Some schools are significantly more diverse than others. BestColleges has presented the following list of the country’s 50 most diverse colleges, universities, and other institutions that offer undergraduate credentials. Diversity is a fundamental element of higher education in the United States. By surrounding themselves with peers who hail from a wide range of racial and ethnic groups, men and women who enroll in U.S. colleges and universities can effectively prepare for the diverse workforce they will encounter after graduation.
To create our ranking, we consulted two authoritative sources on the subject: the Shannon-Weiner Index, one of the most widely used algorithms for determining ethnic diversity within a specified population; and the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System, a compendium of statistics associated with gender and ethnic disbursement maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
A satellite campus for the largest school in New Jersey, Rutgers-Newark is home to over 11,000 students. More than half are nonwhite, and the school's Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion helps to make all students feel welcome at school. This organization sponsors campus diversity programs, hosts speakers on diversity and inclusion, recruits minority students, facilitates student mentoring and supports networking for minority faculty members.
This office's initiatives include:
The Center for Race Ethnicity, which promotes interdisciplinary engagement via films, panel discussions, lectures and conferences
The Center for Social Justice in Education and LGBT Communities, which encourages student exploration and advocacy
The Institute for Women's Leadership, which examines and promotes leadership among female students and faculty
Rutgers offers a variety of diversity studies programs. Undergraduates may choose to major or minor in Jewish studies, women's studies, Latin American studies, gender studies or a comprehensive list of foreign language and culture studies.
Located in the San Francisco Bay area, Stanford is renowned for its diverse population and acceptance of alternative lifestyles. On campus, eight community resource centers provide education and networking opportunities as they promote activism within cultural groups. Undergraduates can participate in Asian American, black, Latino, LGBT, Muslim, Native American, women or first-generation student groups.
Residential theme houses are available for students who want to experience an academic or cultural interest group more fully. Theme houses are organized around global citizenship, humanities studies, the arts, human biology or the language and cultures of eastern Europe, central Europe, Italy and France.
Notre Dame de Namur is a private Catholic university serving the northern California region. NDNU's commitment to diversity has led the school to sponsor campus organizations for black, LGBT, Latino and Muslim students. All undergraduates are required to take nine credit hours in cultural diversity and community engagement, supplemented by further culture and language requirements.
The flagship school of the University of Hawaii system, the Manoa campus is located on Oahu in Honolulu. The area's population has a high percentage of Asian and Pacific Islander students, which its enrollment reflects. UH Manoa welcomes its diverse student body and offers support organizations for LGBT students, Native Hawaiians and women students.
Clubs for Cambodian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Mandarin, Indonesian, Nepalese, Taiwanese, Thai and Vietnamese students are available. The Manoa International Exchange encourages both study abroad and hosting experiences with reciprocal arrangements with colleges in 33 countries; most of these schools are in Pacific Rim nations.
This private school in Northern California is proudly diverse; 58% of students hail from ethnically diverse backgrounds, and nearly a third of the school's enrollment is first-generation college students. All instructors at Dominican are encouraged to develop curricula promoting diversity and inclusion. Clubs on campus that also support inclusion include organizations for black, Latino, Pacific Islander, Filipino and LGBT students.
The College of Mount Saint Vincent is a small, private liberal arts school in New York City. As a federally-designated Hispanic and minority-serving institution, the college has a long history of educating a diverse student population. In 2010, the National Science Foundation recognized the school for graduating the highest number of Latino students in the STEM fields. Additionally, Mount Saint Vincent's first-generation students graduate at a rate 67% higher than the national average.
The school's International Studies Center supervises international study exchanges at reciprocating schools abroad, as well as local degree programs in Latin American, Philippine and International Studies. Student programs like Model U.N. host seminars, conferences and lectures, and they encourage participation in the global economy.
