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Institutional Comparisons


The institutional comparison dashboard examines how Michigan State University compares to peer institutions across various Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) demographic data points to help track progress over time. MSU’s dashboard is in alignment with the DEI Report and Plan recommendations. Data in this dashboard are retrieved from the United States Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) as reported by each institution to allow for comparison. Institution membership in peer comparison groups (Michigan Publics, Big Ten, and public institutions that are part of the Association of American Universities, referred to as the AAU) is as of 2021 and includes the most recent year federal data available.

Please consider the following definitions and limitations when utilizing the interactive dashboard.


Federal Guidelines and Definitions

For IPEDS reporting, individuals are counted once in the following groups. 

International. A person who is not a U.S. citizens or permanent resident. An individual who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is not counted in any race or ethnicity category.

Hispanic or Latino. A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race. While a person who is Hispanic or Latino may choose to specify a specific race or races, for the purposes of federal IPEDS reporting, they are only counted once as Hispanic or Latino and not in the race category they selected.

Two or More Races. A person who selects two or more of the races listed below. They are counted once in this category and not in numerous categories.

African American or Black. A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.

American Indian or Alaska Native. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.

Asian. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand and Vietnam. Separated from Pacific Islanders as of 2010.

Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa or other Pacific Islands. Separate category as of 2010.

White. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East or North Africa.

The categories used in the data included in this dashboard are derived from the federal race/ethnicity categories with minor variations as recommended by members of the MSU community. Further, International is used for individuals who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents instead of the federal category of “nonresident.”

Limitations of Federal Race/Ethnicity Categories Used in this Dashboard

The current race and ethnicity categories are limited and do not accurately capture the racial diversity of MSU or other institutions included in this dashboard. For example, Middle Eastern and North African identifying individuals are categorized as White, which may not be the group’s overall preference. The category of Asian combines everyone despite their different multicultural backgrounds.


MSU utilizes three applications for admission, including the university’s application, the Common Application and the Coalition Application. These applications ask for sex and gender. As these applications update their sex and gender options, and as MSU adopted a new student information system in 2021, options for sex and gender identification have evolved for student data reporting. However, for the purposes of federal IPEDS reporting, two options of “woman” and “man” are included and MSU has historically mapped the categories of “female” and “male” to these federally defined categories, which is displayed in this dashboard.

Among employees, applicants for employment voluntarily respond to the demographic question asking that they identify their “gender” and can select between “female” or “male.” The data collected by MSU Human Resources for employees as “female” or “male” is labeled as “sex” for the purposes of this dashboard to reflect the categories applicants are requested to select, even though under the label of “gender.” However, when reporting to the federal government, categories are mapped to woman and man to meet requirements of federal reporting.

Additionally, this dashboard includes data as reported by other institutions. It is unknown by MSU how other institutions collect data on sex or gender and, in turn, report to the federal government.

MSU is currently updating its data systems as it relates to collecting sex and gender in ways that will more fully represent the diversity of the broader institutional community. More information on these changes may be found at MSU Name, Gender, Sexual Identity and Pronoun Data Policy

Limitations of Gender Data as Presented in this Dashboard

Gender, sex, and sexual identity are distinct concepts and the binary way (female, male) that sex is collected and displayed here does not adequately represent the diversity of the MSU community nor of the communities of other institutions included in this dashboard. Sex does not capture gender and does not include intersex, transgender, nonbinary or genderqueer.

For information on gender, sex, and birth-assigned sex, please visit The Gender and Sexuality Campus Center.

The Pell Grant is an undergraduate financial aid program awarded based on student need as determined by answers submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Data are based upon a student receiving Pell during a particular reporting year.

Limitations of Using Pell Grant Recipients as a Proxy for Low-Income Status

The number of students receiving a Pell Grant is used as a proxy for the number of students who are enrolled and may not only be from families or households with low-incomes. In some cases, middle-income students may be eligible or receive a Pell Grant as eligibility is a function of family income adjusted for various household factors. However, Pell is used in this dashboard for comparison purposes, as Pell is the most readily available and reported to IPEDS across higher education.

For more information on the limitations of Pell as a proxy for income, please see the Brookings Institute report.

Keyboard Navigation

The Comparisons dashboard has been remediated for keyboard navigation. Using the Tab key, you will be able to navigate dashboard items in chronological order. To access the data summary when tabbed over a data visualization, press enter twice. Once in the data summary, use the arrow keys to navigate the pop-up data window. Ctrl+W, for Windows users, or Cmd+W, for Mac users, will exit the data summary window. When tabbed onto a menu button use the arrow keys to change the dashboard view. To navigate through the filter drop down boxes, referred to as combo boxes by the NVDA screenreader, press Enter to find and select/deselect more objects. When navigating the dashboard with a keyboard, if your focus order disappears or tabs onto seemingly empty objects, keep pressing the Tab key and it should reappear. These blank items exist for data stored behind other views within the dashboard. For a more in depth explanation on keyboard navigation in Tableau, see Keyboard Accessibility for Tableau Views.

Text Elements and Third Party Screen Reader Software

To navigate to specific text items in a Tableau dashboard, the user will need to utilize a screen reader to read text objects displayed on screen. This will require the use of a cursor to hover over the text object while having your screen reader software active.

Color Vision Deficiency/Color Blindness

Dashboards have been checked for grayscale viewability, color contrast, and accessibility for individuals with color vision deficiency/color blindness (e.g, deuteranopia, protanopia, and tritanopia).

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Fall Enrollment


Employee Demographics


Students Receiving Pell


Student/Employee Representation Comparison


Undergraduate Graduation Rates