2024 Best Value Historically Black Colleges & Universities

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Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are rare gems; out of more than 2600 regionally accredited colleges and universities in the US, there are just 101 institutions that were founded as African-American colleges. And there will never be anymore: by Department of Education guidelines, a school only qualifies as an HBCU if it was founded before 1964, the year the Civil Rights Act outlawed racial segregation.

Best HBCULocation
1. Alcorn State UniversityAlcorn, Mississippi
2. Delaware State UniversityDover, Delaware
3. Florida A&M UniversityTallahassee, Florida
4. Hampton UniversityHampton, Virginia
5. Howard UniversityWashington DC
6. Lincoln University (PA)Lincoln University, Pennsylvania
7. Morehouse CollegeAtlanta, Georgia
8. Prairie View A&M UniversityPrairie View, Texas
9. Spelman CollegeAtlanta, Georgia
10. Tougaloo CollegeTougaloo, Mississippi

What is an HBCU?

Most HBCUs were founded in segregated states that refused African-Americans access to higher education in public colleges and universities, and in many private colleges as well. The establishment of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) stands as a testament to the resilience and determination of African-Americans in their pursuit of higher education. These institutions emerged at a time when racial segregation was deeply entrenched, with public and even private colleges denying African-Americans access to educational opportunities.

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In the face of adversity, HBCUs emerged as beacons of hope, providing a safe haven for African-American students seeking knowledge and personal growth. These institutions were founded by visionary leaders who recognized the importance of education in empowering individuals and communities. They are some of the most distinctive institutions, like Xavier University of Louisiana, the only Catholic HBCU, or Tuskegee University, home of the Tuskegee Airmen. Other schools like Claflin University have endured hardships to survive for generations.

In some cases, states founded HBCUs under duress, required by the Second Morrill Land Grant Act to establish public research universities for black citizens. This historical context sheds light on the significant value that HBCUs hold in our society today. In places like North Carolina and New Orleans, they changed people’s lives.

In many instances, these institutions initially started as public teachers colleges with the primary aim of training black teachers for segregated schools. This unique origin story highlights the resilience and determination of HBCUs to provide quality education to black students during a time of racial segregation and discrimination.

But just as often, HBCUs sprang up from the grassroots, from African-American leaders, churches, and communities deciding that if they were going to be refused entry, they would make their own way.

Denied entry into predominantly white institutions, they refused to accept defeat. Instead, they took matters into their own hands by establishing their own educational institutions. These HBCUs became beacons of hope, providing black students with opportunities for higher education that were otherwise denied to them.

Built from the grassroots level, HBCUs emerged as pillars within African-American communities. They became more than just places of learning; they served as centers for cultural preservation, community development, and political activism. These institutions not only provided quality education but also fostered a sense of pride in African-American heritage and identity.

Historically Black Colleges Today

Today’s HBCUs carry on that tradition. HBCUs have faced hardships in recent years; financial challenges, demographic changes, and competition has made many consider HBCUs an endangered species. But, just as historically black colleges forged their way through the past, often with discouraging odds against them, today’s HBCUs are looking to the future.

The most successful HBCUs today are reconsidering what makes an HBCU, and leaning into the strengths that made a century and a half of transformative African-American education possible. Unity in diversity, educational rigor, student support, and a confident, sometimes stubborn insistence on engagement with the real world (not the ivory tower) characterizes HBCUs.

Today, HBCUs continue to play a vital role in promoting diversity and inclusivity within higher education. They provide a nurturing environment that celebrates African-American culture while offering rigorous academic programs that rival those offered by mainstream institutions.

Furthermore, HBCUs serve as important centers for research and innovation, tackling issues that disproportionately affect marginalized communities. By addressing these challenges through groundbreaking research initiatives, these institutions are contributing not only to the advancement of knowledge but also to the overall betterment of society.

The significance of HBCUs extends beyond their role in advancing educational opportunities for black students. They have played instrumental roles in producing influential figures in various fields such as politics, science, literature, arts, sports, and business. From civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., to renowned author Toni Morrison and Vice President Kamala Harris – HBCU graduates and notable alumni have consistently made significant contributions to society.

It is crucial to recognize the historical significance of HBCUs in overcoming systemic barriers that denied African-Americans access to higher education. Their continued existence is a testament to the enduring spirit of resilience and progress. As we move forward, it is essential that we support these institutions as they continue their mission of empowering students from all backgrounds and shaping a more equitable future for all.

