At WKU, we prepare students of all backgrounds to be productive, engaged and socially responsible citizen-leaders of a global society. The University provides research, service and lifelong learning opportunities for its students, faculty, and other constituents. Through our mission, we strive to enrich the quality of life for those within our reach, and that includes celebrating our diversity and providing support to a diverse student body.
Charting an Affordable Path
At WKU, we offer many academic paths with one hundred one academic majors that lead to the baccalaureate degree. We understand the importance of affordability in starting the path. Our commitment to charting an affordable path consists of expanded scholarships and an advanced tuition incentive program. For the fall of 2020, 80.6% of all underrepresented minority students received financial assistance. Moving forward, to further support our students, WKU guarantees100% tuition coverage for any first-time, first-year freshman from Kentucky who receives Pell Grant assistance and has at least a 3.0 cumulative unweighted high school GPA. Starting Fall 2021, first-time freshmen students who are residents of any state that borders Kentucky can attend WKU for the in-state tuition rate through the WKU Border State Scholarship. In addition, underrepresented minority students with a minimum 2.5 unweighted GPA qualify for the Cornelius A. Martin Scholarship.
View the full list of scholarships for first-time freshmen, current students, and transfer students by vising the WKU Office of Student Financial Assistance.
At WKU, our small classroom size - averaging 24 students to 1 faculty member - helps create a foundation for good faculty/student relationships. In addition, networks such as the Black Faculty & Staff Association and the Hilltopper Pride Network provide lists of individuals who are willing to serve as resources for students at WKU.
In 2020, our six-year graduation rate rose to 55.1% (up from 50.7% in AY 2017). During the same time, WKU achieved the highest URM and low-income six-year graduation rates in eight years. WKU offers several resources for students to succeed academically. Visit the Academic & Career Development Center for support with course plans and questions about your academic programs. The Intercultural Student Engagement Center also provides advising for students from underrepresented backgrounds through their Academy and CAReS program. Hilltoppers can take advantage of The Writing Center staff for assistance with fine-tuning writing assignments. Plus, the Center for Literacy provides students with additional academic support helping to further prepare them for success in the classroom.
Climbing Confidently also includes support with your success outside of the classroom. The Academic & Career Development Center works with students on finding internships, employment, building a resume, and more. The Center for Financial Success can help Hilltoppers build a budget and create a plan for managing finances during and after college. The Office of Research and Creative Activity can guide students through incorporating research into an experience that supports their future careers. Through the Intercultural Student Engagement Center, the Why Knot Us Black Male Initiative brings students together to increase the sense of belonging of Black males through intentional programmatic needs. Through this, they work to improve retention, impact, and quality of life through professional and personal development opportunities.
“I met great peers and advisors who cared about my growth and believed in me. As they continued to believe in me, I went abroad and had numerous experiences that made me more confident as a person, a person with individual thoughts and ideas about the future. I learned how to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds, developed my cultural sensitivities, and made everlasting friendships for life.” - Reuben Tang of Glasgow, Class of 2020
We are growing in diversity at WKU. Of our first-time, first-year freshmen for fall 2019, 24% were students of color. Our student body comes from 50 states within the United States plus D.C. In addition, sixty countries represent the international homes of our Hilltoppers. With nearly one third of students entering WKU as first-generation college students, we understand the importance of equity and inclusion for all.
The residence halls provide a space for students from different backgrounds to form communities and make meaningful connections on the Hill. This happens through Living-Learning Programs, resident hall associations, and hall events. In Living Learning Programs (LLPs), students with similar academic or social interests live together on a residence hall floor and participate in activities tailored to their specific majors or interests. Some of these LLPs include the Intercultural Student Engagement Center (ISEC) Academy, Stonewall Suites (LGBT+), Chinese Flagship Program, Global Living, Transfer and ROTC.
WKU offers more than 300 organizations as options for students to get involved. There are several organizations where students from different affinity groups connect with those of similar interests and backgrounds. Some of these include the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), Amazing Tones of Joy gospel choir, Best Buddies, Black Student Alliance, Black Women of Western, BLAQ Art Nouveau, Building Men of Worth, Caribbean Student Union, Council of International Student Organization, Hilltopper Organization for Latin American Students, KAOIS Dance Team, Major Redz Dance Team, Sister Act Mentoring, and Queer Student Union.
