The Most Diverse Colleges

March 17, 2021

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Attending a college or university with a diverse student population can be valuable for all learners. In a diverse environment, students can build a community where individuals of different ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds, and abilities exchange insights and work to challenge damaging preconceptions.

Explore our list of the most diverse colleges in the United States and find out how to make the most of your unique identity when applying. Browse additional resources to find scholarship programs, Greek-letter societies, and advocacy organizations, and learn more about how you can engage in a diverse college community.

Our Methodology

The following section includes a ranked list of the most diverse colleges in the United States. To create this ranking, we used several key diversity data points pulled from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, including the percentage of nonwhite students; percentage of female students; percentage of international students; and the number of ethnic, cultural, and gender studies programs offered at the colleges.

We also considered academic quality and affordability, putting together the ranking by using BestColleges' general methodology.

Most Diverse Colleges

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CUNY Lehman College View School Profile Bronx, NY

Part of the City University of New York since 1967,Lehman College serves approximately 15,000 students. Located in the Bronx borough of New York, Lehman is among the most diverse colleges in the United States. With over 90% of its student population identifying as a person of color and 68% identifying as female, Lehman boasts strong academics along with a dedication to diversity.

Lehman's Office of Compliance and Diversity offers many resources to the college's diverse community of students, faculty, and staff. As a sanctuary campus, Lehman provides immigration and legal services for DACA and undocumented students. Myriad resources also support LGBTQ+ students, veterans, and disabled learners.

Lehman also houses theUrban Male Leadership Program, which focuses on increasing the number of Black and Latino males in higher education.

CUNY Hunter College View School Profile New York, NY

Founded as a women's college in 1870,Hunter College began admitting male students in 1946 and is now among America's most diverse colleges. Located in Manhattan, Hunter is part of the City University of New York and serves over 20,000 students.

Approximatelytwo-thirds of students at Hunter are female, and the school is recognized as both a Hispanic-serving Institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution.

The college'sOffice of Diversity and Compliance strives to create a safe and open environment for all faculty, staff, and students. Additionally, Hunter'sLGBT Social Science & Public Policy Center uses faculty and student research to advocate for public policy that supports LGBTQ+ individuals and communities. Hunter is also home toQuERI — an independent think tank focused on improving the K-12 school experiences for LGBTQ+ students and families.

Wellesley College View School Profile Wellesley, MA

Founded in 1870,Wellesley College is a private women's liberal arts school located in Massachusetts. Wellesley serves an undergraduate population of about 2,500 students and boasts a network of over 35,000 alumni. With students of color making up more than half of the student body, Wellesley is an ethnically and racially diverse college compared to many other small liberal arts schools.

The college'sPresidential Commission on Ethnicity, Race, and Equity lays out many policy recommendations, including hiring faculty with experience in diversity and equity. The commission also helped launch a campus-wide unconscious bias training initiative. Wellesley maintains theOffice of Intercultural Education to promote cultural competence development and advocate for students of color and students who identify as LGBTQ+.

Florida International University View School Profile Miami, FL

Florida International University is a public research university located in University Park that serves about 60,000 students annually. FIU is a Hispanic-serving institution, and the school maintains a reputation as one of the most diverse colleges in the U.S. — BIPOC students make up about 85% of its enrollment. FIU is also among the top U.S. institutions in awarding undergraduate degrees to Hispanic students.

FIU houses numerous student organizations that celebrate, promote, and advocate for diversity and social justice issues. The Office of Social Justice and Inclusion, Asian Student Union, and the Mexican Student Association all encourage learner engagement. FIU also promotes regular LGBTQ+ activities and meetings that foster an inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff.

California State University-Los Angeles View School Profile Los Angeles, CA

California State University, Los Angeles models equity and inclusion at the institutional level. Using the five-year, $1 million HHMI Inclusive Excellence Grant it won in 2018, Cal State LA has focused on equity-based faculty professional development and pushed for institutional change by removing barriers that negatively affect minority populations.

Cal State LA offers severalprograms and initiatives for Black students. For example, the RISE peer mentoring program, Men of Color Success Network and Beyond, and Men of Color Retention Committee all expand academic access, increase graduation rates, and nurture future leaders within Black communities.

Additionally,The Queer Connection (TQC) increases diversity while providing assistance and resources. TQC also builds community awareness related to sexuality and gender issues.

Howard University View School Profile Washington, DC

Located in Washington, D.C.,Howard University is a private, historically Black university. Established in 1867, Howard boasts a long history of inclusivity. Howard also maintains a reputation for its academic rigor, producing more African American Rhodes Scholars than any other HBCU.

Howard recognizes thatdiversity and inclusion are essential to a thriving campus culture. The university goes to great lengths to meet physical and academic accommodations while offering students gender-inclusive housing.

Learners also gain access to access to free mental health, physical health, and self-help resources. Student groups likeCASCADE,oSTEM, andOutlaw all advocate for and celebrate LGBTQ+ education, diversity, and equality.

