Minority Serving Institutions (MSI)

Minority-serving institutions (MSIs) are colleges and universities serving a large percentage of minority students.The Higher Education Act stipulates that ethnic minorities must represent more than 50% of total enrollment at these institutions. Typically, this numeric majority is made up a combination of ethnic minority groups rather than a single group.

The Higher Education Act (HEA) (20 U.S.C. 1067k(3)) defines “minority” and “minority institution” as follows:

  • The term ‘‘minority’’ means American Indian, Alaskan Native, Black (not of Hispanic origin), Hispanic (including per-sons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Central or South American origin), Pacific Islander or other ethnic group under-represented in science and engineering.
  • The term ‘‘minority institution’’ means an institution of higher education whose enrollment of a single minority or a combination of minorities exceeds 50 percent of the total enrollment.


The Department of Education maintains a list of institutions that can specifically be considered “Minority Institutions.”  This list can be found at:


It is important to note that “This list does not include Asians or Pacific Islanders, because IPEDS enrollment data does not disaggregate Pacific Islanders from Asians. Under §365(2) of the HEA, Pacific Islanders also are considered to be minorities for purposes of the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP). Asians, on the other hand, are not considered to be a minority under this program, because studies show that they are not underrepresented in science and engineering.”

Based upon these guidelines as determined by the Department of Education, the combination of minority groups must exceed 50 percent to be considered a minority serving institution. Using the percentages of students self-identifying as American Indian/Alaskan Native, Black (Non-Hispanic), and Hispanic (see table below), the Carlsbad campus, Doña Ana campus, Grants campus and Las Cruces campus qualify as Minority Serving Institutions as of Fall 2016.  The Alamogordo campus of New Mexico State University does not qualify as a minority serving institution.

Underrepresented Minority — Fall 2016
% of Underrepresented Minority *
Doña Ana
Las Cruces
* Underrepresented minority = American Indian/Alaskan Native, Black (Non-Hispanic), Hispanic, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander


Last updated: 08/22/2017