Narrowing down college choices can be a difficult process at times. Students should consider many factors to really know if a school makes a good match. One of those considerations may include choosing a school that has a diverse population. Diversity can enhance the college experience by introducing students to new perspectives and ways of life.
In this post, I highlight popular Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month. These colleges may serve as a possible option for those students who are interested in learning more about Hispanic culture or those who identify as Hispanic and want to find a sense of community.
Why should students consider attending an HSI?
As a Hispanic student, I did not initially consider attending an HSI. When I was in the process of looking for schools, I did not look at diversity as a factor that would impact the way I interacted with others on campus.
After much consideration, I decided to transfer to the University of North Texas. It is also one of 273 colleges in the U.S. that are categorized as HSIs. This institution was a better fit for me because of the numerous resources and professional organizations available that represent my culture. It led to me to learn more about myself as a representative of the Hispanic community in the professional world and think about my long term goals to continue advocating for more resources within my community.
Top 20 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) in the U.S.
This list consists of the top HSIs in the U.S. according to the U.S. News & World Report’s Best National Universities list.
1. University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin)
Location: Austin, TX
Acceptance Rate: 31%
UT-Austin is a popular choice among KD students, but it’s also the nation’s top-ranking HSI. According to the college’s website, it began its first semester with one building, eight professors, and 221 students. But don’t let those humble beginnings fool you—the school is anything but small these days.
Today, UT-Austin has more than 52,000 students and employs more than 3,100 teaching faculty. The campus is located near downtown Austin and is dubbed “The Forty Acres,” a nickname that highlights its vast size. You can read more about it in our guide to a UT-Austin campus visit.
The most popular undergraduate degree programs at UT-Austin are biological science, engineering, communication, business, and social sciences. The school’s mascot is Bevo, a live Texas Longhorn steer. UT’s acceptance rate is 31 percent.
2. University of California, Irvine (UCI)
Location: Irvine, CA
Acceptance Rate: 21%
UCI is a public university located in the Greater Los Angeles area. This university was founded in 1965, and today it is considered one of the top public universities in the U.S., according to the U.S. News & World Report and Forbes. UCI prides itself on being a diverse university that promotes social mobility, so it’s no mystery that it is ranked among the top HSIs.
Despite being located near one of the most populated cities in the U.S., UCI has a green campus. The school is a leader in promoting sustainability, and you will find more than 24,000 trees planted on campus. There are multiple lawns and parks found on the core campus. The surrounding parts of the campus have a suburban feel.
UCI’s most popular undergraduate degree programs are social sciences, business, engineering, psychology, and computer science. Peter the Anteater is the university’s mascot.
3. University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Acceptance Rate: 26%
If studying or going to school with a beautiful view is important to you, UC Santa Barbara is a great university to consider as it is tucked away by the beach. This university was founded in 1891. The campus is also filled with many bike trails like other UC campuses.
Since 1995, UC Santa Barbara has been a member of the Association of American Universities, a group known for its impactful research. Furthermore, it is one of the top 10 public institutions for research and has notable academic degrees in fields such as economics, engineering and physics.
The mascot for UCSB is the gaucho, which is the Spanish term for cowboy used in Argentina.
4. Texas A&M University (TAMU)
Location: College Station, TX
Acceptance Rate: 63%
Another popular choice among KD students is located in College Station. This university was founded in 1876. Texas A&M’s original purpose was to serve as a military school, but over time they opened their doors to students of all backgrounds. Today, about 74,000 students attend this institution.
A&M is known for its loyalty to traditions and hosts several annual events. some of which date back to the university’s founding year.
According to their website, this institution is one of the few in the country that is funded to conduct research for innovation in sea, space, and land environments. Also, Texas A&M has an international campus located in Qatar like other prestigious universities in the U.S.
Read more about places to check out during a Texas A&M campus visit.
The programs most recognized at TAMU are in fields such as agriculture, business and engineering. The school’s mascot is a dog named Reveille, and students are called Aggies.
5. University of California, Merced (UC Merced)
Location: Merced, CA
Acceptance Rate: 89%
This university was founded in 2005. Despite its relative youth, UC Merced is already considered a top choice for students. This UC campus goes above and beyond with their research and eco-friendly standards like the other schools that are part of the UC System.
UC Merced is in central California, making it a convenient location to consider if you plan to take trips to major cities throughout the state.
