Across the country, institutions of higher learning are starting to look more like the general population. In the 2010-2011 school year, three times as many minority students received bachelor’s degrees compared to the 1990-1991 school year. Back then, minorities only represented 13 percent of bachelor degree earners; today, that number has jumped to nearly one-fourth of total degree recipients.
I’ve written about the Top 20 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and included schools that are growing in diversity. I’d like to expand that idea to include non-HBCUs that have excellent programs in place for minority students. I used several factors to create this list: percentage of minority students enrolled, freshman retention rates, graduation rate gaps and general graduation rates (particularly over six years).
Take a look at my list of the 30 best U.S. colleges and universities for minorities and let me know who you would add:
10. San Jose State University, California: The tagline of this public school is “Powering Silicon Valley,” and students are taught through cutting-edge technology and encouraged to innovate their own. San Jose State has a 57 percent minority population and a 23:1 student to teacher ratio. Over 35 percent of Latino students graduate in six years, along with 27 percent of Black students. Asian students graduate at a rate of 44 percent in six years, as well as 27 percent of American Indians. About a quarter of San Jose State students receive grant help from the university that runs about $2,927 on average.
11. California State University, Long Beach: With 23 campuses throughout the state, CSU abides by the motto, “working for California,” and rightly claims to be one of the most affordable education systems in the nation. In-state tuition costs just $5,472 per year for the 2012 – 2013 academic year. Just over 55 percent of the student population is minority and there is a 23:1 student-to-faculty ratio. In six years, Black and Latino students graduate at 52 and 47 percent, respectively. There is also a freshman retention rate of 86 percent.
12. University of Houston: As the third largest university in Texas, UH boasts a 57 percent minority rate. The affordability of the school makes it an attractive option for in-state students who will only pay $6,658 per academic year. One-third of American Indian students and 50 percent of Black students graduate within 6 years. Even with the reasonable tuition, 41 percent of attendees earn grants directly from the school.
13. New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark: Named a Princeton Review “Best College” and “Most Wired College,” NJIT is fifth in the nation for minority students earning engineering degrees. There is a student-to-teacher ratio 15:1, and a 55 percent graduation rate over six years. Over half of the students receive grant aid from the school directly.
14. Hunter College, The City University of New York: Known for its social work and nursing programs, 49 percent of the students at Hunter College are minorities. Over 40 percent Black students graduate in six years, compared with 36 percent of Latinos and 50 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders.
15. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York: In 2004, this school already had an impressive Black student graduation rate at 63.3 percent — though it didn’t match White student graduation achievement, which was 82 percent. By 2010, Black student graduation rates soared to 87 percent, surpassing White numbers that remained stagnant. The school has a White-Black grad-rate gap of -4.6.
16. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond: This public research institution boasts small class sizes and required advisor meetings to keep all students on track. It made the list because the graduation rate for Black students rose from 34.5 to 49.8 percent between 2004 and 2010, while the graduation rate for Hispanic students rose 20 percent to nearly half (48.7) in same time frame.
17. Southwestern Adventist University, Keene, Texas: With 25.7 percent Hispanic students, Southwestern Adventist has heightened its graduation rate over the past decade. In 2004, only 24.2 percent of Hispanic students graduated; that number jumped 20 points by 2010 to 44.2 percent.
18. Pepperdine University, Malibu, California: While Hispanics only make up 11 percent of the student population at this Christian school, the Hispanic graduation rate is 81.8 percent. This number is higher than the graduation rate for White students, which is 78.8 percent, giving Pepperdine a negative graduation rate gap for Hispanic students at -1.9.
19. Indiana University Purdue Indianapolis: A public research university, the college doubled its graduation rate for Black students between 2004 and 2010. Though the school still has a long road ahead, the Black graduation rates rose from 12.6 to 24.8 percent in those six years through targeted programs developed by IUPUI.
20. Stony Brook University, New York: A member of the State University System of New York, Stony Brook was recognized as the school with the “Smallest White-Black Graduation Rate Gap” on a 2010 list. The six-year graduation rate for Black students (71.3 percent) actually exceeds White students (58.7 percent).
21. University of Chicago: This Midwestern private school boasts some of the highest graduation rates in the country, and Hispanic students are no exception. Hispanic students graduate at a rate of 92 percent while White students are just ahead at 94 percent.
22. California University of Pennsylvania: The school boasted a 33 percent jump in its Black graduation rate from 2004 to 2010. At the beginning of the time frame, the Black graduation rate was only 27.5 percent. By 2010, it was up to 60.5 percent.
23. Faulkner University, Montgomery, Alabama: This Christian college has a population that is almost half comprised of Black students. In 2004, just 20.5 percent of Black students graduated; now over 36 percent do, and White students are ahead by less than a percentage point, making the grad-rate gap just 0.8.
24. University of California-Riverside: Nearly 29 percent of the students here are Hispanic. Of those students, 65.4 percent graduate compared to just 60.4 percent of White students. This gives the school a negative graduation rate gap that is at -5.8 percent.
25. Tiffin University, Ohio: Black students represent nearly one-fifth of the population and in 2004, the white-black graduation-rate gap was 25.8 percent. By 2010, the graduation rate gap had narrowed to just 5.9, with 34.8 percent of Black students graduating.
26. Seattle University, Washington: From 2004 to 2010, the Hispanic graduation rate jumped over 30 percent from 46.9 to 78.6 percent. White student numbers also rose from 70 to 73 percent, giving the school a Hispanic-white graduation gap rate of -5.3.
27. Florida State University,
Tallahassee: The six year graduation rate is 72.7 and 74.1 for Black and White students, respectively. As a state school, tuition is affordable for residents ($212 per credit hour for full time) and Florida students can also take advantage of tuition breaks through the Bright Futures program that tracks academic progress and community involvement during high school.
28. George Washington University, District of Columbia: Located just four blocks from the White House, GWU is an excellent choice for students interested in national politics or international business. The Office of Diversity is dedicated to broadening the scope of students enrolled in the school’s programming. The White-to-Black graduation rate gap is just 3 with the Black student graduation rate at 78.6 percent, just behind White students at 81.4 percent.
29. University of Louisville: The school places specific emphasis on minority students in its medical programs and an aggressive placement program in conjunction with healthcare systems throughout the state of Kentucky. Overall, the University of Louisville has a 41.1 percent graduation rate for Black students.
30. Iowa State University, Ames: With a 52.4 percent graduation rate for Black students, Iowa State boasts a “strategic approach to diversity” that includes a recognized interfaith calendar.
Dr. Lynch is a department chair and an associate professor of education at Langston University. He has focused his career on researching topics related to educational policy, school leadership and education reform, particularly in the urban learning environment.
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