The Best HBCU Colleges, Ranked
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were founded on the belief that all who wish to learn deserve an opportunity to further their education.
There are 107 HBCUs in the United States. They are both public and private and serve nearly 230,000 students. These 10 schools are currently the best HBCU colleges as ranked not only by U.S. News and World Report but also by former students. Does your favorite land on top?
9. North Carolina A&T State University (Tie)
Location: Greensboro, North Carolina
Year founded: 1891
Annual cost: $20,243 (out-of-state)/$6,733 (in-state)
Number of undergraduates: 11,596
Acceptance rate: 57 percent
Note: These are the best HBCU colleges as ranked by U.S. News and World Report for 2022–2023.
Bottom Line: North Carolina A&T State University
Tied with Claflin in the ninth spot, North Carolina A&T (NC A&T) State University is one of several engineering colleges in the Tar Heel State. It is the largest HBCU in the U.S. with the most diverse student body. The school is also the only research university in the southeast and prides itself on its STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines. More African American engineers and agricultural scientists come out of NC A&T than anywhere else in the country.
One student said of her time at the college: "I transferred into the illustrious NC A&T State University from a technical school and immediately felt at home. To see the diaspora of beautiful black and brown people committed to education was one thing, but the fact that it felt like one big family was the most beautiful thing to me.
"I graduated from their traditional BSN nursing program in the Spring of 2018. The faculty was very supportive and pushed me to be the best nurse I could be. I was well prepared when I entered the field of nursing, critical care at that, and A&T got me there. I hate that I didn't get to spend my entire four years there but blessed to know that I'll forever be an AGGIE alumni."
9. Claflin University (Tie)
Location: Orangeburg, South Carolina
Year founded: 1869
Annual cost: $17,046
Number of undergraduates: 1,779
Acceptance rate: 62 percent
Bottom Line: Claflin University
South Carolina's first HBCU is a liberal arts college offering nearly 40 majors — it incorporates career-focused programs, internships and experiential learning into what the school dubs "Claflin Confidence" — a self-confident mindset that will help students succeed after they graduate.
Claflin is included in the prestigious Student Freedom Initiative. This program helps students succeed in STEM fields with the help of internships, tutoring and financial backing.
One parent shares their experience with Claflin: "I have two children who attend/attended Claflin University, and I appreciate what this school does for its students. The administration is hands-down some of the best around. I personally refer this HBCU everywhere I go because I believe in what they do, and I love the results."
8. Delaware State University
Location: Dover, Delaware (main campus)
Year founded: 1891
Annual cost: $18,280 (out-of-state)/$8,358 (in-state)
Number of undergraduates: 4,399
Acceptance rate: 59 percent
Bottom Line: Delaware State University
Delaware State University (DSU) students have 44 bachelor’s degree programs to choose from, with Kinesiology, Criminal Justice and Mass Communications as its most popular majors. There are campuses in Dover, Wilmington and Georgetown. The school's Airway Science program even has its own fleet of planes and the only full-service flight school in the mid-Atlantic area.
A student described their experience at Delaware State as "awesome," adding: "Not only is the campus beautiful and well-maintained, it is a wonderful, safe atmosphere for students! DSU has an equestrian team! What other HBCU has that? DSU also has other high-ranking sports like football, baseball, track and field, and basketball all for student enjoyment.
"Further, DSU faculty help their students strive for academic excellence. Scholarship is definitely a priority for DSU. Delaware State University has been ranked among the top 10 HBCUs for many years, and for good reason."
7. Florida A&M University
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Year founded: 1887
Annual cost: $17,725 (out-of-state)/$5,785 (in-state)
Number of undergraduates: 7,301
Acceptance rate: 35 percent
Bottom Line: Florida A&M University
Located in the Tallahassee Hills, Florida A&M University (AMU) is the only HBCU college in the state university system. While its primary mission is to educate African Americans, students of every race, nationality and ethnic origin can attend.
FAMU offers about 60 bachelor's degrees in majors from architecture to journalism and psychology. Graduate students have about 40 degrees to choose from, including those in education and law. For extracurricular activities, the school has more than 100 organizations and several fraternities and sororities for students to join as well as a variety of sports teams.
Denise, an alumna who graduated with the class of 2004, said of her time at FAMU: "I received a world-class education where I have been fortunate to have almost automatic credibility with employers across the country. I have had more than one employer comment on how they have heard about how wonderful it is to work with FAMU graduates."
