Race and ethnicity is self-reported by students, and many students choose not to specify a racial/ethnic category. By federal law, race and ethnicity is a protected category and no student can be forced to disclose it. Nevertheless, colleges and universities receiving federal funds are required to report the racial and ethnic composition of their student body to the US Department of Education using the following racial/ethnic categories:

  • Black, non-Hispanic
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native
  • Asian or Pacific Islander
  • Hispanic
  • White, non-Hispanic

These catagories are reported for US citizens and resident aliens. Students who are not U.S. citizens and are in the country on a temporary basis are reported as nonresident aliens (the column 'Foreign' below). At MSU, a very small number of students report their racial/ethnic category as 'Other,' which generally implies parents of different racial/ethnic backgrounds.

Duplicated Counts

Students may self-identify with more than one race or ethnicity.  In this first graph, we count a student with multiple racial or ethnic identifications in each group with which they identify, so the totals will not match MSU’s headcount enrollment. A student who identifies as Hispanic/Latinx and American Indian/Alaska Native, for example, will be counted twice, once in each group.


Unduplicated Counts

Following federal definitions, students are counted one time depending on their response to two questions:

What is your ethnicity?

Hispanic or Latino, Not Hispanic or Latino

Select one or more races to indicate what you consider yourself to be.

American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, White

Depending on their combined responses and citizenship status, students are then assigned to a single federal race/ethnicity category in a particular order required by the Department of Education: Non-resident Alien, Hispanic, Two or More Races, single race identifications as given above, or other/none. Counts will sum to MSU’s total headcount enrollment.