So the college experience is all about making friends and having fun while doing a little bit of study – right? Maybe. But it’s also about broadening your horizons, developing your social consciousness and establishing your political beliefs as an independent adult. If college is all about experience of the real world, then we’d expect our college experience to represent the world as it is. It says a lot about American society as it is today, then, that many national universities have come to be mono-ethnic bubbles.
When picking a college to go to, most people tend to go by national rankings that highlight course quality, student satisfaction, university infrastructure, and employment prospects. The question of a university’s ethnic diversity is often neglected, though many would argue that a multicultural experience is crucial to an enriching time at college. As our list shows, for many U.S. universities, diversity is far from being a priority: at each of the universities mentioned, one ethnic group dominates, representing more than 80% of the general student body.
Historical and religious allegiances are the reason for a lack of diversity at some of the colleges on our list. For others, however, it’s more ambiguous. While some states have a less diverse general population, they also discourage an influx of diversity from outside of their boundaries with high out-of-state tuition fees.
This list has been drawn up according to a U.S. News report using data from the 2012-2013 academic year to assess a university’s diversity. The report uses an ethnicity index, which is calculated from data drawn from each institution’s undergraduate full and part time student body.
10. Morgan State University, Maryland – 0.19
Founded in 1867, Morgan State University is Maryland’s designated public urban institution. The university is located in Baltimore, and is a relatively small university with an undergraduate enrollment of 6,591 students. Historically, MSU is a black college and the tradition has carried on: in 2013, the university had an African American enrollment rate of 82.2%. Only 3.4% of students enrolled were white, and 5.6% were international.
9. Bowie State University, Maryland – 0.17
With a 90.8% African American population, Bowie State University is one of the least diverse in the country. However, it is also the oldest HBCU (Historically Black College or University) in the state of Maryland. It is therefore important to remember that historically, the university’s primary concern is serving and educating the black community. BSU is however also geographically undiverse with 88% of students attending being from within the state.
8. University of Dayton, Ohio – 0.17
With an undergraduate student body that is 84.6% white, the University of Dayton is far from ethnically diverse. Only 3.76% of students are African American, and 2.86% are Hispanic. The University of Dayton has a Roman Catholic affiliation and was established in 1850. It boasts a beautiful historic campus and over 70 undergraduate courses – however, Dayton’s lack of diversity is a serious drawback. This may be explained by the university’s private status and the high tuition fees of $46,250 as estimated by Forbes.
7. University of Maine, Maine – 0.17
80.6% of students attending the University of Maine are white. That is to say almost 7, 000 of the university’s 8, 619 undergrads. The public research university was established in 1865 and is the only land-grant university in America that is located on an island. In a nutshell, land-grant universities are institutions that were set forth in 1862 to focus on the teaching of practical agriculture, science, military science and engineering without excluding classical studies. In 2010, 95.2% of Maine’s general population was white, which helps to explain the lack of diversity in the state’s largest institution.
6. South Dakota State University, South Dakota – 0.15
With a student body that is 91.13% white, lack of diversity is a serious problem at South Dakota State University. Only 1.49% of students are Hispanic and 1.27% are African American. This is largely explained by the fact that local demographics are primarily white: 84.7% of South Dakotans are white, with the second biggest racial group being American Indians and Alaskan natives that make up 8.5% of the population, and just 1.2% African Americans. Tuition fees are slightly higher for out-of-state students which likely discourages a diversification of the university population.
5. University of New Hampshire, New Hampshire – 0.15
85.5% of students at the University of New Hampshire are classified as white. The public research university has 11, 942 undergraduate students and has been in place since 1866. The reason for lack of diversity at New Hampshire is perhaps its high fees. Indeed in-state students have to pay $16,422. in 2012, The Department of Education ranked the University of New Hampshire as having the 4th most expensive in-state tuition for a public 4-year college in the country. Moreover, the university is unlikely to attract diversity from outside of the state with out-of-state tuition fees of $28,882.
4. Michigan Technological University, Michigan – 0.13
Although Michigan Technological University has been ranked as one of the ‘Best in the Midwest’ by The Princeton Review, Michigan’s public research university falls short of excellence when it comes to diversity. With an 83.41% white student body, and less than 2% of any other individual ethnic group, the lack of diversity at Michigan Tech stands out. On top of this, most of the students are male, with a 75% male enrollment rate.
3. North Dakota State University, North Dakota – 0.13
With 87.2% of white students, North Dakota State University sure isn’t winning any prizes for diversity. The second ‘biggest’ racial group is African American, and represents just 2.15% of the overall student body. 90% of the general North Dakotan population is white which helps explain this trend. However, it is no surprise that the university fails to attract diversity from out-of-state students given that out-of-state fees cost $17, 599 where in-state students pay just $7, 353.
2. Florida A&M University, Florida – 0.1
The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University at Tallahassee is a public, historically black university. It is the only one in Florida. However, ethnic exclusivity has hardly worn off with time, given that 94.12% of Florida A&M students are African American. Only 2.94% of students are white, and 1.19% are latino. In 1963, students from this college held a demonstration against segregation in the city, suggesting that lack of diversity in the college is more a question of habit than one of preference.
1. Yeshiva University, New York – 0.02
The private institution of Yeshiva University is the United States’ least ethnically diverse university. It is located in New York city and 90.81% of the student body is white – less than 1% of students come from other individual ethnic groups (0.9% Latino and 0.04% African American). The university is Jewish, which largely explains this lack of diversity. Although the university’s current president Richard M. Joel is not a rabbi, all presidents before him were. Yeshiva University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States that combines Jewish scholarship with studies in the liberal arts, medicine, law, sciences, psychology, social work, Jewish studies and education, and business. The undergraduate population is small at 2,786, but the overall student body comprises 6,563. The lack of diversity at the university is striking, but this is a case where the non-diverse population can be explained by religious allegiances rather than by controversial ethnic discrimination.
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