Best Historically Black Colleges and Universities of 2022

Learn about the best historically black colleges and universities in the United States. Discover key facts, such as tuition rates and prerequisites to graduate.

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Published on February 3, 2022 · Updated on May 6, 2022

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Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were originally established to make quality, accredited higher education available to Black Americans. In the past, these institutions admitted only Black students. Today, HBCUs admit learners regardless of race.

There are more than 100 HBCUs across the U.S. They offer a wide spectrum of educational programs and a vibrant, inclusive community life.

Many factors go into deciding which college or online program is the right fit. This guide looks at some of the top HBCUs, using a variety of ranking criteria. It can help prospective students decide which HBCU might be the best place to enroll.

What Is an HBCU?

HBCUs were first established in the 19th century to provide educational opportunities for Black Americans. Due to slavery and later segregation, Black Americans were denied admission to traditionally white institutions. The Higher Education Act of 1965 defines HBCUs as an accredited higher education institution established prior to 1964 whose "principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans."

Dr. Kimberley Brown Pellum, a specialist in the history of women’s images, southern culture, and the Black Freedom Struggle, describes HBCUs as "living artifacts of Africana/Black cultural continuity and productivity." She continues saying, "Those who attend usually have a preexisting appreciation for Black life and the ways these institutions have protected and sustained them over the last century and beyond".

Currently, 107 HBCUs serve more than 228,000 students throughout the country. These schools operate as both public and private entities. While HBCUs historically served Black students exclusively, nearly a quarter of students enrolled in HBCUs were non-Black as of 2019.

2022 Best Accredited Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

#1 Online College in North Carolina

Fayetteville State University

School Information
Location Fayetteville, North Carolina
Admission Rate 69%
Graduation Rate 34%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

 Number of Programs:

33 bachelor's, 8 master's, and 1 doctoral degrees

Credits to Graduate (Bachelor's degrees):

120 credits

Tuition (In-state and Out-of-state):

$1922.50/semester for in-state undergraduates; $7726.54/semester for out-of-state and non-resident online students

Fayetteville State University is a historically Black college in Fayetteville. The second oldest state institution in North Carolina, FSU was founded in 1867 to provide continuing education to Black children in the community. FSU offers 33 undergraduate programs, eight master's programs, and one doctoral program, spanning 28 majors and 17 fields of study.

FSU's strong community outreach program helps provide economic and cultural opportunities to southeastern North Carolina residents. Nearly 6,000 hours per semester are dedicated to supporting local nonprofits and businesses, as well as to the local military at Fort Bragg.

First-year students must submit an application with a $50 fee, official high school transcripts, and SAT/ACT scores. A 259-word personal statement explaining why you want to be admitted to FSU is required for some majors. While not subject to rigid GPA or test score prerequisites, first-year students average a 3.27 GPA, a 942 SAT score, and an ACT score of 18.

#2 Online College in North Carolina

North Carolina A & T State University

School Information
Location Greensboro, North Carolina
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 51%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

 Number of Programs:

117 bachelor's, 30 master's, and 11 doctoral degrees

Credits to Graduate (Bachelor's degrees):

124-126 semester hours

Tuition (In-state and Out-of-state):

$4,675.06/semester for in-state undergraduates; $11,430.06/semester for out-of-state undergraduates

N.C. A&T in Greensboro, North Carolina, hosts a yearly enrollment of around 13,300 students. The university considers itself the largest, historically Black college in the United States. 

The university holds a rich history, having played a pivotal role in the fight for civil rights. N.C. A&T was founded in 1891 to teach agriculture and mechanics to Black students in North Carolina. In 1967, the institution became a regional university and now awards more degrees to Black students than any other college or university in the United States.

Today, N.C. A&T is a flight-research university, known for its science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM). The university offers 19 graduate certificates, 30 master's degrees, and 11 doctoral programs through eight locations.

Admission requirements include evidence of academic proficiency in English and official high school transcripts with specific course completion requirements. A satisfactory score on the ACT or the SAT test is required for students under age 21.

