The 10 Best HBCUs for Computer Science Programs
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- In recent years, efforts to encourage BIPOC students to enter STEM fields has increased.
- Black students are historically underrepresented in STEM fields.
- Computer science is an area of STEM that is growing quickly, given industry shortages.
- HBCU programs have created pathways for Black students to pursue degrees in STEM.
Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have recently increased efforts to encourage BIPOC students (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) to enroll and major in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
These efforts include everything from developing pipelines from secondary schools to providing culturally relevant support programs on campus.
HBCUs contribute significantly to the economy by providing pathways of opportunity to many first-generation students. In spite of a historic lack of funding, HBCUs have produced 42% of Black engineers and 47% of Black women engineers.
Learn more about BestCollege's top-ranked HBCU programs for computer science, with details about each school and the wraparound support they offer.
Two important factors inform the rankings for the list of the best HBCUs for computer science programs: accreditation and academic outcomes.
- Accreditation: Each school featured on this list is certified and accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This board works collectively with four separate commissions in applied and natural sciences, computing, engineering, and engineering technology to select schools that meet the minimum program standards for STEM education. In total, there are approximately 15 HBCUs that are accredited by ABET as of the 2021-2022 academic year.
- Academic Outcomes: The additional factor we evaluate for this ranking is academic outcomes. There are many facets of academic quality to consider when it comes to college. But for this list, we chose to focus specifically on the six-year graduation rate and retention rate to not only signify the rate that students choose to stay at their institutions after their first year but also how they navigate college life to complete their degree and graduate from college.
Top 10 HBCUs for Computer Science
Howard University, founded in 1867, is located in Washington, D.C. The university currently enrolls around 9,700 students. The student-faculty ratio is 13-to-1.
The National Science Foundation has identified Howard as the top producer of African American undergraduates in STEM. The Office of Student Services and the ACE Academic Services provide wraparound support to meet the needs of students.
Notable faculty and/or alumni include Vice President Kamala Harris, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, and Melba Roy Mouton, who served as assistant chief for research programs at NASA and led the first team of mathematicians known as
Located in Hampton, Virginia, Hampton University was founded in 1868. Enrollment is around 3,500 students, and the student-faculty ratio is 15-to-1.
The university works to increase the diversity of the STEM workforce through various programs such as Student Airborne Science Activation and other computer science initiatives. Community outreach efforts help to develop interest in engineering and science in local schools.
The Student Success Center provides connections that support student health and wellness, advising services, and learning strategies. Notable faculty and/or alumni include Mary Jackson, who was an African-American mathematician and aerospace engineer at NASA, and Sylvia Trent-Adams, who served as acting surgeon general of the U.S.
North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina A&T State University is located in Greensboro, North Carolina. Founded in 1891, it is the largest historically Black university in the country, with around 13,530 students. The student-faculty ratio is 18-to-1.
N.C. A&T produces the most African-American graduates in engineering and agriculture nationally. The STEM Theme House is a residential learning program that creates community and improves student retention in STEM fields on campus.
There are a large number of student support services offered at the university — from health services to financial and academic support. Notable faculty and/or alumni include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan and Challenger astronaut Ronald E. McNair.
Florida A&M University
Founded in 1887, Florida A&M University is located in Tallahassee, Florida. The university enrolls nearly 10,000 students, and the student-faculty ratio is 14-to-1.
The College of Engineering partners with Florida State University to provide a unique top-notch engineering program that serves both schools. An annual STEM Day provides middle and high school students with opportunities to explore a career in STEM.
The Undergraduate Student Success Center provides STEM students with learning centers, academic coaching, and various other learning communities. Notable faculty and/or alumni include the former chair of Microsoft, John W. Thompson, and author/historian Ibram X. Kendi.
University of the District of Columbia
Located in the nation's capital, the University of the District of Columbia was founded in 1976. It is an urban land-grant campus with around 3,200 students. The student-faculty ratio is 11-to-1.
Unique programs include the STEM Center for Research and Development, which was established to provide innovative activities for students in the STEM fields. The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) offers programs that are holistic in nature, and the SEAS Research Center provides community partnerships for students.
The Student Success Center is available for academic and career coaching. Notable graduates include Euphemia Haynes, the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in math, and poet laureate Dolores Kendrick Washington.
Jackson State University
Jackson State University is located in Jackson, Mississippi. It was founded in 1877 and has a total enrollment of almost 7,000 students and a student-faculty ratio of 15-to-1.