Andrews is a private, Seventh-Day Adventist college in Michigan. Only a third of the students at Andrews are white; the rest are primarily black, Hispanic and Asian. All students are encouraged to participate in the month-long cultural identity celebrations presented throughout the school year. Workshops, seminars and social gatherings center around the heritage and history of Hispanic, European, black, Asian, Pacific Islander and women's cultures.
USF encourages inclusivity through its Intercultural Community Center, diversity scholarships and clubs for black, Chinese, Filipino, Latina, Muslim and LGBT students. The school offers a bachelor's degree in critical diversity studies, with concentrations available in African American, Asian-Pacific, Chicano-Latino, gender and sexualities or comparative diversity studies. This interdisciplinary major focuses on history, intersectional theory, research and cultural expression. It culminates with a senior capstone community action project.
Mills is a small women's college in the San Francisco Bay area. The school's Diversity and Social Justice Resource Center provides a number of resources for students, including networking opportunities and skill development in socially significant issues. Social justice peer educators at Mills host regular events exploring the intersection of race and class, including seminars and film screenings on art and activism and gender expression in the workplace.
Students at Mills may also explore the social justice resource library. They can participate in the "Being the First" student program; first-generation students are invited to a four-week residential summer program supporting their transition into university life.
CSULB enrolls about 30,000 students in the Southern California coastal region. The school is among the top ten schools for awarding bachelor's and master's degrees to Hispanic students nationally, and it is ninth in awarding bachelor's degrees to all minorities. Faculty are trained extensively in diversity and inclusion practices in the classroom.
The campus' multicultural center provides students with a comprehensive selection of workshops, lectures, presentations and training across all cultural interest groups. One of its programs, Students Talk About Race, teaches students valuable cross-cultural communication skills. CSULB also supports migrant farm workers and their children in their first-year transition to college life through its College Assistance Migrant Program. The beachfront campus includes eleven gender-neutral bathrooms.
St. John's is a medium-sized, private school in the Queens borough of New York City. This Catholic school is committed to diversity and inclusion for all its students and was one of the first schools to provide equal opportunity education. Today, St. John's is particularly devoted to underrepresented students who aspire to a career in law.
The college's law school preparation program encourages undergraduates from traditionally underserved groups to attend law school. This 9-week, summer program introduces students to the court system and prepares them for the LSAT. It has propelled over 100 students on to law careers.
This central California campus is the newest school in the UC system; it admitted its first students in 2005. In a short time, the school has established itself as a leader in sustainability and diversity. Today, it educates a more ethnically diverse student body than any other campus in the UC system.
UC Merced's Office of Campus Culture offers training programs in social justice, an ethnic writing course, a dialogue series on socially sensitive topics, a social justice retreat and events supporting underrepresented groups. The campus Resources and Education Office also teaches students and faculty about all forms of gender-based violence.
Saint Peter's is a private Catholic school in northern New Jersey. With 3,500 students, the school boasts a small but diverse student body: 33% are Hispanic, 27% are black and 8% are Asian.
The school's Oscar Romero Project is a federally funded initiative designed to improve educational opportunities for Latino students, first-generation students and other minorities. This project garnered state-of-the-art ESL resources, including a learning center, lab and expanded curricula. Additionally, the school's summer honors research program pairs minority students with faculty to explore Latino and Latin American social issues.
BYU-Hawaii is operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and bills itself as an "international center of learning". This small private school enrolls nearly 2,500 students per year, about half of whom are from Asia-Pacific countries. BYU-Hawaii has partnered with the Polynesian Cultural Center to provide employment opportunities for students; about 30% of the student body is employed there as performers, guides or food service personnel. Once per semester, the campus Worldfest provides students an opportunity to explore cultural interest groups represented on campus.
Amherst College is a very small private college in Massachusetts known for its academic rigor. The school has a diverse student body; ten percent of students hold international citizenship, and 43% of American enrollees identify as people of color. Seventeen percent are first-generation college students.
