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6 Great Colleges for Asian and Pacific Islander Students

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and we're highlighting great colleges and universities that are supportive of these students!

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and to celebrate, we wanted to share some amazing colleges that are particularly supportive, attentive, and inclusive of Asian American and Pacific Islander students, as well as students of any race or ethnicity. These schools show their dedication to Asian American and Pacific Islander students through specialized programs, culturally varied clubs and organizations, scholarships for minority students, appropriate resources, and more. Here’s a spotlight on six great colleges and universities to consider attending—all of which are a part of the official US Department of Education’s Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander–Serving Institution (AANAPISI) Program. 

1. CUNY Hunter College

Founded in 1870, Hunter College is a coeducational institution that’s part of the City University of New York (CUNY) school system with a three-block campus in the heart of New York City. With a total enrollment of 23,193 students—5,384 of whom are Asian American or Pacific Islander—the College boasts a 13:1 student-faculty ratio across its bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs. Hunter College offers an Asian American Studies program and also hosts the Asian & Asian American Research Institute, a center that dedicates its resources to help solve problems Asians and Asian Americans face. 

Clubs and organizations

  • Coalition for the Revitalization of Asian American Studies at Hunter
  • Himalayan Club
  • Hindu Students Association
  • Pilipinos of Hunter
  • Vietnamese Student Association 

Notable alumni

  • Jun Song—born in Seoul, South Korea—is a former investment manager, former owner of a Korean Eatery in Belgium, and winner of season four of the CBS show Big Brother.
  • Keiko Bonk—born in Honolulu, Hawai’i—is an artist, musician, and Green Party politician. She co-founded the Hawai’i Green Party and was the first person in the country elected to a partisan-level office with the Green Party. She received her MFA from Hunter College in 1982.

2. University of Minnesota–Twin Cities

Founded in 1869, the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities is a four-year public land-grant research institution in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the largest and oldest public university in the state, UMTC offers its 51,327 students programs throughout 17 colleges and schools. Asian American and Pacific Islander students are the most abundant undergraduate student group of color, representing nearly 13% of the total campus population (4,038 students). The University also offers an Asian American Studies program, an Asian American minor, and the Asian Pacific American Resource Center.

Clubs and organizations

  • Asian American Student Union
  • Asian Pacific American Law Student Association
  • Cambodian Student Association of Minnesota
  • Chinese American Student Association
  • Hmong Minnesota Student Association
  • Korean Student Association
  • Lao Student Association
  • Minnesota International Student Association
  • Philippine Student Association
  • Vietnamese Student Association of Minnesota

Notable alumni

  • Sugith Varughese is an Indian Canadian writer, director, and actor who’s worked on TV shows like Suits, Degrassi: The Next Generation, and Orphan. He received an undergraduate degree in Drama from UMTC and an MFA from York University in Toronto.
  • Sohn Suk-kee—from Seoul, South Korea—is a former South Korean news anchor, current CEO and president of Joongang Tongyang Broadcasting Company (JTBC) and JTBC Studios, and a former professor at Sungshin Women’s University.

Related: How Non-Asian Students Can Participate in Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Events

3. Pacific University

Founded 1849, Pacific University is a private university in Forest Grove, Oregon, granting degrees through the Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, Health Professions, and Optometry. With a total enrollment of 3,893 students, Pacific features a 10:1 student-faculty ratio and an average class size of 19 students. In addition to an Asian American Pacific Islander Support Group in collaboration with Student Counseling and the Asian Pacific American Student Union, the University offers an Asian-Pacific Studies program and a weekly web series called Rising From the Margins, where Student Counseling Center Staff Psychologist and EDI Outreach Coordinator Dr. Shirley Ley holds space to support students in drawing on their experiences as Asian American and Pacific Islander students.

Clubs and organizations

  • Asian Pacific American Student Union
  • International Club
  • Japan Club
  • Korean Club
  • Nā Haumāna O Hawai’i (Students of Hawai’i Club)
  • Pamilya Ko!
  • Qilin Club of China
  • Vietnamese Club 

Notable alumni

  • Matt Maglalang is a 2009 PharmD graduate of the Pacific University School of Pharmacy. He was awarded the USPHS Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Practice Award for the creation of an oral contraceptive patient brochure and received the President’s Award for Excellence through his employer for the Providence Sepsis Bundle Implementation Program in 2012.
  • Mark Hashem has been an elected house representative for Hawai’i since 2010. He serves as the Vice-Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and the Vice-Chair of the Committee on International Affairs. He’s also a member of the House Finance Committee, Economic Revitalization & Business Committee, and Tourism Committee. 

