Grantee Research

"Education, Not Deportation": A Pilot Study of Undocumented Student Experiences in Law and Medical Degree Programs

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



law schools, medical schools, immigrant students, undocumented students, access to legal education, access to graduate education, financial aid, tuition


Increased numbers of culturally competent professionals in the legal and medical fields are urgently needed in a diverse society like the United States. This is largely due to the decisive role legal and medical services play in the everyday lives and well-being of communities of color. Due to recent developments in federal immigration policies and educational association policies, increased numbers of immigrant students, in particular undocumented students, are enrolling in professional degree programs. Little is known, however, regarding undocumented students’ experiences applying to and studying in these professional degree programs and how their experiences compare to that of other immigrant student populations. Employing the use of a mixed methods approach consisting of a national survey of immigrant law and medical degree students, this paper describes the findings from a pilot project examining the effect of legal status on students’ educational trajectories and workforce experiences. In doing so, this work sheds light on the role of immigration status plays on immigrant students’ pursuit of post­graduate education and offers critical interventions in scholarly discourse, policy, and practice.