UMBC leads nation in producing African-American undergraduates who pursue M.D.-Ph.D.s

Published: Jan 2, 2018

A student presenting her work at URCAD 2017. (Photo by Marlayna Demond '11 for UMBC.)

According to new data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), UMBC undergraduate alumni who identify as African American have gone on to pursue and earn more M.D.-Ph.D.s than alumni from any other institution across the country. In total, 44 UMBC alumni who identify as African American or black earned M.D.-Ph.D.s. M.D.-Ph.D. degrees, which combine scientific and medical education. These degrees are typically of interest to people who want to conduct research in a medical setting, such as at medical schools, universities, and research institutions.

Since the 2000-2001 academic year, a total of 413 African Americans have earned M.D.-Ph.D.s from institutions across the United States. More than 10 percent of those M.D.-Ph.D.s were awarded to UMBC undergraduate alumni who identify as African American.

“The success of our students entering and completing M.D.-Ph.D. programs is made possible by UMBC’s commitment to undergraduate research,” says Keith Harmon, director of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at UMBC. “Our students are able to have sustained research experiences at UMBC, making them extremely competitive and attractive applicants.”

UMBC has several programs and initiatives in place that support students who plan to pursue M.D.-Ph.D.s after graduation. The Meyerhoff Scholars Program is nationally recognized as a model for increasing diversity in STEM fields, and for supporting students as they prepare to pursue advanced degrees. Since 1993, over 1100 students have graduated from the program, including nearly 275 alumni who went on to earn a Ph.D. and 49 who completed M.D.-Ph.D.s.

“Many students choose UMBC because they know it is a special place where expectations and standards are high, opportunities abound, and our culture of community and support uplifts and inspires them to pursue their dreams,” explains Harmon.

UMBC’s MARC U*STAR Program also supports undergraduate students from underrepresented groups, who are majoring in the life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics, and plan to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical research or mathematics. Twenty seven MARC U*STAR alumni have earned M.D.-Ph.D.s, including 13 since 2014.

Harvard University was in a distant second on the list provided by the AAMC, followed by institutions including Morehouse College, Xavier University of Louisiana, Johns Hopkins University, Hampton University, University of Virginia, Yale University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Duke University, and Princeton University.

UMBC is also ranked in the top 10 for producing undergraduate students who earn computer science degrees, based on data from the National Science Foundation’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. In addition to UMBC, the top 10 includes Carnegie Mellon University, University of Washington, Penn State, George Mason University, DePaul University, University of Texas at Dallas, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Southern California, and New York University. The NSF data counts computer science and information systems degrees in the rankings.

Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

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