When choosing a college, there are a number of factors to consider, and some of the largest HBCU bachelor’s colleges by enrollment feature competitive athletic programs, high-quality academic experiences, and comprehensive financial aid packages. Officially known as historically black colleges and universities, many HBCUs can provide more resources, money, and professors to dedicate to their students than smaller institutions in the country.
Although HBCUs face their share of challenges, studies show that black HBCU graduates are stronger in financial well-being and purpose and more involved in extracurricular activities, long-term projects, and applied internships. When it comes to choosing a college, HBCU or not, enrollment numbers can serve as a guide to helping students find their ideal schools. To give prospective students more information about the top HBCU schools in the country, we have created the following list of the 25 largest HBCU bachelor’s colleges by enrollment.
Using enrollment data obtained by the National Center for Education Statistics and each school’s website, we started with a list of 80 HBCUs and narrowed the pool down into the top 25 largest HBCU bachelor’s colleges by enrollment. In the following ranking, we have provided data regarding both undergraduate enrollment and total enrollment but ranked each school solely based on undergraduate numbers. In addition, we added the tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students for reference only; tuition was not a factor in our ranking methodology.
Ranking Top 25 Largest HBCU Bachelor’s Colleges by Enrollment
25. Clark Atlanta University
Clark Atlanta University is a coeducational, urban, private, comprehensive institution of higher education with a predominantly African-American heritage. It offers professional, graduate, and undergraduate degrees as well as certificate programs to students of diverse socioeconomic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. Clark Atlanta was established in 1988 by the consolidation of Clark College, the nation’s first four-year liberal arts school to serve a mostly African-American undergraduate student population, and Atlanta University, the country’s first graduate school for African-Americans. From the arts to zoology, CAU combines nearly three centuries of tradition with a strong focus on academic excellence to produce graduates who will lead and shape the future of the global community.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,302
Total Enrollment: 3,992
In-State Tuition: $22,186
Out-of-State Tuition: $22,186
24. Hampton University
Steeped in tradition and rich in history, Hampton University is a progressive, dynamic institution of higher education that provides a broad range of graduate, liberal arts, and technical degree programs. Founded in 1868 to educate freed slaves, Hampton is home to the Skin of Color Research Institute, where researchers study skin disorders that affect people of color, and the Emancipation Oak, which served as the first classroom for students. The school is a premier destination for students pursuing education degrees as well as STEM-oriented programs such as bachelor’s degrees in marine and environmental science, biotechnology, chemical and electrical engineering, and aviation computer science. In addition to being one of the top HBCUs in the world, Hampton is also a close-knit community of educators and learners that represent 49 states and 35 nations and territories.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,792
Total Enrollment: 4,618
In-State Tuition: $26,702
Out-of-State Tuition: $26,702
23. University of the District of Columbia
The University of the District of Columbia is both modern and historic, offering more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs through its schools and colleges in law, engineering and applied sciences, business and public administration, arts and sciences, urban sustainability and environmental sciences, and agriculture. Although UDC is no longer an open admissions university unlike its Community College, it continues to have a strong student success and development program that includes counseling and career services, community outreach and involvement, student life and services, financial aid, and testing and assessment. Enhancing its essence as a public urban-focused, land-grant HBCU in the nation’s capital, UDC is dedicated to serving the needs of the surrounding community and producing lifelong learners who become transformative leaders in nonprofit sectors, the government, the workforce, and beyond.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,859
Total Enrollment: 4,247
In-State Tuition: $5,888
Out-of-State Tuition: $12,416
22. Bethune-Cookman University
Daytona Beach, Florida
Located just 90 miles southeast of Jacksonville and 55 miles northeast of Orlando in Daytona, Florida, Bethune-Cookman University is a postsecondary institution filled with beloved traditions and rich history as well as a strong commitment to community service and academic excellence. Established in 1904 as the Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls, B-CU is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and offers programs across its nine colleges and schools in industries such as performing arts and communication, nursing, liberal arts, health sciences, education, business and entrepreneurship, graduate studies, professional studies, and science, engineering, and mathematics. A small, coeducational, private, residential school, B-CU offers 35 undergraduate degrees as well as a master’s program in transformative leadership.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,992
Total Enrollment: 4,143
In-State Tuition: $14,814
Out-of-State Tuition: $14,814
21. Delaware State University
