In this college ranking list, we look at the HBCU (Historically Black College or University) niche. Specifically, we’ve ranked the 25 largest bachelor’s-granting HBCU colleges by total student population (undergrad and graduate).
HBCUs are a very small niche amongst the 2,750+ bachelor’s-granting institutions in the United States, but have played an important role in higher education in the country. Many successful African-Americans (and some students of other backgrounds) have graduated from HBCUs. Howard University alone (#2 on this list) has a long list of notable alumni. Some Howard alumni include:
- writer/author Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Atlantic, Washington Post, etc);
- former NY City Mayor David Dinkins – first African-American mayor of NYC;
- former DC Mayor Adrian Fenty;
- Kamala Harris, former California Attorney General (also first woman, first African-American, first Asian-American to hold that position);
- actress Taraji P. Henson, currently on TV series “Empire” and previously on “Person of Interest;”
- author Toni Morrison, winner of a Nobel Prize and a Pulitzer;
- Charlotte E. Ray – first African-American female lawyer;
- Patricia Roberts Harris – first African-American female U.S. Ambassador;
- actress Phylicia Rashad, who has been all over TV and movies since the mid-70s but might be best known for playing Clair Huxtable in The Cosby Show (1984-92);
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), which primarily promotes higher education at public HBCUs, is named after this Howard alumni. Howard University is the only private, nonprofit institution in this list that is a member of the TMCF. Two other private, nonprofits are in this list (#22 Hampton University and #24 Bethune-Cookman University) but are not TMCF members.
Summary of Colleges Ranked in this List
Before we get into the HBCU population ranking list, here is a statistical overview of the 25 schools ranked in this article.
- 84 HBCUs in the United States that offer bachelor’s degrees
- 20 states/ districts represented
- student population range of 84 – 10,725
- total: just over a quarter million students (253,150)
- average/ mean: 3,013 students per school
- median: 1,917 students — indicating that most are fairly small schools
Overview of Ranked Schools
- 25 HBCUs ranked in this list, representing just over 163K (163,106) students
- smallest: 3,910 students (rank #25)
- largest: 10,725 students (rank #1)
- average/mean: 6,524 students per school
- median: 5,695 students
Interactive Tuition vs Net Price Bar/Line Combo Chart
The above combination bar/ line chart compares official in-state and out-of-state tuition (blue and orange bars, respectively) and the average net price (all academic and living costs, averaged across all undergrad students at the institution for the last academic year) represented by the green dots and line. If you hover your computer mouse over any bar or point, you’ll see the name of the college and the three cost values. Colleges are arranged left to right by ranking #1 to #25 (e.g., largest HBCU offering bachelor’s degrees, by student enrollment, is at the left — North Carolina A & T State University.) You can see that most schools ranked here are public, and that out-of-state tuition significantly higher than in-state tuition. Also, in most cases, net price is between the two tuition values for a given college.
Some notes on using the above interactive chart:
- A modern browser is required for most of the charting features.
- The vertical Y axis represents cost in dollars, for both net price and tuition data per college.
- The horizontal X axis represents the schools (not the rankings).
- Hover your mouse over a tuition bar or net price point and a tooltip will pop up that shows the institution name and the two cost values – net price and tuition.
- Use your mouse’s scroll wheel to zoom in on a section in the main chart. The sub-chart below the main chart will indicate what section you are viewing.
- Hover your mouse over either of the two labels, “tuition” or “netprice,” underneath the sub-chart to visually highlight just the selected chart.
Interactive Affordability Chart
A more convenient view of the above tuition vs net price chart might be to arrange the ranked colleges by increasing net price. We’ve done that below, in our Affordability Chart. So, if the 25 colleges ranked in this article for student population were ranked on net price per year, this would be that ranking, from #1-#25, left to right. The chart below has the same data points as the one above. So #12 FSU (Fayetteville) would become #1, and #2 Howard and #22 Hampton would become #24 and #25, respectively.
College Establishment Timeline
The colleges ranked in this list are shown below in the approximate chronological order of their establishment. Click on a row to go to that college’s entry in this ranking list.
- 1851University of the District of Columbia (UDC)#19
- 1865Bowie State University (BSU)#13
- 1867Howard University (HU)#2
- 1867Morgan State University (MSU)#8
- 1867Fayetteville State University (FSU)#12
- 1867Alabama State University (ASU)#14
- 1868Hampton University (HU)#22
- 1875Alabama A & M University (AAMU)#15
- 1876Prairie View A & M University (PVAMU)#7
- 1877Jackson State University (JSU)#4
- 1880Southern University and A & M College (SUBR)#10
- 1882Virginia State University (VSU)#17
- 1886University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES)#23
- 1887Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU)#3
- 1890Savannah State University (SSU)#18
- 1891North Carolina A & T State University (NCAT)#1
- 1891Delaware State University (DSU)#21
- 1892Winston-Salem State University (WSSU)#16
- 1901Grambling State University (GSU)#20
- 1903Albany State University (ASU)#25
- 1904Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU)#24
- 1909North Carolina Central University (NCCU)#9
- 1912Tennessee State University (TSU)#6
- 1927Texas Southern University (TSU)#5
- 1935Norfolk State University (NSU)#11
Statistics of Ranked Colleges
This is a summary of data available for the bachelor’s programs of colleges/ universities mentioned in this college rankings list.
