This section offers an overview of the current race and ethnicity demographic trends in medical education. Overall, numbers of racial and ethnic minorities among medical school applicants, matriculants, graduates, as well as full-time faculty, have remained relatively stable since the 2012 Facts & Figures report.1 The figures below highlight both single year data from 2015 and longitudinal data over time to provide a more robust understanding of diversity and inclusion medical education trends.

The 2015 data did reveal some key trends. The medical school acceptance rate is a pivotal data point for applicants, undergraduate advisors, medical school admissions committees, and medical education policymakers. The 2015 medical school acceptance rate is 41.1%. Acceptance rates differ among select racial and ethnic subgroups. White (44%), Asian (42%), and Hispanic or Latino (42%) applicants all have comparatively similar acceptance rates. African American or Black applicants have a lower acceptance rate of 34%.

 

 

Percentages of medical school graduates by race and ethnicity have remained consistent over time. Whites (58.8%) and Asians (19.8%) continue to represent the largest proportion of medical school graduates, with the two groups composing more than three-quarters of medical students graduating in 2015. Also for 2015, Whites make up 47.8% of applicants and 51.2% of matriculants and remain the majority of graduates. The 2015 medical school graduates comprise 5.7% Black or African Americans and 4.6% Hispanic or Latinos.

 

 

The 2015 Black or African American graduation rate is on par with 2011 matriculant data for which Blacks or African Americans represent 6.1% of matriculants. Hispanic or Latino graduates show a more notable gap between 2011 matriculants (8.5%) and 2015 graduates (4.6%). However, it is important to note that race or ethnicity is not always linear, as medical students are given multiple opportunities to select how they identify their race or ethnicity. Race and ethnicity designation can be fluid and change over time. Currently, more individuals are opting to self-identify as multiple races, which can affect longitudinal data collection.2

Medical school applicants, students, and graduates are not the only stakeholder groups for which medical education leaders wish to increase diversity, inclusion, and equity. The medical education professoriate must also strive to become more diverse. An increase in female medical school graduates has been met with a rising number of full-time female medical school faculty.

 

Currently, 39% of full-time faculty are female; however, female faculty from some racial and ethnic minority groups continue to be underrepresented in academic medicine. Only 4% of full-time faculty identify as Black or African American, Latino or Hispanic, Native American or Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander females. This stark racial and ethnic disparity among full-time faculty is mirrored at the department chair level, with women of color representing only 3% of department chairs in academic medicine.3

  1. Diversity in medical education: facts and figures 2012. Washington, DC: AAMC; 2012.
  2. Multiracial in America: proud, diverse, and growing in numbers. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center; 2015. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/06/11/multiracial-in-america/.
  3. Lautenberger D, Moses A, Castillo-Page LC. An overview of women full-time medical school faculty of color. AAMC Analysis in Brief. 2016;16(4):1-2.

 