UC Merced is a part of the top 100 public schools in the U.S. that have nationally recognized degree programs in engineering and economics. The acceptance rate at UC Merced is 89 percent.
6. University of California, Riverside (UCR)
Location: Riverside, CA
Acceptance Rate: 69%
This university was founded in 1907. Being a part of the UC school system, UCR is one of the schools that has prioritized the livelihood of bees and their crucial contributions to society by conducting research for sustainable solutions. According to the website, this institution has also made large contributions in citrus research.
UCR is known for their social mobility efforts and has both engineering and economics programs that are in the top 100 nationally.
The school has an optional program that rewards students a medal for being active on campus and following UCR traditions during their college years. As a collective, those who attend UC Riverside are known as Highlanders. The university’s mascot is Scotty the Bear.
7. Rutgers University, Newark (RU Newark)
Location: Newark, NJ
Acceptance Rate: 74%
Rutgers-Newark is in the northern region of New Jersey, making it easy for students to visit New York City in their free time. This campus takes pride in being in the city of Newark and makes constant efforts to always give back to their community.
The accessibility and location of RU Newark allows the school to serve various students of different backgrounds and financial statuses.
This university was founded in 1908 and renamed to its current name in 1946. The university is part of the Rutgers University system located throughout the state of New Jersey. The university is also recognized in the top 100 schools in major categories such as social mobility. Students at RU Newark are referred to as Scarlet Raiders.
8. University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Acceptance Rate: 47%
This university was founded in 1965 and is located in a small beach town about 45 minutes from San Jose. This campus is known for its natural scenery and wide variety of plants. UC Santa Cruz is a member of the Association of American Universities.
If you are interested in the gaming industry, UCSC might be the school for you! It’s in the top 100 programs for computer science and also has a degree focused on game design and development.
The mascot for this university is a bright, yellow banana slug named Sammy the Slug.
9. University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC)
Location: Chicago, IL
Acceptance Rate: 79%
This university was founded in 1982. Located in the Windy City, UIC students will never run out of things to do. Like many metropolitan colleges, there are multiple campuses spread throughout Chicago.
UIC has a diverse student body population, providing an engaging environment for all. This college is known for its nursing program. UIC’s mascot is a flaming red dragon named Sparky. And students are known as the Flames.
10. California State University, Long Beach (CSULB)
Location: Long Beach, CA
Acceptance Rate: 47%
This university was founded in 1949. One of the popular schools in the California State University system, CSULB is committed to being a welcoming campus for students of all backgrounds. This college is recognized for its research with sharks and even has a shark lab on site.
According to the college’s website, more than half of the student population are first-generation college graduates. The school offers a variety of resources to ensure their students can have better opportunities with a degree from CSULB.
This university’s mascot is Elbee the Shark, and the campus is commonly called the beach.
11. CUNY, City College (CCNY)
Location: New York, NY
Acceptance Rate: 62%
If you want your college experience to happen in the biggest city in the U.S., CUNY City College is an option to consider. Founded in 1847, CUNY is known for the historical gothic architecture that was prevalent at that time.
CUNY has a long history of impact, such as social mobility, as recognized by U.S. News & World Report. CUNY’s mascot is Benny the Beaver.
12. San Diego State University (SDSU)
Location: San Diego, CA
Acceptance Rate: 39%
This university was founded in 1897. SDSU was the first university to be located in San Diego and was originally founded as an institution for future teachers.
SDSU has nationally recognized nursing and engineering programs. This university forms part of the notable California State University system.
SDSU prides itself in being a leading HSI, and it even has a satellite campus on the border of Mexico. The college’s future plans also put a large emphasis on expanding its Global Campus, which serves students in countries around the world.
13. University of Arizona (U of A)
Location: Tucson, AZ
Acceptance Rate: 87%
Students at the U of A see lots of sunshine, which is great if you wear sunscreen and can handle the heat. The university was founded in 1885, which is longer than Arizona has been a state.
This college has been a trailblazer in their academics and unique traditions. And if you love sports, it’s a great college to consider. There’s even a dorm inside of the University of Arizona stadium structure.
According to their website, 90% of students who attend this university receive some form of financial aid. U of A has a competitive business program, and its Management Information Systems (MIS) program is highly ranked.
14. Florida International University (FIU)
Location: Miami, FL
Acceptance Rate: 64%
This university was founded in 1965. FIU’s campus is located in Miami. This institution is part of the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities. The mascot is Roary the Panther.
