Rising from an historic environment of legal segregation, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were established prior to 1964 with the intention of offering accredited, high-quality education to African American students across the United States. These schools do, however, admit students of all races. As of January 2016, students can choose from 100 HBCUs across America, including public and private schools, 2-year and 4-year schools, and professional schools.
The best historically black colleges for 2016 were determined by considering each school’s academic standards, affordability, outcomes, and student support. The following school profiles explore the legacies, present successes and ongoing initiatives of each institution.
- Howard University Washington,D.C $586 104,000 Endowment
- $23,970 (2015-16)
Howard University counts each of its distinguished faculty among its on-campus population of the largest concentration of black scholars anywhere in the world. Here, 93% of students are African-American. Introductory Afro-American studies courses are required in all undergraduate curriculum, whether pursuing a traditional major or as part of the school’s renowned Afro-American and African studies program. The university founded Omega Psi Phi and Phi Beta Sigma, two of the nation’s leading black fraternities; the campus is also home to Howard University TV, the first African-American owned public TV station in the U.S.
- Howard’s MBA program was recently named the “greatest opportunity for minority students” by Princeton Review
- The school has awarded more than 100,000 degrees since 1867
2. Spelman College Atlanta, Georgia
- Tuition and fees:
- $26,388 (2015-16)
Spelman is the nation’s oldest historically black college for women, transforming into a leader among educational institutions for women since starting out as a Baptist female seminary in 1881. Today, Spelman offers a variety of majors to its enrollment of more than 2,100 students; popular topics include biological and biomedical sciences, English, physical science, psychology and social sciences. The college is home to more than 70 student organizationscentered on academic achievement, personal enrichment opportunities and Greek life, including historically black sororities Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta.
- The college reports a 76% graduation rate average over the past six years
- Spelman offers 27 available majors
3. Morehouse University Atlanta, Georgia
Founded in 1867, Morehouse College, a private liberal arts institution for men, has traditionally graduated more black men than any other school. Morehouse promotes leadership and service through three primary program areas: business administration and economics; humanities and social sciences; and science and mathematics. Visionaries Martin Luther King Jr. and Spike Lee are among the many notable Morehouse alumni. The mission of Morehouse includes adopting the unique responsibility of educating students about black history and culture through special programs and scholarship opportunities, including the Rugari Scholarship Program, which provides full tuition to five students from the African Great Lakes Region.
- Morehouse celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2017
- Students at Morehouse represent more than 40 states and 14 countries
4. Hampton University Hampton, Virginia
Hampton has earned an esteemed reputation among top HBCUs for its commitment to both African-American education and the multicultural community. The Hampton campus is the historical site of the majestic Emancipation Oak, under which classes for freed men and women were held between 1861 and 1863; the tree was also the setting for the first Southern reading of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. On campus today, 90% of current enrollment is African-American. Among Hampton’s many unique attributes is the establishment of theSkin of Color Research Institute for research and treatment of skin diseases afflicting people of color.
- Programs at Hampton are designed to promote progressive education
- The School of Business was named the best department in the nation in 2005 by the National Urban Leagues’ Black Executive Exchange Program
5. North Carolina AT and T University Greensboro, North Carolina
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University leads the nation among engineering- and agriculture degree-granting institutions for African-Americans. Founded in 1891 as a land-grant institute, NC A&T was at the core of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Esteemed alumni include The Greensboro Four, who staged the nation’s first sit-in, and activist Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. Historically black fraternities and sororities, including Alpha Phi Alpha and Alpha Kappa Alpha, are among the popular Greek life options on campus; students also participate in large numbers in the NCAA Division I Aggies team and the Blue and Gold Marching Machine.
- Home to enrollment of more than 10,000 and more than 2,000 employees
- NC A&T is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a doctoral/research university
6. Xavier University New Orleans
Although Xavier was originally founded in 1915 as a high school for African Americans and Native Americans, the school added a four-year university in 1925. Today, Xavier continues its universal mission of promoting leadership- and service-based education initiatives. Current enrollment totals roughly 3,100 students, 73% of which are black and 27% are Catholic. All undergraduates study core topics that include 66 combined credits in African-American studies, natural sciences and theology. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Xavier is first in the nation in terms of producing African-American graduates with dual undergraduate degrees in biological/life sciences and the physical sciences.
- One of only two pharmacy schools in Louisiana; among the top three producers of Doctor of Pharmacy degrees to African-Americans in the nation
- Xavier is awarded 522 degrees in 2013
7. Tuskegee University Tuskeegee, Alabama
A premiere science and engineering university known for facilitating groundbreaking research, Tuskegee University has built a reputation as one of the top producers of African-American aerospace science engineers in the U.S. Tuskegee’s is the only campus in the U.S. to be declared a National Historic Site by the U.S. Congress since it was founded by Booker T. Washington in 1881. The university’s roughly 3,000 students are active in a variety of student organizations on campus, including the Marching Crimson Piper Band, the National Society of Black Engineers and college chapter of the NAACP.
- The only HBCU with a fully accredited College of Veterinary Medicine and doctorate offered; Tuskegee produces over 75% of worldwide African-American veterinarians
- The nursing baccalaureate program was first in Alabama and one of the oldest in the U.S.
8. Fisk University Nashville
Fisk University is a private institution that was founded in 1866. The school has 71.1 percent of its classes with fewer than 20 students, and the student-faculty ratio at Fisk University is 13:1.
9. Florida A and M University Tallahassee
Florida A&M was originally called the State Normal College for Colored Students when it was founded in 1887; the name of this land-grant university and research institution has changed, but its commitment to African-American education has remained. FAMU’s student population of more than 11,000 is 90% Afro-American, hailing from over 70 countries including Egypt, Trinidad, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Brazil. Among numerous efforts to sustain and strengthen the local economy in Florida through the school’s Center for Plasma Science and Technology (CePaST) and Sustainability Institute, part of FAMU’s strategic plan includes aspirations to increase African-American student involvement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs.
- FAMU offers 54 bachelor’s degrees, 29 master’s degrees, three professional degrees and 12 doctoral programs
- Most popular undergraduate programs at FAMU are business administration, biology, criminal justice and allied health
10. Clark Atlanta University Atlanta
Established in 1988, Clark Atlanta is a private, not-for-profit university affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Programs in 38 unique subjects are offered through four primary schools: Arts and Sciences; Business Administration; Education; and Social Work. In its short history, Clark Atlanta has secured numerous points of pride among its HBCU counterparts, including its designation as one of the largest institutions in the United Negro College Fund and the only university in the Atlanta University Center, a consortium of 8,000 primarily African-American scholars.
- Clark Atlanta’s enrollment totals 3,485; 74% is female and 26% is male
- 81% of the school’s faculty have terminal degrees