The Multicultural Resource Center provides intersectional education and support to students, faculty, student groups and alumni. Hosted events include cultural celebrations, presentations and lectures, intergroup dialogue, a film series and a lunch series. The Queer Resource Center provides a safe space for LGBTQIAP students to meet and offers sensitivity training, educational conferences, a speaker series and a comprehensive library of queer resources. The Women's and Gender Center promotes awareness of gender differences and provides a space to meet and collaborate; it also houses student organizations like the Pride Alliance, the Gender Justice Collective and more.
Based in Los Angeles, Otis is a tiny private school offering fine arts degrees in 11 creative disciplines. Otis recently earned recognition for its diverse student body, ranking in the top 1% of the Chronicle of Higher Education's list of the most diverse colleges. More than 16% of its student body are international students, and Otis devotes considerable resources to ensuring that these students transition smoothly into university life. Scheduled acclimation events include campus presentations and trips to nearby Chinatown.
An acclaimed private school in Boston, MIT is widely considered one of the country's top research institutions. The campus is also home to a diverse student body; the school's Office of Multicultural Programs supervises nearly 70 organizations devoted to cultural interest groups and serves in an advisory capacity to the Black Student Union and the Latin Cultural Center. LGBTQ students are supported by the G@MIT political advocacy group, and grad students enjoy access to the Rainbow Coffeehouse.
MIT's annual Multicultural Conference is a popular event that promotes dialogue across cultures, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities in the student community. Workshops focus on creating safe spaces and fostering inclusivity.
UIC is a large, public, research university recognized for its commitment to diversity in education. The school is a federally-designated minority-serving institution and holds grants that support Asian American, Pacific Islander and non-English-speaking students. One-third of UIC students are first-generation, and the same percentage identify as non-English speakers. In 2014, INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine awarded UIC its Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) designation.
UIC's Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change sponsor initiatives, programs, workshops and other experiences that promote social justice, understanding and inclusivity. Resources for students include peer mentoring, cultural interest groups and events, libraries, art exhibits and safe spaces. The six centers are focused on African American culture, Asian American culture, disability resources, gender and sexuality, Latino culture and women's leadership.
This mid-sized, public university lies in northern New Jersey and is home to roughly 7,000 students. Formerly a technology school, NJIT now offers a full complement of academic majors. NJIT also ranks first in the nation in awarding engineering degrees to black and Hispanic students.
Student diversity programs at NJIT include the monthly Cross Cultural Conversations dialogue series, workshops and special events that celebrate diversity. The school dedicates months to black history, Hispanic heritage, women's history and LBGTQA awareness. Scheduled events and presentations include a fashion show, an interactive seminar and dance lessons. Student organizations include 18 identity-based clubs and seven identity-based Greek societies.
An esteemed private school in Houston, Rice is home to about 4,000 undergraduates. Twelve percent of Rice's students are international students; of its American enrollees, over half are nonwhite.
Rice supplements its academic cultural awareness programs with regular lectures, workshops and conferences promoting minority studies and scholars. Advocacy and education organizations on campus include Rice Queers and Allies and the Rice African American Network. The school is also home to several identity-based student organizations.
Cooper Union is a small and selective private school in the East Village of New York City. Its degree programs are divided among colleges of architecture, art, engineering and humanities.
Cooper offers extensive scholarship funding to international students, which is uncommon for U.S. schools. Fourteen percent of enrollees are international and roughly half of students are nonwhite. The school provides retraining for immigrant engineers who received their education outside of the United States, among other outreach offerings.
An urban, private arts college serving the L.A. area, CalArts offers degree programs in art, critical studies, dance, film and video, music and theater. Educational equity and inclusion are core goals of this selective school. Nearly 50% of its students are nonwhite and 16.6% are international.
A regular guest lecturer series allows students to explore sensitive issues in safe spaces. Additionally, the college provides funding to faculty and students for projects that celebrate diversity and multiculturalism. Among its student organizations is The Collective, which promotes education and conversation about the African Diaspora and the black experience. Other identity-based groups include the Latino Student Union and the Queer Arts Collective.