Rank-Order Listing of Schools Covered
Scroll through this list to see schools in order of increasing rank. E.g., by decreasing student enrollment.
|1||NCAT||North Carolina A & T State University|
|3||FAMU||Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University|
|4||JSU||Jackson State University|
|5||TSU||Texas Southern University|
|6||TSU||Tennessee State University|
|7||PVAMU||Prairie View A & M University|
|8||MSU||Morgan State University|
|9||NCCU||North Carolina Central University|
|10||SUBR||Southern University and A & M College|
|11||NSU||Norfolk State University|
|12||FSU||Fayetteville State University|
|13||BSU||Bowie State University|
|14||ASU||Alabama State University|
|15||AAMU||Alabama A & M University|
|16||WSSU||Winston-Salem State University|
|17||VSU||Virginia State University|
|18||SSU||Savannah State University|
|19||UDC||University of the District of Columbia|
|20||GSU||Grambling State University|
|21||DSU||Delaware State University|
|23||UMES||University of Maryland Eastern Shore|
|25||ASU||Albany State University|
Alphabetic List of Schools Covered in this Ranking
The abbreviations used in the table below (and the rest of this article) are convenience and, as such, may not be official abbreviations. Scroll through the list to see all ranked colleges.
|NCES Name (abbrev, estdate, rank)||location||$in-state||$out-of-state||$net price|
|Alabama A & M University (AAMU, 1875, 15)||Normal, Alabama||$9,366||$17,136||$14,746|
|Alabama State University (ASU, 1867, 14)||Montgomery, Alabama||$8,723||$15,656||$10,905|
|Albany State University (ASU, 1903, 25)||Albany, Georgia||$5,490||$15,738||$12,303|
|Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU, 1904, 24)||Daytona Beach, Florida||$14,410||$14,410||$16,193|
|Bowie State University (BSU, 1865, 13)||Bowie, Maryland||$7,660||$18,142||$11,663|
|Delaware State University (DSU, 1891, 21)||Dover, Delaware||$7,531||$16,138||$12,603|
|Fayetteville State University (FSU, 1867, 12)||Fayetteville, North Carolina||$4,885||$16,493||$6,848|
|Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU, 1887, 3)||Tallahassee, Florida||$5,785||$17,725||$12,075|
|Grambling State University (GSU, 1901, 20)||Grambling, Louisiana||$7,063||$16,222||$17,202|
|Hampton University (HU, 1868, 22)||Hampton, Virginia||$23,112||$23,112||$22,529|
|Howard University (HU, 1867, 2)||Washington, District of Columbia||$23,970||$23,970||$22,337|
|Jackson State University (JSU, 1877, 4)||Jackson, Mississippi||$6,886||$16,841||$10,417|
|Morgan State University (MSU, 1867, 8)||Baltimore, Maryland||$7,508||$17,182||$14,654|
|Norfolk State University (NSU, 1935, 11)||Norfolk, Virginia||$8,366||$20,124||$11,874|
|North Carolina A & T State University (NCAT, 1891, 1)||Greensboro, North Carolina||$5,972||$18,732||$10,145|
|North Carolina Central University (NCCU, 1909, 9)||Durham, North Carolina||$5,755||$17,793||$9,701|
|Prairie View A & M University (PVAMU, 1876, 7)||Prairie View, Texas||$9,745||$22,272||$8,628|
|Savannah State University (SSU, 1890, 18)||Savannah, Georgia||$5,644||$15,900||$9,894|
|Southern University and A & M College (SUBR, 1880, 10)||Baton Rouge, Louisiana||$7,346||$17,696||$11,495|
|Tennessee State University (TSU, 1912, 6)||Nashville, Tennessee||$7,112||$19,832||$8,888|
|Texas Southern University (TSU, 1927, 5)||Houston, Texas||$8,726||$20,426||$12,307|
|University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES, 1886, 23)||Princess Anne, Maryland||$7,625||$16,687||$13,841|
|University of the District of Columbia (UDC, 1851, 19)||Washington, District of Columbia||$5,251||$11,233||$16,046|
|Virginia State University (VSU, 1882, 17)||Petersburg, Virginia||$8,226||$18,398||$15,042|
|Winston-Salem State University (WSSU, 1892, 16)||Winston-Salem, North Carolina||$5,707||$15,523||$7,737|
Circular “Circos” Non-Interactive Chart: Multiple Data Points
This chart may appear intimidating at first, but it can be a very handy tool for comparing all the ranked colleges simultaneously, and is not that difficult to understand. See the “Tips for Use” box below for details.
Map for schools covered
Note: the following Google Map is auto-generated from addresses listed in the NCES database for the schools referenced below and may not be 100% accurate. As well, the map may not render correctly in some Web browsers due to security issues. (Simply click on the map’s “view larger” icon at top right to be taken to the Google Maps page — which should work properly in all modern browsers.) We apologize for any inconvenience.
- As college accreditation can change or only be valid regionally, please verify accreditation of any college to which you are planning to apply.
- NCES data is subject to change and this ranking list uses the most recently reported data at time of writing.
- The Areavibes cost of living score is from Areavibes.com and represents the city/ town of the college in question. It is independent of each college’s on-campus housing costs.
Rankings: Largest Bachelor’s-Granting HBCUs by Enrollment
President’s House, Albany State University (source)
Albany State University (ASU) is a public HBCU (Historically Black College/ University) that was established in 1903 as the Albany Bible and Manual Training Institute. ASU is part of the University System of Georgia and is in the midst of being consolidated with Darton State College under the ASU banner. Both Darton and ASU are located in Albany, Georgia, some 180 miles south and slightly east of Atlanta, GA, and about 90 miles north and slightly east of Tallahassee, Florida.
