The Higher Education Act of 1965 defines historically black colleges as institutions that were established before 1964 in order to provide higher learning to the African-American community. There are 106 historically black colleges in the United States; however, you don’t have to be black to attend one of these colleges. If you’re wondering if HBCU’s are all black colleges, they’re not: they welcome students of all races and demographics.
Many of these colleges were founded after the Civil War in order to assist blacks in furthering their education. Land grants were given to many states, and the government helped fund institutions in order to provide adequate support to help make these universities the strong schools they are today. Read more about the top HBCU colleges in the United States.
|Washington, D.C., United States
|Xavier University of Louisiana
|New Orleans, Louisiana
The Best Historically Black Colleges and Institutions
Howard University, founded in 1867, is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Currently, they are one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the country, with an enrollment of over 10,000 students, with students from virtually every state and more than 70 countries. Students are required to take an introductory Afro-American studies course as part of their core curriculum. Howard University traditionally has the largest gathering of Black scholars in the world. Some of their notable alumni include Toni Morrison and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Students who attend full-time can expect tuition to be anywhere from $24,966 for continuing undergraduate students to $42,254 for medical students.
Spelman College is one of the best black colleges in the country. It was founded in 1881 as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary. The school continues as a private, women’s college and has over 2,000 undergraduates enrolled. The most popular majors include psychology, biology, and political science. They offer over 70 student organizations that students are actively involved in. Almost 90% of the student body are black or African-American.
Hampton University was officially founded in 1868, but has a history that goes back further than that. The school is home to the Emancipation Oak, where a free black woman, Mary Peake, gave the first class to twenty black refugees in 1861. This class was the first Southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. The school now has an undergraduate enrollment of 3,500 students, but faculty members still strive to give personalized instruction to their students with a student to faculty ration of 9:1.
Xavier University of Louisiana
Xavier University of Louisiana, founded by St. Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1925, is Catholic and historically Black. The ultimate purpose of the University is to contribute to the promotion of a more just and humane society by preparing its students to assume roles of leadership and service in a global society.
The only historically Black, Catholic university in the United States, Xavier University of Louisiana is a private, liberal-arts based, co-educational institution offering over 40 undergraduate majors, 6 master’s degree programs, a doctor of education and a doctor of pharmacy program. More than one-half of its 3,100 students are from Louisiana, but it draws students from nearly all fifty states and 35 countries.
Xavier University of Louisiana is selective, accepting about two-thirds of all those that apply. The 14:1 student to faculty ratio allows students a more inclusive learning environment that provides fully-rounded educational experiences, including research and community service.
Tuskegee University was founded on July 4, 1881 in a “one room shanty.” When the institution first opened, Booker T. Washington was the first teacher. Today, this private university is recognized as a historically black college that teaches over 2,500 undergraduates. Tuskegee is known as one of the top producers of African-American aerospace engineers in the country. They are also the leading producer of African-american veterinarians worldwide.
Morehouse College in Atlanta was founded in 1867, shortly after the Civil War ended, as the Augusta Theological Institute. It started in the basement of a Baptist church, and has grown to become a school of over 2,000 undergraduate students. Morehouse is a private, all-male institution that is devoted to helping its students further their education. Their most popular degrees are business administration and political science.
Fisk is a smaller university with just over 700 undergraduate students. Fewer undergraduate students mean that classes are smaller, with over 70% of classes having 20 students or fewer. Students at this institution are required to take at least one course on African-American literature or history. Fisk University alumni include W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, and Matthew Knowles.
North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University was founded as an 1890 land-grant research institution. It emphasizes STEM programs and is one of the leading engineering and agriculture degree institutions in the country. North Carolina A&T State University is an NCAA Division I school. In addition to athletics, they also have many clubs for students to participate in.
Bowie State University
This institution is Maryland’s oldest historically black university. It was founded in 1865 by the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Educational Improvement of Colored People. The University is located close to Washington D.C., so students can visit all of the historical sites there. There are over 4,400 undergraduate students at Bowie State, and almost all of the classes have fewer than 50 students.
Tougaloo has 500 acres of land that was used by the American Missionary Association to found the University in 1869. This institution is affiliated with the United Church Disciples of Christ. The University sits on the former John Boddie Plantation. Tougaloo has a high job placement rate, with over 60% of graduates entering professional or graduate school right after graduation.
When it was founded in 1869, this University’s only admission requirement was that students have “good moral character and a conscientious desire to learn.” It is a private institution in affiliation with the United Methodist Church, but accepts students of any denomination. Over 60% of classes have fewer than 20 students, making it a great choice for students looking to get more one-on-one instruction from professors.
Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University was founded in 1892 with only one room, one teacher, and 25 students. It now has 39 buildings, 110 acres, and more than 300 faculty members. Approximately 72% of their student body is African-American or black students. The Digg Gallery shows off their heritage with one of the best collections of contemporary African-American art. Compared to other colleges, Winston-Salem State University is also less selective.
Florida A&M University
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University is a historically black institution in Tallahassee. It strives to increase the involvement of African-American students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs. They have more than 40 degrees for students to choose from, along with a number of fraternities and student clubs to join. While they are a more selective university, they boast a 15:1 student to faculty ratio so students can get the assistance they need.
Clark Atlanta University
W.E.B. Du Bois was one of the founding faculty members of this institution, which was one of the oldest universities serving predominantly black students. It began as an institution to educate the black youth of the Methodist Episcopal church and became Clark Atlanta as we know it when Clark College merged with Atlanta University in 1988. They have a total undergraduate enrollment of around 2,500 and over 87% of students are black or African-American.
