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 a little bit more to include non-HBCUs that have excellent programs in place for minority students. I used a variety of 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:
1. University of San Francisco: With a 40 percent minority population, the graduation rates for all demographics are impressive. The school graduates 74 percent of Hispanic students, 51 percent of black students, 71 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander students and 61 percent of white students. Though the private school has pricey tuition ($33,500 for both in and out-of-state students) 59 percent of students receive grants from the university. The total grant aid received by student body from all sources is nearly $55 million.
2. Polytechnic Institute of New York University, Brooklyn: The second-oldest private school specializing in engineering, the Polytechnic Institute of New York University has satellite campuses in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi. The school's main campus in Brooklyn is made up of 52 percent minority students and 99 percent of students receive financial aid - with 97 percent receiving grant aid from school directly. In six years, the graduation rates are 40 percent for black students, 37 percent for Hispanic students and 62 percent for Asian and Pacific Islanders.
3. University of Hawaii, Manoa: The flagship school of the University of Hawaii system, the campus at Manoa boasts high numbers of minorities: 40 percent are Asian, 17.4 percent are native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders and another 14.2 percent of students claim two or more races. Hispanic and black students represent less than 4 percent of the population combined, but only 20 percent are white. The school has world-renowned oceanography, astronomy and Asian studies programs and an overall graduation rate of 55 percent in six years.
4. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The class of 2010 was declared the "most diverse" in Harvard history and the school continues to build diversity through its undergraduate minority recruitment program. The efforts seem to be paying off - in 2010, the white and black student graduation rates were nearly equal - 78 percent of black students and 79.4 percent of white students graduated. The income threshold for parents not required to make a financial contribution rose from $40,000 to $60,000 in 2006 - making this a more affordable option for low- to middle-income families.
5. Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey: The minority population at this public school is 58 percent, with a 59 percent graduation rate of all students in six years. The student to faculty ratio is 11:1 and there is a freshman retention rate of 84 percent. Rutgers is an affordable option - with in-state tuition around $11,000 and 62 percent of students receiving Pell grants.
6. University of Phoenix, nationwide: This for-profit education chain has faced its share of scrutiny but the numbers don't lie. A report released at the end of 2012 found that the online university graduates more minorities than any other U.S. institution. Not only are minorities represented in the university's graduation rates, but so are non-traditional students that like the flexibility completely online programs offer. The University of Phoenix has brought the value of online programs to the national discussion and encouraged traditional, brick-and-mortar schools to implement greater student flexibility.
7. San Francisco State University: With just over half of all students considered minorities, this public university has 75 percent retention for full-time students and 100 percent for part-time. Just over one-fourth of students receive grants directly from the university, on average $3,268 each. The graduation rates are 42 percent for American Indians, 49 percent for Asians/Pacific Islanders, 36 percent for Latinos and 27 percent for black students.
8. Stanford University, California: With an endowment of $17 billion, this research-based school has an astounding 98 percent freshman retention rate. Programs like the Stanford University Minority Medical Alliance (SUMMA) bring other minority organizations on campus together to look ahead to the medical concerns of the changing U.S. demographic. Despite no use of affirmative action in admission procedures, Stanford has only a 34 percent white student population. About half of the students receive need-based financial aid.
9. City University of New York: With a whopping 540,000 attendees ranging from GED seekers to Ph.D. students, 72 percent of CUNY's population are minority students. Despite its large size, CUNY has a student to faculty ratio of 13:1 and a freshman retention rate of 81 percent. Over half of all students use Pell grants toward tuition and there is a 35 percent graduation rate for black students in six years.
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 and 27 percent of American Indians do too. 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 years. Just over 55 percent of the student population are minorities and there is a 23:1 student-to-faculty ratio. In six years, 52 percent of black students graduate and 47 percent of Latinos. There is also a freshman retention rate of 86 percent.
12. University of Houston: 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, and there is a student-to-teacher ratio 15:1. Over half of the students receive grant aid from the school directly and there is a 55 percent graduation rate over six years.
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 - but it didn't match white student graduation achievement which was at 82 percent. By 2010, black student graduation rates had 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 from 2004 to 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 had jumped 20 points by 2010 to 44.2.
18. Pepperdine University, Malibu, California: While the population of this Christian school is only at 11 percent Hispanic, the graduation rate for this group 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 from 2004 to 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 over the six year period 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 halfway made up of black students. In 2004, just 20.5 percent of black students graduated; now over one-third (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 one-third (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, this Hispanic graduation rate jumped over 30 percent from 46.9 to 78.6. 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 for black students is 72.7 and 74.1 for white students. 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.
This article previously appeared on www.diverseeducation.com