Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) refer to two and four year colleges and universities that are federally recognized based on enrollment criteria, usually covering the percentage of enrolled minorities at a particular school. Historically these types of educational institutions have been underfunded resulting in a lack of resources for the school and their enrolled students.

Recently, a new report has been released by the National Academy of Sciences that highlights the struggles of these institutions and the benefits associated with supporting them.

To begin, according to the study, there are roughly 700 Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) across the nation making these schools uniquely “position to serve as a large national resource for STEM talent.”

This fact is furthered by the revelation that “more undergraduate students are enrolled in STEM fields at four-year MSIs than at four-year non-MSIs, and when taken together, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions produce one fifth of the nation’s STEM bachelor’s degrees. Furthermore, students who matriculate at MSIs do as well as, or even better than, those who attended non-MSIs, particularly when it comes to individual income mobility.”

It is always interesting when statistics like these are revealed. Despite the belief that MSIs are not the ideal place for minorities to learn, there is consistent evidence proving that obtaining an undergraduate degree at a MSI leads to a better income than obtaining one from a non-MSI on average.

What are MSIs?

According to the study, MSIs encompass two-year and four-year, public and private, rural, urban, and suburban institutions, enrolling from a few hundred to tens of thousands of students, and representing a range from highly selective to open-access institutions. MSI students vary in terms of race and ethnic origin, but also age, economic background, and enrollment intensity (full- or part-time). They are more likely than those at non-MSIs to be the first in their family to attend college and more likely to come from low-income backgrounds than are students who attend Predominantly White Institutions, both private and public.There are two types of MSIs:

  1. MSIs established historically to serve a specific group of students
    1. Historically Black Colleges and Universities
    2. Tribal Colleges and Universities
  2. MSIs designated by the US Dept. of Education based on enrollment and financial resources
    1. Hispanic-Serving Institutions
    2. Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions
    3. Predominantly Black Institutions
    4. Alaska Native-Serving Institutions or Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions
    5. Native American-Serving Nontribal institutions.

With so much value coming from MSIs its a wonder why more support for these institutions has not been called for sooner on a national level. The new report goes a step further than simply researching MSIs, but also establishes seven strategies that, if implemented with fidelity, can lead to a sustained and growing pipeline for the ever growing MSI student body. These strategies include:

  1. Dynamic, multilevel, mission-driven leadership
  2. Institutional responsiveness to meet students where they are
  3. Supportive campus environments
  4. Tailored academic and social supports
  5. Mentorship and sponsorship
  6. Availability of undergraduate research experiences
  7. Mutually beneficial public- and private-sector partnerships

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the MSI Report Highlight HERE or contact Lamont Hames at LHAMES@lmhsi.com