Chancellor Malatras Announces Significant Year-Over-Year Increase in Applications to SUNY’s Four Medical Schools amid Pandemic

December 22, 2020

University at Buffalo, Upstate Medical, Stony Brook, and Downstate Medical All Seeing Surge in Applications; UB Applications Up 40% from Year Prior

Sharp Rise in Applications Part of National Trend and Attributed to SUNY’s Pivotal Role in Treating and Studying Coronavirus, Leading Vaccine Trials, and Creating World’s Top Ranked Saliva Test

Albany, NY State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today announced a significant year-over-year surge in M.D. program applications to SUNY’s four medical schools. Compared to the number of applications received in 2019, the University at Buffalo, Upstate Medical University, Stony Brook University, and Downstate Health Sciences University all experienced a notable spike in M.D. applications in 2020.

SUNY M.D. Program Application Increase Breakdown:

  • University at Buffalo: 40 percent
  • Upstate Medical University: 26.2 percent
  • Stony Brook University: 13.5 percent
  • Downstate Health Sciences University: 8.5 percent

The uptick in applications to SUNY’s four medical schools is part of a broader nationwide trend. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), medical school applications are up 18 percent over the last year thanks in large part to the example set by medical workers, doctors, and public health figures.

"The unwavering commitment of doctors and public health experts to providing care, vital information, solace, and hope during the darkest moments of this pandemic has been a profoundly inspiring experience for us all," said Chancellor Malatras. "It has also served as an awakening and turning point for many young people who are now motivated to join the ranks. From being on the frontlines in March and developing the world’s top-ranked saliva test, to cutting edge research about how the virus behaves and leading trials for the Pfizer vaccine—our physicians and physician-scientists have been at the very forefront of understanding, treating, and eradicating this deadly virus. M.D. applications are up because more people are seeing what we are capable of, and know that there is no better place to learn and launch their medical careers."

Back in April at the height of the pandemic and pursuant to an executive order signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, 227 medical students from Upstate Medical University, Downstate Health Sciences University, and Stony Brook University graduated early in order to work on the frontlines and provide much-needed relief at overwhelmed hospitals. Many were assigned to hospitals in the New York City Metropolitan area, the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.

University at Buffalo Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Michael E. Cain, M.D., said, "The fact that so many of our young people have decided during this once-in-a-century pandemic that they want to ‘run toward the trouble’ as the saying goes, and not away from it, is extraordinary and humbling. It has been nothing short of inspiring to see the determination that our students, medical residents and faculty are bringing to their work every day to improve the care of patients in Buffalo both during and after this pandemic."

SUNY Upstate Medical University President Mantosh Dewan, M.D., said, "The pandemic continues to shine a spotlight on the outstanding work of those in the medical professions and biomedical sciences. I think what’s happening is that individuals who may have thought of entering medical school have taken another look and are seeing the amazing work physicians, physicians-scientists and community physicians are doing in caring for humanity in one of the greatest medical challenges of our time."

Stony Brook University President Maurie D. McInnis said, "The impact of science and medicine have never been more evident than they are today. This novel coronavirus pandemic has certainly raised awareness of the need for more doctors, and significantly elevated the importance of medical research and innovation. The increase of applicants to the Renaissance School of Medicine in 2020 – nearly 5,900, our highest ever – is inspiring in that it demonstrates a new generation is answering the call and we look forward to welcoming the class of 2025 to our campus in July."

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University President Wayne J. Riley, M.D., said, "We are proud of the increased number of applications to the College of Medicine, which we view as a testament to the impact our own physicians and healthcare workers had during the pandemic. Our applicants understand the value of what they can learn—as the next generation of healthcare leaders—in a community often hard hit by chronic illnesses and other health disparities. They know the training they receive will prepare them to serve where there is the greatest need."

SUNY Health encompasses four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, the state’s only college of optometry, and 37 other campuses dedicated to health professions and services. Together, SUNY Health graduates more than 11,000 health professionals every year, including one of every three medical school graduates, nearly one of every three nursing graduates, and one of every four dentists in the state.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY's 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit

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