Originally founded in 1891 as the Delaware School for Colored Students, Delaware State University focuses on cutting-edge business, technology, and research, offering more than 50 undergraduate degrees, 25 master’s degrees, and a number of doctoral programs. Building on its heritage as an HBCU, DSU purposefully integrates the highest standards of excellence in service, research, and teaching across all of its programs. The most popular major fields of study include psychology, management, movement science, mass communications, and accounting, and DSU offers a unique Africana Studies minor that includes coursework in African-American politics, literature, and history. DSU is home to the Center for Integrated Biological and Environmental Research, and it is considered a top school for Dreamers who are receiving educational assistance from the Opportunity Scholarship Program.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,050
Total Enrollment: 4,352
In-State Tuition: $7,868
Out-of-State Tuition: $16,904
20. Grambling State University
Located in Grambling, Louisiana, Grambling State University is a comprehensive HBCU that was established as the Colored Industrial and Agricultural School in 1901. Highlighted by its placement on the Louisiana African-American Heritage Trail, the school has made its mark in the state’s history, producing scores of public officials, professional athletes, journalists, and entertainers. GSU offers more than 800 courses and 70 degree programs across its colleges in professional and graduate studies, education, business, and the arts and sciences. Popular areas of study include the visual and performing arts, sociology, physics, leisure studies, kinesiology, hospitality management, engineering technology, biology, and accounting. GSU combines the benefits of a small college with the academic strengths of a major university, enabling students to learn and grow in a positive, serene environment.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,079
Total Enrollment: 5,191
In-State Tuition: $7,435
Out-of-State Tuition: $16,458
19. Alabama State University
Established in 1867 in Marion as the Lincoln Normal School, Alabama State University is now located in Montgomery, Alabama. ASU played a significant role in the civil rights movement, from faculty in the Women’s Political Council to students in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Today, ASU is an HBCU that fosters community service and leadership by integrating opportunities for service learning into its academic programs. A world-class and respected institution of higher learning, ASU offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including a historic teacher education degree, a minor in international business, a new doctorate in microbiology, and new, in-demand degrees in the health sciences. Other key areas of study include the liberal arts and social sciences, aerospace studies, biology, theater, rehabilitation services, and communication.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,208
Total Enrollment: 4,760
In-State Tuition: $11,068
Out-of-State Tuition: $19,396
18. Savannah State University
Founded in 1890 as the Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youth, Savannah State University is the oldest HBCU in Georgia. SSU develops productive members of society through high-quality community involvement, service, research, scholarship, and instruction. Undergraduate and graduate students may pursue nationally accredited programs in the professions, the sciences, and the liberal arts, and the top five majors at SSU include social work, criminal justice, business management, mass communications, and biology. Other undergraduate degrees include behavior analysis, print and online journalism, and Africana studies. A total of 15 graduate and undergraduate STEM degrees are available as well. Savannah State was the first school in Georgia to offer a bachelor’s degree in the field of emergency management and homeland security, and students may still pursue this program today.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,239
Total Enrollment: 4,429
In-State Tuition: $5,743
Out-of-State Tuition: $16,204
17. Virginia State University
Virginia State University, the first fully state-supported four-year HBCU in the country, is a comprehensive university and one of two land-grant postsecondary institutions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia State has been recognized among the top HBCU universities in the nation for its volunteer commitments, service learning, and civic engagement. Virginia State provides 55 terminal, graduate, and undergraduate degree programs within its schools in the humanities and social sciences, engineering and technology, education, business, agriculture, natural and health sciences, and graduate studies. Popular areas of study include visual communications art and design, family and consumer sciences, electrical and electronic engineering, manufacturing engineering, health and physical education, and agriculture.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,302
Total Enrollment: 4,713
In-State Tuition: $9,056
Out-of-State Tuition: $20,307
16. Norfolk State University
Founded in 1935 as the Norfolk branch of Virginia State University, Norfolk State University later served as a polytechnic college before becoming an official university in 1979. NSU was one of the first HBCU to earn accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and it is home to houses representing all nine Pan-Hellenic, traditionally African-American sororities and fraternities. Undergraduates can choose from more than 30 degree programs, most of which are focused on the social sciences such as social work, media and communications, sociology, political science, and history. Graduate students can choose from eight master’s degrees in education, including three special education concentrations and one urban education specialization, as well as cutting-edge STEM fields like materials science, electronics engineering, and cybersecurity.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,687
