The Program in Liberal Medical Education — which allows students to earn their undergraduate and medical degrees in a single eight-year program — admitted a total of 97 students this year, including 20 early decision candidates, Ip wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. Both numbers are consistent with previous years, she added.
The drop in applications could be due to the current economic recession, Ip wrote.
"When a student applies and is accepted to the PLME, it is an eight-year commitment — a very expensive commitment in this economy," she wrote. "It would be my educated guess that the economic downturn played a significant role in our drop in applications."
Admitted PLME students visiting campus during A Day on College Hill said other reasons could explain the drop in the number of applicants.
Sahar Shaharmatdar of Rockville, Md., said she thought the decrease might be related to waning student interest in eight-year medical programs.
"A lot of people I know weren't really interested in the program because they wanted to do accelerated programs," she said. "Since they were already committed to becoming doctors, they just wanted to get through the courses as fast as possible."
For example, she heard of many such students applying to Northwestern University, Shaharmatdar said. Northwestern's Honors Program in Medical Education allows students to earn an undergraduate degree in three years and complete a four-year medical program after that.
Alex Grieb, an admitted PLME student from New Orleans, had a different theory.
"Because of the new application on the Common App," she said, "you just had to check a box and write an extra essay (to apply for PLME consideration). Some people may have missed that part of the application."
But Ip wrote that the drop in applications this year could have just been an aberration, adding that the program will probably not undergo any major changes as a result of the decline.
"We are probably not going to change anything given this one-year drop in applications considering we have a steady increase over the past five years in applications," she wrote.
"It will be interesting to see where medicine in general is going ... to see if there is a drop in overall interest in medicine or to see if this was just an ‘off year,'" she added.
— Shara Azad