California State University-San Bernardino View School Profile San Bernardino, CA

Founded in 1965, California State University, San Bernardino serves nearly 20,000 students. The university is a Hispanic-serving institution, and 66% of its students identify as Hispanic. Additionally, 63% of the student population is female.

Additionally, 58% of learners come from low-income backgrounds, and 81% are first-generation college students. CSUSB'sDiversity, Equity, and Inclusion Board creates an open and inviting campus culture for all students, faculty, and staff.

The university'sQueer and Transgender Resource Center provides education and advocacy by offering resources to all people associated with the university. The center also combats homophobia in campus culture. Run by a knowledgeable and sensitive staff, the center offers resources like safe zone training, panel discussions, and a resource library.

Carlos Albizu University-Miami View School Profile Miami, FL

Established in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1966,Albizu University's Miami campus originally opened in 1980 as the Miami Institute of Psychology. This small, private university enrolls just under 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and it is a certified Hispanic-serving institution. The university is also one of Florida's top schools for psychology.

Albizu University strives to create asafe and inclusive community on its campus. Students gain access to individual counseling, tutoring, and accommodations for physical and mental challenges. Tutoring services are widely available, with a particular emphasis on developing conversational English for students whose second language is English.

California State University-Dominguez Hills View School Profile Carson, CA

Established in 1919, theUniversity of California, Los Angeles serves a student population of over 46,000 individuals. UCLA maintains a relatively diverse student body, with incoming first-year students of color representing about60% of their class.

UCLA'sLGBTQ Campus Resource Center has served the community for over 20 years and provides a wealth of resources to foster an open, inclusive, and equitable community. Student, staff, and faculty resources include counseling and psychological services, career development, and scholarships. Additional services include sexual health information and resources for queer and trans undocumented students.

UCLA also admits a diverse class of students at the graduate level. Of the approximately13,000 admitted graduate students in 2019, about half were women and 2,500 came from underrepresented groups.

University of California-Los Angeles View School Profile Los Angeles, CA

Established in 1919, theUniversity of California, Los Angeles serves a student population of over 46,000 individuals. UCLA maintains a relatively diverse student body, with incoming first-year students of color representing about60% of their class.

UCLA'sLGBTQ Campus Resource Center has served the community for over 20 years and provides a wealth of resources to foster an open, inclusive, and equitable community. Student, staff, and faculty resources include counseling and psychological services, career development, and scholarships. Additional services include sexual health information and resources for queer and trans undocumented students.

UCLA also admits a diverse class of students at the graduate level. Of the approximately13,000 admitted graduate students in 2019, about half were women and 2,500 came from underrepresented groups.

California State University-Long Beach View School Profile Long Beach, CA

California State University, Long Beach serves a student body consisting of71% students of color.The school encourages diversity and inclusivity through its Division of Academic Affairs and offers academic access to students in the richly diverse Southeastern Los Angeles County and beyond.

The university fosters academic success among low-income and underrepresented students by hiring faculty experienced in serving diverse students. CSULB also hosts multiple student cultural resource centers. For example, resources provide targeted support for Asian American, Pan-African, and Muslim students. Additionally, the LGBTQ+ Student Cultural Resource Center offers various services while advocating for education related to sexual and gender identity issues.

California State University-Fresno View School Profile Fresno, CA

California State University, Fresno is a Hispanic-serving institution that enrolls more than 25,000 students. Established in 1911, Fresno State is based in the San Joaquin Valley, and about80% of its enrolled students are people of color. In 2020, Fresno State earned its seventhHigher Education Excellence in Diversity award for demonstrating a deep commitment to campus diversity and inclusion.

Fresno State also provides severalLGBTQ+ programs and services. The university's Cross-Cultural and Gender Center offers a safe environment for the community while fostering discussions and activism designed to combat forms of oppression. Additional resources include a free clothing closet, student counseling, and the Queer Talks discussion group.

Spelman College View School Profile Atlanta, GA

Founded in 1881,Spelman College is the oldest private, historically Black liberal arts college for women. Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Spelman College boasts thehighest six-year graduation rate of any HBCU at 76%. Additionally, the National Science Foundation recognizes Spelman College as a leader in producing graduates who go on to earn advanced degrees in the sciences.

TheDr. Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program awards two annual scholarships for LGBTQ+ advocates, while also funding a lecture series focused on gender, race, and sexuality. Spelman College is also the first historically Black college toendow a chair in queer studies.

California State University-Stanislaus View School Profile Turlock, CA

Located in Turlock, California State University, Stanislaus serves over 10,000 students and is designated as a Hispanic-serving institution. Stanislaus State endeavors to expand academic access to underrepresented students and introduces them to STEM fields.