Total Enrollment: 5,303
In-State Tuition: $9,490
Out-of-State Tuition: $20,658
15. Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Winston-Salem State University was founded as a teaching academy for African-Americans in 1892. It is the largest producer of black graduates in the fields of education, health professions, and nursing, and it leads all UNC constituent schools for average salary for graduates and graduate job placement in the state’s Piedmont Triad area. WSSU offers more than 50 certification, graduate, and undergraduate degree programs, most of which are concentrated in the College of Arts, Sciences, Business, and Education. Programs are available in fields like nursing, health management, exercise physiology, and clinical laboratory science. WSSU is the only HBCU to offer a bachelor’s degree in motorsport management. Of the school’s more than 5,000 students, approximately half are first-generation college students. On-campus students can choose to live in seven themed residence halls, including Live to Serve, Women Involved in Leadership Development, and Women in Science and Health.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,688
Total Enrollment: 5,098
In-State Tuition: $5,904
Out-of-State Tuition: $16,151
14. Alabama A&M University
Established in 1875 as Huntsville Normal School, Alabama A&M University is a public comprehensive HBCU located in Normal, Alabama. AAMU reflects the uniqueness of the traditional land-grant postsecondary institution, combining liberal arts, vocational, and professional pursuits throughout its schools and colleges. For nearly the last decade, AAMU has been recognized as one of the top HBCUs in the country and a top producer of degrees among African-Americans and other minorities in fields such as the physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, education, conservation and natural resources, communication technologies, biology and biomedical sciences, and agriculture. A center of excellence and substance, AAMU provides a setting for the emergence of thinkers, leaders, scholars, and other contributors to society.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,038
Total Enrollment: 6,001
In-State Tuition: $9,744
Out-of-State Tuition: $18,354
13. Southern University and A&M College
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Established in 1880, Southern University and A&M College is the flagship school of the Southern University System and the only HBCU system in the country. The school confers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees through its colleges and schools in the social and behavioral sciences, sciences and agriculture, nursing and allied health, engineering and computer science, business, graduate studies, and education, arts, and humanities. SU is ranked among the top producers in the nation of African-American students earning bachelor’s degrees in nursing and engineering, and graduates are successful educators and entrepreneurs, working as engineers and scientists in major industries and laboratories worldwide. The school also offers study-abroad programs in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and African for both service learning and academics. In addition, students can choose from more than 150 active organizations that cover 13 different areas of interest.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,149
Total Enrollment: 6,118
In-State Tuition: $9,122
Out-of-State Tuition: $16,472
12. Bowie State University
Bowie State University, founded in the 1860s, was initially a Baptist church offering free teaching classes that was later named the Baltimore Normal School for Colored Teachers. Bowie State is among the 10 oldest HBCUs in the U.S. and the oldest HBCU in Maryland. In 1995, NASA and the National Science Foundation awarded Bowie State a $27 million grant, and the school became one of six in the nation to be recognized as a “Model Institution for Excellence in STEM.” Since then, Bowie State has established itself as a leading producer of African-American graduates with degrees in STEM fields such as biology, military science, mathematics, and computer science. Bowie State is also known for its teacher education programs, offering a total of eight undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as pathways in school counseling and educational leadership.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,187
Total Enrollment: 6,148
In-State Tuition: $8,234
Out-of-State Tuition: $18,874
11. Fayetteville State University
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Fayetteville State University was established in 1877 as the first state-sponsored teaching college for African-American students. Originally part of the Howard School, Fayetteville State is a public research HBCU and the leading producer of African-American graduates in North Carolina, despite the fact that 25 percent of the university’s student body identifies as non-African-American. Undergraduate students may pursue bachelor’s degrees through the school’s College of Education, including programs in high school, middle, and elementary education, as well as specialized teaching subjects and educational leadership. The university’s College of Arts and Sciences confers degrees in social work, psychology, biology, and criminology, while additional learning pathways are available through the College of Business and Economics, including a Master of Business Administration track.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,393
Total Enrollment: 6,226
In-State Tuition: $5,249
Out-of-State Tuition: $16,857
10. Albany State University
