Why should you study at a historically Black university or college?
HBCU’s were founded on the conviction that all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, or sex, should have access to education. And the colleges and universities ranked here are those which still hold to that conviction.
They have proven their commitment to local communities and underserved populations through ongoing programming. They recognize the volatile political climate and produce leaders and visionaries.
Attending an HBCU means you will not only develop academically, but personally, socially, and entrepreneurially. You will develop leadership qualities while becoming an advocate for justice. And you will also make lifelong friends, as many of these small colleges encourage you to get involved with student-led organization, study abroad programs, and more.
How much money do people make with a degree from a HBCU?
Projected salaries can vary widely, as no degree payout is exactly the same. For example, nuclear engineers (South Carolina State has a renowned program) make over $100,000 annually while psychologists make on average $75,000 a year.
Though it is difficult to project how much you will make with a degree from a HBCU, one thing is certain: you won’t break the bank attending college. Many of these programs offer some of the lowest tuition rates in the nation. On top of these low rates, students at HBCUs receive more financial assistance, Pell Grants, and scholarships than any other kind of institution.
What can you do with a degree from a HBCU?
Many of these schools are small universities or colleges founded on a liberal arts core. That means you will have the opportunity for an interdisciplinary education while also honing your personal interests and skills. Likewise, many of these schools also offer trade training.
So whatever your passions and career aspirations, a degree from an HBCU can help you achieve your goals.
HBCUs have a long history of providing education that meets the demands of a changing economy and culture. Since these colleges and universities were built to ensure students’ access to jobs, the degree programs are uniquely informed on how to create marketable leaders. Not surprising then that some of the most popular programs at these schools are in business, the social sciences, and, most notably, they include all of the STEM fields.
What are the requirements for a degree from a HBCU?
The application process for HBCUs is similar to that of traditional colleges and universities. However, HBCUs value a demonstrated commitment to community advancement and leadership formation. They also require proof of a strong academic program.
Once accepted and attending, you can anticipate a four-year degree that will offer numerous opportunities for growth. From study abroad to research collaborations, many of these colleges and universities encourage you to become an involved, conscientious student.
What are the best historically Black colleges and universities for 2018?
To determine the 50 best HBCUs we employed our standard methodology while paying special attention to student opportunity and equity. For example, while investigating retention rates, which are a sign of student satisfaction, we also examined scholarships and financial assistance. Similarly, we ensured each school is affordable, highly regarded, and offers a solid return on investment. But we also made sure to include schools that prioritize leadership formation among their students.
After consolidating all of this data we were left with the nation’s 50 best historically Black colleges and universities. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized US News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $22,712
Howard University is located in Washington, D.C. and has been educating primarily Black undergraduate and graduate students since 1867. However, Howard is known for being open to people of all races and identities. It offers nearly 100 academic programs to its 10,000 students.
Howard is a leader in many ways and categories. The National Science Foundation ranks Howard as the top producer of African-American undergraduates who later earn STEM doctoral degrees. The College of Medicine is internationally renowned and the School of Law is a known advocate for social justice and change. Other reasons to consider Howard include:
- The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders
- The Alternative Spring Break Program that was recognized by Barack Obama
- Research Opportunities through the Center for African Studies
- The Domestic Exchange Program
Howard is a well-ranked university. It makes the lists of U.S. News & World Report, Bloomberg Businessweek, and The Princeton Review. Howard has graduated a number of Rhodes, Fulbright, Marshall, and Truman scholars.
College Choice Score: 98.82
Average Net Price: $32,399
Spelman College is a women’s school located in Atlanta, Georgia. It is a liberal arts college and part of the Atlanta University Center academic consortium. Around 2,300 students attend Spelman.
Spelman College is an ideal school for Black women who plan to enter the STEM fields. Spelman is a top producer of Black women who go on to earn doctoral degrees in math, engineering, and technology. Not surprising then that Spelman encourages undergraduate research opportunities, through such programs as:
- Fellowships in Research and Science Teaching Program
- Enhancing Global Research and Education in STEM Program
- Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement
- And more
Spelman is consistently recognized as being among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges. It is also frequently considered the best historically Black college by U.S. News & World Report. Finally, Spelman is the top site of STEM research among African-American women.
College Choice Score: 96.82
Average Net Price: $24,377
Hampton University is located in Hampton, Virginia. It was founded soon after the American Civil War in an effort to provide education to freedmen. Around 4,600 students attend Hampton.
Hampton offers dozens of degree programs, though its most popular are in business, science, and education. In fact, Hampton was founded as a teacher’s school and still maintains its strengths in training education leaders. Hampton campus is home to:
- The William R. Harvey Leadership Institute
- The Freddye T. Davy Honors College
- National Center on African American Marriages and Parenting
- And more
Hampton’s campus is part of the U.S. National Historic Landmark District with buildings first established in the mid nineteenth century. Hampton’s legacy is equally established: one of its first students was Booker T. Washington.
Xavier University of Louisiana
College Choice Score: 96.49
Average Net Price: $34,984
Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) is located in New Orleans. It is the only historically black college in America that is a Roman Catholic institution. XULA offers degrees in public health, biology, business, education, counseling, fine arts, pharmaceutical medicine, and math and science.
Xavier was founded by St. Katharine Drexel, who believed quality education was key to racial justice and empowerment, for African Americans as well as Native Americans. She wanted to build a university that offered opportunity while also teaching Catholicism and theology. Xavier has maintained that legacy through such ways as:
- The MARC and RISE programs, which aim to increase underrepresented scientists
- Substantial Study Abroad immersion opportunities
- A Campus Ministry that offers daily Eucharistic Liturgy and pastoral care
- Core curriculum that includes theology and African American history courses
Washington Monthly has ranked XULA among the top 30 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in the nation. And U.S. News & World Report includes Xavier among its regional rankings in the South. Though many of the University’s are highly regarded, it is most known for its STEM and medicine programs.