List of Figures

Figure 1. Percentage of applicants to U.S. medical schools by sex, 1974–2015.
Figure 2. Percentage of U.S. medical school applicants by race and ethnicity, 2015.
Figure 3. Percentage of U.S. medical school applicants by sex, race, and ethnicity, 2015.
Figure 4. Number of U.S. medical school applicants by race and ethnicity, 1974–2015.
Figure 5. Percentage of U.S. medical school applicants by Asian subgroups, 2015.
Figure 6. Percentage of U.S. medical school applicants by Black subgroups, 2015.
Figure 7. Percentage of U.S. medical school applicants by Hispanic or Latino subgroups, 2015.
Figure 8. Percentage of accepted U.S. medical school applicants by race and ethnicity, 2014–2015.
Figure 9. Percentage of accepted U.S. medical school applicants by sex, race, and ethnicity, 2015.
Figure 10. Number of Asian applicants vs. number of Asian acceptees, 1996–2015.
Figure 11. Number of Black or African American applicants vs. number of Black or African American acceptees, 1996–2015.
Figure 12. Number of Hispanic or Latino applicants vs. number of Hispanic or Latino acceptees, 1996–2015.
Figure 13. Number of American Indian or Alaska Native applicants vs. number of American Indian or Alaska Native acceptees, 1996–2015.
Figure 14. Percentage of U.S. medical school matriculants by race and ethnicity, 2014–2015.
Figure 15. U.S. medical school matriculants by sex, race, and ethnicity, 2015.
Figure 16. Percentage of U.S. medical school graduates by sex, 1980–2015.
Figure 17. Percentage of U.S. medical school graduates by race and ethnicity, 2015.
Figure 18. Percentage of U.S. medical school graduates by sex, race, and ethnicity, 2015.
Figure 19A. Percentage of U.S. medical school Black or African American graduates by sex, 1986–2015.
Figure 19B. Percentage of U.S. medical school Hispanic or Latino graduates by sex, 1986–2015.
Figure 19C. Percentage of U.S. medical school American Indian or Alaska Native graduates by sex, 1986–2015.
Figure 19D. Percentage of U.S. medical school Asian graduates by sex, 1986–2015.
Figure 19E. Percentage of U.S. medical school White graduates by sex, 1986–2015.
Figure 20. Percentage of U.S. medical school full-time faculty by race and ethnicity, 2015.
Figure 21. Percentage of U.S. medical school full-time faculty by sex, race, and ethnicity, 2015.
time faculty who selected Other Race (53.8%).
Figure 22. Percentage of U.S. medical school full-time faculty by sex, race, ethnicity, and rank, 2015.
Figure 23. How 2015 matriculants spent time between college and entering U.S. medical school by race and ethnicity.
Figure 24. Amount of noneducational debt of 2015 matriculants to U.S. medical schools by race and ethnicity.
Figure 25. Status of premedical school debt by race and ethnicity among 2015 matriculants to U.S. medical schools.
Figure 26. Amount of premedical educational debt by race and ethnicity among 2015 matriculants to U.S. medical schools.
Figure 27. Specialty interest by race and ethnicity among 2015 matriculants to U.S. medical schools.
Figure 28. Percentage of 2015 U.S. medical school matriculants planning to practice in an underserved area by race and ethnicity.
Figure 29. Percentage of U.S. medical school matriculants planning to work in an underserved area by race and ethnicity, 2005–2015.
Figure 30. Parents’ combined gross income by race and ethnicity among 2015 matriculants to U.S. medical schools.

 


Figure 1. Percentage of applicants to U.S. medical schools by sex, 1974–2015.

Figure 1 displays the trend of applicant pool gaps between men and women from 1974 to 2015. In 2003 and 2004, women applicants surpassed men by a slight margin; however, since 2005, men have represented the majority of applicants. In 2015, applicants are 53.2% male and 46.8% female.


Figure 2. Percentage of U.S. medical school applicants by race and ethnicity, 2015.

Figure 2 shows the race and ethnicity of the 2015 applicant pool. Whites have declined to less than half of applicants (47.8%). Compared with 2011, Black or African American applicants increased by 6% (7.3% to 7.8%), while Multiple Race and Ethnicity applicants increased by a substantial 159% (2.7% to 7%). Conversely, Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish Origin applicants declined 23% from 2011 (7.9% to 6.1%).


Figure 3. Percentage of U.S. medical school applicants by sex, race, and ethnicity, 2015.

Figure 3 compares the sex and race and ethnicity of medical school applicants. Males represent the majority of applicants among White, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander applicants. Among Black or African American applicants, there continues to be a noticeable gender difference with a much higher rate of female applicants (62.4%).


Figure 4: Number of U.S. medical school applicants by race and ethnicity, 1974–2015.

Figure 4 illustrates the historical trend for the applicant pool from 1974 to 2015 by major racial and ethnic subgroups. Since 1974, the number of Black or African American applicants went up by 78%, Hispanic or Latino applicants increased by 284%, and Asians applicants rose 732%. White applicants, however, declined 27%, and American Indian or Alaska Native declined 9% since 1974.


Figure 5. Percentage of U.S. medical school applicants by Asian subgroups, 2015.

Figure 5 displays specific information on Asian subgroups. In 2015, the three largest Asian applicant subgroups—Indian (30.2%), Chinese (17.1%), and Korean (10.8%)—are East and South Asian. Southeast Asians represent the smallest percentage of Asian applicant subgroups: Laotian (0.1%), Indonesian (0.3%), and Cambodian (0.4%).


Figure 6. Percentage of U.S. medical school applicants by Black subgroups, 2015.

Figure 6 illustrates specific information on Black subgroups. In 2015, Black subgroup applicants who identify as African American alone represent less half (47.5%). African applicants represent 19% and Afro-Caribbean applicants 10% of Black subgroups. Multiple Black or African American subgroup applicants are almost 14% of all Black applicants.


Figure 7. Percentage of U.S. medical school applicants by Hispanic or Latino subgroups, 2015.

Figure 7 highlights specific information on Hispanic or Latino subgroups. In 2015, the two largest Hispanic or Latino applicant subgroups are Mexican American (27.7%) and Puerto Rican (22%). Multiple Hispanic or Latino subgroup applicants are almost 8% of all Hispanic or Latino applicants.