The modern HBCU is taking on a very different look than yesterday’s. Outreach to other minority groups, especially Hispanics and Latinos, carries on the HBCU commitment to seeing the potential in every student. Outreach to working adults and nontraditional students carries on the HBCU commitment to the real world of work. And investments in science, technology, and professional studies ensure that HBCUs will be represented in the leadership of 21st-century business, government, education, and every facet of American life.

Preserving Cultural Heritage: How HBCUs Nurture and Celebrate African American Culture

HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) play a crucial role in preserving and celebrating African American culture. These institutions have become a hub for nurturing and promoting cultural awareness, ensuring that African American traditions and black history are not forgotten.

At HBCUs, students are immersed in an environment that fosters a deep appreciation for their heritage. Through various academic programs, events, and organizations, these institutions actively encourage students to explore their cultural roots and engage with the rich history of African Americans.

Preserving cultural heritage is at the core of HBCU culture. These institutions go beyond traditional academic subjects by offering courses that specifically focus on African American studies, black literature, music, art, and more. By incorporating these subjects into the curriculum, HBCUs provide students with a comprehensive understanding of their cultural background.

Moreover, HBCUs serve as platforms for showcasing African American traditions through events such as homecoming celebrations, step shows, gospel choirs, spoken word performances, and historical reenactments. These activities not only foster a sense of belonging but also create opportunities for students to express themselves creatively while honoring their ancestors.

By nurturing and celebrating African American culture within their campuses, HBCUs contribute to the overall preservation of black history. Graduates from these institutions often become ambassadors who carry forward the legacy of their ancestors by actively participating in community initiatives aimed at promoting cultural awareness.

Social Impact: How HBCUs Uplift Communities and Promote Social Change

HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) have long been at the forefront of promoting social change and uplifting communities. Through their commitment to community engagement, HBCUs have become catalysts for positive social impact.

One of the key ways in which HBCUs promote social change is through their active involvement in various social justice initiatives. These institutions provide platforms for students to engage in meaningful activism on campus, allowing them to raise awareness about important issues and advocate for equality, justice, and inclusivity.

HBCUs serve as safe spaces where students can freely express their opinions and engage in open dialogue surrounding pressing societal matters. They foster an environment that encourages critical thinking and empowers students to take action towards creating a more equitable society.

Moreover, HBCUs often collaborate with local communities to address systemic challenges and uplift marginalized groups. Through partnerships with community organizations, these institutions work towards improving education access, economic opportunities, healthcare services, and other essential resources that contribute to community development.

The impact of HBCUs extends beyond the campus walls. Alumni from these institutions often go on to become influential leaders who continue advocating for social change throughout their careers. By equipping students with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for civic engagement, HBCUs play a vital role in shaping future generations of activists committed to making a difference in society.

The Future of HBCUs: Ensuring Continued Success and Support for these Institutions

The future of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) is crucial to ensuring continued success and support for these important institutions. However, HBCUs face unique challenges, particularly in terms of funding. To secure the future of HBCUs, it is essential to address these funding challenges and find innovative solutions.

Supporting HBCU students and programs is paramount in promoting diversity in higher education. By providing financial aid, scholarships, and resources tailored to the needs of HBCU students, we can ensure that they have equal access to quality education. Additionally, fostering partnerships between HBCUs and corporations can create opportunities for internships, mentorship programs, and job placements that further enhance the success of HBCU graduates.

Promoting diversity in higher education goes beyond just enrolling a diverse student body; it also involves creating an inclusive environment where all voices are heard and valued. This can be achieved through curriculum enhancements that reflect diverse perspectives, hiring faculty members from various backgrounds, and implementing initiatives that promote cultural understanding on campus. Student outcomes prove HBCUs to be some of the best schools in the nation.

By addressing funding challenges head-on, supporting students and programs at HBCUs, and actively promoting diversity in higher education institutions across the nation, we can ensure a bright future for these vital institutions. Together, we can empower generations of talented individuals who will contribute positively to society while preserving the rich legacy of HBCUs.

The HBCU College Ranking

HBCUs are dear to Value Colleges’ heart, but best colleges rankings have typically ignored them. The needs of minority students, low-income students, first-generation college students, working adults, and other nontraditional students have been part of the HBCU mission for generations. Prospective HBCU students need to know that their college investment will have a real return for them, that’s what the Value Colleges HBCU ranking is all about.

