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Frequently Asked Questions


What is an Historically Black College or University (HBCU)?

Located primarily in the “Old South” or formerly slave-holding states, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher learning that were created at a time when African Americans were legally denied the right to be educated at government-financed (public) and private institutions because of their race. The first HBCU, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, was founded in 1837.

How many HBCUs are there and what level of education do they offer?

There are 100 HBCUs in the United States today of which twenty seven offer doctoral programs, fifty two provide graduate degree programs at the Master’s level, eighty three offer a Bachelor’s degree program and thirty eight of these schools offer associate degrees. See list of most HBCUs by name, location, and website information.

What disciplines are offered at HBCUs?

HBCUs are private and public institutions and offer two year, four-year and advanced degrees in every discipline offered by other colleges and universities, ranging from the arts, business, education, journalism and languages to engineering, research, science and math, to law, religious philosophy, and medicine.

How do HBCUs compare to other universities?

If a measurement of an institution is the quality of its product, then HBCUs are at the top among competitors. Since their inception, the HBCUs’ commitment to excellence has furthered the development of African Americans who have become leaders in government, business, education, literature, media, science, the military, law, and many other fields and who continue to serve as role models for all peoples at home and abroad. Famous HBCU alumni include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., scientist George Washington Carver, Texas Senator Barbara Jordan, Nobel Prize writer Toni Morrison, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Ghana President Kwame Nkrumah, astronaut Dr. Ronald McNair, U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, American Cancer Society of America president Dr. LaSalle D. Laffall, Jr., Black Enterprise publisher Earl G. Graves, educator Marva Collins, news commentator Ed Bradley, entertainment CEO Sean “P, Diddy” Combs, actor Keenan Ivory Wayans, singer songwriter Lionel Richie, elite athletes Rick Mahorn and Edwin Moses, to name a few.

Do HBCUs admit only African Americans?

HBCUs are among the most diverse colleges and universities in the United States today. According to the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges 2011 edition, many HBCUs have relatively significant percentages of non-African American student populations consisting of Asian, Hispanic, International and white American students.

Why should I consider an HBCU?

In addition to a high quality equality-based education, HBCUs are smaller than many community colleges, allowing close association with professors and other students in a nurturing environment that supports individual achievement with mentoring, role models, networking and positive cultural history.

  • Some HBCUs have GPA and SAT requirements that are reachable for most students.

  • Academic Scholarships start with GPAs as low as 2.50 and have full scholarships available for students with 3.5 grade point averages and above with commiserate ACT/ACT test scores.

  • Cost for most HBCUs is comparable to UC and CSU California Universities and some cases lower.

  • Small schools – largest is Howard University and Florida A&M with 12,000 plus students and some colleges as few as 750 students.

  • Small class sizes as low as 10/1 to 20/1 student/professor ratio.

  • Many HBCUs have high graduation rates for student athletes

  • A large percentage of students receive financial aid.

  • HBCUs are flexible and willing to work with families regarding college financing.

  •  U-CAN president Alan H. Rowe is an advocate for students with special challenges; some students have been admitted based on his personal recommendation.

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