Many students who are looking to continue their education consider schools that embrace diversity, acceptance and inclusion in academics as well as in student and campus life. Whether you are looking for a university or college with an active LGBT community, one with a large international student population or one that has been recognized for serving a particular ethnicity, you have a long list of impressive schools from which you can choose.
Here are the 20 most diverse big colleges in the U.S. For more information and to explore our methodology, visit our study, Most Diverse Big Colleges.
1. New York University
New York University’s main campus is located in New York City, one of the busiest and most culturally diverse cities in the U.S. Students can choose from over 230 programs of study, and if you are interested in studying overseas, you will most likely find yourself in familiar company since the school has more students studying abroad than any other American college or university. In addition, the NYU website notes that the number of international students enrolled at the university is the highest in the country, and more than 800 faculty members and researchers have come to NYU from 77 different countries.
2. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
The University of California, Los Angeles, commonly known as UCLA, is one of the largest and most diverse campuses in the U.S. An essential driving principle of community at UCLA, as indicated on its website, is how diversity is critical to “maintaining excellence in all of our endeavors.” The school offers 130 undergraduate programs as well as 128 graduate programs of study. Founded in 1919, the 419-acre campus is also the academic home to students from nearly 130 countries. At the start of the fall 2017 semester, over 45,000 students were enrolled at UCLA.
3. San Francisco State University
Founded in 1899, San Francisco State University provides academic access to 77 different degrees, with undergraduate enrollment numbers of over 25,000 students, according to U.S. News & World Report. As stated on the university’s website, the motto of the school is “experientia docet,” or experience teaches, and these experiences are deeply rooted in diversity, community service, equity and innovation. The student population is represented by close to 100 countries as well as every U.S. state and the District of Columbia. The University’s College of Ethnic Studies is a one-of-a-kind academic division that offers such majors as Africana studies and Asian American studies.
4. University of California, Davis
The University of California, Davis is situated on a sprawling 5,300-acre campus in the city of Davis, a college town of about 68,000 people. As of 2018, the school is home to 35,000 students. Founded in 1908, this environmentally conscious university offers 102 majors and nearly 100 graduate programs of study. The Student Community Center is home to the Cross Cultural Center and the LGBTQIA Resource Center, both of which provide inclusive community spaces rooted in the celebration of diversity. Members of the UC Davis community embrace the differences of others, and, as written on the university’s website, “recognize and cherish the richness contributed to our lives by our diversity.”
5. University of Houston
At the start of the 2017 academic year, the University of Houston was recognized as the second-most ethnically diverse among major research universities in the nation; students from 137 different nations choose to earn their degree from the university. The school’s website lists the student enrollment as of the start of 2018 at 46,355. Established in 1927, UH prides itself on providing students with a variety of educational experiences based upon “learning, discovery, leadership and engagement.” The campus’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion, whose motto is “Making Diversity an Experience,” gives students opportunities to further their cultural awareness while celebrating diversity.
6. California State University, Sacramento
California State University, commonly referred to as Sacramento State or Sac State, is located on a 300-acre campus alongside the American River. This unique campus encompasses both the urban Sacramento culture and the 3,500 treed, nature-rich setting, giving it a distinct urban forest feel. Sac State, which was founded in 1947, has a current enrollment of over 27,000 students. As stated on the school's website, the population is diverse in class as well as ethnicity: 31 percent of undergraduates are considered low income while 27 percent of enrolled students are of Hispanic descent and 21 percent identify as Asian American.
7. University of California – Santa Barbara
The University of California – Santa Barbara was founded in 1909 and is situated on a 989-acre campus that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The student population is over 21,000, and it offers 90 undergraduate majors and 50 graduate programs and degrees. The university is recognized by the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a prestigious distinction awarded to schools whose population is made up of at least 25 percent Hispanic students. The UCSB website notes one of its principles of community as this: “We celebrate our differences and recognize and honor diversity as vital to the excellence of our University.”
8. University of California, San Diego
The University of California – San Diego is located along the Pacific Ocean coast in the La Jolla community of San Diego. As of the fall of 2017, the number of students enrolled is more than 36,000, and the school offers more than 130 undergraduate majors. The university website notes that more than 350 international students from 30 different countries reside in the university’s International House, which provides a unifying experience for its students from overseas. UCSD has also paved the way for women in various science-based fields; a 2016 study conducted by Best Colleges ranked the university as the top school in the U.S. for graduating the most women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs.
9. University of California, Berkeley
The University of California – Berkeley, founded in 1868, is located on 1,232 acres overlooking the San Francisco Bay. The school offers 289 undergraduate programs, and the total number of undergraduates is over 29,000. According to the UC – Berkeley website, around 20 percent of freshmen are first-generation college students. Historically, the university is known for its student involvement in liberal, humanitarian and civil rights activism. Out of all U.S. colleges and universities, the school has also produced the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers ever, which speaks to its deeply-rooted traditions in diverse, global-minded service.
10. San Diego State University
San Diego State University is a public university founded in 1897 with a current enrollment of over 33,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The third-largest university in California, it offers close to 160 undergraduate majors and minors and 335 study-abroad programs. According the university's website, SDSU was included on the list of 80 colleges in the nation to receive the distinguished Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award in 2017. In 2012, SDSU started offering an LGBT Studies major and has been recognized by the Campus Pride Index as a Top 25 LGBT School for the past eight years.