North Carolina Central University
North Carolina Central University was founded in 1910 as the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua for the Colored Race. While it has been renamed several times, it has always strived to educate young men and women while helping them build a solid character. Over 97% of their classes have fewer than 50 students, and their student to faculty ratio is quite low at 15:1.
Alabama A&M University
Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University is another land-grant institution. It was founded by William Hooper Councill, a former slave, in 1875. This University sits 5 minutes outside of downtown Huntsville but has many acres of serene campus. It offers 5 undergraduate schools and 41 Baccalaureate programs. Student life on campus is very active, with over 100 registered student organizations to choose from.
Jackson State University
Jackson State University has gone through 7 name changes over the years, but even through these identity changes, the school has maintained its goal to educate young men and women. It was originally founded in 1877 by the American Baptist Home Society to be an institution of religious education for black Christian leaders. This University is known for small class sizes and a number of courses that focus on black culture. The University has around 90% black or African-American students, the school is very proud of this heritage, and displays artifacts and exhibits related to African-American history in their Margaret Walker Center.
Delaware State University
Delaware State was founded in 1891 as the State College for Colored Students. It was formed under a land-grant from the federal government. The University now teaches over 4,000 students, 68% of whom are African-American or black. Almost all of the classes offered at Delaware State have fewer than 50 students. If you choose to attend this university, know that over half of their students live in housing owned, operated, or affiliated with Delaware State.
Elizabeth City State University
Elizabeth City State University was founded in 1891 as a school for training black teachers in North Carolina. It is a historically black college with a 200-acre campus. The school offers 34 undergraduate degrees. Of Elizabeth City State’s students, 77% are African-American. They are a selective university, with an acceptance rate of only about 50%. Students who do have the opportunity to attend this University can choose to be part of a number of clubs like the Green Council or the Let’s Get Active Club.
Dillard University is a private institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It is located in New Orleans, making it a great place for students looking for a more urban university. Dillard also has an active student body with an Office of Student Affairs to help students get involved. Dillard University only accepts about 40% of applicants to be part of their 1,200 undergraduate students, but for those that are accepted, there is access to tutoring, health, and placement services.
Morgan State University
This school was originally founded as the Centenary Biblical Institute. While its purpose was originally to train men for the ministry, this University has been educating students since 1867. The school became a public institution in 1939, and now has a wide range of degrees available, including business, management, health professions, and engineering. There is a student to teacher ratio of 14:1.
Lincoln University was founded in 1854 as the first degree-granting historically black college in the country. Their staff works with students to make sure that they receive the instruction they need, and this dedication is shown in their 14:1 student to teacher ratio. Lincoln University is an HBCU with criminology major. Popular majors at the University include criminal justice, human services, and business administration. Alumni from Lincoln include Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marshall.
Fayetteville State University
This historically black university was founded by 7 black citizens from Fayetteville back in 1867. It was the first state-supported university for blacks that was established in North Carolina. It has continued to offer quality education to all students ever since. Fayetteville has an undergraduate enrollment of over 5,000 students. Because of a large number of applicants, this school only accepts about 50% of those who apply. For students who attend Fayetteville State, there are many intramural sports teams and other activities to be involved with.
Alcorn State University
Alcorn State was created as a land-grant institution; it is also the second-oldest state-supported university in Mississippi and has been helping students achieve their potential since 1871. Over 93% of their 3,000 undergraduate students are black or African- American. There are a number of agricultural and research programs available; though, the most popular degrees obtained at this university are biological and biomedical sciences, liberal arts, and humanities.
Virginia State University
Founded in 1882, Virginia State University was created as one of the first four-year institutions in the United States for black students; they now offer 55 degrees. When the school opened, they had 126 students and 7 faculty members. The school promotes helping students explore new interests, and cultivate current talents. They boast an active student life with a number of clubs and organizations to join, including Greek Life which consists of their nine fraternities.
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is a historically black institution. It is a land-grant institution built to provide education in agriculture and mechanical arts. The degrees offered at this University have expanded, however, to include criminal justice, biology, English language, and more. 70% of the 3,500 undergraduates enrolled are black. The school offers a degree in African-American studies and also publish the African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies.
Albany State University
Albany State University was founded in 1903. It was originally the Albany Bible and Manual Training Institution, but it later became a four-year institution. They boast small class sizes, with over 52% of their classes having only 20 students or less. They now have 34 undergraduate degree programs, but still manage to maintain a 16:1 student to faculty ratio. Notable alumni from this University include Jo Marie Payton and Shirley Sherrod.
For female students looking for a smaller campus, Bennett College is a great choice. Their undergraduate enrollment is under 700 students. Just because it’s small, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t a quality institution. Originally founded in 1873, this University is a private, women’s college that is affiliated with the United Methodist church. They have small classes and offer daycare, tutoring, and security services to make sure students get the most out of their time.
Prairie View A&M University
Prairie View started in 1876 as the first state-supported African-American college. It was also the second university established in Texas. Prairie View’s student body is 85% black or African-American. The school offers a large number of fraternities, clubs, and student organizations. They have just under 7,000 students, and class sizes are generally kept small so that students can get the best instruction from teachers. The most popular majors are health professions and business management.
Tennessee State University
Tennessee State University is a historically black university with over 70% of the students being black or African-American. This University offers 45 bachelors degrees in a variety of subjects. The faculty is devoted to helping students pursue their dreams, and the school boasts a student to faculty ratio of 19:1. The student life is great, with over 100 active clubs. Tennessee State’s alumni include Oprah Winfrey and NFL quarterback Joe Gilliam.