The BHSc (Hons) Program strives to be an accessible, supportive, and inclusive community. As part of our efforts to enhance equity in our program, we are piloting a process for Equitable Admissions for Black Applicants (EABA) for the September 2021 intake to the program, for both Level 1 applicants and Level 2 Transfer applicants. Our aims in the implementation of this process are to reduce barriers that might discourage Black-identified applicants from applying to the BHSc (Hons) Program, and to mitigate the potential for unconscious bias to influence evaluation of supplementary applications.
The EABA is open to applicants who self-identify as Black (including Black African, Black Caribbean/West Indian, Black North American, Black/Afro-Latinx, multi-racial students who have Black ancestry that they identify with, and other Black identities). This is an optional application stream for Black applicants.
Supplementary applications from those in the EABA will be scored by a panel of Black students and alumni of the BHSc (Hons) Program and Black faculty in McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences. Applicants in the EABA will also be provided with an additional, optional, question in which they are invited to share any additional comments they believe to be relevant to their application. Students applying through the EABA must meet the same academic requirements in terms of course prerequisites, GPA, and excellence in the supplementary application, and there is no admission quota associated with the EABA.
Steps in the EABA Process
- Black-identified applicants who wish to be considered under the EABA should apply for the BHSc (Hons) Program as per the normal process.
- In early February, all BHSc applicants for Level 1 will receive an email from the BHSc Program with the instructions for submitting the supplementary application. This email will also contain a link to a form where Black applicants who wish to be considered under the EABA can identify themselves to us. This will happen in May for those who are applying as Level 2 transfer applicants.
- Those who self-identify for consideration under the EABA process should submit their supplementary application as per the normal process.
- EABA Applicants will also receive an email with instructions for submitting the optional additional question separately from the supplementary application questions.
Evaluation of EABA-Stream Applicants:
- Supplementary applications from those in the EABA stream will be scored by a panel of Black faculty, alumni, and current students in the BHSc (Hons) Program. Having this team of Black evaluators score the applications of Black-identified applicants will help to reduce the potential for conscious or unconscious anti-Black bias to affect the supplementary application scores.
- Once scoring is complete, the EABA Panel will meet to discuss the files holistically, read the optional additional question, and finalize the supplementary application scores.
- The supplementary application scores provided by the EABA Evaluation Panel will be used to determine admissions decisions for EABA Applicants using the same process and cutoffs as the usual process.
FAQs about the EABA
Why is the BHSc (Hons) Program piloting a process for Equitable Admissions for Black Applicants?
Admissions to the BHSc (Hons) Program is incredibly competitive — in 2021, we had nearly 7000 applications for only 240 spots. Diversity of students is not only valuable for learning itself, but can also help to address some of the ‘pipeline’ issues in health professions (health care, research, and policy) where we also see Black people underrepresented. Black students are relatively underrepresented in the BHSc (Hons) Program compared to the general population of Ontario, indicating that there are barriers to access for Black applicants. These barriers likely consist of multiple factors through which systemic racism has been shown to disadvantage Black people and communities. Although our admissions process can’t address all of these barriers, by instituting a process in which Black applicants’ supplementary application questions are scored by Black evaluators, we can help to mitigate the potential impact of conscious or unconscious bias in the scoring process, and send a clear message that Black applicants are welcome in our community and encouraged to apply.
How does the EABA differ from the general application process?
The principal difference is that supplementary application questions from applicants in the EABA process will be scored by a panel of Black faculty, alumni, and students. The other difference is that applicants through the EABA will also have the option of sharing additional comments they believe to be relevant to their application, and these comments can be considered by the EABA evaluation panel as they finalize the supplementary application scores. Otherwise, the process and requirements are the same. Applicants under the EABA process must meet the same course prerequisites, GPA cutoffs, and supplementary application score cutoffs as the rest of the applicant pool, and there are no quotas for admission under the EABA process.
How will the optional additional question be used?
The optional additional question will not be scored. The EABA panel will review responses for the optional additional question as part of the holistic review of EABA applicants, and these comments can be considered by the panel as they finalize the supplementary application scores.
I am a Black applicant — how can I connect with students in the Black BHSc Association?
You can follow them on Twitter (@BlackBHSc), or send them an email (email@example.com). Students in the BBA have also created their own video message:
How does a person prove they are eligible to apply under the EABA process?
You must self-identify as Black, or as multi-racial including Black ancestry and identify with that ancestry. ‘Black’ can mean Black African, Black Caribbean, Black North American, or other forms of Black identity. Applicants under the EABA will be asked to pledge and confirm that they appropriately meet these self-identification requirements.*
Is it easier to get into the BHSc (Hons) Program under the EABA process?
No. Applicants under the EABA process must meet the same course prerequisites, GPA cutoffs, and supplementary application score cutoffs as the rest of the applicant pool, and there are no quotas for admission under the EABA process.
The EABA process does not create an advantage for Black applicants; rather, it is intended to mitigate some of the disadvantages that Black applicants may face with respect to systemic factors and the potential for conscious and unconscious bias.
*Individuals who misrepresent their eligibility for the EABA pathway may be subject to the provisions and processes of McMaster’s Academic Integrity Policy under section 18.m, which states that it is an offense under the policy to “submit false information for the purpose of gaining admission.”