Historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, is not necessarily a term everyone is familiar with, but it is one everyone ought to know. These colleges and universities were established after the American Civil War to offer African American students a chance at an education. Because of their position as providers of secondary education, the colleges and universities that were HBCUs before desegregation occurred retained their high enrollment rates among minorities.

For new students who are looking for a college or university that offers them an education in the historically Black tradition, this ranking will be of great help. College Choice, an independent online publication that publishes college and university rankings and reviews, recently released their ranking of the nation’s top HBCUs. It is the definitive list of the best HBCUs in the country.

1 HOWARD UNIVERSITY, Washington, D.C.

COLLEGE CHOICE SCORE: 100

AVERAGE NET PRICE: $22,337

Howard is a private, research university with 13 schools and colleges and more than 120 degree concentrations. The university is nationally and internationally recognized for its STEM fields, College of Medicine, and areas of social work, business, and cinematographers. The National Jurist Magazine ranks Howard’s Law school as one of the top public service schools.

Rather it’s medicine, engineering, religion, law, or education, Howard produces some of the best professionals in the nation. Ernie Talbert, a senior global manager at Under Armour Headquarters, says that he chose Howard’s business school because it attracted Fortune 500 consulting companies and the school had a commitment to social action. Alumna Kiah Clingman says, “Howard is a place where you can grow, learn, and develop relationships that will last a lifetime.”

2 SPELMAN COLLEGE, Atlanta, GA

COLLEGE CHOICE SCORE: 94.39

AVERAGE NET PRICE: $30,522

Established as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary in 1881, the school became Spelman College in 1924. Spelman is a historically Black institution of higher learning that focuses on educating women of African descent. The Chronicle of Higher Education names Spelman among the top bachelor’s institutions to produce Fulbright Scholars.

Spelman College offers 28 majors. Students have access to other colleges and universities through the Atlanta University Center. Gordon-Zeto Center for Global Education, LEADS, Teaching Resource and Research Center, WISDOM Center, and Women’s Research and Resource Center make up Spelman’s interdisciplinary Centers of Excellence. These organizations support Black women students in areas of global leadership, ministry, civic engagement, education, and Women’s Studies.

3 HAMPTON UNIVERSITY, Hampton, VA

COLLEGE CHOICE SCORE: 93.47

AVERAGE NET PRICE: $22,529

Although the school was established after Howard University (1868), Hampton University alumni and students claim to be the real HU. One of the sschool’s most famous graduates is Booker T. Washington.

In 2016, Hampton conferred 903 degrees including 134 Doctoral degrees (research and professional practice). Approximately 4,600 students make up the university’s enrollment. 91% of the student population is Black, and the school is 67.5% women to 32.5% men. At Hampton, students stay active in more than 110 organizations.

4 HUSTON-TILLOTSON UNIVERSITY, Austin, TX

COLLEGE CHOICE SCORE: 92.48

AVERAGE NET PRICE: $18,255

Huston-Tillotson is a merger of Samuel Huston College and Tillotson College. The university is affiliated with The United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ.

Among 10 of the institution’s special programs stands the W.E.B. DuBois Honors Program. Huston-Tillotson DuBois Scholars participate in specialized honors courses, annual retreats, and educational seminars. Students in the program also build global relationships which increase their internship opportunities.

If you are interested in innovation, business, and technology, then you should check out Huston-Tillotson. As of late, the University has been building quite a reputation in technology and sustainability. Students from the school were rigorously selected to take part in the HBCU@SXSW initiative in Austin, TX. The initiative only selected 100 students from HBCUs.

5 XAVIER UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA, New Orleans, LA

COLLEGE CHOICE SCORE: 89.54

AVERAGE NET PRICE: $14,126

Saint Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament established Xavier University of Louisiana in 1951. The New Orleans school is one of a kind in that it is an HBCU and Catholic college. The University’s mission “is to contribute to the promotion of a more just and humane society by preparing its students to assume roles of leadership and service in a global society.”

Although many students accumulate substantial college debt, Xavier offers a low tuition. Not only does the university offer a low tuition, but the Equality of Opportunity Project ranked Xavier University as the sixth best college in the nation for upward mobility. Xavier is not just a leading HBCU institution, but it is one of the best universities in the U.S.