Florida A&M University
College Choice Score: 96.39
Average Net Price: $13,096
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) is based in Tallahassee, Florida. It is one of the nation’s largest historically Black schools with nearly 10,000 students. And it is a member of the greater State University System of Florida.
FAMU’s primary aim is to offer education that is at once exhaustive, affordable, and marked by diversity. Known for its education across the STEM fields, FAMU has earned a reputation for training Black leaders in underrepresented fields. The University offers a number of opportunities for professional formation through its many research centers and institutes, including:
- Center for Deliberative Democracy, Civic Engagement, and Census Information
- Center for Environmental Equity and Justice
- Center for Ethnic Psychological Research and Application
- The Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum
FAMU is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report. It is also recognized as a second tier research university by Carnegie, and a top producer of research development by the National Science Foundation.
North Carolina A&T State University
College Choice Score: 95.44
Average Net Price: $9,548
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is located in Greensboro. It is part of the wider University of North Carolina system and one of the nation’s oldest public schools. Over 11,000 students attend North Carolina A&T.
North Carolina A&T University is a leading producer of African-American students studying psychology, accountancy, veterinarian medicine, and agriculture. The University is considered the nation’s largest historically Black university, in terms of enrollment, but also in its academic, research-related, and social opportunities. Campus is home to many illustrious research projects, such as:
- The Bioenergy Center
- The Center for Advanced Studies in Identity Sciences
- The Center for Behavioral Health and Wellness
- And much more
North Carolina A&T is well ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Washington Monthly, and much more. It is not only known for its academic excellence, but its affordability and social mobility.
College Choice Score: 90.78
Average Net Price: $31,381
An all-male school, Morehouse College is located in Atlanta, Georgia. It is a private, liberal arts college and one of the nation’s only traditional men’s-only schools. Around 2,000 students attend Morehouse and are enrolled in one of two dozen academic programs.
Morehouse College boasts the King Collection, a 10,000 piece archive of original documents that were written by Martin Luther King Jr. And currently a Civil Rights museum is in works, which will allow the public to study the collection. Several famous activists, artists, and leaders attended Morehouse:
- Theologian Howard Thurman
- Filmmaker Spike Lee
- Activist and writer Shaun King
- And, of course, Martin Luther King Jr.
Morehouse maintains close relationships with other historically black colleges, including Spelman, Clark Atlanta University, and the Interdenominational Theological Center. Morehouse has also produced a number of Rhodes Scholars and makes Forbes’ list of “America’s Top Colleges.”
Bowie State University
College Choice Score: 87.65
Average Net Price: $13,200
Bowie State University is located in Prince George’s County, Maryland. It is a part of the wider University System of Maryland and home to nearly 6,000 students. Bowie is one of the oldest historically Black universities in the U.S.
Bowie offers nearly two dozen undergraduate degree programs plus another 38 graduate degrees with specific focus on science, tech, business, and education. Though, originally, Bowie was founded as a teacher’s training school. In addition to Bowie’s emphasis on leadership in a global, technology-driven world, the University offers:
- Online and hybrid learning opportunities
- Resources for LGBT and other minority students
- Over 100 student organizations, fraternities, and sororities
- And more
Bowie State is a leader in STEM research and education. It has even been awarded large research funds from such institutions as NASA and the National Science Foundation. U.S. News & World Report includes Bowie in its regional rankings as well as its historically black colleges rankings.
North Carolina Central University
College Choice Score: 86.83
Average Net Price: $10,835
North Carolina Central University (NCCU) is located in Durham. It offers programs at all degree levels, from bachelor’s to doctorates, to its 9,200 students. Part of the University of North Carolina System, NCCU is organized into nearly ten discrete schools and colleges.
Originally founded as a religious training school, NCCU went on to become the first public liberal arts institution for African Americans in the U.S. The University also boasts a long history of creating leaders in biotechnology, information science, health science, technology, and more. Other reasons to consider NCCU include:
- It’s one of only a few schools offering bachelor and master degrees in Jazz Studies
- Campus is home to the Biotechnology Research Institute
- The NCCU Art Museum houses some of the most renowned collections by African American artists
- The Law School is ranked among the best and most popular in the U.S.
NCCU maintains a close relationship with the African American Jazz Caucus, and together sponsors the Jazz Research Institute. The University even offers a Jazz Studies degree. NCCU is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
College Choice Score: 86.45
Average Net Price: $17,241
Claflin University is located in Orangeburg, South Carolina, just outside of Columbia. It is a private, liberal arts university that was founded soon after the Civil War. Claflin offers dozens of bachelors degrees, plus two masters programs, to its 2,000 students.
Claflin uniquely stresses the combination of activism, creativity, and service with education. Students are offered several domestic and international service opportunities. They are encouraged to apply their academic experience to activism and outreach. And the University provides numerous research possibilities. Other reasons to consider Claflin include:
- A faculty that has won awards from the National Science Foundation
- The Honors College gives students additional career preparation
- It was ranked in the Black Southern Belle as a top 10 most “heavenly HBCU campus”
- It has been recognized for its commitment to sustainability
Claflin was recently ranked as one of South Carolina’s best liberal arts colleges. It is also designated a top ten best historically Black college by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to its academic accolades, Claflin is known for its small student-teacher ratio and emphasis on mentorship and student development.
