Best Historically Black Colleges and Universities

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Become part of a legacy at one of the nation’s best Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

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.

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Top 10 Best Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Rank School Location
1 Howard University Washington, DC
2 Spelman College Atlanta, GA
3 Hampton University Hampton, VA
4 Xavier University of Louisiana New Orleans, LA
5 Florida A&M University Tallahassee, FL
6 North Carolina A&T State University Greensboro, NC
7 Morehouse College Atlanta, GA
8 Bowie State University Bowie, MD
9 North Carolina Central University Durham, NC
10 Claflin University Orangeburg, SC

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?

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.

  1. Howard University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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

    Notables

    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.

  2. Spelman College
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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

    Notables

    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.

  3. Hampton University
    Location

    Hampton, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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

    Notables

    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.

  4. Xavier University of Louisiana
    Location

    New Orleans, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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

    Notables

    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.

  5. Florida A&M University
    Location

    Tallahassee, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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

    Notables

    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.

  6. North Carolina A&T State University
    Location

    Greensboro, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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

    Notables

    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.

  7. Morehouse College
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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.

    Notables

    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.”

  8. Bowie State University
    Location

    Bowie, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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

    Notables

    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.

  9. North Carolina Central University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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.

    Notables

    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.

  10. Claflin University
    Location

    Orangeburg, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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

    Notables

    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.

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