Beyond having a traditional university focus, a big part of ASU’s mission is to support students from underserved populations; promote and preserve African American culture, and improve the quality of life for young black males (through education, intervention, and service programs). In its current pre-merger form, ASU offers about 40 certificates and degrees (bachelor’s, master’s) across five colleges and schools: Arts and Humanities; Business; Education; Graduate; and Sciences and Health Professions. Bachelor’s degree programs account for about 30 offerings and include BA, BAS, BS, and BSW (Social Work) options. Each degree requires a minimum of about 125 semester hours. Areas of study include business information systems, criminal justice, fire services administration, healthcare management, middle grades education, psychology, sociology, and supply chain and logistics management. To enrich each student’s university experience and help them develop interests, networks, and various required skills, ASU has leadership programs, intramural sports, and 56 registered student clubs and organizations, including several Greek-lettered fraternities and sororities. To foster career success, ASU has career advisement and testing, experiential learning opportunities, and professional employment services.
Bethune-Cookman University (source)
Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) is a private, non-profit HBCU that was established in 1904 as the Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls (although part of its history goes back to the Cookman Institute, which was established in 1872). B-CU, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, is located in Daytona Beach, Florida, some 55 miles northeast of Orlando, FL, and about 90 miles southeast of Jacksonville, FL.
Over the past few decades, B-CU has had a very strong and successful athletics focus — its various varsity teams have combined to win 44 conference titles and 64 championships overall. A number of graduates have also gone on to play NFL football or other professional sports. Recently, the school has put a strong focus on academic excellence and being more globally aware. Consequently, B-CU has begun drawing students from all over the U.S. and around the world: 45 U.S. states and territories and 32 foreign countries. Academically, B-CU offers some 45 degrees (bachelor’s, master’s) across nine colleges and schools: Business and Entrepreneurship; Education; Graduate Studies; Health Sciences; Liberal Arts; Nursing; Performing Arts and Communication; Professional Studies; and Science, Engineering, and Mathematics. Bachelor’s degrees account for about 39 offerings and each requires a minimum of 120 credit-hours. Popular majors at B-CU include accounting, biology, business administration, computer engineering, hospitality management, mass communication, music recording, and nursing. B-CU’s student to faculty ratio has varied in recent years between 16:1 and 18:1. About 98% of students receive some form of financial aid. And, the school’s total endowment was over $54 million at the end of 2015.
Student Services Center Rotunda, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (source)
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) is a public research HBCU that was established in 1886 as the Delaware Conference Academy. UMES is part of the University System of Maryland and is located in Princess Anne, Maryland, some 135 miles southeast of Baltimore, MD, and about 125 miles south and slightly west of Wilmington, Delaware.
UMES, which gained Carnegie classification as a doctoral university in 2016, was also ranked by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a Top 10 HBCU for conferring PhDs. Overall, it offers students a choice of certificates and degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research, professional) through five schools: Arts and Professions; Agricultural and Natural Sciences; Business and Technology; Graduate Studies; and Pharmacy and Health Professions. Of the 61 or so degree programs available (not including concentrations), about 38 lead to bachelor’s degrees, each of which require a minimum of 120 semester-credit-hours, and include BA, BGS (General Studies), and BS options. Popular areas of study include biology, criminal justice, exercise science, human ecology, and sociology. Other programs/ concentrations include agribusiness, construction management technology, environmental science, professional golf management, and rehabilitation psychology. UMES currently has agreements with 18 institutions in Africa, the Caribbean, and Central America for study abroad, research abroad, and international development programs. About 85% of its students receive some form of financial aid. And, among UMES’ sustainable initiatives is its on-campus solar farm, which provides 15% of its electrical energy requirements.
Harvey Library, Hampton University (source)
Hampton University (HU) is a private, nonprofit, comprehensive HBCU (Historically Black College/ University) that was established in 1868 as the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. HU’s main campus is located in Hampton, Virginia, about 30 miles northwest of Virginia Beach, VA, and around 80 miles southeast of Richmond, VA.
HU is one of the nation’s most historically important HBCUs. It can trace its roots to 1861, when Mary Peake taught a group of freed slaves under a tree that became known as Emancipation Oak (and still stands on campus to this day). HU has produced a number of key figures in business, civil rights, education, entertainment, law, politics, and sports, but probably its most important alumni was Booker T. Washington. Today, HU still focuses on producing well-prepared leaders of character. Academically, this starts with a choice of certificates and degrees (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research, professional) available through 10 colleges and schools: Business; Education and Human Development; Engineering and Technology; Graduate College; Journalism and Communications; Liberal Arts; Nursing; Pharmacy; Science; and University College. Of the 89 programs offered, 49 (plus concentrations) lead to bachelor’s degrees (eight are available online, nine through continuing education). Each degree requires a minimum of 120 semester hours. Areas of study include: aviation management; counseling; entrepreneurship; flight education; investment banking; marine and environmental science; music recording technology; and naval science. Among HU’s student support/ success services, one — the Hispanic/ Latino Initiative — could become a nationwide model.
Human resources building, Delaware State University (source)
Delaware State University (DSU) is a public, comprehensive HBCU established in 1891 as the State College for Colored Students. DSU’s main campus is located in Dover, Delaware, about 50 miles roughly south of Wilmington, DE, and about 95 miles east and slightly north of Washington, D.C.