4. Metropolitan State University

Founded in 1971, Metropolitan State University is a public school with a particular dedication to working adults. Its main campus is in St. Paul, Minnesota, where the largest population of Hmong people reside in the US. Metro State offers the Asian American Student Services Office, which supports Asian American and Pacific Islander students by offering academic advising, advocacy, community involvement, cultural counseling, cultural programming, leadership development, and work-study opportunities. The Office also offers numerous partnerships with notable Asian American organizations for students to work with. 

Clubs and organizations

  • Asian Pacific Americans for Progress
  • Chinese Cultural Ambassadors
  • Cultural Society of Filipino Americans
  • Japanese Club
  • The International Club

Notable alumni

  • Yan Ping Qian is an Assistant Professor and Senior Researcher at Oregon State University. Her research pertains to the chemistry, composition, and quality of post-harvest crops. She received a BS in Soil Chemistry from Hua Zhong Agricultural University in China in 1987; an MS in Agronomy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1992; a PhD in Soil Science from the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities in 1995; and an MBA from Metro State in 1999.
  • Ange Hwang is the founder of Asian Media Access, a comprehensive community media arts education agency supporting creative solutions for problems facing the Asian American & Pacific Islander community through education, production, information technology, and community organizing. She earned her BA from the University of Iowa and her Master of Arts Management from Metro State.

Related: STEM Scholarship Opportunities for Minority Students

5. University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Founded in 1957, the University of Nevada is a public coeducational university with campuses in both Las Vegas and Reno. The University has an undergraduate enrollment of more than 25,000 students and more than 300 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. Nearly 4,500 of students on the Las Vegas campus are Asian American, Native, or Pacific Islander. In addition to offering an Asian & Asian American Studies major and minor, UNLV has been producing studies and data regarding anti-Asian hate and taking steps to combat it through their work.

Clubs and organizations

  • Asian American Pacific Islander Student Association
  • Asian Pacific American Medical Students Association
  • Asian Pacific Islander Student Dental Association
  • Filipinx American Student Association
  • Indian Students Association Maitri
  • Japanese Language and Culture Club
  • Japanese Student Union
  • Nepalese Student Association
  • Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers

Notable alumni 

  • Current University of Nevada assistant professor FeiFei Fan received her BS in Engineering Mechanics from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China before going on to receive her MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno and her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research focused on the modeling and simulation of mechanics-related phenomena in advanced materials.
  • Nicholas Ryan Fazekas is a Japanese American basketball player who’s played both power forward and center positions and currently plays for the Kawasaki Brave Thunders of the B.League in Japan. Fazekas attended U of Nevada from 2003–2006 before being drafted into the NBA.

6. University of Massachusetts–Boston

Originally chartered as Middlesex University in 1917, the University of Massachusetts is a public university system with campuses in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and Worcester (for medical students). Of UMass Boston’s nearly 16,000 students, 14% identify as first-generation Asian Americans. The University has a student-faculty ratio of 16:1, with 18% of tenured-faculty being Asian American as well. Through a partnership with its Academic Support Services and Undergraduate Studies division, the Institute for Asian American Studies, and the Asian American Studies program, the University has built a network of support to help Asian American and Pacific Islander Students succeed.

Clubs and organizations

  • Bangladeshi Student Association
  • Chinese Student Association
  • Desi Student Association
  • Hoy! Pinoy!
  • Indonesian Student Association
  • Japanese Student Association
  • Khmer Culture Association
  • South Asian Student Association
  • Vietnamese Students Association 

Notable alumni

  • Lydia Lowe is the director of the Chinatown Community Land Trust, working to stabilize Boston Chinatown for the community. She graduated from UMass Boston in 1985 with a BA in English and has led the Chinese Progressive Association for 30 years.

Related: Great Colleges in the West That Value Diversity

We hope you enjoyed learning about some schools you may have never heard of before! There are many more colleges and universities throughout the country that are taking initiatives to support and uplift Asian American and Pacific Islander students (and many have been for a while), so if a school you’re interested in isn’t on this list, that doesn’t mean it won’t support you if you choose to enroll. Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and best of luck in your college search!

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