Written By - Gabby H.

Edited By Darryl S.

Review & Contribution By Erik L. Cato

Historically Black colleges and Universities or HBCUs are colleges of higher education opened before the Civil Rights Act of 1964[1]. Today, it might be difficult to imagine a time when legal segregation existed and was rooted in how education systems ran in the United States. 

The HBCU online programs are an essential part of American history, and understanding how these institutions have transformed education in the African-American community is integral. This guide will cover many aspects, including the significance of online HBCU programs, history, future implications, how to choose an HBCU, and more.

Ranking HBCUs Degrees

Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Understanding Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Historically Black Colleges and Universities providing HBCU online degrees have formed the backbone of higher education for African-American students. While no civil laws dictate segregation within educational institutions, many African Americans still get their education from HBCU online degree programs. Many applicants from black online colleges have become notable experts in their domains. Some of the famous alums among the HBCU graduates include Toni Morrison (Nobel Prize Winner), Samuel L. Jackson (Oscar-winning actor), Oprah Winfrey (Famous American talk show host), Kamala Harris (Vice President), and so on. HBCUs offer many higher education programs, including HBCU online master’s programs, HBCU online bachelor’s degree programs, doctoral programs, specializations, professional certifications, and more.

What are HBCUs

The Higher Education Act of 1965[2] defines HBCU as “any historically black college or university that was established before 1964, the whole principal mission was, and is, the education of black American, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary of Education”. These HBCUs were colleges founded to give everyone an equal opportunity for higher education. Although its initial goal was to provide opportunities to African Americans, they have enrolled many applicants over time regardless of their race, ethnicity, income, or other factors. Today, at least 107 excellent HBCUs exist in the United States[3].  HBCUs mainly concentrate around the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast; some colleges are also in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Oklahoma, and more. Some HBCUs have also merged with other schools and transformed into new schools; for example, the Ashmun Institute was founded in Pennsylvania, which later became Lincoln University.

History of HBCUs

HBCUs have been central to American education, socially and economically, for over 180 years. After the Civil War (1861-1865), these institutions emerged as forerunners in providing the fundamental human rights of accessing complete education to Black Americans. Before the war, most Black Americans were prohibited from schools in primarily Southern states; in the northern states, they were also discouraged from schooling. As a result, only a few Black colleges existed, including Cheyney University, Wilberforce University, and more. Most of the HBCUs were started by those considered free blacks, philanthropists, federal government initiatives in southern parts, religious organizations like the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church[4], and more.

These HBCUs were the only schools available to Black Americans, often providing all primary, secondary, and postsecondary education. In 1837, one of the nation’s oldest and first HBCUs was established in Pennsylvania- Cheyney University. After a long time, in 1890, the federal government granted land[5] to HBCUs and another 60-plus years for them to be officially designated by the U.S. Department of Education[6]. Today, the 100-plus HBCUs across the United States have come a long way to continue playing crucial roles in the foundation of America, both academically and socially. Although initially meant for Black Americans, today, 1 in 4 students, nearly 24% of applicants enrolled at HBCUs, are non-black[7]

Importance of HBCUs

Today, HBCU online master’s programs, undergraduate degrees, and more are prevalent; however, their relevance in the academic world is questioned. One might wonder why we still need HBCUs. The HBCUs make up roughly around 3% of the total colleges in America. Yet, they produce over 20% of African American Graduates and 25% of African American graduates in the STEM domains, namely, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Their tuition rates are almost 30% less than other institutions around the country. They provide a stable environment for those who are at risk, especially first-generation college applicants who come from other minority communities (other than black). Therefore, HBCUs help reduce student debts and narrow the racial wealth gap by providing low-to-middle-cost education. 

A Gallup Poll[8] research highlights that black HBCUs have more enhanced well-being and a strong and consistent financial and mental purpose than black graduates of other colleges. By giving college graduates a strong sense of well-being, HBCUs improve employment rates for African-American College graduates between the ages of 22 and 27. Apart from providing well-designed programs, these institutions have also been known to educate minorities and give them various economic opportunities by instilling quality values. Therefore, the value of HBCUs no longer centers on providing accessible education. Still, it has moved towards supporting students from varied communities and giving them a well-rounded education and social support.