This private college was the first university in the State of California. Today, Pacific enrolls about 6,500 students. More than 90 degree programs are available to undergraduates, but the school is especially known for its law, dentistry, pharmacy and music programs.
UP's extensive diversity inclusion programs include the PRIDE center, Women's Resource Center and the Multicultural Center. These services offer educational programs, workshops and other presentations in the name of advocacy and awareness. The college also celebrates Black History Month and Latino Heritage Month, and it hosts the biannual regional LGBTQIA Conference. One of Pacific's most popular traditions is the annual campus drag show.
SDSU is a large, public university just off the south coast in Southern California. The One SDSU Community initiative offers an array of programs, workshops and opportunities for students to network. Students and faculty are encouraged to participate in events like:
The campus life movie series, screening provocative films like Dallas Buyers Club, Into the Gyre, Invictus and Not in Our Town
The annual Holi Festival on campus
Live performances exploring socially charged topics
Participation in the local Martin Luther Jr. Day Parade
At the beginning of each school year, community welcome receptions are held for international, LGBTQ, Hispanic, black, international, Filipino, Jewish, Muslim and women students. The campus Center for Intercultural Relations also hosts trainings and programs for students and faculty.
Cal Poly's Pomona campus serves roughly 30,000 students in the L.A. area. This public institution is known primarily for its engineering program, producing one of every 14 engineers in the state of California. Cal Poly's enrollment is highly diverse; the largest ethnic group on campus is Hispanic/Latino, followed by Asian and then white.
Cultural centers on campus provide education, entertainment and networking opportunities among African American, Asian & Pacific Islander, Latino, Native American and LGBT students. Faculty have equal opportunity to connect with peers in identity-based organizations for black, Latino, LGBT, disabled and Asian Pacific staff. An annual cross cultural retreat for staff and students explores personal identity and its impact in a multicultural community. Other facilities provide safe spaces as well as educational services for disabled, women and international students.
This small, private college in Philadelphia was once a Quaker school but is no longer religiously affiliated. The college is dedicated to instilling values of social responsibility and civic engagement in its students. Campus initiatives include The Sager Symposium, which explores LGBT issues; the Richard Rubin Scholar Mentoring Program for disadvantaged students; and a dedicated diversity week packed with workshops, lectures and cultural celebrations.
Swarthmore's Center for Civil and Social Responsibility encourages students to become social entrepreneurs, advocates and activists via grant funding, transportation and educational opportunities. Faculty and staff serve as student mentors, supervisors and speakers. The Social Responsibility Center offers summer internships, community-based learning courses, research fellowships, scholarships and other opportunities.
Perhaps the most recognized campus in the UC system, UCLA educates about 30,000 students per year. The multicultural presence on UCLA's campus is strong, partly due to the university's efforts at inclusion and partly due to the population demographics in Southern California.
Cultural institutes on campus promote education and awareness of identity-based social issues. They also maintain libraries, inform curriculum development, conduct research, publish literature and perform community services. Centers for American Indian, Asian, Buddhist, Indian and South Asian, Japanese, Korean, Southeast Asian and Asian American studies welcome interested students and faculty. The LGBT Campus Resource Center offers similar resources to LGBT students and allies. Over 100 identity-based organizations on campus are open to student participation.
Pepperdine is a small, private college operated by the Churches of Christ. The college's strong religious mission inspires its diversity policy, which extends to sister campuses throughout Europe, Asia and South America. Multicultural inclusion is practiced throughout the school's network.
Undergraduates can take advantage of a plethora of cultural awareness initiatives across all study areas, including:
Multicultural Theatre Projects
Peace, Hope and Justice Week
Social Action and Justice Colloquium seminar series
Global Village cultural awareness events
Pepperdine Legal Aid Clinic at the Union Rescue Mission for the homeless
More than 18,000 students are enrolled at this branch of the City University of New York system. Located on Manhattan's east side, this public school serves mostly commuter students. Baruch pioneered its inclusion goals in 1966 with the establishment of the SEEK program, which was designed to allow low-income students who could not otherwise attend college to earn a degree. The first of its kind in the United States, this program has enrolled 10,000 students at Baruch.