Figure 8. Percentage of accepted U.S. medical school applicants by race and ethnicity, 2014–2015.

Figure 8 illustrates the percentage of accepted applicants by racial and ethnic subgroups. While Whites are 47.8% of applicants (Figure 2), the percentage of accepted White applicants is 51.2%. This reflects a 44% acceptance rate for White applicants. Asians are 19.6% and Hispanics or Latinos are 6.3% of accepted medical students. Asian and Hispanic or Latino applicants both have a 42% acceptance rate. Blacks or African Americans make up 6.4% of accepted applicants, a decline from 7.8% of all applicants (Figure 2). The Black or African American acceptance rate of 34% is lower than White, Asian, and Hispanic or Latino acceptance rates.


Figure 9. Percentage of accepted U.S. medical school applicants by sex, race, and ethnicity, 2015.

Figure 9 details the percentage of accepted applicants by gender for each racial and ethnic subgroup. Black or African American (59%) and Multiple Race and Ethnicity (51.7%) females are accepted at a rate higher than Black or African American and Multiple Race and Ethnicity males. Among all racial and ethnic subgroups, males represent the highest proportion of accepted applicants among American Indian or Alaska Native (56.9%) and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (58.8%).


Figure 10. Number of Asian applicants vs. number of Asian acceptees, 1996–2015.

Figure 10 shows the number of applicants vs. acceptances for Asian applicants. The number of Asian applicants and acceptees has risen since 1996. The highest number of Asian applicants and acceptees appears in 2015. The acceptance rate for Asian applicants has also improved over time, with a 34% acceptance rate in 1996 and 42% acceptance rate in 2015.


Figure 11. Number of Black or African American applicants vs. number of Black or African American acceptees, 1996–2015.

Figures 11 shows the number of applicants vs. acceptees for Blacks or African Americans. Black or African American applicants have been on the rise in recent years, with 2014 and 2015 applicant numbers surpassing the 1996 high. The number of Black or African American acceptees has remained fairly static over this period, with the acceptance rate fluctuating around 10% as the number of applicants has increased and decreased annually. Since 2007, the Black or African American acceptance rate has been below 40%.


Figure 12. Number of Hispanic or Latino applicants vs. number of Hispanic or Latino acceptees, 1996–2015.

Figure 12 displays the number of applicants vs. acceptees for Hispanic or Latino applicants. Hispanic or Latino applicants have set all-time highs for each of the past six years, with 4,839 applicants in 2015. Hispanic or Latino acceptees have set all-time highs for each of the past seven years, with over 2,000 in 2015. The 2015 acceptance rate for Hispanic or Latino applicants (42%) is consistent with acceptance rates over recent years.


Figure 13. Number of American Indian or Alaska Native applicants vs. number of American Indian or Alaska Native acceptees, 1996–2015.

Figure 13 displays the number of applicants vs. acceptees for American Indian or Alaska Native applicants. The number of American Indian or Alaska Native applicants has steadily decreased from 385 in 1996 to 115 in 2015, a 70% decline. The number of American Indian or Alaska Native acceptees has steadily decreased from 155 in 1996 to 58 in 2015, a 63% decline. As the applicant pool has declined, the acceptance rate has increased from 40.3% in 1996 to 50.4% in 2015.


Figure 14. Percentage of U.S. medical school matriculants by race and ethnicity, 2014–2015.

Figure 14 illustrates the number and percentage of matriculants by race and ethnic groups. Whites represent the majority of matriculants at 51.2%. Asians make up the second largest group of matriculants at 19.8%. Matriculants of Unknown Race and Ethnicity (4.6%) outpace those who are American Indian or Alaska Native (0.3%) and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (0.1%).


Figure 15. U.S. medical school matriculants by sex, race, and ethnicity, 2015.

Figure 15 describes the percentage of matriculants by sex, race, and ethnic groups in 2015. The gender breakdown among matriculants by racial and ethnic groups closely mirrors that of the accepted applicants. Males matriculate at a higher rate than females in all subgroups except Black or African American and Multiple Race and Ethnicity. Non-U.S. Citizen and Non-Permanent Resident females matriculate at a higher rate. As with acceptees, males represent the highest proportion of matriculants among American Indians or Alaska Natives (56.4%) and Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders (58.8%).


Figure 16. Percentage of U.S. medical school graduates by sex, 1980–2015.

Figure 16 displays the percentage of medical school graduates by sex from 1980 to 2015. In 1980, there was a 53.4% disparity between males and females. However, the longitudinal trend reflects increasing parity between males and females, with female graduates having increased 104% since 1980. Males remain the majority of medical school graduates (52.4%) in 2015.


