Allowing black Americans to rise above segregation and unequal opportunities, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are schools that were established before 1964 that had the goal of educating black Americans. Times have changed, but challenges still exist and these schools are now top-notch diverse learning environments that educate people of all races. Many of these schools have been around since the late 1800’s and offer traditions that are unmatched in modern colleges and universities.
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How Many HBCU Colleges are There?
There are 101 HBCUs. These are located in 19 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. Of these, 51 are public and 50 are private. Diversity in these schools has been increasing over time, with 24% of enrollment now being made up of non-Black students.
Why Choose HBCU Colleges?
HBCUs have played a crucial role in ensuring that African Americans and students of all races can receive a high-quality education. It is statistically proven that HBCU colleges or universities retain students of color at a higher rate. HBCUs have diverse campuses and a supportive atmosphere for all students. The average cost to attend an HBCU is also lower than the average cost of all other four-year non-profit colleges.
What are the Best HBCU Colleges?
We’ve compiled a list of the best HBCU colleges and ranked the top 37 schools. We used in-state tuition cost (lowest is best) and the student to faculty ratio (lowest is best) to rank the schools. Tuition cost made up 2/3 of the ranking and student to faculty ratio made up 1/3 of the ranking. Take a look at our HBCU rankings below.
|1||Langston University||Langston, Oklahoma|
|2||Elizabeth City State University||Elizabeth City, North Carolina|
|3||Mississippi Valley State University||Itta Bena, Mississippi|
|4||Kentucky State University – Frankfort, KY||Frankfort, Kentucky|
|5||Morgan State University||Baltimore, Maryland|
The Top 38 Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Offering 40 degree programs, Langston University is the only HBCU in Oklahoma. Opened in 1897, this institution now includes three campuses and 70% of students are first generation college students. Boasting a high acceptance rate, popular majors include Psychology, Business, Humanities, and Liberal Arts. There are also some unique programs here such goat research and urban education.
Elizabeth City State University
As a public university, admissions are competitive and the acceptance rate is about 60% at Elizabeth City State University. Students participate in liberal arts programs and 81% of students are from in state. The athletics program participates in NCAA Division II. With a graduation rate of 42%, popular majors include Biology, Business, Criminal Justice, and Safety Studies.
Mississippi Valley State University
Mississippi Valley State University offers Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Professional Studies, Education, and a Graduate School. The student population is diverse and the school has a high acceptance rate. High quality professors work at this university and 98% of students receive financial aid. The community is welcoming and the staff works hard to create a safe campus.
Kentucky State University – Frankfort, KY
With a competitive admission rate, Kentucky State University offers a family-oriented community. This school is the oldest HCBU in Kentucky and has a long legacy of academic excellence. Some popular courses of study include teaching and coaching, business, and nursing. Kentucky State University is a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Morgan State University
Morgan State University is a semi-competitive school, with an acceptance rate of about 66%. Founded in 1867, this university is a Carnegie-classified doctoral research institution. There are 125 academic programs and a baccalaureate through doctorate can be obtained here. Students enjoy being part of a quaint residential area in northeast Baltimore.
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Alcorn State University –
With national recognition for excellence in nursing, technology, music, agricultural research, and liberal arts, Alcorn State University has a high acceptance rate and 40% of students graduate. Alcorn offers a diverse environment with understanding professors and a quality athletics program. The small campus and class sizes makes it easy to get involved and meet new people.
Tennessee State University
Life in Nashville is fun and rich and Tennessee State University has a very high acceptance rate. The campus is lovely and located in 500 acres in the middle of Nashville. There are 77 majors to choose from and Tennessee State University is a Carnegie Designated “High Research” School. Many graduates go into health professions, business, criminal justice, and law enforcement.
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
A growing school, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff recently recorded its highest enrollment numbers. The school is located in a small town, which offers a nice slow paced environment. The campus is close to Pine Bluff Lake and Pine Bluff Jefferson County Regional Park, making it easy to get outside. It is competitive to get in and popular majors include Criminal Justice, Safety Studies, Biology, and Business.
University of the District of Columbia
The nation’s capital is the classroom at the University of the District of Columbia. There are many enriching experiences nearby and the staff monopolizes on these learning opportunities. This school has a high acceptance rate and 24% of students graduate. Legal studies, Liberal Arts, Humanities, and Business are the most popular areas of study.
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore offers more then 60 student organizations and has an active athletics program in NCAA Division I. This school is a Top 20 Historically Black Doctoral Research University and offers a wide range of areas of study. About half of the students who apply get in and the most popular majors include Police and Criminal Science, Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Kinesiology and Exercise Science.