If you have strong interests in science, medical, and health fields, Xavier may be an ideal school for you. The school is ranked as #1 in the nation for the number of African American graduates who go on to complete medical school. It is also #1 for awarding bachelor’s degrees to African-American students in the biological and biomedical sciences, the physical sciences, and physics.

6 BOWIE STATE UNIVERSITY, Bowie, MD

COLLEGE CHOICE SCORE: 87.99

AVERAGE NET PRICE: $11,663

Bowie State University was established in 1865 and is the first HBCU in the state of Maryland, located conveniently between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

The University offers a wide variety of degree options for students within its four colleges. Bowie has 22 undergraduate program and 38 graduate programs (doctoral programs). Furthermore, Bowie’s online and hybrid classes give flexibility for students who are not able to attend as full-time, in-person students. Bowie is a leader in its focus on sustainability, business, volunteerism, and as a resource for LGBT students.

With more than 90 student organizations and 12 fraternities and sororities, Bowie offers a vibrant communal and campus life for its students.

7 LINCOLN UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, Near Oxford, in Southern Chester County, PA

COLLEGE CHOICE SCORE: 87.43

AVERAGE NET PRICE: $14,694

The world-renowned poet, Langston Hughes, and the first African-American U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, were students at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania. Originally known as The Ashmun Institute, the school changed its name to Lincoln University in 1866 in honor of President Abraham Lincoln. Its early ties to the Presbyterian Church, its founders and professors’ education contributed to Lincoln’s reputation as “the Back Princeton.” Lincoln is the first degree-granting HBCU institution in the U.S.

Business, Communication, Journalism, Social Sciences, Health Professions, and Criminal Justice are some of the most popular majors at Lincoln University. The school has 100 full-time faculty members and a diverse array of students from 31 U.S. states and 28 countries throughout the world. The 16 to 1 student to faculty ratio creates a warm learning environment where professors know you by name.

8 FLORIDA AGRICULTURAL AND MECHANICAL UNIVERSITY, Tallahassee, FL.

COLLEGE CHOICE SCORE: 87.14

AVERAGE NET PRICE: $12,075

Founded as the State Normal College for Colored Students in 1887, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (Florida A&M) is the only historically Back university in the State University system of Florida. Currently, Dr. Elmira Mangum is the first permanent (Black) female president of the institution.

Although the university is an HBCU, it is very diverse. The school enrolls 11,000 students from the U.S. and many students from 70 countries. By admitting students from China, Jamaica, Brazil, Egypt, and other places, the school upholds its vision of diversity, openness, and shared governance. Also, by partnering with the Office of International Education and Development, FAMU enables students to gain global educational experiences through education abroad and international research.

Students who are particularly interested in the field of Journalism should check out Florida A&M. Besides being one of the school’s top programs, FAMU’s journalism school recently initiated a 24-hour news network geared for an African-American audience. The network will serve Black communities and especially Florida A&M students well.

9 EDWARD WATERS COLLEGE Jacksonville, FL

COLLEGE CHOICE SCORE: 85.85

AVERAGE NET PRICE: $11,612

Edward Waters College (EWC), the oldest independent educational institution for African Americans is a thriving HBCU that preserved when fire destroyed its campus in 1901. The name of the school changed to Edward Waters College “in honor of the third Bishop of the AME Church.”

Edward Waters College offers the B.A. in Communications, Music, Psychology and Criminal Justice. Students also pursue the Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, Elementary Education, and Mathematics. For those desiring to enter the business sector, the school offers a Bachelor in Business Administration.

EWC has many student activities beyond the classroom such as recreation and sports activities, Greek life, and service volunteer activities. The school’s religious life is also central to its academic community. Edward Waters College promotes spiritual growth, personal empowerment, and spiritual values and moral consciousness.

10 SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AT NEW ORLEANS

COLLEGE CHOICE SCORE: 85.53

AVERAGE NET PRICE: $7,531

Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) is the only public university that is an HBCU in New Orleans. SUNO offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in Arts and Humanities, Computer Information Systems, Social Sciences, Business Administration Natural Sciences, Social Work, Child Development and Family Studies, Public Administration, and Teacher Education.

SUNO’s centers, programs, and institutes serve as resources for its students as well as the community. The university’s Early Start Program allows high school students to college courses for credit while they are obtaining their high school diploma. The Honoré Center for Undergraduate Student Achievement supports African American males graduating from college while increasing the number of Black male teachers in urban settings. The school’s Small Business Development and Management Institute helps the community by providing entrepreneurs with services and resources.

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