Value Colleges compiles a range of data to determine what colleges and universities can provide the balance of quality, affordability, and opportunity to be considered a best value. We ranked America HBCUs based on factors like reputation (such as US News rankings, US News HBCU rankings 2023) and cost. The schools below have proven their value as a top HBCU 2023. They are presented in alphabetical order.

1. Alcorn State University

The first public, land-grant university founded for African-Americans, Alcorn State University has been bringing minority students the highest quality of professional and technological education since 1871. Alcorn State has not only been a renowned public university, but a leader in equality, from the struggles of Reconstruction, to the work of the Civil Rights Movement and alumnus Medgar Evers. Today, Alcorn State is one of Mississippi’s most prominent, highest-ranked institutions, a U.S. News & World Report top 20 HBCU, and a center of research and learning for African-Americans of the Deep South.

Designated as a regional university, Alcorn State is dedicated to providing educational opportunity to Mississippi’s students, though students come from across the US, and some international locations. With its roots in the land-grant system, which emphasizes practical learning and applied sciences, Alcorn State is one of Mississippi’s best STEM and pre-professional universities. It is also the only HBCU in the state offering a comprehensive top HBCU nursing program, as well as pre-professional studies in medicine, pharmacy, law, engineering, and more. Alcorn State’s low tuition rates and strong reputation throughout the South have made it a reliable value among the nation’s best HBCUs.

Visit the Alcorn State University website.

2. Delaware State University

Founded in 1890, Delaware State University began as Delaware’s land-grant institution for black students, focused on what was then a wide range of options – agriculture, chemistry, science, engineering, and classical studies. These early offerings in the sciences and applied sciences gave Delaware State a strong foundation for growth in STEM fields throughout the 20th and into the 21st century. Delaware State is ranked in the top 15 HBCUs by U.S. News & World Report, and is widely recognized as a top regional college for the north.

Among HBCUs, Delaware State is exceptionally diverse, with a substantial proportion of white and Latino students. With its roots in applied sciences, Delaware State attracts students to a variety of STEM and health science disciplines. In recent years, Delaware State’s stature as a research institution has grown substantially, especially in fields such as mathematics, optics, and biomedical research. Delaware State is also a rarity among HBCUs in offering an aviation program. In addition, Delaware State’s business school has long been recognized as one of the best by the Princeton Review.

Visit the Delaware State University website.

3. Florida A&M University

Founded in 1887, Florida A&M University is Florida’s only public historically black university, and a crucial part of Florida’s STEM research and professional studies. Florida A&M was created under the Morrill Land Grant Act, at a time when Florida’s segregated higher education system required a separate land-grant university for black students. As a land-grant institution, Florida A&M was built on agriculture and technology, and that heritage has made Florida A&M the nation’s top HBCU for research, according to the National Science Foundation. FAMU is also ranked the top public HBCU in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

Florida A&M is a center for research in Florida, from the Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research to the Sustainability Institute. Through centers like this, and the work of faculty and students, FAMU creates knowledge tied to Florida’s identity and future. Among HBCUs, FAMU is one of the most important institutions preparing engineers, nurses, pharmacists, and lawyers, while other unique programs include jazz studies. Florida A&M has often been cited as a best value by sources like U.S. News, Forbes, and the Princeton Review, and has been praised by the Social Mobility Index for its work raising students into professional life. With public university costs and world-renowned programs, Florida A&M is a top HBCU value. Prospective students need to submit an official transcript with a GPA of 2.50 or higher. Weighed GPAs may need to add a description of the high school curriculum. And ACT scores or SAT scores may be required.

Visit the Founded in 1887, Florida A&M University website.

4. Hampton University

Hampton University sits at the center of American history – the Emancipation Oak, where the Emancipation Proclamation was read to the liberated slaves who had gathered at the Union Fortress Monroe for protection from the Confederate army. It was also where education reformer Mary Smith Peake began educating freed African-Americans. These are the roots of Hampton University, today one of the most prestigious and respected HBCUs in the nation, ranked #3 by U.S. News & World Report. Hampton’s trusted reputation has made it a valuable name on the job market, and a wide-spread body of alumni gives graduates a great advantage in finding rewarding career opportunities.