Greek Life refers to the fraternities and sororities on the Hill, and they all fall into three different councils - The Interfraternity Council (IFC), National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), and the Panhellenic Council (PAN). The organizations are open to students of all backgrounds, selected from those who meet membership requirements. The NPHC is the governing body for WKU's nine Historically African American letter sororities and fraternities. Chapters for each of those nine organizations exist at WKU.
Intercultural Student Engagement Center
The Cynthia and George Nichols III Intercultural Student Engagement Center (I.S.E.C.) promotes a culturally inclusive campus environment, cultural awareness and competence, inter-group dialogue, engagement and intercultural interaction, and supports lifelong learning about self and others. Students can visit the Center in DSU 2041 during extended business hours to meet with staff or to take advantage of study and meeting space. The ISEC Academy, assists students that identify as students of color (Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Native American, Multiracial) and/or who are first-generation, Pell-eligible, and have some need with their transition, persistence, and graduation from Western Kentucky University.
The Pride Center, which is also part of ISEC, supports all LGBTQ, questioning, and allied students. The Pride Center works to improve the campus climate for all LGBTQ+ students by advocating for the respect and safety of all members of the campus community through events and educational opportunities. Students utilize the space in DSU 2084 for meetings, studying, fellowship and events.
Christian students can participate in campus ministries during the year. The Office of Student Activities maintains a list of all faith-based student organizations. You can also find information on local churches working with those groups.
As our Jewish student population grows, students seeking ways to get involved, can connect with the Office of Student Activities. The office staff can work with students to start an organization or get involved in existing ones.
Muslim students at WKU can create a new organization, participate in organizations like the Muslim Student Association, or attend events to recognize Islamic holidays. Bowling Green has multiple mosques for students to worship.
WKU provides a list of religious celebrations and observations through the Chief Diversity Officers' website. Faculty and staff are reminded of observations during the year and can use this list as a resource for supporting students.
Accessiblity on the Hill
Austin Bonebreak is just one student who continues to pursue his degree and reach his full potential at WKU.
Driving himself to campus once a week, Austin Bonebrake, a WKU junior, is just a year or so away from getting his degree in environmental sustainability. He calls his sledding accident a total life changer but instead of dwelling on it, he counts his blessings. Hear his story in this View from the Hill.
The Student Accessilibity Resource Center (SARC) coordinates services and accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Their most common activities include: reviewing disability documentation, meeting with students to determine appropriate accommodations, and partnering with other areas on campus to implement these accommodations. They strive to help students assume responsibility of their own educational experience. They assist students along the way by providing access and opportunity in order for them to reach their full potential.
KAP Circle of Support, a program within the Kelly Autism Program at WKU, offers six areas of assistance
to address the challenges faced by students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and increase
their success on campus.
The major areas of assistance provided by KAP Circle of Support include: private residence hall rooms, study tables, mentoring, socials, mental health counseling and weekly advisor meetings.
KAP Circle of Support uses Social Information Processing Theory and Executive Functioning Skill Development as its theoretical framework. All participants in the program are degree seeking students at Western Kentucky University. The Kelly Autism Program is the only provider of these types of services in the region.
Learn more about diversity at WKU
Under the direction of the President of Western Kentucky University, the Co-Chief Diversity Officers (CDO) are responsible for providing vision, leadership and counsel on efforts related to establishing diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the WKU community. Chief Diversity Officer Michael Crowe and Chief Diversity Office Molly Kerby serve in those positions.
Hear from Our Students
Each Hilltopper shares a unique WKU experience, and their stories are shared on our websites and social media through the year. We celebrate students for their achievements, such as recent graduate Reuben Tang quoted above. Read his full story. Follow the #PeopleOfWKU on social media to hear from the students highlighted over the years. Then, read more about these four students using the link below.
“The Hilltopper Spirit is about being willing to achieve your goals and go after what you want in life. No matter what background you may come from, you will never feel excluded from anything while on the Hill,” said sophomore Anthony Cabrera. Read his story.
“I was a little Chicana with big dreams of telling stories about the Latinx experience, and I was worried I wouldn’t be enough. Because of WKU, I will never stop dreaming big and reminding myself: I’m worth it,” said graduate student Camille Acosta. Read her full story.
"Another big part of being NPHC President this semester has been trying to provide a safe space on this campus for Black students. […] I want students to feel safe at NPHC events and around our members and know that they can reach out to us for anything," said Destiny Smith, fall 2020 graduate. Read her full story.