College Choice Score: 86.02
Average Net Price: $18,801
Dillard University is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is affiliated with both the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church. Around 1,200 students attend Dillard.
Dillard’s proximity to New Orleans has greatly influenced the culture and activity of student life. Music is a mainstay at Dillard, as is the emphasis on diverse cultures and languages. In fact, Dillard administration has gone to great lengths to integrate globalization into its curriculum and promote diversity. The student-led organizations reflect this:
- Urban Studies Club
- Miss Empowered
- Black Ivy Couture
- Association of Black Social Workers
Dillard is included among Washington Monthly’s list of top national liberal arts colleges. In addition to its academic recognitions, Dillard is also known for being home to several unique and highly regarded research centers. Among them is the Institute of Jazz Culture.
Prairie View A&M University
College Choice Score: 85.89
Average Net Price: $9,813
Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) is located in Prairie View, Texas, northwest of Houston. It is a member of the wider Texas A&M University System and offers nearly 100 academic programs. Around 10,000 students attend Prairie View.
PVAMU was established by two former slaves who went on to become political leaders. Now over 140 years later, the University is known for its huge research contributions across the STEM fields. Though PVAMU also offers degrees in everything from business to social work. The University is also known for:
- The Marching Storm, one of the nation’s most popular marching bands that recently appeared in the 2017 Macy’s Day parade
- A sprawling library that holds art exhibitions, the King Collection, and more
- Its well-ranked business and engineering programs
- Its interdisciplinary Honors Program
Known for its commitment to STEM research, Prairie View provides the second most STEM degrees in the whole Texas A&M University System. The University is also known for being a top producer of African-American architects and engineers.
College Choice Score: 85.58
Average Net Price: $28,515
Tuskegee University is located in Tuskegee, Alabama and is home to over 3,000 students. It offers over 60 academic programs at all degree levels, from undergraduate to doctorates. Tuskegee is a well-decorated university with several rankings, recognitions, and awards.
Founded by Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee was also home to George Washington Carver, Ralph Ellison, and more. The University is also known for its recognition as a National Historic Landmark and for the Tuskegee Airmen who flew in World War II, among many other notables. Today, students have access to:
- The Carver Integrative Sustainability Center
- STEM Summer Academy
- Dozens of scholarship and leadership opportunities
- Online learning, and much more
U.S. News & World Report ranks Tuskegee in several categories: for its affordability, business programs, engineering degrees, and for being among the best in its region. Tuskegee is also consistently named among the top 10 best historically Black colleges each year.
College Choice Score: 85.50
Average Net Price: $12,453
Located just north of Jackson, Mississippi, Tougaloo College is a small liberal arts school. It is organized into five academic divisions that house degrees in education, the humanities, natural science, social science, and continuing education. Under 1,000 students attend Tougaloo.
Called one of the “Best in the Southeast” by The Princeton Review, Tougaloo is known for its devotion to social justice. The College describes its mission as one that seeks to prepare leaders while also developing “morally and socially responsible character.” Tougaloo therefore offers a notably interdisciplinary and experiential learning opportunity. For example, some of the special programs students can participate in include:
- The Upward Bound Program
- The Brown-Tougaloo Partnership
- The International and Global Change project
- And much more
Tougaloo has been praised for its affordability, academic excellence, and its commitment to STEM education. For example, the National Science Foundation includes the College among the top 50 best in the U.S. for preparing students for doctoral degrees in science and engineering.
Jackson State University
College Choice Score: 85.04
Average Net Price: $12,873
Jackson State University (JSU) is located in Jackson, Mississippi. It is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and is recognized as an active research university by the Carnegie Institution. Over 10,000 students attend JSU.
JSU offers numerous leadership formation opportunities to its students. The W.E.B. Du Bois and Maria Alvarez Harvey Honors College, for example, is an interdisciplinary program that promotes the University’s best and brightest students. Campus is also home to:
- The COFO Civil Rights Education Center
- The Margaret Walker Center, an archive and museum for African-American history and culture
- The Richard Wright Center for Writing, Rhetoric and Research
- And more
Jackson State University is nationally ranked by Forbes and Washington Monthly. Likewise, the University has been noted for producing the most Black graduates with degrees in education, biology, and science. U.S. News & World Report also ranks JSU well in several categories.
Clark Atlanta University
College Choice Score: 84.32
Average Net Price: $27,725
Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Clark Atlanta University (CAU) is a private school. It is a member of the Atlanta University Center Consortium (the largest member, in fact), and has over 3,200 enrolled students. Clark Atlanta offers over 40 academic programs at multiple degree levels.
CAU takes seriously the academic and social experience of its students. When freshman arrive on campus they participate in a multi-day orientation which introduces them to the legacy, traditions, and culture of campus. CAU’s reputation is also anchored to its many research projects, and campus is pocked with research centers and facilities, such as:
- The Center for Functional Nanoscale Materials
- The CAU Art Museum
- The Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development
- The Center for Undergraduate Research and Creativity
Clark Atlanta is included in many rankings put out by U.S. News & World Report as well as Washington Monthly. It is included on the latter’s “Best Colleges and Universities” list and the former ranks it among the top 20 best HBCUs in the nation.
