Our Research

We considered many factors when determining the best HBCUs, including the cost per credit, number of credits needed to graduate, and the delivery formats available (in-person and online instruction).

We also made sure that each of the schools listed below is accredited by an organization such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges or Middle States Commission on Higher Education. That way, you can be confident that you will be able to transfer your credits between institutions.

  • 27 hours to write this article
  • 65 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 136 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Best HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities)

Best HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) Badge

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What You Should Know About HBCUs

The first HBCU, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, was founded in 1837. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), there are currently 101 active HBCUs, and over 290,000 students are enrolled in these institutions. 50 HBCUs are private, while the other 51 are public.

HBCUs are generally affordable and offer strong alumni networks, making them an excellent option for low-income and first-generation college students. They also remain a vital resource for Black students who want to attain a college degree — although anyone can now attend one of these institutions, NCES data shows that Black students make up over 75% of HBCU enrollment.

HBCU alumni include some of the most prominent figures in American history and culture, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois, and Toni Morrison.

What’s Next?

As mentioned above, there are over 100 HBCUs that you can apply to. In order to make the best decision for your specific situation, we recommend that you consider the following factors:

  • Location. If you’re attending classes on-campus rather than online, location is one of the most important factors to take into account. While most HBCUs are concentrated in the south (this is the legacy of the Second Morrill Act of 1890, a piece of legislation targeting former confederate states that created land grant institutions for Black students if admission was not allowed elsewhere), there are also options such as Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
  • Size. It’s worth noting that HBCUs are typically smaller than most colleges. With 11,200 students, St. Philip’s College is the largest HBCU, and more than half of HBCUs have 2,500 or fewer students. If you’d prefer to go to one of the bigger HBCUs, your options in addition to St. Philip’s College include North Carolina A&T State (10,900 students), and Howard University (10,000 students).
  • Cost. While HBCUs are generally affordable, some are much more affordable than others. If you’re looking to save money, you’ll want to avoid the private HBCUs — their annual tuition can be as high as Spelman’s $28,181. On the other hand, several HBCUs offer an annual in-state tuition that’s lower than $6,000 (this is significantly less expensive than the national average), with the lowest being Elizabeth City State University’s $4,986.
  • Degree options. Finally, if you know what you want to major in, this is certainly another factor that you will need to consider. Many different types of institutions fall under the category of HBCUs. For example, Florida A&M University offers some excellent STEM programs, while liberal arts colleges such as Spelman College and Morehouse College are more focused on the social sciences.