#3 Online College in North Carolina

North Carolina Central University

School Information
Location Durham, North Carolina
Admission Rate 68%
Graduation Rate 49%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

 Number of Programs:

32 bachelor's, 27 master's, and 1 doctoral degrees

Credits to Graduate (Bachelor's degrees):

120 semester hours

Tuition (In-state and Out-of-state):

$183.67/credit hour for in-state undergraduates; $538.58/credit hour for out-of-state undergraduates

NCCU is a historically Black, liberal arts institution in Durham, founded by Dr. James E. Shepard in 1909. The university is known for its STEM degrees, offering programs in education, law, business, sciences, nursing, and the arts.

Admission requirements for first-time students include an application with a $50 fee, official high school transcripts with a minimum GPA of 2.5, an SAT test score of 1010, and an ACT score of 19 or higher.

#4 Online College in Georgia

Spelman College

School Information
Location Atlanta, Georgia
Admission Rate 43%
Graduation Rate 75%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

 Number of Programs:

35 bachelor's

Credits to Graduate (Bachelor's degrees):

120 credit hours

Tuition (In-state and Out-of-state):

$12,624.50/semester for full time in-state undergraduates; $12,624.50/semester for out-of-state undergraduates

Spelman College was founded in 1881 as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary. The institution later became a college for women of African descent and now holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Spelman College offers 31 majors, 35 undergraduate degrees, and 18 fields of study. The private, four-year liberal arts and sciences college hosts an undergraduate enrollment of 2,200 students at its 39-acre campus. Spelman College utilizes the semester-based calendar and boasts an average graduation rate of 76%.

Admission requirements include an application and a personal essay, along with two letters of recommendation, a $40 application fee (or valid fee waiver), official high school transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores. 

#5 Online College in Florida

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

School Information
Location Tallahassee, Florida
Admission Rate 36%
Graduation Rate 53%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

 Number of Programs:

54 bachelor's, 29 master's, and 12 doctoral degrees

Credits to Graduate (Bachelor's degrees):

120 credit hours

Tuition (In-state and Out-of-state):

$111.92/semester hour for in-state undergraduates; $564/semester hour for out-of-state undergraduates

FAMU is a public, historically Black college in Tallahassee, Florida. The institution was founded in 1887 and is known for its research and development. FAMU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The university encompasses the Tallahassee campus and satellite campuses in Orlando, Crestview, Tampa, Miami, and Jacksonville. The only historically Black university in Florida, FAMU comprises 14 schools and colleges.

FAMU offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, such as education, agriculture and food science, nursing, law, pharmacy, business and industry, and architecture and engineering.

Admission requirements include a 3.5 or higher GPA, SAT or ACT scores, a writing sample, two letters of recommendation, and official high school or GED transcripts. 

#6 Online College in District of Columbia

Howard University

School Information
Location Washington, District of Columbia
Admission Rate 36%
Graduation Rate 65%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 11% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

 Number of Programs:

87 bachelor's, 28 master's, and 27 doctoral degrees

Credits to Graduate (Bachelor's degrees):

130 credit hours

Tuition (In-state and Out-of-state):

$2310/semester for in-state undergraduates; $ 5170/semester for out-of-state undergraduates

Founded in 1857 in Washington, D.C., Howard University now enrolls over 11,000 students each year. Howard is classified with the "R2: Doctoral Universities" because of its high research activity. The university offers over 140 areas of study within 13 colleges and universities. 

Howard is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. 

Howard is known for STEM fields, with many undergraduates earning engineering and science degrees. Other top-ranked programs include health sciences, social work, and business.

#7 Online College in Virginia

Hampton University

School Information
Location Hampton, Virginia
Admission Rate 36%
Graduation Rate 60%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 11% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

 Number of Programs:

50 bachelor's, 25 master's, and 9 doctoral degrees

Credits to Graduate (Bachelor's degrees):

120 credit hours

Tuition (In-state and Out-of-state):

$665/credit hour in-state and out-of-state undergraduates

HU, located in Virginia, is a private institution that began in 1861 during the American Civil War. Today, HU's 314-acre campus houses over 3,000 students enrolled in a variety of liberal arts, technological, and graduate school programs. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. 

Prospective first-year students should submit an application with a $50 fee, an essay, one letter of recommendation from a high school teacher or guidance counselor, and official transcripts. If a student submits test scores, HU admissions choose the most favorable score for consideration.