Minority students are eligible for a number of scholarships. Most prominently, the William Randolph Hearst Fellowship for Minority Students is awarded three times per year to a student of color who aspires to work in the social sector, philanthropy or not-for-profit work. Additionally, funds are available for minority students who want to participate in faculty-mentored academic research. Other opportunities for diverse students are earmarked for Hispanic CPAs, minority MBA students, Russian women in the applied health or medical fields, minority doctoral students and aspiring educators.
One Bernard Baruch Way (55 Lexington Ave at 24th St)
New York, NY10010
Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr, PA
Equity Index Score: 0.6886
American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.11%
Black or African American: 8.03%
Hispanic or Latino: 8.03%
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.21%
Two or More Races: 12.37%
One of the Seven Sisters colleges, Bryn Mawr is a small, private, women's liberal arts school in Philadelphia. More than a third of the college's students are women of color or international students. As the first U.S. university to offer doctorate degrees to women, this school's commitment to diversity is well-established. Students interested in broadening their understanding of diversity are invited to participate in the Social Justice Training Program series of workshops and small group discussions.
The Pensby Center for Community Development offers programs, activities, affinity groups and multicultural events for students from underrepresented groups. Financial aid incentives at Bryn Mawr include the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship, which encourages nonwhite women to pursue careers in higher education.
Two-thirds of UTD's student profile is composed of nonwhite students, and 23% of enrollees are from foreign countries. To meet the needs of its multicultural student body, UT Dallas offers a broad network of resources and services.
An annual lecture series explores inclusion and diversity; past topics have included the media's role in civil rights, multicultural communication strategies and Asian immigrant history. A campus multicultural center hosts cultural celebrations, provides a space for students to network and maintains a resource library. The women's center provides mentoring and counseling, child care resources, leadership development, advocacy and awareness promotion for LGBTQ and women students on campus. The popular diversity scholarship program provides financial stipends and academic support to qualified students.
This campus of the UC educational system offers a full complement of degree programs but is particularly well known for its astronomy and space sciences programs. UCSC also confers a high percentage of its engineering degrees to women. The school's Racial Diversity and Inclusion Office maintains several initiatives to support multicultural students, including:
Sponsored diversity and inclusion courses for faculty career development
A lending library focused on sexual equality, gender equality and racial and cultural diversity
Internships dedicated to underrepresented student groups
Awareness training for Residential Life student employees
UCR is home to about 22,000 students. As a federally designated Hispanic-serving school, its student body is composed of about 36% Hispanic or Latino students; only about 16% of the student body is white, and nearly 60% of attendees are first-generation college students.
The campus' Cultural Center promotes diversity awareness through education, special events, cultural celebrations, advocacy and networking opportunities. African, Asian Pacific, Chicano, Native American, Latin American, LGBT, Middle Eastern and women students are welcomed at these centers. An ethnic studies degree program is available, and the curricula in many other programs reflects multicultural influences. The school also provides additional support for first-generation, special needs and LGBT freshman as they acclimate to college.
USC's students hail from a variety of backgrounds; two-thirds of its student body are nonwhite and 23% of all enrollees are international students. In USC's most recent incoming class, 13% of freshmen were first-generation college students.
USC's Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative is a think tank devoted to addressing social justice issues in entertainment; its research and resulting publications are distributed to the popular press. All undergraduate students must fulfill a diversity course requirement. Student resources include cultural communities for Asian Pacific, black, Chicano and LGBT students; these departments promote awareness and education, provide safe spaces and host cultural events. Among the 800 student organizations on campus, 85 are categorized as cultural-interest groups.