Hampton was founded as a normal school (a teacher-training program in which teachers learned first-hand through two years in front of a model classroom) and agricultural school. Those two threads have continued throughout Hampton’s history, diverging into world-class humanities and professional programs on the one hand, and top-tier STEM programs on the other. As a comprehensive, private research university, Hampton offers programs at all levels, from bachelor’s to doctorate, in fields ranging from engineering, nursing, and pharmacy, to business, education, and social science. Hampton’s balance of excellence, variety, and reputation make it a definitive value among HBCUs.

Visit the Hampton University website.

5. Howard University

Among HBCUs, Howard University is the leading private research university and a pillar of black excellence. Howard was named for its founder, Civil War General Oliver O. Howard, and from its beginning in 1867, the university was open to all people, regardless of gender or race. Today, Howard is known as “The Mecca,” a destination for the best and brightest African-American students, and its heritage of excellence makes it one of the most selective and prestigious institutions in the nation. Howard is widely ranked as a first-tier national university, and the #2 HBCU in the nation, by U.S. News & World Report.

Howard is known for its quality in disciplines ranging from the fine arts and humanities to the medical professions, and graduates more African-American doctors than any other school. Alumni include some of the most renowned black authors, actors, musicians, and artists in American history, as well as political luminaries like Thurgood Marshall and Kamala Harris. Howard University Health Sciences houses globally-recognized colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Dentistry, as well as one of the top HBCU nursing programs, and is one of the nation’s most important forces in addressing medical inequalities. From one of the top HBCU law schools, to music, medicine to computer science, Howard University is a value that graduates can trust.

Visit the Howard University website.

6. Lincoln University (PA)

The nation’s first university specifically intended for African-American students, Lincoln University dates back to 1854, when it was founded by Quaker education reformers. Originally named for a Quaker leader, the university was renamed in honor of Abraham Lincoln in 1866, and the incorporated area around the college gradually became known as Lincoln as well. Long recognized as a traditional liberal arts college, in the 21st century, Lincoln is developing as a leader in professional education and research for the modern, tech-driven economy. Lincoln is ranked one of the top 25 HBCUs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

Lincoln is located in Chester County, one of the first counties in Pennsylvania (founded by William Penn himself) and one of the wealthiest, but Lincoln University has long made accessibility and acceptance part of its mission. While Lincoln is predominantly African-American, it has always welcomed other races, and today more than 15% of the population is made up of non-black students. Students are drawn to the support and mentorship of a small liberal arts college (including a 12:1 student:faculty ratio) and to Lincoln’s reputation throughout Pennsylvania and the north. These advantages make Lincoln a solid value.

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7. Morehouse College

Morehouse College is one of the most prominent HBCUs in the nation, known for its academic rigor and its overarching influence throughout the 20th century (including its most illustrious alumnus, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr). Founded in 1867, Morehouse is one of the few remaining men’s colleges in the nation, and the largest, though it has fostered a longtime association with Atlanta’s all-female Spelman College. Originally intended to educate free black men to the ministry or teaching, over time Morehouse became a nexus of leadership in religion, politics, business, and culture. Morehouse is regularly ranked as one of the top 5 HBCUs in the nation, as well as a nationally-recognized liberal arts college.

Morehouse stands firm in its heritage as a traditional liberal arts college, with a small student body (just over 2000 students), a low student-faculty ratio (just 13:1), and a reputation for mentorship and professional development. Morehouse is dedicated to leadership, and its curriculum is committed to preparing young black men for graduate study and professional life. Morehouse is one of the top producers of African-American graduates entering STEM and business, with special emphasis on black history, culture, and thought. With its reputation for rigor and excellence, Morehouse focuses on intellectual and character development and has proven to be a value for generations of African-American men.

Visit the Morehouse College website.

8. Prairie View A&M University

Part of the Texas A&M University System, Prairie View A&M University has been providing STEM and professional education for African-American Texans for nearly a century and a half. Founded in 1876 as Texas’ land-grant institution for black students (and the state’s second public college), Prairie View A&M was built to provide education in agriculture and mechanical science. Over the years, though, PVAMU built upon that foundation of practical, applied science learning into a center of research and discovery. Prairie View is widely ranked as one of Texas’ top institutions for minority students.

Prairie View is particularly known as a STEM leader – with a student body of less than 10,000 PVAMU still has the second-highest number of black STEM graduates in the A&M system. That includes biology and biomedical programs, with PV ranking in the top for African-American biology students, and a respected pre-medical program designed to close the national gap in minority doctors. Prairie View began with a normal school (teacher training program) in 1876, and today the Green College of Education is recognized as one of Texas’ oldest and best. PVAMU has also been recognized for its College of Business, including its highly-ranked online MBA program, and as one of the nation’s best sources for African-American engineers. For STEM excellence in an HBCU setting, Prairie View A&M is a nationally-renowned value.