Figure 17. Percentage of U.S. medical school graduates by race and ethnicity, 2015.

Figure 17 displays the graduation rate by race and ethnic subgroup for 2015. Similar to matriculants (Figure 15), White (58.8%), Asian (19.8%), and Multiple Race and Ethnicity (7.1%) individuals represent the largest proportion of medical school graduates. Blacks or African Americans and Hispanics or Latinos represent 5.7% and 4.6% of graduates, respectively. Only 20 American Indian or Alaska Natives and 5 Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander are 2015 medical school graduates.


Figure 18. Percentage of U.S. medical school graduates by sex, race, and ethnicity, 2015.

Figure 18 illustrates the percentage of 2015 graduates by gender, race, and ethnic subgroup. The differences in racial and ethnic groups by gender are wide-ranging. Among many racial and ethnic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in medicine, females are the majority of 2015 graduates, making up 65% of Black or African American, 52.7% of Latino or Hispanic graduates, 75% of American Indian or Alaska Natives, and 60% of Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander graduates. For Multiple Race and Ethnicity (51.4%) and Non-U.S. Citizen and Non-Permanent Resident (51.5%) graduates, females are also the majority.


Figure 19A. Percentage of U.S. medical school Black or African American graduates by sex, 1986–2015.

Figure 19A displays the percentage of Black or African American graduates by gender from 1986 to 2015. There is a well-documented trend of growth among Black or African American female graduates. Since 1986, female graduates have increased 53% and male graduates have declined 39.4%. In 2015, the gender gap among Black or African American graduates is at 30.6%.


Figure 19B. Percentage of U.S. medical school Hispanic or Latino graduates by sex, 1986–2015.

Figure 19B displays the percentage of Hispanic or Latino graduates by gender from 1986 to 2015. Male graduates have declined by 28.3%, and female graduates have increased 57.6% since 1986. Female Hispanic or Latino graduates surpassed male Hispanic or Latino graduates for the first time in 2007. Since 2007, Hispanic or Latino graduate trends have reflected gender parity with neither male nor female graduates substantially outpacing the other. Females represent 52.4% of Latino or Hispanic 2015 graduates.


Figure 19C. Percentage of U.S. medical school American Indian or Alaska Native graduates by sex, 1986–2015.

Figure 19C displays the percentage of American Indian or Alaska Native graduates by gender from 1986 to 2015. Female American Indian or Alaska Native graduates surpassed male American Indian or Alaska Native graduates for the first time in 1992. From 1992 to 2013, American Indian or Alaska Native graduate trends have shown neither male nor female graduates regularly outpacing the other. In 2014 (61.5%) and 2015 (75%), females represent a substantial proportion of American Indian or Alaska Native graduates. The wide variance in the gender representation can likely be attributed to the low number of American Indian or Alaska Native graduates.


Figure 19D. Percentage of U.S. medical school Asian graduates by sex, 1986–2015.

Figure 19D displays the percentage of Asian graduates by gender from 1986 to 2015. The gap between female and male graduates was noticeable until 2006 when full gender parity was reached. In 2008, Asian female graduates surpassed Asian male graduates. Males represent 50.8% of 2015 Asian graduates.


Figure 19E. Percentage of U.S. medical school White graduates by sex, 1986–2015.

Figure 19E displays the percentage of White graduates by gender from 1986 to 2015. During this period, males have always outnumbered females among White graduates. In 1986, males were 57.5% of White graduates. Over time, the gap between White male and female graduates has narrowed. White graduates in 2015 are 55.5% male and 44% female.


Figure 20. Percentage of U.S. medical school full-time faculty by race and ethnicity, 2015.

Figure 20 reflects the percentage of full-time medical school faculty by race and ethnicity in 2015. White (63%) and Asian (15%) faculty compose more than three-quarters of full-time faculty. Full-time faculty for whom there is no reported race or ethnicity information (11%) outpace Black or African American (3%), Hispanic or Latino (4%), and American Indian or Alaska Native (0.1%) full-time faculty.


Figure 21. Percentage of U.S. medical school full-time faculty by sex, race, and ethnicity, 2015.

Figure 21 shows sex by race and ethnic subgroup among full-time faculty in 2015. Males represent more than 60% of medical school faculty among White, Asian, and Multiple Race full-time faculty. Women are the majority among full-time Black or African American faculty (54.5%) and those full-time faculty who selected Other Race (53.8%).


Figure 22. Percentage of U.S. medical school full-time faculty by sex, race, ethnicity, and rank, 2015.

