Great Colleges in the West That Value Diversity

Looking for a college that supports students of color, first-generation students, and other diverse undergrads? Check out these great choices in the Western US!

Diversity in a student body is a highly important factor to consider in your college search—especially for diverse students—because it ensures a diverse and welcoming campus community. Colleges and universities are considered diverse when they make efforts to enroll students from a variety of backgrounds and provide those students with the support, resources, and experiences that will allow them to thrive in the classroom and in their future careers. Where can you find these inclusive campuses? This list is a great place to start your search!

All the colleges and universities listed here are located in the western United States and offer support for students of color, first-generation students, and undergrads from many different academic, socioeconomic, geographic, and personal backgrounds. And you can connect with them all quickly and easily! Just click the “Connect me” button underneath each featured school if you’re interested in learning more—then they'll reach out to you with more info. You could find the college of your dreams right here!

Concordia University Irvine

Concordia University IrvineConcordia University is a Lutheran coeducational college in Irvine, California, only 50 miles south of Los Angeles. The school has a total enrollment of 36,908 students, with 25% of students identifying as Hispanic or Latinx—designating it as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. The University has offices for International Student Services and First-Generation Student Services as well as Unity Week, a Global Cultural Studies Program, and Cross-Cultural Ministry.

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Concordia University Texas

Concordia University TexasConcordia University Texas is a Lutheran liberal arts university in Austin, Texas, just 79 miles from San Antonio. Designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution in 2019, CTX has a diverse student body with 30% identifying as Hispanic or Latinx. The University also offers support for first-generation students, international students, and their families.

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Dominican University of California

Dominican University of CaliforniaDominican University of California in San Rafael is an independent college with a Catholic heritage. With a total enrollment of 1,879 students, 68% of the undergraduate student body identifies as ethnically diverse. The University offers student resources like the Diversity Action Group and the TORCH Student Success Program, which ensures first-gen students and student of color are prepared for college.

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Fresno Pacific University

Fresno Pacific UniversityFresno Pacific University is a liberal arts university in Fresno, California, that’s affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren Church. With a total enrollment of 4,266, the University offers students personalized attention with a 13:1 student-faculty ratio. Fresno Pacific facilitates student success through programs like STEM learning communities, a University Scholars Program, and the ALAS Intercultural Learning Center.

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Gonzaga University

Gonzaga UniversityGonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, offers programs through its College of Arts and Sciences and Schools of Business Administration, Education, and Engineering. With an enrollment of over 7,500 students, the University offers close mentoring and a supportive community. Gonzaga also provides numerous multicultural resources such as an Arabic & Middle East Culture Club, Asian American Student Union, Queer Student Union, and more.

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Mills College

Mills CollegeMills College is an independent college for women and gender non-binary students with graduate programs for students of all genders. About 83% of classes have fewer than 20 students, which are taught by a mostly female faculty (77%). In addition, 44% of the undergraduate student body is made up of first-generation students, and 65% are students of color. The College offers the MPOWER program, which provides personal academic success teams, faculty-mentored passion projects, and more.

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Pepperdine University

Pepperdine UniversityPepperdine University is a private arts and sciences university in Malibu, California, just 12 miles from Santa Monica. Pepperdine is home to eight academic divisions: Business Administration, Communication, Fine Arts, Humanities & Teacher Education, International Studies & Languages, Natural Science, Religion & Philosophy, and Social Science. With a total enrollment of 8,824 students, the University is dedicated to diversity and access throughout the education experience, which includes an Intercultural Affairs Office.

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Reed College

Reed CollegeReed College is a private liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. With a student body of 1,483 and 83% of students coming from outside the Pacific Northwest, the College offers student groups like the Black and African Student Union, Chabad (Jewish cultural organization), and the Feminist Student Union. The Office of Inclusive Community and the Multicultural Resource Center are also available to ensure that students feel involved in the diverse campus community.

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Santa Clara University

Santa Clara UniversitySanta Clara University is a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university in Santa Clara, California—45 miles south of San Francisco. With a total enrollment of 8,669 students and a freshman retention rate of 94%, the University offers the Multicultural Center, which hosts over a dozen cultural-identity clubs. The LEAD Scholars Program is available for first-generation college students, and the Office of Multicultural Learning helps foster inclusivity on campus.