Fayetteville State University
Founded in 1867, Fayetteville State University is the second oldest state assisted institution in North Carolina. This school has a long history of producing highly educated graduates ready to drive economic growth in the area. This diverse school has a competitive acceptance rate and 35% of students graduate. FSU is NCAA Division II for athletics and popular majors include Safety Studies, Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Nursing.
West Virginia State University
One of the original 19 land-grant colleges and universities that were established by the Morrill Act of 1890, West Virginia State University was founded in 1891. There is plenty of green space to enjoy on this campus that is located just a few miles from Charleston. This school has a high acceptance rate and offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programs.
Bowie State University – Bowie, MD
Bowie State University is the first historically black public university in Maryland. The population is diverse and the school offers 23 undergraduate majors, 20 master’s degrees, 14 post bachelor’s certificates, and 2 doctoral programs. Students come from 33 states and 29 countries. There are more than 50 clubs and organizations on campus as well as opportunities to participate in NCAA Division II Athletics.
Virginia State University
Founded in 1882, Virginia State University is located 20 minutes south of Richmond and is one of the two land-grant institutions in Virginia. The campus is lovely and overlooks the Appomattox River. Studies are available within six colleges, with 36 undergraduate degree programs, 16 graduate degree programs, and two doctoral degree programs.
Delaware State University
For over 125 years, Delaware State University has been helping students reach their career goals. This school is comprised of 4 academic colleges with over 17 academic departments. There are 42 bachelor’s, 18 master’s and 5 doctoral degrees available. Admissions are competitive, only admitting about half of the students who apply. The most popular majors are Kinesiology and Exercise Science, Criminology, and Communications.
Jackson State University
Jackson State University has a caring and nurturing campus with a rich history. There are 45 undergraduate programs and 48 graduate programs available. The graduation rate is 43% and the school readily utilizes technology and online platforms. The engineering program is innovative and other popular majors include Liberal Arts and Humanities, Biology, and Social Work and Youth Services.
North Carolina Central University – Durham, NC
Offering flagship programs in the arts, nursing, education, law, and the sciences, North Carolina Central University has a rich history that spans 109 years. This school boasts a 76% retention rate from freshman to sophomore and has a 47.7% 5-year graduation rate. The average class size is 23, offering a personalized experience to all students.
Norfolk State University – Norfolk, VA
Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Norfolk State University has five academic colleges. There are 49 degree programs on one campus as well as online programs available. Founded in 1935 during the Great Depression, this school was a beacon of hope to the youth living at the time. It continues shine with a 90% acceptance rate and 37% graduation rate.
Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University is a vibrant and diverse school that was founded in 1892. This university has been recognized for excellence locally, regionally, and nationally. There are 34 baccalaureate degrees, 50 undergraduate minors, 7 master’s degrees, 2 professional doctorate degrees, and 6 post-baccalaureate certifications available.
A private, Christian college founded in 1869, Tougaloo College is an independent, liberal arts institution. Undergraduate degrees are available in 29 majors. Choose from education, the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Graduate degrees are also available in teaching and child development. Competing in NAIA Division I athletics, 91% of students who apply are accepted and the graduation rate is 35%.
South Carolina State University – Orangeburg, SC
Founded as a land grant college in 1896, South Carolina State University has a long standing tradition of excellence. This school offers the only Bachelor of Science program in nuclear engineering available at an HBCU. SC State also has the most enrolled ROTC cadets of any HBCU school. The campus consists of 107 buildings on 160 acres and the new Engineering and Computer Science Complex was completed in 2013.
Prairie View A&M University
The second oldest public institution of higher learning in Texas, Prairie View A&M University was founded in 1876. It is one of two land grant universities in the state and offers more than 170 student organizations. This leads to a vibrant campus life that also includes intramural sports, a bowling center, and NCAA Division I Athletics. An average of 1,713 courses are offered every semester and 82% of students receive financial aid.
Founded in 1854, Lincoln University is known as the first degree-granting HBCU in the nation. Although the university is located in a rural setting, it is easy to get to many major cities on the East Coast. The school provides a liberal arts education and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. There are 39 or fewer students in 98% of undergraduate classes and the most popular majors are Human Services, Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia, Criminal Justice, Nursing, and Biology.
Affiliated with the Methodist Church, Wiley College was founded in 1873 and offers a primarily liberal arts education. Students can stud in The School of Social Sciences and Humanities, The School of Education, The School of Business and Technology, or The School of Sciences. This school is very small, offering a personalized experience to all students and it easy to be accepted.