Future of HBCUs

Many institutions, including Delaware State University, Florida Memorial University, Shaw University, Virginia State University, South Carolina State University, and more, have seen a noticeable increase in enrollment numbers. HBCUs often take up a collaborative approach. In the words of Kamala Harris, “Howard taught me that while you will often find that you’re the only one in the room who looks like you, or who has had the experiences you’ve had, you must remember: you are never alone.[9]” HBCUs educate students and foster the ambitions of lower, middle, and upper-class black and other community families who become world leaders in their respective domains.  The composition of HBCUs has changed over time; in 2021, 25 percent of those enrolled were non-black students[7]. This growing enrollment of religious, cultural, and ethnically diverse students at HBCUs has encouraged federal and state governments to invest in these institutions. Some legislation has been passed to strengthen these schools’ resources and administrative capacity. The future only seems brighter and more diverse for HBCUs.  

What Are the Best 20 HBCUs With Online Master’s Programs?

There are over hindered HBCUs available across various regions of the United States. Many offer high-quality education, focusing on the well-rounded academics and college experience these schools provide. While all the HBCUs may not be at par with delivering the same kind of college education, based on our unique system of ranking considering a large number of factors like affordability, best value program, reputation, graduate rate, accreditation, student satisfaction, and more we have curated a list of HBCUs by scrutinizing numerous HBCUs and their programs across the US.

<a href="https://www.onlinemasterscolleges.com/resources/top-hbcu/">Top HBCUs</a>

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Hampton University is a private, historically black research university out of Hampton, VA. Founded in 1868, Hampton is one of the most famous HBCUs in the country. Hampton serves over 8,000 students and offers academics across various fields such as Engineering & Technology, Pharmacy, Nursing, Liberal Arts, Business, etc. Hampton also has a robust online program with certificate, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. Here are some more highlights of the Hampton University HBCU:

  • Average Tuition – $12,475
  • Graduation Rate – 60%
  • Top online master’s programs include masters in cybersecurity, sports administration, and counseling.

How to Choose an HBCU for Your Online Program

Students who want to apply for higher education programs at HBCUs should do the same research and prep as they would for any other university or college. They should consider several factors like accreditation, graduation rates, tuition costs, program quality & reputation, chosen field availability, etc. All of those factors apply to HBCUs also. One should carefully evaluate all these factors and list the schools that fit their factors and apply them. It is important to note that HBCUs are open for Americans of all races. According to the New York Times, incomes and access to financial aid have risen. And HBCUs are seeing increased participation from other non-black candidates. Pew Research reports that in 2015, 17% of applicants enrolled at HBCUs were non-black candidates. So, those of all ethnicities need to consider HBCUs for their higher educational needs and take advantage of the affordable programs.

Here are the most common factors that students should consider before choosing an HBCU:

  • Accreditation
  • Graduate Rates
  • Tuition Costs
  • Availability of Scholarships or other forms of financial aid
  • Program quality & reputation
  • Availability of the desired field of education
  • Any assistance in placements or career guidance expertise
  • The flexibility of the program
  • School size

What Are the Requirements to Attend an HCUB Online Program?

One of the hallmarks of HCUBs is that they accept applicants from a wide range of cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds. The requirements to attend an HBCU master’s program, undergraduate degree, doctoral program, and more are not very different from other traditional institutions. Below, the specific requirements for different HCUB degrees are mentioned. 

The bachelor’s degree admission requirements might differ according to the faculty, program, and significant study the student takes up. Some of the standard requirements for admissions include a 

  • Completed application form with a fee
  • 130 credits or above in secondary school (might differ for different institutions)
  • ACT and SAT scores (may be optional in some colleges)
  • Official high school transcripts
  • Personal statement (should be written well as it highlights the writing ability of the student)
  • Evidence of extracurricular activities and other accomplishments
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Portfolio (optional in many bachelor’s degrees)
  • Interview with an admissions counselor (required by some colleges)

There are different entry requirements to get into HBCU graduate programs online. Some of the standard requirements of a master include 

