Professor Tilton-McCarthy received a B.A. in English from Texas A&M University in 1990 and graduated summa cum laude from South Texas College of Law in 1996. She was Editor-in-Chief of the South Texas Law Review as well as Valedictorian of her graduating class. After graduation, Professor Tilton-McCarthy served as a law clerk for the Honorable Vanessa D. Gilmore, United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. She then worked as an associate in the trial department of Baker Botts, L.L.P.