Figure 22 shows the distribution of full-time faculty by sex, rank, and selected race and ethnicity groups in 2015. In 2015, male full-time faculty members at the professor and associate professor levels are the majority across each racial and ethnic group. At the assistant professor level, males represent a majority of full-time faculty among most race and ethnicity groups. Only among Black or African American full-time faculty are there more female than male assistant professors.


Figure 23. How 2015 matriculants spent time between college and entering U.S. medical school by race and ethnicity.

Figure 23 illustrates how entering U.S. medical school students spent their time between undergraduate study and medical school enrollment. Overall, matriculants are most likely to have worked at another career and worked/volunteered in research. For select racial and ethnic minority subgroups, there is a noted emphasis on working to improve finances, continuing course work to fulfill prerequisites, and helping fulfill family obligations. Blacks or African Americans pursued another graduate degree (33%) at a noticeably higher rate than other groups.


Figure 24. Amount of noneducational debt of 2015 matriculants to U.S. medical schools by race and ethnicity.

Figure 24 displays the amount of matriculant noneducational debt by racial and ethnic subgroups. Of all 2015 matriculants, over 60% of all racial and ethnic subgroups have no ($0) noneducational debt. Of Asian matriculants, 89% report no noneducational debt. For Blacks or African Americans, 64% report no noneducational debt. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander matriculants have more noneducational debt than some of their peers, with 21% reporting noneducational debt of $5,000 or higher and 7.9% reporting debt of $20,000 or higher.


Figure 25. Status of premedical school debt by race and ethnicity among 2015 matriculants to U.S. medical schools.

Figure 25 illustrates by race and ethnicity the proportion of 2015 matriculants carrying premedical school student debt. More than 50% of Asians, Whites, American Indians or Alaska Natives, and Hispanics or Latinos have no premedical school debt. Alternately, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander matriculants (64.1%) and Black or African American matriculants (62.1%) report high amounts of premedical educational debt.


Figure 26. Amount of premedical educational debt by race and ethnicity among 2015 matriculants to U.S. medical schools.

Figure 26 shows the amount of premedical educational debt in 2015 by race and ethnicity. Although a majority of medical school matriculants have no premedical education debt (Figure 25), Black or African American (40%), Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (34%), American Indian or Alaska Native (30%), and Hispanic or Latino (23%) matriculants have $25,000 or more in non-medical school educational debt.


Figure 27. Specialty interest by race and ethnicity among 2015 matriculants to U.S. medical schools.

Figure 27 describes matriculant specialty interests in 2015. Incoming medical students overwhelmingly choose “Other” specialty interests, as indicated by a minimum of 66% across select racial and ethnic groups. Pediatrics is the specialty interest for about 12%–14% of each racial and ethnic group. For American Indian or Alaska Native matriculants, 9.2% indicate an interest in family medicine, and 17% of Asian matriculants report an interest in internal medicine, the most of all the groups.


Figure 28. Percentage of 2015 U.S. medical school matriculants planning to practice in an underserved area by race and ethnicity.

Figure 28 illustrates the percentage of 2015 matriculants planning to practice in an underserved area by race and ethnic group. Across these groups, the majority of non-Black or non-African American matriculants are undecided about practicing in underserved communities, including half of American Indian or Alaska Native and Hispanic or Latino matriculants. Substantial percentages of matriculants who are racial and ethnic minorities do plan to practice medicine in an underserved area, including Black or African American (51%), Hispanic or Latino (39%), American Indian or Alaska Native (37%), and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (34%). About 23% of White and Asian matriculants are also planning to practice in an underserved area.


Figure 29. Percentage of U.S. medical school matriculants planning to work in an underserved area by race and ethnicity, 2005–2015.

Figure 29 displays a 10-year change—from 2005 to 2015—in matriculants planning to work in an underserved area by race and ethnicity. During this period, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, and White matriculants maintained a consistent interest in working in underserved areas. Hispanic or Latino matriculants show a steadily increasing interest in practicing medicine in these areas, from 33% in 2005 to 39% in 2015.


Figure 30. Parents’ combined gross income by race and ethnicity of 2015 matriculants to U.S. medical schools.

Figure 30 displays parents combined gross income by race and ethnic subgroups. In 2015, medical school matriculants often come from middle and upper income families across racial and ethnic groups. More than 70% of White, 60% of Asian, and 50% American Indian or Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander matriculants have a parents whose combined gross income over $100,000. Hispanic or Latino and Black or African American matriculants, at more than 40%, report a parental combined gross income over $100,000. Compared with their peers, Black or African American (31%), Hispanic or Latino (29%), and Asian (16%) matriculants are more likely to have parents with a combined gross income under $50,000.