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Soka University of America

Soka University of AmericaSoka University of America is a private comprehensive university in Aliso Viejo, California. With a small enrollment of just 450, the University has 40% international students who represent 50 countries. Every student who attends Soka gets the opportunity to study abroad to foster global and inclusive citizenship. The University also offers programs like Global Studies & Third-World Countries and Human Rights.

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Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist UniversitySouthern Methodist University is a private comprehensive Methodist university in Dallas, Texas, that grants undergraduate degrees through the College of Humanities and Schools of Arts, Business Education & Human Development, and Engineering. With a total enrollment of 11,649 students, 36% of undergraduates come from diverse ethnic backgrounds, and 5% come from 59 countries outside the US. The University offers signature diversity programs through its Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement.

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Stanford University

Stanford UniversityStanford University is a private research university in Stanford, California. With a total enrollment of 17,249, 19% of students are first-generation, and 12% are international. In addition, 23% identify as Asian or Asian American, 7% as Black, 17% as Hispanic or Latinx, 1% as Native American, and 9% as two or more races. The University has a faculty that is 30% female and 30% people of color, as well as resources such as the Black Community Services Center, Queer Student Resources, and more.

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University of Colorado Boulder

The University of Colorado BoulderUniversity of Colorado Boulder is a comprehensive public university in Boulder, Colorado—27 miles northwest of Denver—that offers programs through nine colleges and schools. With a total enrollment of 37,650, 2,900 students are international students who come from over 100 countries. The University offers resources like the Office of Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement, which is comprised of the Center for Inclusion & Social Change, the Colorado Diversity Initiative, the Diversity & Inclusion Summit, the CU LEAD Alliance, and more.

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University of Portland

The University of PortlandUniversity of Portland is a private Roman Catholic university near downtown Portland, Oregon. With an undergraduate enrollment of 3,757, 40% of students identify as historically underrepresented individuals. Students can take advantage of resources such as Diversity Dialogues, a guest speaker and event series, and the Shepard Academic Resource Center for first-generation peer mentors. The University also offers a Latinx Student Union, Native American Alliance, and more.

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University of Redlands

University of RedlandsUniversity of Redlands is a private liberal arts university in Redlands, California, just 65 miles east of Los Angeles. With an enrollment of 4,931, the University offers 40 programs of study and an average class size of 18 students. U of Redlands offers students personalized career prep through the Office of Career and Professional Development as well as extensive opportunities for community service and awareness events for social justice initiatives.

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University of San Francisco

The University of San FranciscoUniversity of San Francisco is a private Jesuit, Catholic university in San Francisco, California. With 5,852 undergraduate students, the University had a fall 2020 class that consisted of 24% Asian American, nearly 20% Hispanic/Latinx, and 7% Black students. The University offers diverse resources such as the Black Achievement Success and Engagement initiative; the Muscat Scholars Program for first-year, first-generation students; and many cultural clubs.

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University of the Pacific

The University of the PacificUniversity of the Pacific is a private comprehensive university in San Francisco, California. With a total enrollment of 6,447, the University offers students a variety of diversity offices, centers, and resources. These include the Intercultural Student Success office, which hosts Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi Student Success; Black Student Success; Gender Equity Center; LatinX and Native American Student Success; and Pride Resource Center.

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Warner Pacific University

Warner Pacific UniversityWarner Pacific University is an urban liberal arts university in Portland, Oregon. With a student body of 4,931, 63% of students come from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, and 57% are first-generation students. The University is also the first and only four-year school in Oregon designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and offers extensive opportunities for hands-on service with the local community.

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Washington State University

Washington State UniversityWashington State University is a public research university in Pullman, Washington—75 miles south of Spokane. With a total enrollment of 31,607, 33% of students identify as multicultural, and 32% of freshmen are first-generation students. The University offers many multicultural student organizations and events as well as the Academic Enrichment Center, which provides support networks to address cultural and social concerns on campus.

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Want to explore even more diverse colleges? Check out all our featured Diversity School Profiles!

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