Visit the Prairie View A&M University website.

9. Spelman College

A profoundly important and history-shaping institution, Spelman College was the first liberal arts college for black women in the US. Since 1881, Spelman has been a key part of African-American cultural and professional life in Atlanta and across the nation, with alumni like Alice Walker and CEO Rosalind Brewer. From its humble beginnings in a church basement, Spelman has become a watchword for excellence in HBCUs and women’s education. For its quality and influence, Spelman has been ranked the top HBCU in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, as well as earning recognition as one of the most innovative schools, and one of the best values, by publications like Money magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and Essence.

Spelman remains a primarily undergraduate, traditional liberal arts college, preparing young women for professional life, scholarship, and social impact. With a student body of just over 2100, and a low 10:1 student-faculty ratio, Spelman’s students have the mentoring and support of a small liberal arts college, and the success. A third of Spelman’s students head straight into graduate or professional programs after graduation, and Spelman is a national leader for leading black women into medical and STEM doctoral programs. Spelman’s success is also evident in one of the highest graduation rates for black women in the nation. For ambitious, creative, and promising young African-American women, Spelman has made its name as one of the best possible college investments.

Visit the Spelman College website.

10. Tougaloo College

Mississippi’s foremost private HBCU, Tougaloo College was founded in 1869 on the grounds of a former plantation. Tougaloo is affiliated with the United Church of Christ, and was originally intended to educate freed slaves and their children, particularly to be teachers in Mississippi’s segregated schools. Through a history of leadership in Mississippi, whether helping drive the Civil Rights movement or educating generations of doctors, lawyers, and educators, Tougaloo has earned a reputation for excellence in education and social engagement. Tougaloo is frequently ranked a best value by publishers like Washington Monthly, as well as one of the best regional institutions and top HBCUs.

From its heritage as a small liberal arts college, Tougaloo has become known for its pre-professional programs, and for the influence it has exerted throughout Mississippi. Nearly half of Mississippi’s African-American health and legal professionals are Tougaloo graduates, and more than a third of the state’s black schoolteachers. Further, among HBCUs Tougaloo is second only to Spelman for the number of graduates going on to doctorate degrees. Tougaloo is well-known for its commitment to the community, earning recognition for social mobility from Washington Monthly. Tougaloo reaches out across Mississippi and the Deep South’s African-American community, defining value for future minority professionals and leaders.

Visit the Tougaloo College website.

Other Top HBCUs 2023

Other schools worth noting include Jackson State University and Dillard University. If you are looking for a HBCU with good nursing programs, the top HBCUs to consider include Howard University, Albany State University, Spelman College, and Florida A&M University. Additionally, the best HBCU for accounting is Florida A&M University or North Carolina A&T State University and some of the top HBCU’s to target. A famous black college is Morehouse College, which is the alma mater of prominent figures like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Spike Lee.

To find out what is happening in HBCU communities this week, you can visit HBCU.com, the leading HBCU website. On their website, you can watch episodes of HBCU Pulse, an NBC affiliate that shares the latest happenings across the HBCU campuses each week. You can also watch the HBCU Pulse channel on Youtube and stream episodes there.


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Aya Andrews


Aya Andrews is a passionate educator and mother of two, with a diverse background that has shaped her approach to teaching and learning. Born in Metro Manila, she now calls San Diego home and is proud to be a Filipino-American. Aya earned her Masters degree in Education from San Diego State University, where she focused on developing innovative teaching methods to engage and inspire students.

Prior to her work in education, Aya spent several years as a continuing education consultant for KPMG, where she honed her skills in project management and client relations. She brings this same level of professionalism and expertise to her work as an educator, where she is committed to helping each of her students achieve their full potential.

In addition to her work as an educator, Aya is a devoted mother who is passionate about creating a nurturing and supportive home environment for her children. She is an active member of her community, volunteering her time and resources to support local schools and organizations. Aya is also an avid traveler, and loves to explore new cultures and cuisines with her family.

With a deep commitment to education and a passion for helping others succeed, Aya is a true inspiration to those around her. Her dedication to her craft, her community, and her family is a testament to her unwavering commitment to excellence in all aspects of her life.

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ValueColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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