First-generation and continuing-generation college graduates’ application, acceptance, and matriculation to U.S. medical schools: a national cohort study

Hyacinth R.C. Mason, Ashar Ata, Mytien Nguyen, Sunny Nakae, Devasmita Chakraverty, Branden Eggan, Sarah Martinez, Donna B. Jeffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Many U.S. medical schools conduct holistic review of applicants to enhance the socioeconomic and experiential diversity of the physician workforce. The authors examined the role of first-generation college-graduate status on U.S. medical school application, acceptance, and matriculation, hypothesizing that first-generation (vs. continuing-generation) college graduates would be less likely to apply and gain acceptance to medical school.Secondary analysis of de-identified data from a retrospective national-cohort study was conducted for individuals who completed the 2001–2006 Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Pre-Medical College Admission Test Questionnaire (PMQ) and the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). AAMC provided medical school application, acceptance, and matriculation data through 06/09/2013. Multivariable logistic regression models identified demographic, academic, and experiential variables independently associated with each outcome and differences between first-generation and continuing-generation students. Of 262,813 PMQ respondents, 211,216 (80.4%) MCAT examinees had complete data for analysis and 24.8% self-identified as first-generation college graduates. Of these, 142,847 (67.6%) applied to U.S. MD-degree-granting medical schools, of whom 86,486 (60.5%) were accepted, including 14,708 (17.0%) first-generation graduates; 84,844 (98.1%) acceptees matriculated. Adjusting for all variables, first-generation (vs. continuing-generation) college graduates were less likely to apply (odds ratio [aOR] 0.84; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.82–0.86) and be accepted (aOR 0.86; 95% CI, 0.83–0.88) to medical school; accepted first-generation college graduates were as likely as their continuing-generation peers to matriculate. Students with (vs. without) paid work experience outside hospitals/labs/clinics were less likely to apply, be accepted, and matriculate into medical school. Increased efforts to mitigate structural socioeconomic vulnerabilities that may prevent first-generation college students from applying to medical school are needed. Expanded use of holistic review admissions practices may help decision makers value the strengths first-generation college graduates and other underrepresented applicants bring to medical educationand the physician workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2010291
JournalMedical Education Online
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Pre-medical education
  • diversity
  • equity and inclusion
  • first-generation college graduates
  • medical school application and acceptance
  • minority recruitment


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