  • Application form with the required fee
  • All previous academic transcripts
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Grade Point Average of 3.0 or more (some institutions accept a lower score)
  • Statement of Purpose 
  • 2-3 reference letters, out of which at least one should be an academic reference
  • Resume
  • Graduate record examination or GRE scores

The admission requirement to colleges providing a Ph.D. program might vary from institution to institution nationwide. However, some of the standard doctoral program requirements include 

  • Completed application
  • Two to three letters of recommendation (should contain both professional and academic recommendations)
  • Official transcripts from all previous universities and colleges attended
  • Cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.0 or higher in the graduate degree program
  • Portfolio or artwork to demonstrate their competence in art-related work or material (students might need to present this in an admission interview)
  • Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement 
  • Preliminary or in-person interview (this might be conducted online)
  • Graduate resume
  • Published scholarly academic writing (could include master’s thesis)
  • Proof of registration as an art therapist or studio credit of around 18 hours (Differs from college to college)

6 Common HCUBs Myths

Many myths surround the HBCUs and the HBCU online graduate programs they provide. Here are some of the most common myths we have tried to address in this section.

Myth # 1 – “HBCUs do not have good quality programs or degrees.”

This is false. HBCUs are accredited institutions; they get accreditation from organizations. This attests that HBCUs are similar to other colleges and universities. Many scholars earned their degrees from HBCUs and have led successful careers.

Myth # 2 – “HBCUs are no longer needed.”

HBCUs continue to provide low-cost education to many African Americans and many students from low-income situations. HBCUs are the only avenue for many students in many communities nationwide. HBCUs serve as great educational institutions that overcome segregation and provide quality education at lower costs to Americans of all races.

Myth # 3 – “HBCUs are only for Black Americans.”

As mentioned in this guide, HBCUs are for all Americans, not just black people.

Myth # 4 – “HBCU degrees are not valued.”

This statement is not true. HBCUs are valued as any other degree. Accreditation plays a huge role in the valuation of any program. As long as a national accrediting body accredits the HBCU, you can be confident about the degree.

Myth # 5 – “HBCUs are expensive.”

This myth is not true at all. HBCUs are some of the most affordable colleges and universities in the country.

Myth # 6 – “HBCUs are just party schools.”

This myth is false. HBCUs are formal educational institutions that have produced many world-renowned subject matter experts.

FAQs about Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Frequently Asked Questions

What does HBCU stand for?

HBCU stands for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

What is an HBCU?

Can white people go to HBCU?

How many HBCUs are there?

What was the first HBCU?

What is the best HBCU?

What is the easiest HBCU to get into?

Additional Resources for African American Students

We hope we have provided enough information about the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Thank you for visiting our guide about HBCUs. Before you do, take note of a few other valuable resources that African-American students could benefit from.

HBCU Lifestyle: HBCU Lifestyle was created to add value to the HBCU community by contributing relevant and thoughtful content to preserve the HBCU traditions.

HBCU Foundation: The HBCU Foundation is a nonprofit organization that increases all students’ access, retention, and graduation rates.

HBCU Awareness Foundation: The HBCU Awareness Foundation aims to provide programming partnerships and initiatives to support those students who want to attend or are already attending HBCUs. They provide scholarships, stipends, internships, and many other opportunities. 

HBCU Legacy Foundation: The HBCU Legacy Foundation aims to make current and future generations aware of the history of African Americans. They have a scholarship fund supported through sponsorships, partnerships, donations, and more to assist underprivileged candidates aspiring to attend HBCUs.

The United Negro College Fund: The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. UNCF provides many resources, a knowledge base, and scholarships.

U.S. Department of Education: The White House has taken initiatives to advance educational equity, excellence, and economic opportunities through Historically Black colleges and Universities. In this resource, one will find work focused on programs, projects, and policies focused on students of HBCUs. They also provide several HBCU scholar recognition programs.

List of Scholarships for African Americans: Visit our page for a comprehensive list of scholarships for African-American students. You can also find scholarships for different majors, first-generation students, and more on our African-American scholarships page.

Diversity Scholarships by Online Masters Colleges: At Online Masters Colleges, we believe in diversity, and we value diversity. OMC administers a scholarship program to support this belief and value and encourage minority students to apply for and pursue higher education. You can get the details on our diversity scholarships page.

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