6. Hampton University
Location: Hampton, Virginia
Year founded: 1868
Annual cost: $29,312
Number of undergraduates: 2,863
Acceptance rate: 80 percent
Bottom Line: Hampton University
Located near the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, Hampton University offers 80 undergraduate and graduate programs and more than 100 extracurricular student-run organizations. Notable alumni include Alberta Williams King, mother of Martin Luther King Jr.; Booker T. Washington and comedian Wanda Sykes.
A 2017 alumna said of her time at Hampton: "There is no place that is going to LOVE you and teach you to LOVE yourself like Hampton will. I don't think I've found myself surrounded by so many people who want me to succeed as I did when I was matriculating through Hampton. Loved my Hampton experience, and I was more than prepared for life after Hampton."
5. Xavier University of Louisiana
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Year founded: 1925
Annual cost: $26,863
Number of undergraduates: 2,755
Acceptance rate: 95%
Bottom Line: Xavier University of Louisiana
This college is the only Catholic HBCU in Louisiana, and its founder, Katharine Drexel, was canonized in 2000.
Xavier is a national leader in liberal arts and sciences and has produced the largest number of African American graduates to complete medical school. It offers 40 undergraduate majors, five master’s degree programs and one pharmacy doctorate program. Students come from diverse backgrounds — they hail from every state and more than 35 countries.
A former student, who graduated in 2002, said: "I am a first-generation college student who grew up with a single mom in the Mississippi Delta. I always wanted to be a doctor. Xavier helped me get into medical school, and now I have a career that I didn't know could be this good. I made lifelong friends and really learned how to be a man. Words can't express how grateful I am to the staff and faculty of this fine institution."
4. Morehouse College
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Year founded: 1867
Annual cost: $14,734
Number of undergraduates: 2,554
Acceptance rate: 65 percent
Bottom Line: Morehouse College
Morehouse is an all-male school with a goal to create “Morehouse Men” who, when they go out in the world, are successful, strong, critical thinkers.
Here, students can choose from 33 majors across seven academic divisions. The school's eight centers and institutes support not only classroom instruction but also the opportunity for students to engage in research and service.
One alumnus said the college indeed shaped his worldview: "I had a great experience at Morehouse. Academics were challenging and Informative. The education gave me different perspectives as an African American male because of the focus on African and African American history, leaders of African descent, authors of color, etc. This perspective gave me additional confidence. I figured out early Morehouse builds hustle in its students, which I am eternally grateful for."
3. Tuskegee University
Location: Tuskegee, Alabama
Year founded: 1881
Annual cost: $22,679
Number of undergraduates: 2,184
Acceptance rate: 36 percent
Bottom Line: Tuskegee University
Famed Tuskegee University is the only HBCU that is a National Historic Site — it was built by Booker T. Washington, and agriculture innovator George Washington Carver was a teacher here.
It is the only HBCU with a fully accredited College of Veterinary Medicine that produces more than 75 percent of the African American veterinarians in the world. It is also the top producer of African American aerospace engineers in the U.S. as well as a leading producer of chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering graduates. More African American military officers have come from Tuskegee than any other institution.
"Mother Tuskegee prepared me for my life journey. My dean, professors and fellow classmates gave me inspiration and knowledge. If you are seeking a Historical Black College that has rich history, engaging professors and a safe environment that's geared towards learning, Tuskegee is a wise choice," said one alumnus, who graduated in 1987.
2. Howard University
Location: Washington, D.C.
Year founded: 1867
Annual cost: $31,050
Number of undergraduates: 8,964
Acceptance rate: 35 percent
Bottom Line: Howard University
All undergraduate students at Howard must complete courses in English composition and African American studies. Aside from those requirements, they have about 35 majors to choose from. The school also has well-regarded graduate programs in business, law, medicine and engineering.
Vice President Kamala Harris is an alum, as is former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison also attended this prestigious school.
"I am proud to have studied and walked in the same halls as some of our greatest social activists and leaders," one former student said. "The Mecca is definitely a pilgrimage one should make. A beautiful blend of art, culture and history to enhance your higher learning and provide you with a full understanding of how your skills, talents and abilities have a place in this world."
1. Spelman College
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Year founded: 1881
Annual cost: $28,885
Number of undergraduates: 2,417
Acceptance rate: 51 percent
Bottom Line: Spelman College
The oldest HBCU for women in the country is a college of liberal arts and sciences that focuses on the creative, ethical, intellectual and leadership qualities of its female students.
Spelman's small class sizes, highly ranked professors, and numerous career and internship opportunities put it frequently at the top of best HBCU college lists, and it is always a contender among the best colleges in the country overall.
One student called Spelman "an environment that fostered critical thinking through the lens of African feminist thought. [It is] a school that supports, nurtures, cares, stretches, challenges and empowers."