Located in Albany, Georgia, Albany State University is one of the largest HBCU colleges in the University System of Georgia. Established by Joseph Holley, the son of freed slaves, in 1903, the school played a key role in history when several of its students helped to form the Albany Movement, a movement in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. later became involved, that was comprised of a group of nearly 1,000 desegregation activists that led protests throughout the 1960s. ASU offers bachelor’s degrees in social work, political science, mass communication, criminal justice, and seven business-oriented fields. Students may also choose from more than 20 health professions programs such as multiple certification pathways and degrees in fields like nursing and emergency medical services. Graduate students may pursue one of seven master’s degree in education programs as well as MSN, MSW, MPA, and MBA tracks.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,262
Total Enrollment: 6,615
In-State Tuition: $5,735
Out-of-State Tuition: $16,196
9. Howard University
Founded by Civil War engineer Oliver O. Howard in 1867, Howard University is comprised of 13 colleges and schools. An HBCU, the school boasts an impressive alumni list that includes political writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Howard confers more than 120 graduate and undergraduate degree programs each year to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students from 70 countries and all 50 states. Its School of Law is recognized as a major producer of public service graduates, and its College of Medicine is known not only as a premier training site for female surgeons but also as a leading institution for healthcare workers and physicians that help underserved populations. Howard is home to Phi Beta Sigma and Omega Psi Phi, two of the nation’s most prominent African-American fraternities, as well as the first African-American-owned television station in the U.S.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,354
Total Enrollment: 9,392
In-State Tuition: $26,756
Out-of-State Tuition: $26,756
8. North Carolina Central University
Durham, North Carolina
Durham-based North Carolina Central University was established as the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua for the Colored Race in 1910. NCCU was the first state-supported liberal arts school for African-American students, and it is now home to 13 research institutes that explore areas like minority issues, juvenile justice, workforce development, and homeland security. Some of the school’s most popular undergraduate majors include business administration, family and consumer science, and criminal justice, while the school’s most popular graduate fields include public administration, library science, and law. A dual degree in which students earn a bachelor’s in engineering from North Carolina State University and a bachelor’s in physics from NCCU is offered, and several joint degrees are available at the graduate level, including law/public administration, law/library science, and business administration/information science.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,355
Total Enrollment: 8,097
In-State Tuition: $6,464
Out-of-State Tuition: $19,171
7. Morgan State University
Founded in 1867 by Episcopalians, Morgan State University was a private school until 1939, when it was purchased by Maryland with the goal of creating more educational opportunities for African-Americans. Morgan State is the largest HBCU in the state, enrolling nearly 7,800 students each year. The school is popular among aspiring planners and architects, offering bachelor’s degrees in environmental design and construction management as well as architecture. The university also confers master’s degrees in general architecture, landscape architecture, and regional and city planning. Morgan State hosts the Patuxent Environmental and Aquatic Research Laboratory (PEARL), and it is home to the Morgan Mile, an initiative that aims to increase community outreach through economic development, entrepreneurship, youth education and development, and public health and safety.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,440
Total Enrollment: 7,747
In-State Tuition: $7,900
Out-of-State Tuition: $18,167
6. Jackson State University
Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi was founded in 1877 by the American Baptist Home Mission Society. Named a high research activity university by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, Jackson State is an HBCU member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and home to the Margaret Walker Center, a museum devoted to exhibitions related to African-American history and culture. More than 20 percent of Jackson State students earn degrees through the university’s College of Science, Engineering, and Technology in fields such as computer science, aerospace science, industrial and systems technology, and science and atmospheric education. The school was recently ranked among the top HBCUs with the highest average starting salaries for its graduates. Nearly 100 students are enrolled in the Call Me MISTER program, an initiative that aims to increase the number of male African-American teachers in K-8 classrooms.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,500
Total Enrollment: 8,558
In-State Tuition: $8,051
Out-of-State Tuition: $19,279
5. Tennessee State University
Tennessee State University, founded in 1912 as the Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State Normal School for Negroes, is the only state-funded HBCU in Tennessee. The most common majors of study include education, STEM fields, and health, and TSU also offers an extensive selection of graduate and undergraduate degrees in consumer sciences and agriculture, including fields like agricultural education, plant and soil science, food marketing and supply chain management, and agribusiness. TSU confers seven specialized engineering degrees as well. TSU enrolls nearly 8,200 students, approximately 80 percent of whom are undergraduates. TSU is also home to an annual on-campus African Street Festival as well as more than 100 student organizations and clubs.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,505