Winston-Salem State University
College Choice Score: 84.22
Average Net Price: $10,340
Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) is located in North Carolina and is a member of the wider University of North Carolina system. It is a public research university with nearly 7,000 students. WSSU offers over 50 academic degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
With a focus on service, the University motto of WSSU is “Enter to Learn. Depart to Serve.” Both inside the classroom and out, students are encouraged to participate in leadership events, study abroad opportunities, and much more. WSSU also boasts:
- The top spot in the UNC system for graduates who secure jobs
- The top spot for students who receive the highest salary after graduation
- The top spot for graduating Black students in nursing
- The top spot for graduating Black students in education
Winston-Salem State University has been ranked among the top public schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Likewise, WSSU has been noted for its social mobility and affordability.
Delaware State University
College Choice Score: 83.25
Average Net Price: $12,221
Delaware State University (DSU) is located in Dover, Delaware. It is organized into six distinct colleges and has nearly 5,000 students. DSU also has satellite campuses in Wilmington and Georgetown.
DSU was founded in 1891 and was one of the U.S.’ first land-grant institutions. Today it is still a leader in research, especially in the areas of medicine, military defense, and agriculture. DSU is community-focused with dozens of student-led organizations such as:
- The International Students Association
- Student Ambassadors Association
- And more
Delaware State is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Further, its business school is considered one of the best in the country according to The Princeton Review. DSU is also known for its international relationships with schools and institutions across the world, in China, Italy, France, and more.
Fayetteville State University
College Choice Score: 82.48
Average Net Price: $5,787
Fayetteville State University (FSU) is located in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It is part of the wider University of North Carolina System and has over 6,000 students. FSU offers a liberal arts education with specialized professional training in over 40 areas.
Fayetteville State University was formed after the end of the Civil War, by a community who wanted to offer accessible education to its Black youth. FSU first started by training teachers with a curricular emphasis on diversity, community, and service. The University maintains those priorities today. Other reasons to consider FSU:
- FSU’s community is one of the most diverse in the country
- FSU offers a number of scholarship opportunities
- FSU has a number of first year programs designed to streamline your academic experience
Regionally ranked, Fayetteville State University is also consistently ranked among the top 25 best historically Black colleges and universities. FSU’s online programs, especially those in criminal justice and business, are also well ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
College Choice Score: 80.25
Average Net Price: $17,980
Fisk University is located in Nashville, Tennessee. It is a private university and one of the country’s first African American schools to gain regional accreditation. The Fisk campus is a historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fisk is Nashville’s oldest college, having been founded soon after the Civil War in 1866. From the beginning Fisk sought to develop leadership among African American communities. And it has continued since through its academic, artist, and service programs. Among its many famous alumni are:
- Scholar and writer W.E.B. Du Bois
- Poet Nikki Giovanni
- Civil Rights activist John Lewis
- Suffragette Ida B. Wells
Fisk University is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s best Liberal Arts Colleges. It is also included among the top 10 best historically black colleges and universities ranking. Finally, The Princeton Review ranks Fisk as one of America’s “Best Colleges in the Southeast.”
Johnson C. Smith University
College Choice Score: 77.19
Average Net Price: $18,974
Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) is a private research university. It is located in Charlotte, North Carolina and has affiliations with the Presbyterian Church. JCSU offers two dozen degree programs to its 1,600 students.
For those wanting an urban educational experience, look no further than JCSU. And for those who want a liberal arts education that also integrates business, science, and technology, JCSU is an ideal choice. JCSU students have the opportunity to connect with:
- Center for Applied Leadership and Community Development
- Smith Institute for Applied Research
- Upward Bound Program
- Scholarship programs from the National Science Foundation
JCSU is included in two of U.S. News & World Report’s important rankings, for best National Liberal Arts Colleges and for best Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The University is also known for its low student-teacher ratios and its emphasis on mentorship within academia.
Morgan State University
College Choice Score: 76.41
Average Net Price: $15,909
Morgan State University (MSU) is located in Baltimore, Maryland. It was the state’s first public urban university and is a member of the wider University System of Maryland. Approximately 8,000 students attend MSU.
Morgan State has provided a diversity-centric education for over 140 years. Meaning, the University has focused on the needs and trends of an increasingly diverse society. MSU has sought to not only reflect those priorities within its curriculum, but throughout campus as it continues to grow. Among the many new developments at Morgan are:
- The Center for the Built Environment and Infrastructure Studies
- The new Earl S. Richardson Library
- The Dixon Research Center
- And more
Morgan State is a nationally ranked university. Many of its individual departments and divisions have also been ranked well. For example, U.S. News & World Report always includes MSU’s business and engineering schools in its listings.
Florida Memorial University
College Choice Score: 75.82
Average Net Price: $16,655
Florida Memorial University is a Baptist school located in Miami Gardens. It was founded as a teacher’s school and still maintains that reputation today. Around 2,000 undergraduate students attend Florida Memorial.
Like many of the other schools on our list, Florida Memorial emphasizes the importance of leadership formation. However, this University provides a unique opportunity for such. It offers pre-college programs to the local communities, helping hundreds of youth gain critical educational experiences. In addition to these priorities, Florida Memorial also places significant emphasis on:
- Dropout prevention
- Financial management
- Personal development
- And more
Florida Memorial is ranked second in the state of Florida for graduating Black teachers. It is also included among the top 20 schools for its region and for affordability, according to U.S. News & World Report. It is also one of the best schools in the nation for veterans.
Elizabeth City State University
College Choice Score: 75.56
Average Net Price: $3,156
Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) is located in North Carolina. It has over 2,500 students enrolled in one of its 40 undergraduate or master programs. It is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the greater University of North Carolina system.