One of the largest branches of the CSU educational system, the Fullerton campus is located in Orange County, just south of Los Angeles. Fullerton's Diversity Initiatives and Resource Center offers workshops, trainings and other events promoting awareness of socially sensitive issues like race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, gender and class.
The African American Resource Center offers peer-to-peer advising, scholarships and internship information and supervises African American clubs and organizations on campus. Asian Pacific and Chicano resource centers operate similarly for these student groups. The Titan Dreamers Resource Center is an initiative that provides undocumented immigrants with academic support, referrals to social services, financial assistance and a safe space for networking. Fullerton also offers a number of scholarships earmarked for multicultural students.
UCSB is a federally-designated Hispanic-serving institution. The school has been honored with three Excellence in Higher Education awards by INSIGHT Into Diversity and eight consecutive citation awards for commitment to diversity by Access Inc.
One prominent campus initiative is an early academic outreach program that helps first-generation and low-income students adjust to college life while providing access to financial aid resources as needed. Students have several resources on campus, including a multicultural center that presents lectures, exhibits, presentations, discussions and films focusing on social injustice. The women's center also promotes education and awareness of gender, sexual equity and challenges women face on and off campus. Dedicated resource centers for Middle Eastern, American Indian, African Diasporic, Asian, Chicano and LGBT students host events, maintain resource libraries and offer networking opportunities.
A large, public school located just outside of Washington, D.C., GMU prides itself on its inclusivity and accessibility to all students. GMU's annual International Week celebrates the school's international community and the cultural experiences they bring to campus. This signature event features dance, theatre, sport, lectures and cuisine from around the globe.
A small, private school in rural New Hampshire, Dartmouth is widely lauded for its lofty admissions requirements and stellar research programs. Despite, or perhaps because of, the school's selectivity, Dartmouth's student body is diverse; 9% are international students and a third identify as nonwhite.
Resources for students include the Intergroup Dialogue discussion series, multi-faith programs and the Center for Gender and Student Engagement. The business school's annual diversity conference is recognized as a premier networking event throughout the business community; students, faculty, recruiters and business executives explore the school's multicultural environment during this weekend retreat.
St. Francis is a small, private, Catholic college in Brooklyn. Known as a commuter school, St. Francis' student body reflects the diverse community of New York City. The Institute for Peace and Justice promotes awareness of socially sensitive issues, offers lecture and workshop series, celebrates diversity and encourages students to engage in the community. Recent volunteer projects focused on Hurricane Sandy cleanup and providing child care and educational opportunities for previously incarcerated women.
Located in northern California just outside of San Francisco, the UC Davis campus is home to about 35,000 students. Multicultural support programs for students include the Cross Cultural Center, which was established in direct response to student protests and a hunger strike in 1990. The CCC's Peer Education and Community Empowerment (PEACE) initiative is a peer mentorship program dedicated to ending social injustice.
UC Davis' diversity education program makes diversity trainings, workshops and lectures available to students and faculty. The LGBTQIA Resource Center offers mental health services, dedicated campus housing, gender neutral restrooms, coming out support, transgender support and HIV testing to students in that community. It also maintains a list of faculty, staff and graduate students who have publicly come out. Identity-based organizations for African American, Asian, Chicano, European, Native American and Middle Eastern students, as well as a women's resource center, offer information, celebrations, social events and advocacy opportunities to interested students.
An Ivy League school and one of the oldest universities in the U.S., Yale is a small, private school located in New Haven, Connecticut. On-campus cultural centers for African American, Asian American, Jewish, Hispanic and Native American students offer meeting spaces, dedicated resource libraries, educational opportunities, study areas and kitchens.
The Office of LGBTQ Resources provides networking events, leadership workshops, trans resources and peer counseling to LGBTQ students. It also hosts the Yale campus PRIDE event. The large international student community at Yale can participate in discussion groups, English language support, spousal and partner support and social events designed to help them adjust to life at Yale.
