The public health field justifiably takes pride in being among the most diverse professions in the world. And the Mailman School is not exception. Throughout its history, the School has sought to engage members of diverse communities in its work, research, and policy making initiatives. As one of the nation’s top-ranked schools of public health, the Mailman School has worked diligently to recruit a student body, faculty, and staff that reflect the racial, ethnic, social, economic, and cultural diversity of the United States and of the international communities that have been the focus of its scholarship and service. Mailman School students, staff, and faculty come from every walk of life, from more than 35 nations, able and disabled backgrounds, and diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. The School is committed to creating an environment that supports success for people of all backgrounds.

The Mailman School of Public Health has also been in the forefront of research and programming to examine and resolve disparities in health and in healthcare wherever they exist. Efforts to serve underrepresented minority groups in the United States have led to the creation of a number of programs that have gained national and international prominence. The School has been especially dedicated to building a pipeline that leads students from the undergraduate years into careers at the doctoral and post-doctoral levels of study, and recognizing, strengthening and expanding the particular intellection and cultural abilities of its students.

Programs Across the Educational Pipeline

The educational pipeline in the United States extends from the earliest years of schooling to the completion of a terminal graduate degrees and postdoctoral training. Since the 1960s, leading American institutions of higher education have been committed to assuring that this pipeline is as inclusive as possible. The Mailman School has been at the forefront of such efforts, recruiting a diverse pool of undergraduates, master’s and doctoral students, and junior faculty through the following ongoing programs and initiatives:

  • The Summer Public Health Scholars Program, which aims to increase student interest in and knowledge of public health and the biomedical sciences, is administered through a partnership between Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, College of Physicians and Surgeons, School of Nursing, and College of Dental Medicine. It is designed for undergraduates in their sophomore or junior year and recent baccalaureate degree students who are undecided about their career goals and have a minimum GPA of 2.7. This is a rigorous program that includes public health course work at Columbia University, hands-on field experience and immersion in a diverse, economically disadvantaged urban environment, seminars and lectures with public health leaders, and mentoring by faculty members, ensuring exposure to the breadth and importance of public health as a career option.

  • The Biostatistics Enrichment Summer Training Diversity Program (BEST) seeks to expand and diversify the behavioral and biomedical sciences workforce by introducing undergraduates from underrepresented populations to the value of biostatistics and critical thinking to public health and medicine, with a focus on cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. Through BEST, students representing racial and ethnic minority groups, disadvantaged backgrounds, and students with disabilities join the Department of Biostatistics for eight weeks of research, training, academic and career planning, and social activities around New York City.

  • The Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) is an education project for doctoral students that is funded by the National Institutes of Health and aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented students who enter research careers in public health. The program supports eight doctoral students by providing partial tuition funding, one to two years of research mentoring, and additional funding to attend one scientific conference per year. IMSD students participate in a biweekly seminar course that provides workshops on research methods, statistical analyses, scientific writing, professional development, and techniques and coping strategies for success in graduate school and a research career. In 2012, the program's work with the Department of Sociomedical Sciences was recognized by the national organization Excelencia in Education for improving educational achievement for Latino students in higher education. For more information on the IMSD program, contact Program Director Ana Abraído-Lanza.

  • The Program to Inspire Minority Undergraduates in Environmental Health Research is an opportunity for minority undergraduate students to conduct research with faculty, doctoral students, and postdoctoral fellows at Columbia University, earn credits for any required research internships, earn money for working in a lab, and explore the possibility of a career in science. Students are paired with a Columbia University faculty mentor who provides guidance on a research project. Faculty also serve as a resource for students as they embark upon the graduate school application process.

Our Commitment to Promoting Diversity

A commitment to diversity requires more than offering a variety of programs—it means bringing a “lifecourse lens” to this essential issue. From pipeline programs for both students and faculty to strong mentoring and collaboration efforts to focused promotion and tenure plans, the Mailman School does more than talk about diversity. We live it.

As an institution, we are particularly proud of the place we occupy in one of the most diverse urban settings in the nation. We are located in Washington Heights, a community that is animated by residents from diverse backgrounds, including the Dominican Republic and a variety of Central and South American nations. We are within a ten-minute drive of Harlem, one of the nation’s most illustrious centers of African American culture and arts.

As a center of higher learning in a majority minority urban center, we strive to practice the kind of public health that we preach and promote in our classrooms, our research, and our programmatic interventions. We are surrounded by an enormous range of public health challenges, and we are committed to connecting our work to the needs of our community.