Wilberforce University – Wilberforce, OH
A private, Christian school, Wilberforce University is the oldest private black University owned and operated by African Americans. Founded in 1856, the school is small but still offers 25 academic concentrations. These are offered in business, communications, computing and engineering sciences, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Dual degree programs are also available in architecture and aerospace.
Claflin University has been leading the way for almost 150 years, as it is the first university in South Carolina that was open to everyone regardless of race. Find small classes in the 37 undergraduate majors and 4 graduate degrees. There are clubs, organizations, fraternities and sororities, shared interest organizations, religious organizations, and honor societies and academic clubs all available on campus.
Florida A&M University
A winner of many awards, Florida A&M University offers 54 bachelor’s degrees, 29 master’s degrees, and 12 doctoral programs. There are unique programs of studies here, such as jazz, cardiopulmonary studies, health informatics and management, and journalism. The campus is beautiful and there are more than 100 recognized clubs and organizations at the school.
Talladega College is Alabama’s oldest private historically black college. There are 17 degree programs offered here and the school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The campus is quiet, situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and includes many historic buildings. A liberal arts school, 98% of students receive some form of financial aid.
Oakwood University offers 58 different majors within 5 different schools. The choir is excellent and many students go on to medical school after attending Oakwood. The university is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church and is accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The most popular majors are Liberal Arts and Humanities, Biology, and Health Service Preparatory Studies.
Located in the Gentilly Community in New Orleans, Dillard University was founded in 1869. The school offers a liberal arts education and is situated on a lovely 55- acre campus. Choose from 22 majors within seven departments and schools. Dillard has a unique Student Success division that aims to recruit, keep, and support undergraduate students. Acceptance is fairly competitive and the school participates in NAIA Division I athletics.
Tuskegee University is rich in history. It was home to the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII and to scientist George Washington Carver. The National Park Service has designated the campus as the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site. There are 5 colleges and 3 schools offering 39 Bachelor’s degrees, 13 Master’s, and 2 Doctor’s of Philosophy. Acceptance is competitive and top majors include Mechanical Engineering, Psychology, and Animal Sciences and Husbandry.
The oldest school of higher learning in Nashville, Fisk University is known internationally for academic excellence. There are more than 20 programs available for undergraduate studies and graduate programs in Clinical Psychology, Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. Students can also take advantage of a Masters to Ph.D. program thanks to a partnership with Vanderbilt University. Acceptance is semi-competitive and 100% of freshman live on campus.
Spelman College was founded in 1881 and originally called the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary. This school is a leader in the education of women who are of African decent. Students come from 43 states and 10 foreign countries to study here. Spelman has one of the best graduation rates in the country, at 76% and the acceptance rate is only 39%. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and popular majors include Political Sciences and Government, Biology, and Psychology.
Xavier University of Louisiana
A Catholic and historically black school, Xavier University of Louisiana offers classes in almost 50 areas. Students can aim for an undergraduate, graduate, or professional level degree. With 73% African American enrollment and 16% Catholic, students come from 40 states across the country and 16 foreign countries. This school strives for retention, with a 70% rate of retaining first-time freshmen. Acceptance is fairly competitive and science majors are popular courses of study here.
Students come to Howard University from all 50 states and from all over the world. The campus is diverse and full of culture. It is a private university that utilizes being in the nation’s capital to enrich the learning experience and to instill a sense of service. Howard is most known for studies in health, science, law, art, engineering, and education. More than 130 areas of study are available across 13 schools and colleges.
In a beautiful location by the sea, Hampton University was founded in 1868. The campus spans 314 acres and includes 118 buildings. The school participates in NCAA Division I Athletics. The Liberal Arts and Education program is the most popular, with science and business coming next. The school offers 50 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs, and 9 doctoral degree programs. Acceptance is competitive and 58% of students graduate.
A school for men, Morehouse College is located near downtown Atlanta. Students can obtain a bachelor of science or bachelor of arts degree. There are 33 majors available within 7 academic divisions. Business is the most popular major with Biology and Physical Education Teaching and Coaching ranking next. The school has a 58% acceptance rate and a 54% graduation rate.
Our Ranking Methodology
For the purpose of our HBCU rankings, we looked at tuition cost and student to faculty ratio. Tuition cost made up 2/3 of the ranking and student to faculty ratio made up 1/3 of the ranking. We gathered this information from the school’s website. All tuition figures are based on full year amounts, multiplying per semester costs by 2 whenever needed. We assigned each school points, a maximum of 38 for lowest tuition cost and another 38 for the lowest student to faculty ratio. We added the two scores to come up with a final score for ranking.
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