Limited, uneven progress in increasing racial and ethnic diversity of dental school graduates

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Dental Education








Purpose/objectives: To assess racial and ethnic diversity of graduates of each dental school compared to the diversity of populations they draw from and to assess changes over time nationally and by school. Methods: We calculated diversity of graduates by school and nationally between 2010–2012 and 2017–2019 using the Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and compared the diversity of each state's college age population using data from the American Community Survey. We accounted for differences between in-state and out-of-state students attending public and private schools based on data from the American Dental Association's Survey of Dental Education Series. A diversity index (DI) was calculated for each school. A DI of 0.5 means that the representation of Black or Hispanic individuals among the graduates is half of their representation in the benchmark population. Results: Among the 63 dental schools analyzed, only seven had a DI of greater than 0.5 for Black graduates (two of which were Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in 2017–2019. For Hispanic graduates, 20 schools had a DI above 0.5. Nationally, while the number of Black graduates increased between 2010–2012 and 2017–2019, the percentage decreased from 5.8% to 5.1%. The percentage of Hispanic graduates increased from 6.4% to 8.7%. Conclusions: Black and Hispanic individuals are underrepresented among dental school graduates. Increasing the diversity of the dental workforce could help address significant oral health disparities experienced by Black and Hispanic people. More needs to be done by the dental education community to increase racial and ethnic diversity of dental graduates.