The College of Science, Engineering, and Technology (CSET) recently received a National Science Foundation grant to train minority students for careers in STEM. The university also provides summer programming for high school students interested in exploring the field.
The CSET Scholars Academy & Student Support Services provides supplemental training and support for students in the department. Notable graduates include Cornell William Brooks, 18th president and CEO of the NAACP, and Weather Channel meteorologist Vivian Brown.
Tuskegee University is a private institution founded in 1881. It is located in Tuskegee, Alabama, and has a total student enrollment of over 3,000. Its student-faculty ratio is 14-to-1.
Tuskegee University is the number 1 producer of African-American aerospace science engineers in the country and a leading producer of African-American graduates in chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering. Support programs include Road From Early Achievement to a Career High, academic advising, and health services.
The university is committed to persistence in the STEM fields, leadership in STEM, and research opportunities. Notable alumni include inventor and aerospace engineer Lonnie Johnson and African-American pioneer in science Bettye Washington Greene.
Morgan State University
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Morgan State University was founded in 1867 and has a total enrollment of over 8,400 students. The student-faculty ratio is 13-to-1.
The university recently added exclusive multidisciplinary degrees in STEM. These programs include a dual degree aerospace program with Purdue University and a mechatronics engineering program. An S-STEM scholarship helps support students pursuing their degree and provides holistic support throughout the process.
The Division of Student Affairs supports student life in various ways on campus — academically, socially, and physically. Alumni of Morgan State University include White House correspondent April Ryan and physics professor and first chancellor of the University of Washington Bothell, Warren Buck.
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is in Princess Anne, Maryland. It was established in 1886 and has a total student enrollment of over 2,300. The student-faculty ratio is 12-to-1.
The Center for Access and Academic Success provides support to students through advising, leadership, and academic improvement. Notable alumni include Morgan State University President Earl S. Richardson and Dr. Richard Warren Jr., Maryland's 2019 teacher of the year.
Virginia State University
Virginia State University, located in Petersburg, Virginia, was established in 1882. The university enrolls approximately 4,300 students and has a student-faculty ratio of 13-to-1.
HBCU-UP is a program created to invest in STEM infrastructure at the university. The program provides specialized support and access to mentoring, conferences, and research. Additionally, A-STEM offers unique internship opportunities for students studying in STEM fields.
Further support is provided through scholarships and the Student Enhancement and Support Center. Alumni of Virginia State University include the mathematician known for her work on developing GPS, Gladys West; NASA supersonic scientist Christine Darden; and Herman Branson, researcher on the alpha helix protein.
Is Computer Science a Good Major?
Computer science is a degree program where you can learn not just how computers work but also how they can be used to solve current and future problems. Degree programs include many fields — from computing and software engineering to artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
These degrees can, in turn, lead to a variety of careers in healthcare, forensics, information technology, management, web development, and economics.
Earning a degree in computer science can be challenging since it is math-intensive and requires strong analytical and problem-solving skills. However, the field of computer science offers careers that are currently in high demand. New opportunities for contribution and expansion are constantly being created in this innovative field.
Choosing the Right HBCU
HBCUs were established to create educational opportunities for Black Americans. Choosing the right school for you is a process involving a few steps.
The first step is to assess your college readiness and check application timelines. Your high school counselors are a good place to start with this. There may be opportunities to go on Black college tours, which would allow you to visit a number of campuses and meet with admission counselors as well as current students.
If the thought of attending an HBCU appeals to you, then research historically Black colleges and universities to determine which one may be a good fit for you.
Important considerations are location, cost of attendance, academic programs, student organizations, and academic support. Many of these institutions have established partnerships with major corporations that provide internships for computer science students. These internships may lead to job opportunities after graduation.
Additional Resources for HBCU Students in STEM
There are many resources available to HBCU students in STEM. They include:
The UNCF provides connections to college resources close to you. Although there can be challenges to academic success in STEM, there are resources available at HBCUs to help.
Culturally sensitive mentoring programs have historically been a cornerstone to student success at HBCUs. The HBCU Rising program provides holistic support for students before and during college.
This organization provides a list of funding opportunities for Black students in STEM. You can search for opportunities based on location and institution, as well as field. Webinars and workshops are also available.
This program was created to promote inclusion, equity, and engagement for LGBTQ+ students at HBCUs across the country. Support includes organizational activities and leadership opportunities.
This group connects minority STEM students to resources available to them nationwide. All resources are free, and organizations are open to interested students.