What are minority-serving institutions?
Read about their purpose and variety across the country.
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Minority-serving institutions (MSIs) are universities and colleges that enroll a significant number of students from underrepresented groups. Including graduate and undergraduate, and full- and part-time students; these institutions have to be composed for at least 50% of a single minority or a combination of minorities.
MSIs are responsible for increasing access and opportunities for traditionally underrepresented first-generation and low-income students. As described by the U.S. Department of Interior, MSIs are unique both in their missions and in their day-to-day operations. Some of these colleges and universities are located in remote regions of the country, while others serve ethnic communities in urban neighborhoods.
There are a variety of different types of MSIs serving specific minority groups. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been around for over 100 years and are among the most ancient and traditional MSIs. HBCUs have been serving specifically the Black community, who not long ago couldn’t attend white institutions due to segregation.
Today there are 107 HBCUs in the country, comprising 3% of America's institutions of higher education and enrolling 16% of all African-American students in higher education. The majority of these institutions are located in the Southeastern states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands.
Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) are a much more recent type of higher education institutions and MIS. To become an HSI, colleges and universities have to reach at least 25% of Latino students to be able to go through the application process. In 2020-2021, there were 559 HSIs spread across the country. Now, they are responsible for enrolling 40% of all Hispanic-American students of higher education.
Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) are dedicated to the needs of Native Americans, usually serving geographically-isolated populations that have difficulty accessing education beyond the high school level. There are currently 35 TCUs in the country that are essential to increasing opportunities for American Indians and Alaska Natives — who, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, have the lowest college enrollment rate of any other racial group.
The U.S. News stated that one of the greatest challenges for Native Americans in accessing higher education is affordability, and that’s why TCUs are so important. They are low-cost and accessible alternatives to these groups who also face transportation issues due to the rural areas they are located.
Finally, Asian American and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AAPISIs) are dedicated to one of the fastest growing populations in the country. In order to become an AAPISI, colleges and universities must have an undergraduate enrollment of at least 10% of Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander students.
If you want to learn more about each type of institution, its programs and services; as well as where they are located, click here.