Medical School Acceptance Rates By Race And Ethnicity

[NOTE: If you are an early riser and happened to read this post shortly after it was published, be aware that I have added some additional material at the end.]

Mark Perry, an economist at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan and the American Enterprise Institute, has been publishing data for years about medical school acceptance rates by race. His latest findings, as usual based on data from the American Association of Medical Colleges, has just been posted here.

The centerpiece of his presentation is a very revealing graph of acceptance rates by race and ethnicity in several ranges of undergraduate grades and MCAT scores. Here are some of his comments on what the graph clearly shows:

  • For those applicants to US medical schools last year with average GPAs (3.40 to 3.59) and average MCAT scores (27 to 29), black applicants were almost 4 times more likely to be admitted to medical school than Asians in that applicant pool (81.2% vs. 20.6%), and 2.8 times more likely than white applicants (81.2% vs. 29.0%). Likewise, Hispanic applicants to medical school with average GPAs and MCAT scores were more than twice as likely as whites in that applicant pool to be admitted to medical school (59.5% vs. 29.0%), and nearly three times more likely than Asians (59.5% vs. 20.6%).
  • For students applying to medical school with slightly below average GPAs of 3.20 to 3.39 and slightly below average MCAT scores of 24 to 26 … , black applicants were more than 9 times more likely to be admitted to medical school than Asians (56.4% vs. 5.9%), and more than 7 times more likely than whites (56.4% vs. 8.0%).
  • We find the same pattern of acceptance rates by ethnic/racial groups for applicants with slightly above average academic credentials. For example, for applicants with MCAT scores of 30 to 32 (slightly above average) and GPAs between 3.40 to 3.59 (average) … , the acceptance rates for blacks (86.9%) and Hispanics (75.9%) were much higher than the acceptance rate for whites (48.0%) and Asians (40.3%) with those same academic credentials.

Perry concludes, in a rather understated manner, that “2015-2016 medical school acceptance rates suggest that medical schools must have “affirmative discrimination” and “racial profiling” admission policies that favor black and Hispanic applicants over equally qualified Asian and white students,” even though such policies clearly violate state law in a number of states.

Three additional points:

1. If knowledge of the above data were more widespread, wouldn’t general confidence in the ability of black and Hispanic doctors decline?

2. To what degree (if any, I suppose) does the preferential admission of black and Hispanic medical school applicants lead to the “mismatch” effects found among law students? I am sure there is a good deal of evidence on this question, but I am not aware of any single study comparable to Richard Sander’s and Stuart Taylor’s “magisterial” (from my review on Minding The Campus) book, Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It. If interested, a good place to start looking is a thorough, detailed, impressive early (2001) study by the Center for Equal Opportunity, Racial and Ethnic Preferences in Admissions at Five Public Medical Schools, which found extensive mismatch effects in grades, completion rates, and medical licensing passage rates.

3. Some readers may be interested in my James Martin Center review of Vijay JoJo Chokal-Ingam’s revealing, hilarious, depressing story, Almost Black: The True Story Of How I Got Into Medical School By Pretending To Be Black.

Say What? (3)

  1. Chris June 17, 2018 at 12:05 am | | Reply

    Even with those numbers, still less than 5% of doctors are Hispanic and less than 10% are Black. Are you complaining that 5/100 seats and 10/100 are being “given” over to minorities over more deserving caucasian applicants? At the end of the day, a White applicant still has a much higher chance of acceptance than a Hispanic/Black applicant. If you don’t believe me, look at matriculation rates for each school. the highest group is White, followed by Asian in the vast majority of cases.

    P.S. the numbers for whites are definitely higher because many of them are putting “Other” as opposed to clarifying their race/ethnicity. Minorities are certainly not marking other on their applications.

  2. Kerry October 30, 2019 at 12:23 am | | Reply

    Yet the NBA does not give the same opportunity to Asians and Whites. And there is fear to complain about this issue lest the complainer be called racist.

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