Pace University is a mid-sized private school in Manhattan's financial district in New York City. The school's Office of Multicultural Affairs and diversity programs seek to challenge discrimination, bigotry and phobias in an educational environment. Its programs include an annual brunch celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a peer educator program, guest speakers on campus, a first-year mentorship program for underrepresented student populations and the Urban Male Initiative for young men of color.
LGBTQA students benefit from student organizations, a resource center, special programming and safe zones on campus. Pace also offers dedicated housing and gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. Additionally, several scholarships and internships are available specifically for students in select cultural groups.
Nearly 40,000 students attend the flagship campus of the Rutgers University system. Here, students can experience a different campus environment than typically found at such a big school. Of its incoming students, 56% identify as nonwhite and 46% are international.
Academic programs in global affairs, African American history, women's and gender history, cultural history and gender and literature are popular choices for undergraduates at Rutgers. The Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT communities offers programs that educate, develop leadership and provide networking opportunities. LGBT housing options are also available on campus. Diversity programs hosted on campus include identity-based cultural centers that promote activism and awareness of socially sensitive issues.
Pomona College, a private, liberal arts school, takes pride in offering students a diverse learning environment. Students can take advantage of the resources and support services provide by the Office of Black Student Affairs, Chicano/Latino Student Affairs, Asian American Resource Center, Queer Resource Center and Women's Union. The smaller student body gives students an opportunity to learn from each other, and the faculty encourages collaboration in and out of the classroom.
The Diversity Program, operated through the Office of Admissions, actively recruits high school students who identify as part of an underrepresented group. During the fall and spring, the school invites students to visit Pomona for a weekend to experience life on campus.
Saint Mary's is a small, Catholic school near San Francisco operated by the De La Salle Brothers. More than half of enrollees identify as nonwhite. Dedicated resources for these multicultural students include:
An annual diversity retreat where student representatives and staff explore diversity and inclusion
Endowed diversity scholarships
Annual diversity dance semi-formal, held at the campus Intercultural Center
Speakers, art exhibits, film screenings and discussions that explore intersectional identity issues
Cultural nights that celebrate the history and traditions of underrepresented student groups
Cultural graduation celebrations that celebrate the particular challenges that students in underrepresented minorities overcame to reach graduation
Home to nearly 10,000 students, Loyola Marymount is the largest Catholic school on the west coast. Its Office of Ethnic and Intercultural Services promotes awareness through workshops, lecture series and social events designed for students in underrepresented groups. Programs include the Intercultural Facilitator peer mentoring program, the Praxis Academy program for first and second-year black male students and the Intercultural Welcome Reception. Loyola Marymount is also one of four universities selected to participate in the Tomodachi Inouye Scholars Fellowship program, which allows students to study in Japan.
One of the top academic schools in the country, UC Berkeley is home to over 35,000 students. The university is deeply committed to diversity and inclusion, and it devotes significant resources to its multicultural students. A sampling of services and programs available to undergraduates includes:
Scholarships for low-income, underrepresented or first-generation students
A vibrant multicultural community center that offers educational programs, trainings, meeting space, a resource library, social events, internships, an art gallery and more
Dedicated student development resources for students in underrepresented cultural groups
The Gender Equity Resource Center, devoted to advocacy, education, counseling, peer education, student organizations and safe spaces
Systemwide resources for undocumented immigrant students
UMBC's Mosaic Center for Culture and Diversity is dedicated to cross-cultural education and collaboration at the university. Campus services include the Resource Center for Language and Culture lending library. The school also provides safe zones and support organizations for LGBT students, a women's center that hosts educational programming and social events and an intercultural living exchange community.
This private, Catholic college in northern California is well known for its inclusive campus. Its Office for Diversity and Inclusion fosters intercultural education and inclusion of all students. Hosted events include the Difficult Dialogue discussion series, celebration of multicultural heritage months, a visiting artist series, visiting performers and lectures. Considerable support services are also offered for U.S. veterans.
