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Academic and Student Services

Corporate Policies and Procedures Administrative (ED)

Student Diversity Policy

Category: General (GN)
Policy#: ED.GN.070
Applies To: All MCW Students in Degree-Granting Programs


The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) recognizes that the achievement of its mission to be a leader and innovator in the education and development of the next generation of the health sciences workforce consisting of physicians, scientists, pharmacists, and health professionals requires us to cultivate a more demographically diverse student body within our degree-granting educational programs.

This policy provides MCW department chairs and administrative leaders with the rationale, definitions, and institutional practices intended to increase the demographic diversity of the next generation of professionals in academic medicine and sciences.


Regulatory and Accrediting Body Definitions of Demographic Diversity

The United States Department of Education reporting requirements are guided by The Higher Education Act of 2008 which defines the term “minority” as an American Indian, Alaskan Native, Black (not of Hispanic origin), Hispanic (including persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Central or South American descent), Pacific Islander or other ethnic groups underrepresented in science and engineering. The Department provided guidance on collecting, maintaining and reporting data by race or ethnicity in 2007.

The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) defines underrepresented in medicine as: "… those racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population."

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) affirms its commitment to foster an inclusive community and leverage diversity of thought, background, perspective, and experience to advance pharmacy education and improve health.”

MCW Definition of Demographic Diversity

MCW recognizes that identification of a particular group as underrepresented may vary by discipline, availability in the local areas from which a school draws the majority of its student population, and by the communities served through research and clinical care. Thus, the MCW definition of diversity is based on periodic analysis of the student demographics of MCW educational programs, the populations that are served by our research and clinical practices, and availability of groups within the areas served from ten-year U.S. Census data.

Accordingly, the following groups are underrepresented in MCW educational and training programs and are formally referred to using the term underrepresented group (URG) for institutional reporting, except as required by regulatory or accrediting bodies. The terms underrepresented in medicine (URM) or underrepresented minority (URM) share the same definition. The term “disadvantaged” is not formally used to refer to any MCW student population.

Categories Used for National Reporting (IPEDs and NIH) MCW Categories based on Campus  Area Demographics
Hispanic, Latino Mexican American, Puerto Rican
Black, African American Black, African American
American Indian, Alaskan Native Native American
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders No Significant Representation
Asian Hmong/ Hmong American


1st generation college

IPEDS - Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
NIH - National Institutes of Health
*Students of Asian descent are not underrepresented in medicine or science except as indicated

MCW also recognizes the importance of creating a welcoming environment for students from other backgrounds who enrich the demographic diversity of MCW, including individuals who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ); veterans transiting from military to civilian service and active duty personnel; and people with a disability/differing ability. MCW fosters outreach and engagement activities to welcome and retain students from these groups.

Related Definitions

Intentional initiatives are essential to increasing the number of students from URGs in MCW degree and training programs. Sustained pipeline programs and targeted recruitment into programs that build knowledge, skills, and professionalism are critical to the preparation, inclusion, integration, and success of students from URGs. Outreach and engagement activities are employed to introduce and welcome students from other demographically diverse backgrounds to careers in medicine and science. The definitions of these activities follow:

Pipeline activities: formal, sustained initiatives that are intended to increase the size and demographic diversity of the academic and health science university talent pool available locally and nationally while providing a recruitment pool for MCW educational programs. Pipeline activities provide academic enrichment, skill development, and professional socialization needed to prepare students for successful matriculation into clinical and science degree-granting programs and ultimately health and scientific careers. Participant learning objectives are established and measured, and educational attainment and or career attainment of participants in these programs are tracked and reported longitudinally. These programs are institutionally and philanthropically supported to ensure their sustainability.

Outreach activities: activities designed to provide exposure to academic, health science or other higher education professional career opportunities and promote interest in health science or higher education careers. These programs may be occasional or regularly scheduled; examples include group visits and events. Long-term outcomes are typically not tracked, but participation numbers and program evaluation data are collected and evaluated by program implementers. While such programs may generate interest in applying to MCW pipeline activities or direct application to school programs, they are not considered to be a formal recruitment activity.

Engagement activities: formal and informal programs and activities that provide awareness of MCW as a higher education institution, and or provide vital social support. Examples include support of science fairs, hosting networking functions, one-time informational presentations, and participation in campus celebrations.

The definitions in this policy will be periodically reviewed and updated in response to significant demographic changes in degree-granting program student composition, area population shifts, or identified strategic needs.


An educational environment with people from diverse backgrounds provides an enriched environment for learning in which students gain critical preparation for professions that increasingly require the ability to manage ambiguity and complexity, work effectively in diverse teams, and engage in life-long learning. 

Increasing the demographic diversity of our student population is vital to redressing historical injustices, improving healthcare equity, addressing health disparities, and ensuring quality and equity in scientific research. Demographic diversity is also critical for scientific inquiry as endorsed for example by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) 2015 Statement on Diversity (NOT-OD-15-053):

“Every facet of the United States scientific research enterprise – from basic laboratory research to clinical and translational research to policy formation – requires superior intellect, creativity and a wide range of skill sets and viewpoints. NIH’s ability to help ensure that the nation remains a global leader in scientific discovery and innovation is dependent upon a pool of highly talented scientists from diverse backgrounds ….”

The term diversity covers many dimensions of human differences that are important to innovation and excellence at MCW. However, a growing number of accrediting and funding organizations require evidence of a policy which defines diversity categories particular to increasing demographic diversity and reporting outcomes of related programming, education, professional development, and training. For example, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) has implemented a diversity standard required for full accreditation, which requires that institutions have a definition of diversity as part of their policies.

Academic institutions are challenged to address the growing need for an academic and health professional workforce that can respond to complex human and social needs. MCW is committed to educating a diverse, technically competent, and diversity proficient academic and health professionals. To accomplish this, MCW recognizes the need for intentional institutional activities that promote equitable access to advanced academic and health professional education, from preparation and socialization to matriculation into educational programs.
Initiating Pipeline Activities

A pipeline, outreach or engagement activity, as defined in this policy, can be initiated and run by any MCW academic or professional unit. However, URG pipeline programs require additional reporting to be recognized as official MCW diversity programs.

A department or unit that seeks to create a new student diversity pipeline activity (see definition) will notify the Student Diversity and Inclusion Office (SDIO) under the Assistant Vice Provost for Student Affairs. The SDIO will provide data to support requirements for accreditation, grant funding, or philanthropic gifts. Notification and reporting of pipeline outcomes to the SDIO are required for host departments to maintain formal recognition of their diversity pipeline activities.


See the Academic Affairs Admission Policies for the specific school or educational program


These procedures are conducted according to all legal, regulatory and accreditation requirements, as well as all related MCW policies.
Office of Academic Affairs Admissions Policy Handbook – School of Medicine (PDF)

Public Safety (PS) (See onboarding of visiting students in on-campus programs) (network access required)

DACA Status Policy (ED.GN.050) (network access required)

Medical Student Handbook (ED.MS.010) (network access required)

Prohibition on Sex Discrimination and Related Misconduct
Not Applicable

Policy Revisions

Effective Date: 06/08/2018
Revision History: 10/01/2018
Supersedes Policy: N/A
Review Date: N/A
Approved By: /S/ John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, President and CEO Medical College of Wisconsin