IAMA recent graduate from Texas A&M's BIMS Masters Program, AMA!

aznriptide859

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Apr 15, 2012
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Hi everyone, I'm a recent graduate from Texas A&M University's BIMS (Biomedical Sciences) Masters Program currently applying to dental school. I know how many applicants may not be satisfied with their undergraduate performance, and wish to improve their overall application package to be more competitive for the application cycle. I wanted to share this program with other SDN members, since this degree offered at Texas A&M is specifically tailored to students wanting to apply for professional health schools, yet also want to improve their overall grades and gain more knowledge pertinent to their career.

So, in the style of Reddit (don't lie, most of you browse Reddit anyways), I am open to any questions you may have for the program, any help you need applying, or general advice once enrolled in the program. The website and requirements for applying is below, as well as some basic info about the program.

http://vetmed.tamu.edu/graduate/biomedical-sciences/non-thesis-option

What is this program?
This is a masters degree, non-thesis option provided at Texas A&M University under the School of Veterinary Medicine, aimed towards students looking to enter a professional school within the medical field (dental, medicine, vet, pharmacy, etc). When completed, you will graduate with a Masters degree in Biomedical Science (not biology).

What is required to complete this program?
The program requires completion of 36 hours of graduate-level courses, approved at the discretion of a selected committee consisting of 3 faculty (1 committee chair and 2 other committee members). Only three courses are required: an intro course to the program, a basic statistics course, and human physiology I. The rest of the courses are completely up to the student's choice, as long as it's approved by their committee. At the end of the program, you are required to take a "final exam", which is usually similar to a thesis defense (no lab research is required). The topic and length are discussed and approved with the committee (they are usually very free and open to whatever you pick).

What is the makeup of the class?
About ~100 students are in each "class', although the term is vague since students will have varying times of completion. I would say about 50-60% of the students are pre-vet (since A&M has the only vet school in all of Texas), the rest are split well between pre-medical, -dental, and -pharmacy. Everyone is in the same boat as you, so most people are very willing to work together and help each other out. Most of the class is from within Texas, but there are a good number of out-of-state students as well.

What is the cost of the program?
The costs differ from in-state and out-of-state. For me, being a Texas resident, I would estimate the total cost to be around $12.5-15k, while the cost for an out-of-state student is around $22-25k (this is an estimate based on what I've heard from two classmates who were from out-of-state). If I recall correctly, this is still less than both Rutgers and Barry (both of which quoted me at $35k).

What do graduates end up doing after completing the program?
From what the director of the program tells us, about 65-75% of each class get accepted into their professional program of choice. Students can either graduate first, leave without completing their masters, or return afterwards to complete it. I have also seen students change their major, either to a thesis-option MS, or to an MPH degree (under a different school within A&M though).

How is the support for pre-dental students like?
A&M has a Pre-Dental Society, but it tailors to graduates and undergraduates alike. Meetings are frequent, and constant volunteer projects are available to increase your participation for the club. The society will also forward your activity (based on points) to all three Texas dental schools (UTHSCSA, UT Houston, and A&M Baylor), or so I hear. The society also includes resources to personal statement editing, application advice, and even holding mock interviews.

What's the cost of living like?
Texas A&M is in College Station, TX, which is basically smack dab in the middle of the triangle formed by Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Most of the city centers around two very large streets, and the area is generally very suburban. If you're good at apartment hunting, the average rent per month, including utilities, ranges from $300-600. Add normal cost of living expenses and you're looking at maybe around $1k/month total, less if you live on ramen noodles everyday.

Why the hell should I listen to you?
I have been applying to dental schools for 3 cycles now since 2013, and this cycle, since graduating, has been my most positive cycle yet. My undergraduate performance was absolutely abysmal, and I was actually recommended this program by one of the deans at UT Houston's dental school. So far, compared to previous cycles, I've received no rejections from any of my applied schools, and I have interviews with Nova and Roseman already. I am pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten this far without attending this program.

So there are the basics. If you have any other questions at all, please feel free to ask me via this thread or via PM! I hope I can be of help to other SDN's looking to get into dental school :)

And of course, stats (because everyone likes numbers):
Undergraduate GPA (science, overall): 2.36, 2.6
Graduate GPA (science, overall): 3.85, 3.89 (damn you anatomy)
DAT (AA/TS/PAT/RC/any section below a 17): 23/21/23/26/no
 

Dr.Toothenstein

5+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2014
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Pre-Dental
First off thank you for doing this! I have been researching masters programs as I believe I am a prime candidate and if I dont get into dental school I want a plan B to strengthen my application.