DSU has a more diverse enrollment than many HBCUs — only 67% of its students are African-American. Latinos and international students from many ethnicities are among the groups that now make up a larger portion of the student population. All of this fits well with DSU’s focus on preparing its students to help solve worldwide challenges and succeed in a global job market. Academically, DSU has over 60 degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research) available through its six colleges and schools: Agriculture and Related Sciences; Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Business; Education, Health, and Public Policy; Graduate Studies and Research; and Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Technology. About 42 of these are bachelor’s degree programs (plus concentrations) and include BA, BS, and BSW (Social Work) options. Each degree requires at least 120 semester hours. Popular majors include: business administration, biological sciences, criminal justice, education, mass communication, nursing, psychology, social work, and sport management. DSU’s student-faculty ratio is about 13:1. And, DSU further supports its students’ success potential via University College, which features experiential learning; integrated academic support and advisement; summer bridge programs; and testing services and programs.
President’s Home, Grambling State University (source)
Grambling State University (GSU) is a public, comprehensive HBCU established in 1901 as the Colored Industrial and Agricultural School. GSU is part of the University of Louisiana System and is located in Grambling, Louisiana, about 65 miles east of Shreveport, LA, and around 155 miles west and slightly north of Jackson, Mississippi.
This small school has left a large footprint in Louisiana’s history (highlighted by its placement on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail). It has also left a mark in American history through the scores of entertainers, journalists, professional athletes, and public officials that have graduated from GSU — including such luminaries as Grammy-winner Erykah Badu, NFL Hall of Famer Willie Brown, eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman, Pulitzer Prize winner Stephanie Finley, and Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams (who also succeeded the legendary Eddie Robinson as GSU’s head football coach). Academically, students can choose from over 45 certificates and degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research) across four colleges: Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; and Professional and Graduate Studies. About 26 of the 45+ are bachelor’s degrees, and include BA, BS, BSN (Nursing), and BSW (Social Work) options. Each degree requires at least 120-125 credit hours. Areas of study include: accounting, biology, engineering technology, hotel/ restaurant management, kinesiology, leisure studies, physics, sociology, and visual and performing arts. GSU supports student success through achievement programs, service learning, and special academic supports (incl. TRIO programs). About 94% of GSU students receive some form of financial aid.
Dennard Plaza, University of the District of Columbia (Van Ness main campus) (source)
The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is a public HBCU that was established in 1851 as the Normal School for Colored Girls. UDC is the only public university in Washington, DC, and is the flagship of a two-campus system. The other campus is UDC Community College (UDC-CC), which offers associate degrees, certificate programs, continuing education options, and workforce development programs.
While UDC is no longer an open admissions university (UDC-CC still is and can serve as preparation for UDC), the university continues to have a strong student development and success program that includes community outreach and involvement; counseling and career services; financial aid; student life and services (incl. clubs and organizations); testing and assessment; and TRIO/ student support programs. Academically, students can choose from almost 70 certificates and degrees (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s) across six colleges and schools: Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Sciences; Arts and Science; Business and Public Administration; Community College; Engineering and Applied Sciences; and Law. About 30 of these are bachelor’s degree programs and include BA, BArch (Architecture), BBA, BM (Music), BS, and BSW (Social Work) options. Each degree requires a minimum of 120 credits. Areas of study include: business management (finance, marketing, management information systems); computer science; health education (public health); human development; nursing RN to BSN; nutrition and dietetics; and special education. Its student to faculty ratio was last reported as 13:1 (lowest of any school in the region). And, about 90% of full-time, beginning undergrads receive some form of financial aid.
Student Union building, Savannah State University (source)
Savannah State University (SSU) is a public HBCU established in 1890 as the Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youth. It is the oldest public HBCU in Georgia and is part of the University System of Georgia (USG). SSU is located in Savannah, Georgia, about 250 miles southeast of Atlanta, GA, and some 140 miles north and somewhat east of Jacksonville, Florida.
SSU is designated as an access institution, which means it accepts underrepresented students who face “cultural, psychosocial and socio-economic issues” that would normally limit their ability to enter college. Yet, through SSU’s support efforts, the school has maintained 66-72% freshman retention rates over the past few years, which is about equal to the USG average, even though most system schools are not access institutions. SSU students can choose from about 36 degrees (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s) from four colleges and schools: Business Administration; Liberal Arts and Social Sciences; Sciences and Technology; and Teacher Education. Thirty (30) are bachelor’s degrees (including one online program) and feature BA, BBA, BS, and BSW (Social Work) options. Areas of study include accounting, behavior analysis, criminal justice, English language and literature, environmental science, forensic science, Homeland Security and emergency management, international business, marine sciences, and political science. Well over 90% of SSU students receive some form of financial aid. And, students seeking enrichment experiences have more than 75 student clubs, fraternities/ sororities, honor societies, intramural sports, organizations, and publications to choose from.
Virginia State University (source)
Virginia State University (VSU) is a public, comprehensive HBCU (Historically Black College/ University) established in 1882 as the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute. VSU is located in Ettrick, Virginia (with a postal designation of Petersburg, VA), some 25 miles south of Richmond, VA, and around 130 miles northeast of Raleigh, North Carolina.
