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U.S. EDUCATION > The U.S. Education System > Diversity in Education > Minority Serving Institutions

Minority Serving Institutions

Minority Serving Institutions are colleges and universities from the other categories (state colleges, private schools, religiously affiliated colleges, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges) that have a special focus on serving the needs of a minority audience. These universities have a historical tradition or mandate to serve a specific demographic of student, but often serve non-minority students as well. They have formed organizations of common interest and concern. Three groups whose members fit into this category are Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU); and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), the association of tribal colleges and universities. There are many other groups that also work to help colleges and universities serve minority audiences.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

According to the text of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities:

HBCUs are a source of accomplishment and great pride for the African-American community as well as the entire nation. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, defines an HBCU as: "...any historically Black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of Black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary [of Education] to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation."

In his September 2005 presidential proclamation naming September 11-17, 2005, as National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week, President George W. Bush praised the nation's HBCUs for their high standards of excellence, for preparing rising generations for success, and for helping to fulfill the nation's commitment to equal education. He said, "By upholding high standards of excellence and providing equal educational opportunities to all Americans, these valued institutions help ensure that all our citizens can realize their full potential and look forward to a prosperous and hopeful future." He went on to say, "We continue to strive toward a society in which every person can realize the great promise of America."

The majority of the 105 HBCUs are located in the Southeastern states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. They include 40 public four-year, 11 public two-year, 49 private four-year, and five private two-year institutions. Additional information is available in a special feature article on HBCU Week at


The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) was established in 1986 with a founding membership of 18 institutions. Today, HACU represents more than 400 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the United States, Puerto Rico, Latin America, and Spain. Although HACU member institutions in the United States represent less than 10 percent of all higher education institutions nationwide, together they are home to more than three-fourths of all Hispanic college students. HACU is the only national educational association that represents Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). At the 205 HSIs, Hispanic students make up 25 percent or more of the student body. At the other member colleges fewer than 25 percent of the students are Hispanic. See:


President Bush recognized the important role tribal colleges and universities play in American Indian communities and on July 3, 2002, signed Executive Order 13270 on Tribal Colleges and Universities. The executive order established the President's Board of Advisors on Tribal Colleges and Universities and the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities. The president said:

Tribal Colleges and Universities help preserve irreplaceable language and cultural traditions. At the same time, of course, they offer a high-quality college education to thousands of students, and provide much needed job training and other means of economic development in Indian country. .All Americans deserve an excellent education, including those who attend Tribal Colleges and Universities.

There are 34 federally recognized tribal colleges and universities in the United States. Located mainly in the Midwest and Southwest, tribal colleges and universities serve approximately 30,000 full- and part-time students. They offer two-year associate degrees in more than 200 disciplines with some providing bachelor's and master's degrees. They also offer 200 vocational certificate programs. Although these tribal schools accept only Native American students, they provide insight into a special aspect of U.S. higher education. Additional information as






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