1) Do you know how your fellow predents are doing? They get any invites?
2) What about last years class, know how successful they were?
3) Does this program help for acceptance into baylor DDS program?
4) How did you adjust to the course load? Can you describe a typical day (ie class, study, workout, etc)
5) What do you wish you knew going into it?
6) Courses you most enjoyed? Courses you least enjoyed?
7) Could you tell us alittle about your final exam/project?
8) Oh and know of any students who got into dental school the following year and left before completing the program?
 
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aznriptide859

aznriptide859

Who's stealing my WiFi?
5+ Year Member
Apr 15, 2012
296
187
*clap clap clap clap* DEEP IN THE HEAAART OF TEXAS
Status
Pre-Dental
First off thank you for doing this! I have been researching masters programs as I believe I am a prime candidate and if I dont get into dental school I want a plan B to strengthen my application.

1) Do you know how your fellow predents are doing? They get any invites?
2) What about last years class, know how successful they were?
3) Does this program help for acceptance into baylor DDS program?
4) How did you adjust to the course load? Can you describe a typical day (ie class, study, workout, etc)
5) What do you wish you knew going into it?
6) Courses you most enjoyed? Courses you least enjoyed?
7) Could you tell us alittle about your final exam/project?
8) Oh and know of any students who got into dental school the following year and left before completing the program?
1) One was interviewed and waitlisted at Roseman with me last year, one other is now a D1 at Western. Another is currently finishing her degree at A&M. Two more predents that graduated last December are both now D1's at A&M Baylor.
2) Unfortunately I graduated during the summer, so I didn't know that many peoples' statuses after they left. Most of my pre-vet friends all go into schools and they're in vet school now.
3) As far as I know it doesn't guarantee anything. I wish it did :(
4) I'll get to this last, since it's a bit longer.
5) How freaking hard Gross Anatomy was. It was the first science course I took last summer, and the amount of knowledge for that class is insane, especially for someone who's never taken Anatomy before. Also, as forewarning, the course involves dissecting canine cadavers, so if you're feint of heart, you might want to pass. I would definitely say it's the class that takes the most work, but you also learn so much. It is my only B at the program.
6) Anatomy was the most rewarding in terms of learning, Physiology I is the hardest (it's commonly known that the required course is probably the hardest one you'll take there). A lot of courses I took were physiological related and had overlapping material (especially endocrinology, a lot of classes emphasize that). Histology was also a rewarding course (that and Anatomy were two of the only courses that I took with labs).
7) Essentially it's a ~30-40 minute Powerpoint presentation, similar to how you would defend a masters or PhD thesis (if you've ever seen a defense before). But, you get to pick a topic of your choice, as long as your committee chair approves it. Mine was over testicular cancer and its treatment.
8) Not off the top of my head. All the pre-dents I know that are now at dental school graduated from the BIMS program (one graduated with an MPH since he transferred over).

So, classwork: I would say most courses run from 9-3, rarely will any course go past that (at least most of the ones within the departments of VetMed). For me personally, I hate studying, so I try to minimize my studying time to be effective as possible. Unless a midterm was coming up, I didn't go over 1-2 hours every day; about 3-4 days before a midterm, I would camp at the library after class until midnight or so. Course grades almost entirely revolve around midterms, so most students like to buckle down and study usually a week before they start. Overall I wouldn't say it was super stressful, but it does require effort and good study techniques to get good grades.
 
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May 31, 2014
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Hey thanks for this! I have a few things I need to be clarified.
1) Only 50 students get in? I clicked the link so I'm not sure I understood this.
2) Will I be forced to live in dorms at the campus?
3) Was defending a thesis difficult for you?
4) Does it snow in College Station?
 

Ollivander

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Sep 11, 2012
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Do you think similar programs to yours are worth looking into? I currently have a ~3.4 oGPA and a ~3.2 sGPA, but I've got a LOT of W's on my transcript which are holding me back. I'm looking into the same type of program intertwined with Iowa State's vet school (LINK). I'm from Alabama, so I don't know how much A&M's program will benefit me over ISU's, and both seem identical with ISU being slightly cheaper. I'm just looking for advice and comparing the costs and the massive loan I'll be forced to take out for either with no guarantee I'll be accepted into dental school afterwards.
 
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aznriptide859

aznriptide859

Who's stealing my WiFi?
5+ Year Member
Apr 15, 2012
296
187
*clap clap clap clap* DEEP IN THE HEAAART OF TEXAS
Status
Pre-Dental
Hey thanks for this! I have a few things I need to be clarified.
1) Only 50 students get in? I clicked the link so I'm not sure I understood this.
2) Will I be forced to live in dorms at the campus?
3) Was defending a thesis difficult for you?
4) Does it snow in College Station?
1) I believe each year between 60-80 students get accepted into the program; the intro course given in the fall contains all new students enrolled from the Summer + Fall applications, and I believe my class had 83 people in it.
2) Nope, no housing accommodations are forced through the school. You're responsible for finding your own housing.
3) You basically give a 30-40 minute Powerpoint presentation, then your committee members ask you a few questions to make sure you understand and grasp different aspects of what you presented about. As long as you prepared well then it should be pretty simple - most of my classmates didn't have much trouble with their finals either.
4) When pigs fly, sure :D. In all honesty, the weather matches Houston, but perhaps 20-30% less humidity so it's more bearable. I know last year Dallas snowed but we didn't get any, so if you see snow then it's extremely rare.

