ANALYSIS: Universities offer DEI degrees as students flee to traditional liberal arts colleges

Many institutions are now offering minors, majors, and masters degrees in diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice topics.

Campus Reform reported earlier this month that several Christian liberal arts colleges are experiencing double-digit increases in admissions or enrollment.

A growing number of colleges and universities are expanding their curricula to include degree programs in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (DEISJ).

While certain schools are requiring DEISJ coursework for graduation, others are designing minors, majors, and master’s degree programs with identity politics at their core.

Tufts University, for example, offers a Masters  in DEIJ Leadership, designed to make its students “effective leader[s] in anti-racist and anti-bias efforts” by blending critical theory with “practical tools…to implement institutional change.”

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U.S. Military Academy at West Point also offers a Diversity and Inclusion Studies minor, which requires classes in “Power and Difference” and “Social Inequality.”

In response to Campus Reform’s request for comment, West Point clarified that the program was started in 2018 in part to balance faculty and student interest with the “Superintendent’s Strategic Goal of leveraging diversity and fostering inclusion.”

Bentley University in Massachusetts told Campus Reform that its DEI Bachelor of Arts or Science degrees were created in 2021 to  “[prepare] students for a growing number of roles in the business and non-business worlds.” 

“The ability of organizations to strategically leverage the range of skillsets and experience brought by a diverse workforce is key to their long-term success,” Bentley’s program description reads.

Various other institutions have similar degree options, including Texas State, Michigan Tech, and the Wharton School.

By contrast, classical liberal arts institutions that reject DEI are seeing enrollment increases and expansions. Campus Reform reported earlier this month that several Christian liberal arts colleges including Hillsdale College, Liberty University, and Grove City College are experiencing double-digit increases in admissions or enrollment.

Higher Education Fellow Nicholas Giordano observes that, across the country, “Enrollment is down, companies are dropping degree requirements, and it’s all through self-inflicted wounds like” an overemphasis on DEISJ issues.

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What’s more, DEI-related degrees do not seem to be what students or employers actually want. 

In the job market, private sector businesses with reputations for wokeness are experiencing massive layoffs and record financial losses.

Disney announced this month that it will be letting go roughly 3% of its workforce worldwide and cutting $5.5 billion in costs after having lost $123 billion in market value in 2022.

Similarly, Microsoft is eliminating approximately 5% of its employees, and Coca-Cola is shrinking its American workforce by 12%.

Critics of DEI in academia are also more broadly concerned with the philosophical framework of identity politics.

Giordano argues, “DEISJ pushes propaganda and a political agenda that ultimately forces people into groups and pits groups against each other….This is not 1920s America, and no one has a problem with diversity.” Rather, the problem is that DIE examines all issues “through the lens of race, privilege, and oppression.”

Tufts, Texas State, and Michigan Tech have not yet responded to Campus Reform’s request for comment. The Wharton School denied the request for comment.

This story will be updated accordingly.

Follow Gabrielle M. Etzel on Twitter.