Total Enrollment: 8,177
In-State Tuition: $8,792
Out-of-State Tuition: $21,512
4. Texas Southern University
Established as Houston Colored Junior College in 1927, Texas Southern University is a public comprehensive HBCU located in Houston, Texas. Recognized as one of the top schools in the state for bachelor’s and master’s degrees awarded to Hispanics and African-Americans, Texas Southern enrolls more than 10,200 students and provides more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs through its 10 schools and colleges. Top majors at Texas Southern include psychology, pre-pharmacy, interdisciplinary studies, general studies, biology, business management, administration of justice, and accounting. More than 90 percent of first-year freshmen have access to financial aid, and Texas Southern offers a diverse faculty, a vast alumni network, and more than 80 student organizations.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,967
Total Enrollment: 10,237
In-State Tuition: $9,173
Out-of-State Tuition: $21,623
3. Prairie View A&M University
Prairie View, Texas
Established in 1876, Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas was conceived by former slaves. Initially known as the Alta Vista Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas for Colored Youth, PVAMU is the state’s first state-supported HBCU and the second-oldest degree-granting institution in Texas. Inez Prosser, a 1913 alumnus of PVAMU, became the first African-American woman to earn a doctoral degree in psychology. PVAMU offers a number of undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering through the Roy G. Perry College of Engineering, and students may pursue education degrees in educational administration, physical education, special education, and curriculum and instruction. PVAMU boasts a 100 percent licensure pass rate for its nursing program graduates, and the university’s College of Juvenile Justice in Psychology confers doctoral, master’s, and bachelor’s degrees that bridge these two fields.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,975
Total Enrollment: 9,219
In-State Tuition: $10,533
Out-of-State Tuition: $24,843
2. Florida A&M University
Established in 1887 as the State Normal College for Colored Students, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University is a member of the State University System of Florida. The second-largest HBCU by enrollment in the U.S., FAMU has been recognized for its commitment to providing economic and social opportunity. The school is also ranked among the top HBCU for research and development expenditures, and students can pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in fields such as criminal justice, biology, business administration, and allied health. Several unique majors are also available, including veterinary technology, jazz studies, health informatics and management and cardiopulmonary sciences.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 8,024
Total Enrollment: 9,913
In-State Tuition: $5,785
Out-of-State Tuition: $17,725
1. North Carolina A&T State University
Greensboro, North Carolina
Established as the Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race in 1891, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is the largest HBCU by enrollment and the largest among all agriculture-based HBCU colleges. In addition, the university produces the most African-American engineers in the country. The school confers undergraduate and graduate degrees in seven specialized engineering fields, and graduate degrees are available in six concentration areas through the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering. Additionally, North Carolina A&T confers degrees in four areas of environmental science and agriculture. Other recognized major areas of study include sport science and fitness management, social work, psychology, mass communication and media studies, liberal studies, and business management and administration. Alumni of North Carolina A&T include several notable figures of the Civil Rights Era, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. and the Greensboro Four, who staged the nation’s first sit-in.
Undergraduate Enrollment: 10,341
Total Enrollment: 11,877
In-State Tuition: $6,612
Out-of-State Tuition: $19,822
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an HBCU School and Why Should You Attend One?
The U.S. Department of Education indicates that the term “historically black college or university” (HBCU) has been used since 1965 when the Higher Education Act was amended. HBCU refers to any accredited postsecondary college or university that was established before 1965 with the goal of educating African-American students. However, HBCUs are committed to teaching all students, regardless of race.
The National Center of Education Statistics reports that, in 2017, there were 102 HBCUs located in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, and 19 states. Of these, 51 were private, nonprofit institutions and 51 were public institutions. The first HBCUs were founded in the 1830s, more than 20 years before slavery was abolished in the U.S. Although the number of HBCUs has decreased since the 1930s, the number of operational HBCUs has remained fairly steady since the 1980s. As of the fall of 2017, the most recent data available, the combined enrollment for all HBCUs, private and public, was 298,138.
Since 1980, black student enrollment at HBCUs has declined, mainly due to factors such as higher salaries among African-Americans, improved access to financial aid, and desegregation. Approximately 17 percent of black students pursued degrees at HBCUs in 1980, but this figure dropped to 9 percent by 2015. Still, according to the Pew Research Center, HBCUs represent 15 percent of all bachelor’s degrees conferred to black students in the U.S.
How Do You Choose an HBCU?
