Three Oklahoma universities top a list of American Indian bachelor's degree producers in the nation, according to a report by Diverse Issues in Higher Education, a national publication.
Northeastern State University, Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma had the most American Indian students who earned bachelor's degrees in 2008-09, the report shows. State universities made up six of the top 12 schools, and 12 of the top 100. Other high-ranking universities were Southeastern Oklahoma State University, East Central University and the University of Central Oklahoma.
Oklahoma schools consistently top the list, officials said. Representatives from several top-ranking universities said their universities have strong American Indian programs, services and student groups that attract students. Oklahoma also has a large American Indian population from which to draw, officials said.
About 11 percent (406,492 people) of Oklahoma's population was identified as American Indian or Alaska Native in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
That number marks the second-highest American Indian and Alaska Native population among states.
Having a large population of American Indian students allows schools to develop strong programs and student organizations, said Russell Harjo, a senior at NSU.
His school tied with OSU for the highest number of American Indian baccalaureate graduates in 2008-09, according to the report.
Harjo is actively involved with several American Indian student groups. He has attended national conferences with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. He is also involved with the Center for Tribal Studies, one of the main factors that attracted him to attend NSU, Harjo said.