Diversity Efforts, Admissions, and National Rankings: Can We Align Priorities?

Caren A. Heller, Sandra Hurtado Rúa, Madhu Mazumdar, Jennifer E. Moon, Charles Bardes, Antonio M. Gotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Increasing student body diversity is a priority for national health education and professional organizations and for many medical schools. However, national rankings of medical schools, such as those published by U.S. News & World Report, place a heavy emphasis on grade point average (GPA) and Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores, without considering student body diversity. These rankings affect organizational reputation and admissions outcomes, even though there is considerable controversy surrounding the predictive value of GPA and MCAT scores. Summary: Our aim in this article was to explore the relationship between standard admissions practices, which typically aim to attract students with the highest academic scores, and student body diversity. We examined how changes in GPA and MCAT scores over 5 years correlated with the percentage of enrolled students who are underrepresented in medicine. In a majority of medical schools in the United States from 2005 to 2009, average GPA and MCAT scores of applicants increased, whereas the percentage of enrolled students who are underrepresented in medicine decreased. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that efforts to increase the diversity of medical school student bodies may be complicated by a desire to maintain high average GPA and MCAT scores. We propose that U.S. News revise its ranking methodology by incorporating a new diversity score into its student selectivity score and by reducing the weight placed on GPA and MCAT scores. © 2014

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-311
Number of pages8
JournalTeaching and Learning in Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • diversity
  • medical school admissions
  • national rankings


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