Penn State ranks in top 50 nationally in minority bachelor's degrees

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State ranks 49th in the nation in total minority bachelor’s degrees produced, according to a recent ranking by Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine, up from last year’s ranking of 57th. More than 1,000 institutions of higher education were considered for the ranking.

Vice Provost for Educational Equity Marcus Whitehurst attributed Penn State's rise in the rankings to the University’s many programs and initiatives fostering diversity.

"Penn State's diversity rankings are the result of a combined University-wide effort to support the graduation success of our students," he said. "There are multiple factors that contribute to our rankings, which include the efforts of some of our faculty, staff, administrators and student resources.”

This ranking makes Penn State fourth in the Big Ten for total minority bachelor’s degrees, behind only Rutgers, the University of Maryland, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Additionally, the University ranks in the top 100 American universities for African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic bachelor’s degrees. The University ranks 60th in African-American bachelor’s degrees awarded, 48th in Asian-American bachelor's degrees, and 65th in Hispanic bachelor's degrees.

Some of the programs working to improve diversity and graduation rates include the Upward Bound program, the Multicultural Resource Center, and Penn State's diversity strategic plan, "A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State," all of which work toward Penn State’s goals of recruiting, supporting and institutionalizing diversity, respectively.

In the most recent updates to "A Framework to Foster Diversity," a series of best practices and potential best practices for incorporating issues of diversity, equity and inclusion into the fabric of the organization were identified. It is the result of more than 17 years of diversity strategic planning and review across the University, and can be found online at

Upward Bound and the Multicultural Resource Center are two programs out of many others across the University that are benefitting from the framework. Both connect students or prospective students with faculty and staff for support in pursuing and completing degrees. Upward Bound, in the form of both its math and science program and migrant program, recruits students from high schools across the state for intensive learning summer camps. The program is designed to help low-income, first-generation potential college students realize their potential in math and science and pursue postsecondary degrees. Continuing this support, the Multicultural Resource Center provides additional academic counseling and resources to students who need it.

While Whitehurst is happy to have earned the ranking, he said there is still a lot of work to be done at the University level.

“These rankings highlight some of our graduation successes, but there's certainly much more work to be done to build an even greater infrastructure of diversity, equity and inclusion at our University,” he said.

Last Updated February 08, 2016