SCU's Unity Residential Learning Center offers unique opportunities to understand social justice, socioeconomic, sexuality and gender, culture and race and religious issues that affect its students. The Leadership Excellence and Academic Development program supports first-generation students throughout all four years of college. Identity-based student clubs and organizations provide networking and social opportunities for students in 23 underrepresented cultural groups.
A review of data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics demonstrates that demographic trends on college campuses have evolved over the past 30 years. Since 1976, the Hispanic community on college campuses has grown substantially, increasing from 4% of the total number of college students to 15% of enrollees in 2012. The percentage of black students grew significantly as well, from 10% to 15%. The Asian Pacific/Pacific Islander student enrollment numbers also swelled, from 2% to 6% of all college students. Commensurately, the percentage of white students on campus dropped from 84% to 60%.
Recent U.S. Census data demonstrates that the Asian American student population continued to grow during a period of enrollment decline at American colleges in 2012 and 2013; this may reflect that a growing number of first-generation Asian Americans are attending college. Current census data shows that 8.1% of college students identify as Asian American, but in our ranking, the percentages of enrolled Asian American students are significantly higher. It is probably not a coincidence that the schools we sampled also recruit and support first-generation students.
Statisticians use several indexes to measure racial diversity on college campuses. Here, we use the Racial Index Equity Score to calculate diversity by combining the number of discrete racial groups at each institution with each group’s percentage of the total student body. Schools with comparable populations from different racial groups have a higher score than colleges dominated by a single demographic. Not surprisingly, the student populations at most of the schools on our list boast double-digit percentage representation from at least three different racial groups.
Data variables are defined as follows:
Type of Institution: this variable notes whether schools are public or private, their financial status (all 50 schools on our list are not-for-profit) and the highest academic degree they award.
Enrollment: this variable notes each school’s total population and the number of undergraduate students. As a rule, all of the schools on our list offer at least baccalaureate degrees.
Racial Equity Index Score: based on the Shannon-Wiener Biodiversity calculation, this number indicates how equally-distributed a school’s population is. The closer to one (1) a school is, the more likely it is that students will encounter someone of a different race on campus.
Enrollment by Race: this data, obtained from IPEDS, shows the breakdown of each school’s student body using the following racial groups:
American Indian or Alaska Native
Black or African American
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
White or Caucasian
Two or More Races
How to Interpret the Data
In previous iterations of this list, we included schools with the highest self-reporting populations of Asian, African American and Latino or Hispanic students. In the current ranking, we also evaluated each institution’s academic performance. This is a significant departure from our previous methodology, and the result is a thoroughly vetted list of quality schools that embrace diversity.
Colleges of all sizes appear on this list, though smaller schools are more prevalent than large universities. Nine schools in the top ten have student populations below 5,000, and the schools with fewer than 2,000 students outnumber those with more than 10,000. We used a 500-student minimum for our calculations.
Interestingly, all but seven schools on the list are found in four states: California, New York, New Jersey and Texas. Five of the schools in the top 10 are in New York. Illinois and Michigan are the only landlocked states with schools on our list.
The big four states revealed different diversity trends found throughout the country. Colleges in California, for instance, boasted relatively high percentages for both Asian and Hispanic/Latino students. Schools in New York and New Jersey had a high number of African American students while Texas colleges had a large proportion of Hispanic/Latino attendees. California and Texas both featured high percentages of students identifying as non-resident aliens. White students were one of the dominant racial groups for the vast majority of the schools on our list.
Another intriguing trend is the predominance of religious schools. Although several large, public universities made our list ― including Rutgers, as well as a handful of schools in the University of Hawaii, Cal State and CUNY systems ― Christian schools accounted for more than half of the top 50. All but one of the faith-based schools on our list are coed.
Finally, please note that more than 1,700 schools were considered for this list; even the lowest schools on our ranking are significantly more diverse than most of the country’s other colleges.