In addition to VSU having been named by USNWR as the nation’s top master’s level, public HBCU, it also made the U.S. President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013 and 2014 for civic engagement, service learning, and volunteer commitment. Academically, students can choose from about 60 certificates and degrees (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research) across seven colleges and schools: Agriculture; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Humanities and Social Sciences; Graduate Studies; and Natural and Health Sciences. Forty (40) of these are bachelor’s degree programs, each requiring a minimum of 120 semester-hours, and including BA, BFA, BIS (Individualized Studies), BM (Music), BS, and BSW (Social Work) degree options. Areas of study include agriculture, computer engineering, electrical and electronic engineering technology, family and consumer sciences, health and physical education, history, manufacturing engineering, marketing, sociology, and visual communications art and design. Seventy (70) percent of VSU students qualify for Pell grants and 90 percent receive some form of state and/ or federal aid. Meanwhile, external funding for sponsored faculty research usually reaches $20 million annually.
Winston-Salem State University (source)
Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) is a public, comprehensive HBCU (Historically Black College/ University) established in 1892 as Slater Industrial Academy. WSSU is a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina (UNC) and is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, about 80 miles northeast of Charlotte, NC, and around 105 miles northwest of Raleigh, NC.
WSSU touts not only the academic strength of its programs, but their real-world benefit. For instance, among schools in the UNC system, WSSU produces the greatest number of bachelor’s graduates who’ve received jobs in North Carolina, and are being paid the highest average salary. Among its top national rankings, WSSU produces the most African-American degree recipients in physical science and in exercise science. Overall, the school offers almost 55 certificates and degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – professional) across two colleges/ schools — the College of Arts, Sciences, Business, and Education and the School of Health Sciences. Its 40 or so undergraduate offerings include four online degrees. Areas of study include: business administration, clinical laboratory science, gerontology, information technology (IT), justice studies, motorsport management, rehabilitation and human services, and therapeutic recreation. Bachelor’s degrees require a minimum of 120 semester-hours and include BA, BIS (Interdisciplinary Studies), BS, BSN (Nursing), and BSW (Social Work) options. Student experiences are a significant part of WSSU: it has 16 Greek organizations; more than 100 student organizations; and a wide variety of student activities and events, recreational opportunities, and intramural sports.
Carnegie Library, Alabama A&M University (source)
Alabama A&M University (AAMU) is a public, comprehensive HBCU that was established in 1875 as Huntsville Normal School. AAMU is located in Normal, Alabama, just five miles north and slightly east of Huntsville, AL, and some 110 miles south and slightly east of Nashville, Tennessee.
Since 2010, Washington Monthly Magazine has regularly ranked AAMU as one of the nation’s top two HBCUs (master’s university classification, rated by social mobility, research production, and community service). AAMU has also been a Top 5/ Top 10 producer of bachelor’s and master’s degrees among African Americans and other minorities in agricultural-related fields, biology/ biomedical sciences, communication technologies, conservation and natural resources, education, engineering, mathematics, and physical sciences. Overall, AAMU offers certificates and degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research) across five colleges and schools: Agricultural, Life, and Natural Sciences; Business and Public Affairs; Education, Humanities, and Behavioral Sciences; Engineering, Technology, and Physical Sciences; and Graduate Studies. This includes about 41 bachelor’s degrees, which each require at least 120 credit-hours, and include BA, BLS (Liberal Studies), BM (Music), BS, BSCE (Civil Engineering), BSEE (Electrical Engineering), and BSME (Mechanical Engineering) degree options. To encourage the full university experience, AAMU is part of the National Student Exchange program and various study-abroad programs. It also has about 93 student clubs and organizations and a 75-percent community-service participation rate.
Patterson Hall, Alabama State University (source)
Alabama State University (ASU) is a public HBCU (Historically Black College/ University) established in 1867 as the Lincoln Normal School at Marion. Today it is located in Montgomery, Alabama, some 95 miles southeast of Birmingham, AL, and about 160 miles southwest of Atlanta, Georgia.
Historically, ASU has played a significant role in the civil rights movement, from students in SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), to faculty in the WPC (Women’s Political Council). It also gave rise to such civil rights icons as Dr. Ralph D. Abernathy and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. Today, it fosters leadership and community service by integrating service learning opportunities into academic programs. Overall, ASU offers certificates and degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research, professional) through eight units: Aerospace Studies (Air Force ROTC); Business Administration; Education; Graduate School; Health Sciences; Liberal Arts and Social Sciences; Science, Mathematics, and Technology; and Visual and Performing Arts. Of its nearly 50 degree programs (plus concentrations), 30 are bachelor’s. Key areas of study include: biology (marine biology); communications (recording industry, radio/ TV); education (early childhood, elementary, secondary); rehabilitation services (addiction studies); and theatre (dance, performance, technical generalist). Meanwhile, ASU’s University College houses its advancement studies and student success programs (incl. the honors program and federal TRIO programs focused on helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds).
Bowie State University (BSU) is a public research HBCU that was established in 1865 and is now part of the University System of Maryland. BSU is located in Bowie, Maryland, about 30 miles southwest of Baltimore, MD, and around 25 miles northeast of Washington, DC.