ECSU’s core values reflect their desire to prepare students holistically. With attention to accountability, diversity, and excellence, ECSU ensures that as a student you will work on professional development as well as social and personal formation too. Additional opportunities include:
- Online and distance education
- The renowned Lyceum Series, which brings in national artists and speakers
- Dozens of student-led organizations, such as the Uniting Black Colleges & Universities group
- And much more
Elizabeth City State University is a well-decorated university with a number of rankings and recognitions. For example, U.S. News & World Report ranks it 33rd among top public universities. It is also included among the regional rankings for the South.
Norfolk State University
College Choice Score: 74.77
Average Net Price: $15,103
Located in Norfolk, Virginia, Norfolk State University is a member of the Virginia High-Tech Partnership. Though NSU offers degrees in liberal arts and education, it is mostly known for its specialization in business, engineering, science, and technology. Over 6,200 students attend NSU.
A member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Norfolk State has been serving Black communities since the early 20th century. Since it was founded in the midst of the Great Depression its mission was, and still is, to provide youth with hope through education. NSU further describes its vision as:
- Community-centric, with over 100 student-led organizations and clubs
- Research-driven, with opportunities to participate in ongoing research projects
- Global, with outreach programs and multicultural curriculums
Norfolk is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as being consistently among the nation’s top 30 best historically Black colleges and universities. Likewise, the University is regionally ranked, as are many of its individual departments and divisions, including the engineering and business programs.
College Choice Score: 74.56
Average Net Price: $17,516
Lincoln University is based primarily in Oxford, Pennsylvania with a second location in University City. It was founded in 1854 and is therefore the country’s first degree-granting historically Black university. Around 2,000 students attend Lincoln.
With a legacy that includes naming the university after President Abraham Lincoln, the University has attracted diverse students from all backgrounds and locations for decades. It once even accounted for 20 percent of Black doctors and 10 percent of Black lawyers in the U.S. Lincoln builds on this legacy with a number of unique programs and spaces such as:
- The International and Study Abroad Program that sends students to Cambodia, Kenya, Russia, South Africa, and more
- The Langston Hughes Memorial Library, which has a sprawling archive of the famous Harlem poet
- The Thurgood Marshall Living Learning Center
- And more
Lincoln is home to several world-renowned alumni: Thurgood Marshall, Langston Hughes, Civil Rights activist Frederick D. Alexander, and much more. U.S. News & World Report consistently includes Lincoln among its list of the top 25 best historically Black universities.
Albany State University
College Choice Score: 73.77
Average Net Price: $12,183
Albany State University is located in Albany, Georgia. It is one of three historically Black colleges within the greater University System of Georgia. Over 5,000 students attend Albany and are enrolled in one of the dozen of degree programs.
Albany State was a key figure during the Civil Rights Movement. It was the home of the Albany Movement, an on-campus group that brought several Civil Rights leaders to town, including Martin Luther King Jr. They also engaged in numerous protests and acts of nonviolent resistance. Albany students are still active today and participate in groups such as:
- The Center for the African American Male
- Several on-campus choirs and bands
- Numerous Honor Societies
- And much more
Not only is Albany State a top-ranked university, but many of its individual schools and programs are renowned too. For example, the nursing department is highly respected. And the University is known for its service to and care of student veterans.
Tennessee State University
College Choice Score: 73.17
Average Net Price: $9,614
Tennessee State University (TSU) is located in Nashville. It is a public, land-grant university driven by research. TSU offers 70 academic programs at all degree levels to its nearly 10,000 students.
Founded over 100 years ago, TSU is an urban university with roots in agricultural and teaching education. Today, students at Tennessee State collaborate in a range of research spaces and on a diversity of projects. TSU’s legacy, like many other schools on our list, includes a highly active student population who are today still involved in campus groups, such as:
- The Aristocrat of Bands marching band
- The Collegiate 100 Black Men group
- University Honors Council
- National Association of Colored Women’s Club
Tennessee State University is ranked a Tier 2 school by U.S. News & World Report. It is also ranked 56th among all national universities by Washington Monthly. And, unsurprisingly, TSU is classified as a university with vibrant research activity.
University of Arkansas--Pine Bluff
College Choice Score: 72.92
Average Net Price: $7,840
The Pine Bluff branch in the greater University of Arkansas system (UAPB) is the second oldest public school in the state. Its long history has stamped the University as the “Flagship of the Delta.” Today, approximately 3,000 students attend UAPB.
Established in 1873 during the Reconstruction era, Pine Bluff is one of the country’s most prominent historically Black colleges. It first provided education to Blacks during segregation and today is a leading research institution, primarily in the areas of aquaculture and fishery. Though several renowned research centers, programs, and museums are housed on campus, including:
- The University Museum and Cultural Center, which contains archives documenting the lives of African Americans who shaped UAPB and the Arkansas Delta
- The STEM Academy
- The Carolyn F. Blakely Honors Program
- And More
The University of Arkansas in Pine Bluff is ranked 50th among all regional universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report. It is also consistently ranked among the top 10 public schools in the nation, also by U.S. News.
Southern University and A&M College
College Choice Score: 72.82
Average Net Price: $12,455
Southern University and A&M College (SU) is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It is a member of the Southern University System and is organized into six colleges plus a law school. Around 7,000 students attend SU.
SU is a flagship university and the largest historically Black college in Louisiana. Built along the Mississippi River, campus is located among the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. SU was first established to provide education to Black Americans and today offers dozens of degree programs. Though many of SU’s programs and colleges are strong, its most popular (and best ranked) are:
- The College of Nursing and Allied Health
- The Rehabilitation and Counseling program
- The Engineering department
- The Law Center
Southern University and A&M College is ranked well by both U.S. News & World Report and Washington Monthly. Campus is also home to one of only two public law schools in the state: the Southern University Law Center.
