitlisted, or rejected. Applicants interviewed in January will be notified of their status two weeks after the interview.

Applicants may accept offers from more than one medical school or M.D./Ph.D. programs. Applicants who are Texas residents might also participate in the match for the M.D. programs without the risk of an offer being withdrawn by our South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program program. To participate in the M.D. program match, the applicant must be a legal resident of Texas, have submitted an application to TMDSAS, and have been interviewed at least one medical school. These applicants, even if accepted into any M.D. or DO only program, may still be accepted into our combined South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program should an offer be extended after the match but before the beginning of orientation at the medical school that the applicant matched. For more information about the M.D. program match, please review the TMDSAS website.

In fairness to all applicants, a candidate who receives more than one offer should decline any offer from a school that he/she definitely does not plan to attend as soon as that decision is made. Offers of acceptance should only be considered valid if an acceptance letter is received. Verbal offers of acceptance or ranking are not binding to either the applicant or medical schools. After April 30th, applicants holding acceptances to more than our South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program program must choose the specific school or program at which the applicant prefers to enroll and withdraw his/her application, by written electronic correspondence from our or other programs from which acceptance offers have been received. Applicants in the alternate list will be notified electronically typically between April 15th and May 15th. Our first day of class is June 1st with a six week laboratory rotation prior to the start of the MS-1 curriculum.

Program Information

South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program students begin their programmatic experience with a comprehensive orientation to the interdisciplinary research tracks reflecting the full array of areas of biomedical investigation. A strong institutional asset is the presence of the NIH-sponsored CTSA, which has developed a Ph.D. program in Translational Science and a Certificate in Translational Science. These are also available to South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program students as a primary Ph.D. program or minor track to a traditional biomedical PhD program with additional coursework emphasizing translational science. Here is a brief video about our South Texas Medical Scientist Training program:

Year In Program 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Abbreviation Medical
Year 1 (MS1)
MS2 Graduate
Year 1 (GS1)

The South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program is planned to take from 7-8 years. Four of these years are spent in medical school and can be divided into two portions: two years of pre-clinical traning and two years of clinical training. At the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, we segregate the preclinical and clinical training by the insertion of graduate studies. This is to the advantage of the student as credit for many graduate courses can be substituted with previous medical school courses.

During the summer prior to the first year of Medical School (MS1), students perform their first lab rotation. Students experience a second lab rotation during the summer between MS1 and MS2. If needed, students can organize a third lab rotation after taking the STEP1 of the USMLE examination in June after MS2, before their first year of graduate school (GS1). The Advisory Committee periodically reviews the qualifications of the roster of approved supervising mentors at least every three years and prior to acceptance of one of our M.D./Ph.D. students into their labs.

Key aspects that are considered include quality of mentoring and track record of funding and publications. Students select their supervising professor by the summer before GS1 and are expected to complete their Ph.D. degree within four years, after which, they return to medical school to complete MS3 and MS4 and earn their M.D. degree. In addition to the training enrichment provided by the laboratory and track or program in which the student is enrolled for the Ph.D. degree, the program provides for a number of integrated enrichment activities that involve all students enrolled in the program whether they are in their medical school or graduate school years. Enrichment activities include our monthly Bench-to-Bedside seminar series, annual program retreat, grant writing seminars, attendance to national meetings, social activities, and participation in recruitment. 

Teaching is an integral component as students make formal presentations at least twice a year (Bench to Bedside seminar and annual retreat) as well as within their departments/tracks, and students tutor students in lower classes including at the grant writing seminar. A formal grant submission is required as part of the South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program education. During the spring semester of the graduate school phase, a 10-week clinical rotation of one half-day in the outpatient clinic of the student's choice will be implemented starting in January, 2012. A refresher course on clinical skills is offered every June to prepare students who are finishing the Ph.D. degree for re-entry into their third year clinical clerkships.

Program Statistics

Applicant Data

Class Number of Applicants Median MCAT Median GPA
2016 180 30 3.66
2015 159 30 3.63
2014 169 31 3.64
2013 162 30 3.62
2012 82 31 3.64
2011 57 28 3.63
2010 75 29 3.60

Matriculation Data 

Class Median MCAT Median GPA
2016 35 3.83
2015 34 3.91
2014 35 3.59
2013 36 3.70
2012 33 3.42
2011 31 3.52
2010 31 3.72

Financial Support

Financial support includes a stipend throughout all medical school years and tuition, fees, and fringe benefits provided through all years of enrollment. This support is derived from the South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program. During the graduate school phase, supervising professors are expected to provide stipend support as well as tuition and fees. There is an annual stipend of $26,000 provided for the duration of the program including the last two years of medical school. The Biomedical Engineering program annual stipend is $21,000 during the graduate school years. However, the South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program will compensate the extra $5,000 to comensurate the $26,000 stipend for the BME Program. Upon re-entry into medical school, support is provided for four semesters. The South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program also provides for tuition and fees during all years within the medical school phase of the program.


For a list of faculty, click here.


For a list of alumni,  click here.

Contact Information:

José E. Cavazos, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Dean & Director

Ricardo C T Aguiar, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Program Director

Alfred Fisher, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Program Director

Jennifer Schmerber, M.Ed.
Program Coordinator

Application Deadline:
November 1


Students receive a stipend of $26,000. The South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program  also provides for tuition and fees during all years within the medical school phase of the program.

Want to learn more about students in the program?