Over the years, BSU has become known for achievements that are often far beyond its size and resources. In 1995, for instance, it won a NASA/ NSF award worth $27 million over 11 years, and became one of only six Model Institutions for Excellence in STEM in the U.S. This helped ensure BSU would continue to be the school with the highest number of African Americans graduating with master’s degrees in computer science and technology. And, in 2005, the supercomputer its faculty and students built was deemed the fastest of all Maryland college and universities, and the 8th fastest in the nation. BSU offers some 60 certificates and degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research) across four colleges: Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; and Professional Studies. About two dozen of these are bachelor’s programs. Undergraduate areas of study include: advertising design; animation and motion graphics; bioinformatics; broadcast journalism; computer technology; digital cinema and time-based media; government; language and literature; nursing; public relations; and sport management. The honors program and China study abroad program can further enrich a student’s academic experience, and the school’s 16:1 student-faculty ratio adds yet another benefit.
Downtown Fayetteville, North Carolina (source)
Fayetteville State University (FSU) is a public HBCU (Historically Black College/ University) established in 1867 as the Howard School. Now part of the University of North Carolina System, FSU is located in Fayetteville, North Carolina, about 60 miles southwest of Raleigh, NC, and some 130 miles east and slightly south of Charlotte, NC.
In 2012, the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) confirmed the tangible benefit of FSU’s academic programs. It reported that FSU students had an increase in critical thinking and writing skills (from freshmen to senior year) that was in the 90th to 99th percentile, compared to students at other participating schools across the U.S. In all, FSU has 54 certificates and degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research) available through its three colleges and schools: College of Arts and Sciences; School of Business and Economics; and School of Education. Thirty-six (36) of these are bachelor’s degrees, including seven online completion programs. Each bachelor’s degree requires a minimum of 120 credit hours. Popular majors/ concentrations include accounting, banking and finance, criminal justice, management information systems, math, marketing, special education, and social work. Additional academic possibilities are available through FSU’s University College, which has both an honors program and study-abroad options. Other features/ benefits at FSU include its 16:1 student to faculty ratio and extensive financial aid possibilities. In fact, in 2012, 95% of freshmen received financial aid or scholarships and over 90% of all students received some type of aid (totaling more than $60 million).
Echols Hall, Norfolk State University (source)
Norfolk State University (NSU) is a public HBCU (Historically Black College/ University) established in 1935 as the Norfolk Unit of Virginia Union University. NSU is located in Norfolk, Virginia, some 20 miles west of Virginia Beach, VA, and about 95 miles southeast of Richmond, VA.
NSU has traditionally put its focus on producing graduates with strengths in academics, athletics, and/ or social responsibility. Consequently, a number of NSU alumni became/ are professional athletes, Olympic medalists, entertainers, politicians, or senior civil servants. NSU offers about 50 degrees (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research, professional) across five colleges and schools: Business; Education; Liberal Arts; Science, Engineering and Technology; and Social Work. Around 30 of these are bachelor’s programs (six can be taken online), and include BA, BMus (Music), BS, and BSW (Social Work) degree options. Popular areas of study include biology, building construction technology, business, computer science, electronics engineering, exercise science/ physical education, fine arts and graphic design, health services management, music education, nursing, and political science. Almost two-thirds of NSU’s students are female, while its faculty is about 50:50 male-female (with a steadily improving student to faculty ratio that is now under 18:1). Over 90% of undergraduates at NSU receive some form of financial aid.
Clark Activity Center, Southern University (source)
Southern University and A&M College (SUBR or SU) is a public, comprehensive HBCU established in 1880. SUBR — the flagship of the Southern University System (SUS), the only HBCU system in the U.S. — is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, about 90 miles northwest of New Orleans, LA, and some 155 miles southwest of Jackson, Mississippi.
In addition to SUBR being chosen as Nursing School of the Year three times between 2010-15 by the Louisiana Nurses Foundation (and others), a Morehouse College report showed it was the No.4 institution of baccalaureate-origin for black male PhD recipients (2004-13). SUBR itself offers around five-dozen certificates and degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research, professional) across seven colleges and schools: Business; Education, Arts, and Humanities; Engineering and Computer Science; Graduate School; Nursing and Allied Health (under construction); Sciences and Agriculture; and Social and Behavioral Sciences. About 34 of these are bachelor’s programs (incl. six offered online). They feature such degree options as BA, BIS (Interdisciplinary Studies), BM (Music), BS, BSCE (Civil Engineering), BSME (Mechanical Engineering), and BSN (Nursing). Some key or unique areas of study are: agri-economics/ agri-business, child development, elementary education, finance, rehabilitation services, speech-language pathology and audiology, therapeutic recreation and leisure studies, and urban forestry. SUBR also has study-abroad programs in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America for both academics and service learning. And, it has 150+ active student organizations covering 13 different categories of interest.
North Carolina Central University (source)
North Carolina Central University (NCCU) is a public HBCU that was established in 1909 as the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua. NCCU is part of the University of North Carolina (UNC) System and is located in Durham, North Carolina, some 145 miles northeast of Charlotte, NC, and about 150 miles southwest of Richmond, Virginia.
A large part of NCCU’s mission is to create global leaders who are able to help transform communities. Consequently, the school is known for its continuous contribution to “the public good.” For instance, NCCU was the first school in the UNC system to require community service from all of its students. And, it was the second HBCU in the U.S. to create an LGBTA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally) Center. Academically, NCCU offers around 78 certificates and degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research, professional) across eight colleges and schools: Arts and Sciences; Behavioral and Social Sciences; Business; Education; Graduate Studies; Law; Library and Information Sciences; and Nursing. Thirty-seven (37) of these are bachelor’s degree programs, each requiring at least 124-128 semester-hours, and including BA, BBA, BM (Music), BS, BSN (Nursing), and BSW (Social Work) options. The school’s top undergrad programs are (in order) criminal justice, family and consumer science, and business administration. Other specific areas of study include: athletic training, early childhood education, geoscience, jazz studies, pharmaceutical sciences, and physics secondary education. Finally, NCCU also has online study options, which include one bachelor’s program, three bachelor’s completion programs, and a teacher licensure program.
