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Medical School Enrollment More Diverse in 2021

December 8, 2021

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MEDIA CONTACTS
Stuart Heiser, Sr. Media Relations Specialist

Number of total applicants grows 18%

U.S. medical schools attracted and enrolled a more diverse class in the 2021-22 academic year, with Black, Hispanic, and women applicants and enrollees all making gains, according to data released today by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges).

The total number of students applying to medical school this year also substantially increased, up nearly 18% from last year, to a record 62,443 applicants.

“It is gratifying to see this growth in the diversity and number of students interested in a career in medicine, particularly during such a unique time in history as a result of the global pandemic and the growing recognition of the effects of health disparities in our country,” said David J. Skorton, MD, AAMC president and CEO. “For nearly two years, Americans have watched the heroism and dedication of physicians on the front lines. As the nation faces a real and significant projected shortage of physicians, I am inspired by how many individuals want to follow in the footsteps of those before them to serve their communities.”

Changes from 2020 to 2021 academic years

Applicants +17.8%
Acceptees +2.6%
First-Year Enrollees +1.9%
Total Enrollment +1.5%

Diversity of the 2021 entering medical school class

The new data shows that the nation’s medical schools continue to attract and enroll more racially and ethnically diverse classes.

  • The number of Black or African American first-year students increased by 21.0%, to 2,562. Black or African American students made up 11.3% of matriculants (first-year students) in 2021, up from 9.5% last year. Of particular note are the increases among Black or African American men; first-year students from this group increased by 20.8%.
  • First-year students who are Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin increased by 7.1%, to 2,869. Individuals from this group made up 12.7% of matriculants, up from 12.0% in 2020.
  • However, American Indian or Alaska Native first-year students declined by 8.5%, to 227, making up 1.0% of matriculants.

“The gains in medical school enrollment of students from underrepresented groups are encouraging, but there is still much more work to be done — including increasing the representation of American Indian and Alaska Native communities — to ensure that our nation’s diversity is reflected in the future physician workforce,” said Geoffrey Young, PhD, AAMC senior director, transforming health care workforce. “The AAMC and our member medical schools are deeply committed to significantly increasing the number of applicants and students from underrepresented groups.”

Women also continued to make gains this year, making up 56.8% of applicants, 55.5% of matriculants, and 52.7% of total medical school enrollment. This is the third consecutive year that women made up the majority of these three groups. The number of men matriculants declined for the sixth year in a row.

Additional facts about the 2021 entering class

As in previous years, medical school enrollees in 2021 had strong academic credentials, with a median undergraduate GPA of 3.81, an increase from previous years. Enrollees ranged in age from 16 to 55 years old — an even wider range than last year — and 163 of them were military veterans. Additionally, this year’s entering class demonstrated a dedicated commitment to service. The class cumulatively performed nearly 15 million community service hours, an average of 650 hours per student.

View the summary data tables here and the full data tables here.

Note to editors: The race/ethnicity data includes individuals who identified in one or more race/ethnicity categories. For example, “Black or African American” includes individuals who identified only as Black or African American, as well as those who identified as Black or African American and at least one other race/ethnicity category.

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The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) is a nonprofit association dedicated to transforming health through medical education, health care, medical research, and community collaborations. Its members are all 155 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; approximately 400 teaching hospitals and health systems, including Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and more than 70 academic societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC leads and serves America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals and the millions of individuals employed across academic medicine, including more than 186,000 full-time faculty members, 94,000 medical students, 145,000 resident physicians, and 60,000 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the biomedical sciences.