#8 Online College in North Carolina

Winston-Salem State University

School Information
Location Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Admission Rate 68%
Graduation Rate 51%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

 Number of Programs:

40 bachelor's, 9 master's, and 2 doctoral degrees

Credits to Graduate (Bachelor's degrees):

120 credits

Tuition (In-state and Out-of-state):

$1,700.50/semester for in-state full-time undergraduates; $1,275.38-$425.13/semester for part-time undergraduates

WSSU, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is a public, historically Black college affiliated with the University of North Carolina. WSSU was founded in 1892 by Simpon Green Atkins as the Slater Industrial Academy. At the time of its inception, only 29 students attended a one-classroom facility, with a single faculty member. 

The university is known as the first institution in the U.S. to provide elementary teaching degrees to Black learners. Today, WSSU enrolls over 5,000 students yearly at its 117-acre campus. 

Admission requirements include an undergraduate application with a $50 application fee and official high school transcripts. HU has waived the SAT or ACT requirements for the 2022 academic year. 

#9 Online College in North Carolina

Elizabeth City State University

School Information
Location Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Admission Rate 66%
Graduation Rate 39%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Number of Programs:

28 bachelor's and 4 master's degrees

Credits to Graduate (Bachelor's degrees):

120 credit hours

Tuition (In-state and Out-of-state):

$500/semester for in-state undergraduates; $2,500/semester for out-of-state undergraduates

ECSU in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, is a public, historically Black university that enrolls approximately 2,500 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs. ECSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission. The university offers both bachelor's- and master's-level degrees.

ECSU is affiliated with the University of North Carolina System and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Admissions requirements include an application with a $30 fee, GED or high school transcripts with a 2.5 GPA, and a 19 ACT score or a 1010 score on the SAT.

#10 Online College in Georgia

Albany State University

School Information
Location Albany, Georgia
Admission Rate 66%
Graduation Rate 23%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

 Number of Programs:

28 bachelor's and 12 master's degrees

Credits to Graduate (Bachelor's degrees):

120 credit hours

Tuition (In-state and Out-of-state):

$169/credit hour in-state undergraduates; $616/ credit hour for out-of-state undergraduates

ASU in Albany, Georgia, is a public, historically Black institution affiliated with Darton State College. ASU offers two campus locations and a satellite location in Cordele. The main east campus comprises 200 acres. The west campus, formerly named Darton State College, comprises 160 acres. ASU enrolls approximately 6,000 students annually.

ASU offers associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees in programs, such as arts and sciences, professional studies, and healthcare. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. 

First-year applicants should submit transcripts for previous coursework. However, submitting SAT and ACT scores is optional. 

Frequently Asked Questions About HBCUs

How many historically black colleges and universities are there? true

There are 107 HBCUs across the United States, enrolling more than 228,000 students. Of these institutions, two-thirds are public, and most are four-year colleges and universities. Although learners can find HBCUs across the country, many are on the eastern side of the nation.

Which HBCU has the highest tuition? true

Spelman College, a private liberal arts school in Atlanta, was listed as the most expensive HBCU in 2017-18. Students looking to save money and reduce their student loan debt often opt for public, in-state HBCUs.

Are there scholarships available for HBCU students?

Yes, scholarships are available for HBCU students. For instance, UNCF, the nation's largest private scholarship provider to minority students, awards scholarships to learners at 37 HBCUs across the country. One of the best resources for finding scholarships is your high school guidance counselor. These counselors and college advisors can help you search and find the right fit.

What GPA is needed to attend an HBCU?

Each HBCU varies in its admissions requirements. According to the College Board, 54% of HBCUs show an average GPA between 2.0-3.0 for incoming students. HBCUs also may consider other factors, such as ACT/SAT scores and college entrance essays.

Meet the Expert

Portrait of Dr. Kimberly Brown Pellum

Dr. Kimberly Brown Pellum

With a terminal degree in U.S. history from Howard University, Dr. Kimberly Brown Pellum specializes in the history of women's images, Southern culture, and the Black freedom struggle. Her contributions to publicly accessible history include work at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, The National Park Service, The Rosa Parks Museum and Google's Arts & Culture series. Kimberly is currently a member of the faculty in the Department of History at Florida A&M University and sparkle is her favorite color. Check out how sequins and serious scholarship come together in her role as director for the digital Museum of Black Beauty.

Feature Image: PeopleImages / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

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