University of Maryland--Eastern Shore
College Choice Score: 72.75
Average Net Price: $14,454
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) is located in Princess Anne, Maryland. UMES is organized into five schools that offer degrees in business, technology, agriculture, health, and education, among others. Around 3,900 students attend UMES.
UMES’ very first students (of which there were nine) attended class in a converted farmhouse in 1886. The University has expanded exponentially since then, now offering over 50 academic degree programs. In fact, the most popular programs (below) at UMES reflect both its history and its future in educating leaders in the sciences:
- Criminal Justice
- Exercise Science
- Human Ecology
UMES’ engineering and business programs are among the most popular and frequently make the rankings put out by U.S. News & World Report. It is also nationally ranked and considered one of the best historically Black colleges in the nation.
Alcorn State University
College Choice Score: 72.23
Average Net Price: $14,600
Located just outside of Lorman, Mississippi, Alcorn State University is home to nearly 4,000 students. It is organized into five separate schools, which offer degrees in agriculture, applied sciences, business, education, psychology, and nursing.
Alcorn State University was founded during the Reconstruction era and was the first Black land-grant college in the U.S. It is also known for having Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers as a student in the late 1940s. Alcorn’s ongoing legacy is aided by a number of institutional priorities and programs:
- The University’s emphasis on mentorship among students and faculty
- National recognition for its research in agriculture, technology, and nursing
- A diverse living and learning environment
Often counted among the top 100 best universities in the South, Alcorn is also ranked 37th among top public universities by U.S. News & World Report. And, distinctively, Alcorn State is the only historically Black university in the state that offers a comprehensive nursing program.
College Choice Score: 72.22
Average Net Price: $16,521
Bethune–Cookman University (B–CU) is located in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is a private school comprised of over 4,000 students. Through a dozen schools and colleges, B–CU is able to offer over 40 academic degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
Though many of the schools on our list were founded by ambitious visionaries, only a handful were established by women. B–CU boasts that legacy. In 1903 the University was founded by a young Black woman, Mary McLeod Bethune, who had five female students. Today B–CU has grown into a renowned research university home to:
- The Center for Undergraduate Research Excellence (CURE)
- The Harrison Rhodes Memorial Library
- CEED, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development
- And much more
Known for its strength in engineering, B–CU is also well ranked among national liberal arts colleges. And campus is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. But perhaps B–CU is best known for its impressive, 300-plus member marching band, the Marching Wildcats.
College Choice Score: 71.98
Average Net Price: $26,427
Oakwood University is located in Huntsville, Alabama. It is religiously based, as it is both owned and managed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Around 2,000 students attend Oakwood.
Oakwood was first founded as an industrial school that provided trade training. Today the University is comprised of over a dozen departments that offer degrees in everything from biology to religion and theology. Oakwood is considered one of the nation’s best historically Black colleges. Some of the many programs offered at Oakwood include:
- An Online University
- HC2020, the Healthy Campus by 2020 plan
- LEAP, an adult degree completion program
- And much more
Oakwood is included among the top 20 colleges that send African-Americans to medical schools. It is also well ranked regionally, by U.S. News & World Report. Perhaps most unique to Oakwood is that it allows students to study at a number of other Adventists schools around the world through the Adventist Colleges Abroad program.
Kentucky State University
College Choice Score: 71.93
Average Net Price: $6,503
Located in Frankfort, Kentucky State University (KSU) is organized into four colleges. There are over 50 undergraduate degree programs plus another half dozen graduate programs. And more than 2,000 students attend KSU.
Founded during Frankfort’s centennial celebration in 1886, KSU opened with only three teachers. They sought to provide local Black communities with education in home economics, agriculture, and mechanics. KSU has expanded into the diverse, vibrant research university it is today, with prominent programs such as:
- The Whitney Young School of Honors and Liberal Studies
- The Regional Stewardship and Community Engagement Program
- The Institute for Lifelong Learning
- And more
Kentucky State University is a finely decorated school that makes a number of elite rankings. For example, U.S. News & World Report includes it on nearly a half dozen of its lists. Among them KSU is one of the best in the South, one of the most affordable in the nation, and a top public school.
West Virginia State University
College Choice Score: 70.53
Average Net Price: $9,613
West Virginia State University (WVSU) is located in and around the Charleston metro area. Around 3,000 undergraduates study at WVSU, enrolled in one of the University’s diverse programs. WVSU offers programs in everything from International Studies to Biotechnology.
As one of the original Black land-grant colleges founded by the second Morrill Act of 1890, WVSU’s history is expansive. In fact, the University first thrived under the guidance from and promotion of Booker T. Washington. Today, WVSU is home to several renowned programs and research facilities, among them:
- The Gus R. Douglass Land-Grant Institute
- The Agricultural and Environmental Research Station
- WVSU Academic Internship Program
- And more
In addition to its academic accolades, WVSU is known for its athletic and musical strengths. The University has a couple well-regarded marching bands as well the as award-winning Jazz Ensemble.
Virginia State University
College Choice Score: 67.52
Average Net Price: $15,266
Virginia State University (VSU) is located in Petersburg. A public, land-grant university, VSU is organized into six colleges plus a graduate school. More than 7,000 students attend VSU.
VSU was founded in the late nineteenth century when proceeds from a major railroad project in the South went to establish this teacher’s school for Black students. VSU subsequently expanded throughout the years, adding diverse academic programs and research opportunities. Today VSU is the site of:
- A 3 million dollar research grant from the National Science Foundation
- The Educational Opportunity Center, which recently received a sizeable grant from the U.S. Department of Education
- A $300,000 federal grant directed toward the research and study of climate change
- And more
Virginia State is ranked among the top 50 best public schools in the nation. Its engineering and business programs are also frequently included on the rankings put forth by U.S. News & World Report.
Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University
College Choice Score: 67.19
Average Net Price: $15,547
Alabama A&M University (AAMU) is located in Huntsville, Alabama. Though it was first established to teach educators and to provide trade training, today AAMU offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Around 5,000 students attend AAMU.
AAMU, founded in 1875 by a former slave, prides itself on being notably historic, student-centric, and community focused. Since it was founded as a land-grant institution, AAMU is also research driven. Today it has a student body representing a dozen international countries and nearly all 50 states. And its campus houses:
- The J.F. Drake Memorial Learning Resources Center (LRC), which has over 250,000 historical archives
- The State Black Archives Research Center and Museum, part of the LRC
- The AAMU Small Business Development Center
- And more
AAMU is home to the National Space Science and Technology Center, a research collaboration between the University and NASA. AAMU also participates in the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, which is an outreach program that connects with Alabama citizens around the state.
Philander Smith College
College Choice Score: 66.85
Average Net Price: $16,018
Located in Little Rock, Arkansas, Philander Smith College is a liberal arts school. It is private and associated with the United Methodist Church. It is also one of the smallest schools on our list with under 1,000 students.
The College was first founded in 1877 to provide education to freed slaves west of the Mississippi River. Today, Philander’s mission is to graduate “students who are grounded as advocates for social justice.” Such vision is reflected in the college’s programming:
- The Social Justice Institute
- The Academic Success Center
- The S.T.A.R.T. Summer Bridge program and the Donaldson Summer Academy
- The McKinley New Honors Academic
Philander Smith is a founding member of the United Negro College Fund. It is also included in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the best liberal arts colleges as well as the best historically Black colleges and universities.
Grambling State University
College Choice Score: 66.81
Average Net Price: $17,239
Grambling State University (GSU) is located in Grambling, Louisiana and is a member of the larger University of Louisiana system. It is organized into four colleges, in business, education, professional and graduate studies, and in the arts and sciences.
Established out of the passion of African-American farmers in rural Louisiana who wanted to educate their community, Grambling State has a legacy extending all the way back to 1901. Today, Grambling offers dozens of academic programs in everything from fine arts to business administration. And it has promoted and honored its legacy through campus archives, museums, and projects. Among them:
- The Eddie G. Robinson Museum
- The Earl Lester Cole Honors College
- The Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation (LAMP) organization
- And more
Grambling is listed on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. And though it offers only a handful of graduate degrees, they are well-ranked by Washington Monthly. Grambling even offers three doctoral programs, in curriculum and instruction, developmental education, and education leadership.
Fort Valley State University
College Choice Score: 64.21
Average Net Price: $12,484
Fort Valley State University (FVSU) is located in Fort Valley, Georgia and is a member of the University System of Georgia. Around 2,500 students attend FVSU and are enrolled in one of its 50 academic programs.
Fort Valley State University grew out of a merger between an industrial high school and an agricultural school. It then became the only land-grant institution in Georgia, building on its reputation for research, community development, and social justice. The FVSU campus is home to:
- The Pettigrew Center, a conference, convention, and fine arts facility
- The Anderson Museum, which houses hundreds of historical archives
- The Anderson House, campus’ oldest building and a historical site
Ranked regionally as among the best schools in the South, FVSU is also considered among the top historically Black colleges in the nation. On top of these academic recognitions, FVSU is known for its athletics, marching band, choir, and more.
Mississippi Valley State University
College Choice Score: 63.35
Average Net Price: $11,591
Located in the Mississippi Delta, Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) has approximately 2,500 students. MVSU is comprised of three colleges, in professional studies, education, and in the arts and sciences, plus a graduate school.
Mississippi Valley State University was founded in 1950 and centered on the principles of service, critical thinking, and civic engagement. MVSU still seeks to establish those values in its students, offering a number of unique opportunities and programs, such as its highly regarded Honors school. Some of MVSU’s most popular programs include:
- Teacher Education
- Business Administration
- Social Work
- Criminal Justice
The MVSU campus is an especially vibrant one. Students are involved in numerous organizations, clubs, research opportunities, community service projects, and more. The marching band, the Mean Green Marching Machine, is especially popular.
Southern University--New Orleans
College Choice Score: 62.97
Average Net Price: $5,909
Southern University in New Orleans (SUNO) is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Nearly 3,000 students attend SUNO, which offers dozens of degrees in business, the humanities, applied sciences, education and human development, and social work.
SUNO was founded in 1959 with only 15 faculty members and under 160 students. It then bloomed into the well-ranked university it is today. Its programs in criminal justice, math, and computer technology are consistently lauded for their preparation of STEM leaders. Other notable programs at SUNO include:
- Federal TRIO Programs, which provide services to students with disadvantaged backgrounds
- The Educational Talent Search Program, an academic enhancement program
- Upward Bound
- And more
SUNO distinctively offers just a few masters programs, but one of which is a MA in Museum Studies. With several recognitions for its business degrees, among others, SUNO is also regionally ranked and considered one of the nation’s best historically Black colleges.
College Choice Score: 62.50
Average Net Price: $16,230
Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Huston-Tillotson University (HTU) is located in Austin, Texas. HTU offers degrees in business, the social sciences, across the STEM fields, and in education. Under 1,000 students attend HTU.