Stanislaus State'sDiversity Matters initiative doubles down on the school's dedication to creating an equitable collegiate experience. Student resources include the San Joaquin Pride Center, the Warrior Cross Cultural Center, and the Assyrian Wellness Collaborative. The university also houses the Asian Law Caucus and the Southeast Asian Assistance Center.

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University View School Profile Tallahassee, FL

A historically Black school located in Tallahassee,Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University opened in 1887. FAMU creates a culture of diversity and inclusion by educating faculty, staff, and students on the benefits of nurturing a safe academic atmosphere founded on respect and dignity.

In addition to its rich history as an HBCU, FAMU provides a host of LGBTQ+ resources. The university'sLGBTQ Resource Room offers learners a safe space to meet and provides information on services like mental healthcare, support groups, and community service opportunities. Additionally, the school hosts LGBTea Roundtables that provide a forum for open discussions about FAMU campus culture.

Why Is a Diverse Student Population Important?

Among the most profound benefits of higher education is the opportunity to build a broader worldview through academic and socioemotional exposure. Diverse colleges and universities enrich the experience of all students. Receiving an education alongside individuals of various identities can invite communication, encourage students to challenge harmful stereotypes, and facilitate critical thinking.

All students benefit from the enrichment offered by a diverse college environment. Many enrollees at the nation's most diverse colleges believe that seeing their identities represented equitably on campus is crucial to building a community and having a sense of belonging.

Colleges should construct academic and social settings that successfully mirror the growing diversity of the American workforce. A more diverse campus environment can better prepare students for the challenges and opportunities they will face after graduation.

Why Do Colleges Value Diversity?

Many colleges value building a diverse student population, and learners often aim to find a school that will embrace their identity in a meaningful way. To assess a college's commitment to diversity, you can explore the infrastructural initiatives a school has taken to embrace minority students.

Employing a diverse faculty can be an excellent way for colleges to facilitate more inclusive classroom environments. Professors and other faculty members can act as role models and mentors for students who share similar backgrounds.

Diverse colleges might also host specialized Greek-letter societies to make sure students can build supportive communities with their peers. For example, the National Pan-Hellenic Council is a network of African American-led sororities and fraternities, such as Kappa Alpha Psi and Omega Psi Phi. This organization also supports alumni with member-specific job boards and professional training opportunities.

Students should also check a school's financial aid options, exploring the availability of scholarship programs or grants designated for specific populations. Pell Grants, for example, support economic diversity by making tuition more affordable for low-income students.

How Do I Leverage Diversity During the Admissions Process?

Many colleges want to grow the presence of historically underrepresented groups on campus and build a student body that better reflects the general population. However, some colleges receive a shortage of applications from these students. As a result, minority and special population students can leverage their unique identities and stand out from other applicants.

When applying to colleges, students can highlight their identities, alongside their community service experiences, awards, essays, and creative ventures, showing how these experiences intersect with their unique background. For example, applicants can use the essay portion of an application to emphasize how their identities have led to unique opportunities in community outreach and leadership.

Listing demographic information is just one component of the application process. Many schools take into account applicants' intended majors, extracurricular interests, and experiences to build a well-rounded class of students. If you're applying as a student of an underrepresented group, try to showcase how you can contribute to enriching and expanding the campus environment.

Additional Diversity Resources

College Resources for Diverse and Multicultural Students

This guide provides a collection of resources for students of diverse identities, including students of color, international students, LGBTQ+ students, and undocumented students. Find appropriate scholarship programs, Greek-letter societies, and advocacy groups to help you navigate your college experience.

College Guide for LGBTQ+ Students

This comprehensive guide helps LBGTQ+ students find a safe and supportive college environment. This guide also includes information about scholarships and human rights organizations that support LGBTQ+ students.

College Guide for Undocumented Students

Pursuing higher education can pose unique challenges for undocumented students. This guide provides legal, financial, and DACA resources you can use to navigate obstacles commonly encountered during the application, enrollment, and financial aid processes.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Minority Students

Explore this list of financial aid opportunities for minority students. You can browse dozens of scholarships and supportive organizations that target students based on their identity and field of study.

Scholarships for Hispanic and Latino/a Students

This list highlights need-based and merit-based scholarships and grants for Hispanic and Latino/a students. Some scholarships are designated for more specific populations, such as female or undocumented individuals.

Scholarships for African American and Black Students

There are several public and privately funded options for Black and African American students looking for scholarships. Some scholarships and grants serve students in specific areas, like law or engineering, while others are need-based awards.

Scholarships for Asian Pacific American Students

Asian and Pacific American students looking to fund their education can pursue a variety of grants and scholarships. Some of these opportunities focus specifically on women, LGBTQ+ individuals, first-generation students, or specific ethnicities. Other scholarships serve Asian and Pacific American students pursuing specific fields.

Scholarships for LGBTQ+ Students

There are several scholarship opportunities that serve LGBTQ+ students. Many of these awards go to LGBTQ+ recipients who reside in designated regions or study a specific discipline.

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