Richardson Library, Morgan State University (source)
Morgan State University (MSU or Morgan State) is a public HBCU established in 1867 as the Centenary Biblical Institute. Designated as “Maryland’s Public Urban University,” MSU is located in Baltimore, Maryland, about 45 miles northeast of Washington, DC.
MSU awards more bachelor’s degrees to African American students than any other school in Maryland. Students at MSU can complete certificates and degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research) in 10 colleges and schools: Architecture and Planning; Business and Management; Community Health and Policy; Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences; Education and Urban Studies; Engineering; Global Journalism and Communication; Graduate Studies; Liberal Arts; and Social Work. Almost four dozen bachelor’s programs are available, plus concentrations, tracks, etc. Bachelor’s degrees require a minimum of 120 semester hours, and include BA, BFA, BS, BSAED (Architecture and Environmental Design), BSCM (Construction Management), and BSN (Nursing) options. Areas of study include: actuarial science, computer science, elementary education, fashion merchandising, graphic design, medical technology, multimedia journalism, screenwriting and animation, and transportation systems. Students can also participate in MSU’s study abroad/ exchange program, which utilizes both established programs and student-created independent opportunities.
Evans Hall, Prairie View A & M University (source)
Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) is a public research HBCU (Historically Black College/ University) established in 1876 as the Alta Vista Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas for Colored Youth. PVAMU is part of the Texas A&M University System and is located in Prairie View, Texas, about 50 miles northwest of Houston, TX.
Two of PVAMU’s unique strengths are providing “equal educational opportunity” to disadvantaged students from unserved and underserved demographics, and creating programs that ensure all of its students can successfully compete in their chosen careers and post-graduate academic pursuits. Evidence of the success of these efforts was seen in 2015, when PVAMU was ranked 2nd in the U.S. by CollegeNet for improving the social and economic mobility of its students. Overall, the school offers more than 80 degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research) via eight colleges: Agriculture and Human Sciences; Architecture; Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering; Juvenile Justice and Psychology; and Nursing. About 50 of these are bachelor’s degrees, and include the following options: BA, BASW (Social Work), BBA, BS, BSChE (Chemical Engineering), BSCE (Civil Engineering), BSCET (Computer Engineering Technology), BSEE (Electrical Engineering), and BSN (Nursing). Areas of study include: agriculture, construction science, criminal justice, digital media arts, human performance, management information systems, mechanical engineering, and physics.
Tennessee State University (source)
Tennessee State University (TSU) is a public, comprehensive HBCU (historically black college/university) established in 1912 as the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School. Its main campus is in Nashville, Tennessee, about 210 miles northeast of Memphis, TN, and some 250 miles northwest of Atlanta, Georgia.
In addition to its traditional academic strengths, TSU has a proud athletics history: it has produced a significant number of Olympic medalists and professional athletes. Academically, TSU supports student success with an array of resources, including its unique 24-hour-a-day Smarthinking online tutoring. Students can choose from certificates and degrees (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research) from nine colleges and schools: Agriculture, Human, and Natural Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering; Graduate Studies and Research; Health Sciences; Liberal Arts; Life and Physical Sciences; and Public Service. Forty-five (45) bachelor’s degrees are currently available, requiring at least 120-128 semester-hours each, and including the following types: BA, BBA, BIS (Interdisciplinary Studies), BPS (Professional Studies), BS, and BSN (Nursing). Seven bachelor’s degrees are available online. Overall areas of study include: aeronautical technology, dental hygiene, fashion merchandising, food technology, hospitality management, public health, supply-chain management, and urban studies. Students can also take participate in TSU’s study abroad/ exchange programs, which include countries such as China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Kurdistan, Nigeria, Taiwan, and Turkey.
Texas Southern University (source)
Texas Southern University (Texas Southern or TSU) is a public comprehensive HBCU that was established in 1927 as Houston Colored Junior College. TSU is located in Houston, Texas, some 200 miles east and slightly north of San Antonio, TX, and around 245 miles southeast of Dallas, TX.
TSU was ranked (by the Texas Higher Education Journal) as the No.1 school in Texas for bachelor’s and master’s degrees conferred to African Americans and Hispanics. And, a Diverse Issues in Higher Education survey ranked TSU No.4 in the U.S. for doctoral and professional degrees awarded to African Americans. Overall, TSU offers more than 100 degree programs (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research, professional) through its 10 colleges and schools: Business; Communication; Continuing Education; Education; Graduate School; Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Liberal Arts and Behavioral Sciences; Pharmacy and Health Sciences; Public Affairs; and Science, Engineering, and Technology. Of those 100+ programs, between four and five dozen are for undergrads. Bachelor’s degrees at TSU require a minimum of 120 credit hours, and include BA, BBA, and BS degree types. Top majors include accounting, administration of justice, business management, biology, general studies, interdisciplinary studies, pre-pharmacy, and psychology. The vast majority of undergrads are able to access financial aid, with over 90% of first-time freshmen, and nearly 90% of all undergrads, receiving assistance.