The Wall Street Journal recognized FIU as #4 nationwide among public universities. Several degree programs rank in the top 50, including degrees in public finance, global policy, public health, and more.
15. University of Central Florida (UCF)
Location: Orlando, FL
Acceptance Rate: 41%
UCF has one of the largest student enrollment populations in the U.S. This university was founded in 1963. According to their website, over 35 percent of their students identify themselves as a member of an underrepresented community.
UCF has programs in the top 100 for fields such as nursing, engineering and computer science The mascot is a knight named Knightro.
16. California State University, Fullerton (CSUF)
Location: Fullerton, CA
Acceptance Rate: 67%
This university was founded in 1957. CSU Fullerton is not only an HSI, but it is also considered an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution. According to their website, more than 30 percent of their students are the first-generation college students.
CSUF is nationally recognized for its engineering program and is a top 10 school for bachelor’s degrees in civil, electrical, and computer engineering.
The mascot for CSU Fullerton is a grey elephant named Tuffy the Titan, and students who attend are known as the Titans.
17. University of Houston (UH)
Location: Houston, TX
Acceptance Rate: 66%
The University of Houston was founded in 1927 and is located in the most populated city in Texas. So it’s no mystery why this college has one of the largest student bodies among Texas colleges. According to their website, there are UH students from more than 100 nations.
UH has some of the top programs in the nation for petroleum engineering and entrepreneurship. Houston’s mascots are cougars named Shasta and Sasha.
18. Montclair State University (MSU)
Location: Montclair, NJ
Acceptance Rate: 91%
MSU is another institution on our list located near New York City. This university was founded in 1908. In the early 1900s, MSU was originally an institution to educate future teachers.
Recently, MSU merged with Bloomfield College and is now known as Bloomfield College of Montclair State University.
MSU is one of the top 100 most affordable public universities. The mascot at this institution is Rocky the Red Hawk.
19. California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB)
Location: San Bernandino, CA
Acceptance Rate: 91%
This university was founded in 1965. According to their website, 7 out of 10 students who attend and graduate from CSUSB are first generation college students. This institution gives back to the community and strives to provide a safe community within campus.
CSU San Bernadino has nationally recognized programs for engineering and nursing. The mascot for the university is Cody the Coyote.
20. University of La Verne (ULV)
Location: La Verne, CA
Acceptance Rate: 75%
This university was founded in 1891. Being a smaller private university, ULV has a total student population of 6,000 students, allowing it to provide smaller class sizes. This university also offers flexible schedules and courses that are perfect for non-traditional students.
This institution is in the top 200 universities in the U.S. and is in the top 10 list for social mobility efforts. The mascots for this institution are leopards named Leo and Lea.
What is an HSI?
An HSI is a post-secondary, accredited institution with 25 percent of Hispanic-identifying undergraduate students attending full time.
Do HSIs only serve Hispanic students?
No. HSIs serve students of all races and ethnic backgrounds. It’s also important to note that an education at an HSI won’t only center around Hispanic culture. For example, UT-Austin is a large public university that serves a diverse group of students from around the world. But due to its location and high population of Hispanic students, it is likely that you would gain exposure to aspects of Latino culture or hear perspectives from Hispanic classmates.
Whether you identify as Hispanic or not, you might enjoy learning about Hispanic culture or building relationships with students from different backgrounds. An education from an HSI may also enhance your learning by immersing you in various aspects of Hispanic lifestyle, such as learning the Spanish language, trying traditional foods, or discovering creative works by Hispanic writers or artists. Attending an HSI not only gives you the opportunity to meet and interact with a diverse group of students, but it also can serve as an opportunity for personal growth.
What does the future of HSIs look like?
Hispanics are one of the fastest-growing minority groups. It’s very likely that an increase in Hispanic college-bound students will drive even more enrollment at HSIs.
What is the difference between an HSI and an HBCU?
HSI stands for Hispanic Serving Institution, while HBCU stands for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. They each cater to minority groups of students in the U.S. Additionally, both groups form part of the Minority Serving Institution group, also known as MSI.
Which states have the most HSIs?
The states with the most HSIs that made it into our top 20 list are California, Texas, and Florida. Not all states in the U.S. and its territories have HSIs. These types of institutions tend to be more prevalent in states that have a higher population of Hispanics.
Need help preparing for college?
At KD College Prep, we offer test prep and college counseling programs to help guide students through the college admissions process. To learn more about our services, schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.