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SSOM students in attendence at the white coat ceremony


Stritch pioneers the education of DACA physicians-in-training

Providing a path to a medical career for under-represented minorities without documentation.

In the Jesuit tradition of advocating for social justice, Stritch School of Medicine was the first medical school in the U.S. to openly admit immigrant students without documentation. Additionally, we believe it is in the medical profession's interest to maintain a diversity of physicians and physician-scientists who reflect an increasingly culturally- and ethnically-rich society. As of May 2023, we are proud to have conferred Doctor of Medicine degrees to 38 DACA-eligible individuals.

We encourage medical school peers throughout the country to extend similar opportunities and advocate for reform of the United States immigration system to remove educational and career barriers.

While students may apply for admission as they pursue DACA status, matriculation requires confirmation of deferred action from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

What is DACA status?

On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to allow some young people classified as undocumented immigrants to receive a two-year, renewable authorization to remain and work in the United States. Often called “DREAMers” after the proposed federal legislation, the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors) Act, these individuals came to the United States as children and have attended school and grown up in this country. They are Americans in every sense of the word except they lack citizenship status.

Learn why Stritch School of Medicine admits DACA students.

Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine admits DACA recipients because

  1. The dignity and worth of every person calls us to steward the talents of qualified applicants rather than reject their potential contributions for arbitrary reasons. Typically, individuals who meet DACA criteria are community members who want to contribute to those communities – and beyond. The Stritch approach echoes a long tradition articulated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops of advocating for immigrants. (2) (3) (4)

  2. A diverse workforce is critical to the future of the medical profession. Physicians who share ethnic, cultural, or racial backgrounds with patients – particularly those who are under-represented, are often more likely to care for those individuals, produce better outcomes, and can become role models. Training alongside diverse students can foster cultural sensitivity, understanding, and competence.

  3. Medical school graduates with DACA status will be eligible for a state license to practice medicine and pursue residency. Prior to the DACA program, any immigrant without documentation who graduated medical school could not receive a work authorization and a social security number. Medical schools must evaluate DACA students based on their qualifications and potential rather than their immigration status.

Learn about scholarships for DACA students.

Financing education is an obstacle facing DACA recipients because they are ineligible for most federal benefits. Yet federal loans comprise a large portion of a typical medical student’s financial aid package. Stritch seeks to develop a realistic aid package that addresses financial needs. Typically, these packages are contingent on funding availability and require the student's and their family's ingenuity. We have worked with our DACA students to create viable packages that enabled 23 of our alums to complete medical school and enter residency.

In years past, some loans were available through two partner organizations, the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) (the infrastructure bank of the State of Illinois), and Trinity Health in partnership with The Resurrection Project. Recently, there has been greater reliance on partial tuition scholarships and students securing private loan money.

The underlying concern for DACA students is the program's long-term viability because it is subject to change with each new administration. As a two-year, renewable status, it cannot provide the recipient with the long-term security accompanying a path to citizenship.

Contact Stritch Admissions for more information.

Read about Stritch DACA students and graduates