Ayer Hall, Jackson State University (source)
Jackson State University (JSU) is a public research HBCU established in 1877 as Natchez Seminary. Its main campus is located in Jackson, Mississippi, about 185 miles north and slightly west of New Orleans, Louisiana, and some 240 miles southwest of Birmingham, Alabama.
To help ensure JSU can attract more of the “best students in the nation,” it offers an Out-of-State Tuition Fee Waiver for qualified first-time freshmen and graduate students. All JSU students can choose from certificates and degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research, other) across five colleges: Business; Education and Human Development; Liberal Arts; Public Service; and Science, Technology and Engineering. In total, JSU offers 44 bachelor’s and 50 graduate programs. Bachelor’s degrees require at least 124-128 semester-hours, and include the following types: BA, BBA, BS, BSEd (Education), BM (Music), BME (Music Education), and BSW (Social Work). JSU Online, although it has more graduate study programs, does offer several online and hybrid undergrad courses, and four undergrad degrees. Areas of study at JSU include: biomedical science, child care and family education, communicative disorders, environmental engineering, entrepreneurship, forensic science, healthcare administration, industrial technology, and meteorology. And, JSU degrees seem to offer immediate career possibilities, as evidenced by the school’s 70 percent overall job placement rate.
Carnegie Library at Florida A & M University (source)
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (Florida A&M University or FAMU) is a public HBCU established in 1887 as the State Normal College for Colored Students. FAMU is part of the State University System of Florida and its main campus is in Tallahassee, Florida, about 165 miles west of Jacksonville, FL, and 245 miles east and slightly south of Mobile, Alabama.
FAMU’s commitment to academic excellence, knowledge, and finding solutions to societal concerns can be seen in its research and development (R&D) spending, which topped $51 million in 2013 and led to the National Science Foundation ranking it as the top HBCU for R&D expenditures. Students at FAMU can undertake their own pursuit of knowledge through the certificates and degrees (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research, professional) offered through 14 schools and colleges: Agriculture and Food Sciences; Allied Health Sciences; Architecture and Engineering Technology; Business and Industry; Education; Engineering; the Environment; Graduate Studies and Research; Journalism and Graphic Communication; Law; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities; and Science and Technology. In total, bachelor’s programs make up 54 of FAMU’s 98 degree offerings, and include the following degree types: BA, BArch, BCJ (Criminal Justice), BS, BSIE (Industrial Engineering), BSN (Nursing), and BSW (Social Work). Popular areas of study include allied health, business administration, biology, and criminal justice. And, FAMU also offers majors in just about every key field, including a few unique ones: cardiopulmonary sciences, health informatics and management, jazz studies, and veterinary technology.
Founders Library, Howard University (source)
Howard University (Howard or HU) is a private, non-profit research HBCU that was established in 1867 and is located in Washington, DC. It was originally founded as the Howard Normal and Theological Institute for the Education of Teachers and Preachers. Notable alumni include US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, after whom the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is named. The fund, in particular, promotes higher education at public HBCUs.
In addition to having several top ranked programs, HU has produced a number of top students. Over the last 18 years, it has had 30 Fulbright Scholars, a Marshall Scholar, 11 Pickering Fellows, two Rhodes Scholars, and two Truman Scholars. HU has also attracted a student population that comes from every part of the U.S. and over 70 countries around the world. That geographically diverse student population can choose from certificates and degrees (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research, professional) in more than 120 areas, across 13 schools and colleges: Arts and Sciences; Business; Communications; Dentistry; Divinity; Education; Engineering, Architecture, and Computer Sciences; Graduate School; Law; Medicine; Nursing and Allied Health Sciences; Pharmacy; and Social Work. Bachelor’s degrees at HU require at least 120 credit-hours, and include the following types: BA, BArch (Architecture), BBA, BFA, BM (Music), BS, and BSN (Nursing). Key areas of study include: art (design, fashion, photography); chemistry; economics; engineering (civil, computer, electrical, mechanical); journalism; physician assistant; and theatre arts (acting, administration, dance, musical theatre). Finally, HU’s student to faculty ratio, which is around 8:1, is almost twice as good as the national average (listed as 15:1 in a 2014 OECD report).
Aggie Fountain, North Carolina A & T State University (source)
North Carolina A&T State University (NC A&T) is public research HBCU (Historically Black College/ University) established in 1891 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race. It is part of the University of North Carolina system and its main campus is in Greensboro, North Carolina, about 80 miles northwest of Raleigh, NC, and some 90 miles northeast of Charlotte, NC.
NC A&T produces the most African American engineers (all levels) and psychology undergraduates in the nation, and among the most certified public accountants. Overall, NC A&T offers certificates and degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate – research) across nine schools and colleges: the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences; College of Arts and Sciences; School of Business and Economics; School of Education; College of Engineering; Graduate School; Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering; School of Nursing; and School of Technology. Undergraduates can choose from as many as 177 degrees (incl. concentrations), and participate in an extensive study abroad program (which can take students to every continent, except Antarctica). All bachelor’s degrees require a minimum of 124 semester-hours, and include the following types: BA, BFA, BS, BSN (Nursing), and BSW (Social Work). The highest number of bachelor’s degrees awarded recently have been in: business administration and management, liberal arts and sciences/ liberal studies, mass communication/ media studies, psychology (general), social work, and sport science and fitness management. Most students appear able to access financial aid — in Fall 2014, 79% of full-time starting undergrads received grants/ scholarships and 84% received federal loans.