Do you think similar programs to yours are worth looking into? I currently have a ~3.4 oGPA and a ~3.2 sGPA, but I've got a LOT of W's on my transcript which are holding me back. I'm looking into the same type of program intertwined with Iowa State's vet school (LINK). I'm from Alabama, so I don't know how much A&M's program will benefit me over ISU's, and both seem identical with ISU being slightly cheaper. I'm just looking for advice and comparing the costs and the massive loan I'll be forced to take out for either with no guarantee I'll be accepted into dental school afterwards.
If ISU's program is tailored similarly, in that they want you to succeed and improve your GPA in order to be more competitive for professional schools, then I would say it's similar. It seems a lot of masters non-thesis option programs are aimed towards this - you can call ISU's program director to see if that's what they focus on. I can't speak about them first hand though, so don't quote me on anything. If someone posts something about ISU's program then they're probably a better resource for you than I am.

On a side note though, one of my classmates last year was from Alabama (or he went to Alabama, maybe both) - he's currently a D1 at Western. So there's that :)
 

Ollivander

7+ Year Member
Sep 11, 2012
427
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Thanks for the previous answer! Can you tell us about some of the courses you chose for your curriculum? It really makes me nervous how there's not a set curriculum.
 
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aznriptide859

aznriptide859

Who's stealing my WiFi?
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Apr 15, 2012
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*clap clap clap clap* DEEP IN THE HEAAART OF TEXAS
Status
Pre-Dental
Thanks for the previous answer! Can you tell us about some of the courses you chose for your curriculum? It really makes me nervous how there's not a set curriculum.
Sure, I can provide my schedule here.

Summer 2014:
Statistics in Research (basic stats)
Anatomy (hard, you dissect dog cadavers)

Fall 2014:
Systemic Vet Physiology I (it says vet, but it's human)
Education on Vet/Med/Bio Environments (intro class to the program)
Advanced Developmental Neurotoxicology (reviewing causes to birth neuro defects)
Bio Neurological and Endocrine Disorders (diseases caused by endocrine system)

Spring 2015:
Histology (cell slides, yay)
Medical Terminology for Health Professions (easy online vocab class)
Womens' Health (online, my committee chair actually recommended this one to me to solely boost GPA)
Fetal and Embryo Physiology (detailed physiology for fetal/embryological development)

Summer 2015:
Directed Studies (based on work/research of choice; I worked as a TA for the same Anatomy course I took last summer)

Overall phys and anatomy were the hardest, but anatomy, embryology, and histology were the most rewarding. You have absolutely free reign on what you want to choose, as long as your committee approves it and it's somewhat relevant to your final professional career goal (don't choose, for example, flower potting or something lol).
 
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sassypixie92

2+ Year Member
Sep 30, 2015
15
10
Status
Pre-Veterinary
First off thank you for doing this! I have been researching masters programs as I believe I am a prime candidate and if I dont get into dental school I want a plan B to strengthen my application.

1) Do you know how your fellow predents are doing? They get any invites?
2) What about last years class, know how successful they were?
3) Does this program help for acceptance into baylor DDS program?
4) How did you adjust to the course load? Can you describe a typical day (ie class, study, workout, etc)
5) What do you wish you knew going into it?
6) Courses you most enjoyed? Courses you least enjoyed?
7) Could you tell us alittle about your final exam/project?
8) Oh and know of any students who got into dental school the following year and left before completing the program?
Were you accepted on your first try to the masters program? I have a low gpa as well and i was hoping to do this program to boost it. Their website says you need a 3.0 but idk if thats just a suggestion or a requirement.
 

Willingtobedentist

2+ Year Member
May 1, 2016
10
0
Status
Pre-Dental
questions
1) why did you choose 2 year program rather than 1 year? (what your website said is 36 hour/3-4 semseters) - I plan 1 year program before applying into dental.
2) I am also thinking of master of art in biology - 1 year - and what do you think of differences? (BIMS and MA) - differences in learning and student's goal after program? - - (just want your opinion even you do not know it well)
3) does school recommend summer section or did you do it by yourself?
4) does summer section is like undergrad summer? - or it is similar to regular semester? - one subject focus in 1.5 month vs 4 subjects 3 month?