NYMC Faculty Publications


Why Did the United States Medical School Admissions Quota for Jews End?

First Page


Last Page


Document Type


Publication Date

November 2019


Radiation Medicine


At the end of World War II anti-Semitism was pervasive in the United States. Quotas to limit the number of Jewish students were put in place at most U.S. medical schools in the 1920s and were well-entrenched by 1945. By 1970 the quota was gone. Why? Multiple factors contributed to the end of the quota. First, attitudes toward Jews shifted as Americans recoiled from the horrors of the Holocaust and over half a million Jewish GIs returned home from World War II. Many entered the higher education system. Second, governmental and private investigations in New York City, New York State and Philadelphia exposed the quota. Third, New York State, led by Governor Thomas E. Dewey, established 4 publicly supported nondiscriminatory medical schools. These schools adsorbed many New York Jewish applicants. Fourth, from the 1920s through the 1960s some medical schools consistently or intermittently ignored the quota. Finally, the federal and several state governments passed nondiscrimination in higher education legislation. The quotas ended because of a combination of changing societal attitudes and government and private social action. This remarkable social change may be instructive as higher education now grapples with allegations of a quota system for Asian-Americans.