Huston-Tillotson University is the result of a merger between Tillotson College and Samuel Huston College. Both schools were formed in the nineteenth century and then combined in 1952 to provide educational opportunities to its local African American communities. Today it thrives on a number of its campus-wide programs, such as:
- W.E.B. Du Bois Honors Program
- The Alternative Teacher Certification Program
- MAP/WALK Leadership Program
- And more
First founded in 1875, Huston-Tillotson was Austin’s very first institution of higher education. It opened as a teacher’s school but now offers diverse learning opportunities. HTU is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as among the best regional colleges in the West.
Alabama State University
College Choice Score: 60.45
Average Net Price: $12,796
Alabama State University (ASU) is located in Montgomery. Like many of the other schools on our list, ASU was founded as a teacher’s college. Today, ASU has eight colleges and divisions that provide degrees in dozens of areas. More than 6,000 students attend ASU.
Founded in 1867, Alabama State University is one of the oldest HBCUs on our list. It opened it doors as a teacher’s school through the donation of nine freed slaves. Together they established what is now one of the U.S.’ premier Black institutions of higher learning. ASU continues to honor its founding members and vision through:
- The Freshmen Leaders Program
- The Golden Ambassadors, a group of outstanding students who act as representatives on behalf of ASU
- Founder’s Day, which specifically honors the original nine
- And more
In addition to ASU’s traditional colleges and schools, the University also houses the renowned Division of Aerospace Studies. And the wider University is regionally ranked among the top in the South, by U.S. News & World Report.
Texas Southern University
College Choice Score: 60.24
Average Net Price: $13,919
Texas Southern University (TSU) is located in Houston. It is one of the nation’s largest historically Black universities with over 10,000 students enrolled. TSU is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Texas Southern University has an impressive history of activism and civil engagement. In the 1960s students held lunch counter sit-ins that went on to inspire the rest of the state. It even led to desegregation within many public establishments. TSU today is still just as vibrant and involved. Campus is notably marked by:
- The Ernest S. Sterling Student Life Center, which provides cultural and social programming
- The University Museum which houses a variety of historical and contemporary art
- The National Science Foundation Center for Research on Complex Networks
- And much more
Forbes recently named TSU one of “America’s Top Colleges.” The University is also a top producer of Black graduates in Texas. And it is one of the leading producers of Black doctoral students in the U.S.
South Carolina State University
College Choice Score: 59.51
Average Net Price: $21,058
Located in Orangeburg, South Carolina State University (SCSU) is the only state-funded HBCU in South Carolina. It is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and has approximately 3,000 students. SCSU is organized into four colleges plus an Honors College.
SCSU was founded in 1896 as South Carolina’s only public college for Black students. It originally provided education in agricultural and mechanical trade, though it expanded throughout the twentieth century, especially after World War II. Today it offers degrees in nursing, military science, modern languages, engineering, and much more. Campus is also home to:
- The I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium
- The Federal TRIO programs
- The 1890 Research and Extension service
- The Center for NASA Research and Technology
SCSU is the state’s only university to offer a degree in Nuclear Engineering. Likewise, it is the only historically Black university to offer such a degree. South Carolina State University is ranked 34th among all national universities by U.S. News & World Report.
College Choice Score: 58.91
Average Net Price: $22,482
Bennett College is located in Greensboro, North Carolina. It is a liberal arts school for women that was founded as a co-ed, teacher training school. However, it now serves around 800 female undergraduate students.
Bennett College was part of lunch counter activism in the 1960s. Bennett students were able to integrate lunch counters throughout Greensboro, inspiring others around the country. Today campus is comprised of several prominent cultural centers and research facilities:
- Martin Dixon International Center
- The Global Learning Center
- The Carnegie Building, which houses the Truth and Reconciliation Archives
- Bennett College Micro-Laboratory for Effective Teaching
U.S. News & World ranks Bennett College 25th among all regional colleges in the South. On top of its academic recognitions and activism legacies, Bennett is known for a vibrant campus. There are more than 60 social, religious, and service-oriented groups on campus.
Edward Waters College
College Choice Score: 56.35
Average Net Price: $13,918
Edward Waters College is located in Jacksonville, Florida. It is a private school affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Approximately 800 students attend Edward Waters.
Edward Waters was founded soon after the Civil War by African Methodist Episcopal bishop Daniel Payne. He realized that within the changes of the Reconstruction the state of Florida would desperately need a school for the emancipated. And so Edward Waters College was established. The College has continued many of its programs that seek to build leadership among its students:
- CLIMB, an accelerated bridge program for older students
- FAME: the Focused Academic Motivating Excellence program
- Upward Bound
- And more
Edward Waters is Florida’s oldest historically Black college. It was founded in 1866 in an effort to educate freed slaves. Campus is still marked with several historical facilities and buildings, such as Centennial Hall, which is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Coppin State University
College Choice Score: 54.30
Average Net Price: $8,786
Coppin State University is located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is part of the larger University System of Maryland and a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Founded in 1900, Coppin is now home to more than 3,000 students.
Coppin is named after Fanny Jackson Coppin, an African-American woman who was a pioneer in teacher education. Coppin State University was thus started as a teacher’s training college but then grew into the urban, liberal arts university it is today. Campus is home to a number of highly regarded research facilities and cultural centers, including:
- The STEM Center
- Center for Nanotechnology
- The Bishop L. Robinson Sr. Justice Institute
- And more
Coppin State is regionally ranked by U.S. News & World Report. It is also consistently included on U.S. News’ list of best historically Black colleges and universities. In addition to its academic excellence, Coppin’s athletic program has seen several record breaking moments.