11. San Jose State University
Founded in 1857, San Jose State University is situated on a 154-acre campus in downtown San Jose. The city of San Jose is located in the picturesque California Bay area and vibrant Silicon Valley. SJSU has a total undergraduate enrollment of 27,778 and offers 134 degrees in 145 areas of study across more than a dozen colleges. According to the school’s website, the Office of Equity Diversity and Inclusion provides campus resources and leadership through its dedication to “inclusive excellence.” SJSU’s International House houses 70 international and U.S. students.
12. University of California, Irvine
The University of California – Irvine is located in Orange County and serves more than 35,000 students across 192 degree programs. Founded in 1965, UCI is recognized as not only a Hispanic-serving university but also a Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution and an Asian American-serving institution. UCI is widely recognized as a major cultural center and includes such organizations as the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity and the Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion. One of the primary beliefs of the university as noted on its website is “that true progress is made when different perspectives come together to advance our understanding of the world around us.”
13. California State University, Long Beach
As part of its mission statement, California State University – Long Beach prides itself on being a “diverse, student-centered, globally-engaged public university.” Founded in 1949, CSULB’s 322-acre campus overlooks the Pacific Ocean and has a total undergraduate enrollment of over 31,000. CSULB offers 88 undergraduate degrees across 71 majors. As noted on its website, the school has been ranked among the top 10 universities nationally in both the number of master’s degrees and the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to Hispanics. On the Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s list of top 100 degree producers, CSULB is ranked ninth in the nation in awarding bachelor’s degrees to minority students.
14. Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Rutgers University, New Brunswick was founded in 1766 as one of the nine original colonial colleges. The school offers 100 undergraduate majors across 17 schools of study. As of 2018, the total number of Rutgers students, including undergraduate, graduate and professional students, is 49,000. The international student population represents 115 countries. Since 1997, when U.S. News & World Report started ranking schools based on the diversity of the student population, Rutgers has been ranked #1. To keep in line with providing an inclusive campus environment, Rutgers offers such offices and organizations as the Center for Race and Ethnicity, the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities and the Institute for Women's Leadership.
15. University of Washington, Seattle Campus
Founded in 1861, the University of Washington is one of the oldest west-coast colleges. The university’s main Seattle campus is located just north of downtown Seattle. The UW – Seattle campus is made up of 16 schools and colleges, and undergraduate students can choose from more than 120 majors that translate into 236 individual degrees. The school’s website boasts that, as of 2018, more than 54,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students are enrolled at UW. In addition, the university awards more than 12,000 degrees every year. UW is home to the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, an internationally recognized leader in global education that offers seven undergraduate majors, including comparative religion, Jewish studies and international studies.
16. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, commonly referred to as Cal Poly Pomona, is located in San Gabriel Valley, about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. Founded in 1938, Cal Poly Pomona is one of only two polytechnic schools in California and is among only 11 in the U.S. The undergraduate enrollment is over 23,000, and those students can choose from 80 majors across eight different colleges. The diverse student population is representative of the greater Los Angeles area; the website indicates that roughly one-third of enrolled students are Latino, one-quarter are Asian and 3 percent are African American. The school is a Hispanic-serving institution and is recognized as one of the top 25 schools in awarding undergraduate degrees to Hispanics.
17. California State University, Fullerton
Founded in 1957, California State University, Fullerton is located in sunny Orange County. The undergraduate enrollment as of 2018 is 34,920. The school offers a total of 109 degree programs across eight colleges of study, including over 50 undergraduate degrees. Based on the 2017 student population, over 3,000 international students from 86 nations were enrolled at CSUF. The university's website states that over 40 percent of the student population is Hispanic and more than 20 percent is of Asian descent. The university’s Titans Together program supports the campus-wide efforts regarding equity, inclusion and civility. According to the CSUF website, the school was ranked fifth in the nation in awarding undergraduate degrees to underrepresented students.
18. The University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin provides more than 170 undergraduate degree programs that span 13 colleges. As of 2018, the university, which was founded in 1883, has more than 40,000 students enrolled, and more than 20 percent of those students is Hispanic. In addition, UT Austin provides access to international learning through its 400 study-abroad programs. In 2017, the University Diversity and Inclusion Plan, a collaborative effort by students, faculty and administration, was implemented campuswide. According to the school’s website, the primary goal of the plan is “to foster an open, positive and inclusive learning environment for all.”
19. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which was founded in 1867, is located in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign, only a few hours' drive from Chicago. More than 47,00 students are enrolled, with an undergraduate enrollment close to 34,000. The school offers 150 undergraduate programs of study and through the Illinois Abroad and Global Exchange program, facilitates approximately 150 study-abroad programs in more than 45 countries. Additionally, the university supports cultural diversity through campus centers such as the Asian-American Cultural Center, the Native American House and the Bruce D. Nesbitt African-American Cultural Center.
20. University of North Texas
The University of North Texas was founded in 1890 and offers 103 bachelor's degrees across 14 colleges to its more than 31,000 undergraduate students. According to the UNT website, of the students enrolled in 2017, over 41 percent are first-generation college students, 12 percent identify as African American and 20 percent are of Hispanic descent. Nearly 140 different countries are represented by the international student population. UNT also promotes diversity and inclusion by offering access to such offices and organizations as the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the Multicultural Center and the Pride Alliance. The university strives to uphold its motto: “Innovative. Diverse. One of a kind.”