Longitudinal trends in the applicant pool for U.S. Medical Schools, 1974-1999

Frances R. Hall, Collins Mikesell, Pamela Cranston, Ellen Julian, Carol Elam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Purpose. To examine the pool of applicants to U.S. medical schools from 1974-1999 for changes in size and demographics and to identify factors that may be associated with such changes. Method. Data on characteristics of the total applicant pools to U.S. medical schools for 1974-1999 were collected from the Association of American Medical Colleges' Data Warehouse. Data on undergraduates' receiving bachelor's degrees and unemployment rates were obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, respectively. Variables such as race/ethnicity, gender, age, and first time or reapplicant status were compared across the study period. Results. The percentage of women applicants increased from 20% of the pool in 1974 to 45% of the pool in 1999, while the percentage of men dropped from 80% to 55%. The number of underrepresented minority (URM) applicants increased 45% during the period, from 2,890 to 4,181, but URM applicants represented only 11% of the total applicant pool in 1999. Between 1974 and 1999, the number of URM men applying to medical school dropped by 18%, from 1,984 to 1,629, while the number of URM women nearly tripled, from 906 to 2,552. The number of Asian/Pacific Islander applicants increased dramatically, from 986 in 1974 to 7,622 in 1999, and they now represent a fifth of all applicants. The proportion of reapplicants grew when the applicant pool grew and it shrank when the applicant pool shrank. No relationship was found between the size of the applicant pool and economic indicators, age, or geographic origin. Conclusion. Changes in the proportions of women and Asian/Pacific Islander applicants were the driving force in the expansion of the applicant pool between 1974 and 1999.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829-834
Number of pages6
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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