History of African Americans at Yale School of Medicine

The School of Medicine was established by passage of a bill in the Connecticut General Assembly in 1810 granting a charter for "The Medical Institution of Yale College". The Institution was formally opened in 1813, and the first degrees were conferred the following year.

The first African American student to graduate from the School of Medicine was Dr. Cortlandt Van Rensselaer Creed. A native of New Haven, Creed obtained his MD degree from Yale in 1857. His thesis, Dissertation on the Blood, was submitted to the faculty in partial fulfillment of his MD degree requirements. Dr. Creed spent most of his professional life in New Haven ministering to a multiracial practice until his death in 1900. The Creed-Patton-Steele Scholarship Fund has been established in recognition of his service and contributions. Nine other African Americans graduated from Yale before the turn of the 19th century, several of whom gained national reputations.

The first African American women to obtain her MD at Yale was Dr. Beatrix Ann McCleary Hamburg, in 1948. Dr. Hamburg was also the first self-identified African American admitted to Vassar College.  Dr. Hamburg's career before, during after Yale was highlighted in her own words in a 2010 Yale School of Medicine Bicentennial video - Crossing the Color and Gender Divide.  

Significant numbers of African American students enrolled at Yale beginning in the early 1970's. Since 1971, an average of twelve African American students have matriculated annually in a class of 102. The average number of Hispanic/Latino students enrolling each year has increased in the past decade to its current level of 8 to 10 per year.

A list of of known African American graduates of Yale School of Medicine has been developed thanks to the the scholarship of Dr. Daniel D. Daniels (YSM 1987) who wrote his Yale medical school thesis on the history of African Americans at Yale. Dr. Daniels' list is updated annually by the OMCA in cooperation with the Yale Alumni Association.

Minority student admission since the 1970's

The Yale University School of Medicine has made a strong commitment to training underrepresented minority physicians and scientists. Over the past 30 years, over 300 African American students have graduated with MD's or with combined MD/PhD degrees; African American graduates comprised 9.5% of the MD's graduating from the School during this period.

Beginning in the mid-1980's, Hispanic/Latino and Asian American students began to comprise an increasing proportion of the classes admitted to YSM. In 1999, the minority student entering class included 24 Asian American, 13 African American, and 11 Hispanic/Latino student in a class of 104. These three ethnic/racial groups now comprise 40% of the Yale medical students: (Asian Americans 21%, African Americans 11% and Hispanic/Latino student 8%).

Approximately 12 students each year are accepted into Yale's MD/PhD program. Currently, 12 of the 75 MD/PhD students are African American or Hispanic/Latino students. Participants in the program are selected from already enrolled Yale medical students and from new applicants.