As with choosing any university or college, selecting the right HBCU requires extensive thought and research. Prospective students should consider current HBCUs and identify schools that award degrees in their desired industry or career field. Once students have a list of possible schools, they should compare their top picks based on factors such as overall cost, class and school size, and location as explained below. Additionally, students should research “student outcome” data such as retention rates, graduation rates, and graduate employment rates. Another important piece to consider is “debt default,” which refers to the number of students that default on their student loan payments after earning a degree, often due to the unavailability of work.
1. Overall Cost
The cost of tuition at an HBCU will depend on a number of factors, including whether a student lives on- or off-campus and the state in which a student lives. Before beginning college, all students are encouraged to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Although most HBCUs confer four-year degrees, some offer two-year programs, and the cost of tuition is adjusted according to the length of the program.
2. School Type and Size
The largest HBCUs enroll between 7,500 and 12,000 new students per year, but more than 50 percent of all HBCUs report an annual enrollment of 2,500 or fewer students. Private colleges tend to have smaller campuses, lower enrollment numbers, and more favorable student-to-faculty ratios. In contrast, public universities typically have larger campuses, higher enrollment numbers, and less favorable student-to-faculty ratios.
The location of a school may directly impact tuition rates, especially for out-of-state students who typically pay higher tuition costs than their in-state peers. Becoming an in-state student generally requires one to live in the state in which the university or college is located for at least one full year. In addition to traditional brick-and-mortar campuses, many HBCUs offer online degree programs and courses that students can access from anywhere in the U.S. Online students often pay one set tuition rate, regardless of the state in which they live.
4. Degree Availability
HBCUs are considered particularly ideal for students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields. However, due to the large number of diverse HBCUs, students should have little difficulty pinpointing several institutions that confer degree programs that reflect their individual career goals and professional aspirations. In addition, some HBCUs offer concentrations or specializations that allow students to further focus their studies on a niche area in their chosen industry.
What is the Modern Importance of HBCUs?
The standing of African-Americans in the U.S. has come a long way since the establishment of HBCUs. As a result, many people believe that HBCUs are no longer needed. However, HBCUs still play critical roles within the community in a number of ways, and the following are just a handful of benefits of attending an HBCU:
- Close relationships with students from similar backgrounds
- Grants and scholarships reserved for HBCU students
- Opportunities to continue legacies
- Alumni associations for graduates
- Strong alumni networks
- A supportive, diverse atmosphere
- Extracurricular activities and classes tailored to African-Americans
- Caring faculty and professors
- A high-quality education
HBCUs have been said to close the college achievement gap. Although Ivy League and other selective schools continue to award scholarships to high-achieving students from low-income families, these students may feel overwhelmed once they finally get to campus. Simply providing scholarships is not enough to reverse the academic success gap. Students, particularly those from low-income families and first-generation students, require an educational experience that integrates a caring community, support services, mentoring, and academic guidance. HBCUs have this advantage when it comes to narrowing the college achievement gap by providing a safe place that builds leadership skills and cultivates confidence in an environment that is supportive and nurturing. In other words, HBCUs have a long history of educating promising, exceptional students from under-resourced families by creating a different educational experience.
HBCU students have opportunities to learn around others who share the same experiences, family situations, and backgrounds, which may make them feel more at home than they would at predominantly white institutions (PWIs). This allows them to explore college life and learn without feeling as though they are outsiders on their own campus.
What is the Future of HBCUs?
HBCUs have come a long way over the years, and they continue to improve every day. As a group, HBCUs are still young in higher education, and as they continue to increase their terminal degree offerings and research, their financial self-security, funding, and endowments will also increase. Although some HBCUs have closed over the last several years, most HBCUs are staying on the cutting edge by offering online education and affordable STEM programs, and as long as HBCUs maintain these pillars of success, including state-of-the-art, reasonably priced technological education, they have an opportunity to not only remain relevant in today’s world but also influence the landscape of education in years to come.
Whether you are a freshman just out of high school and considering an HBCU school for your undergraduate degree or you are looking to make a midlife career change and earn a bachelor’s degree in a new, unrelated field, HBCUs offer diverse, supportive environments, unparalleled academic experiences, and affordable degree programs to students of all races. We hope that our list of the top 25 largest HBCU bachelor’s colleges by enrollment help you to narrow down your options as you search for the best school to meet your educational and professional goals.