Meta: HBCU Hampton University graduates.
Source: HBCU Lifestyle

Historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, in the United States have seen a steady increase in popularity over the last decade. With several events taking place recently that have deeply affected the black community, many young black and women are turning to HBCUs for a sense of camaraderie and respect for their culture that is simply not built into traditionally mostly-white schools. 

But, when choosing any school, the considerations are the same: does the school have what the aspiring student is looking for academically? What is the environment of the campus like? Does the location of the school afford the extracurricular activities you want? There are a number of factors, but luckily, there are dozens of prestigious HBCUs that receive accolades for their programs. So, which historically black colleges have the best academics?

#1: Spelman College

Spelman is a private historically black women’s college in Atlanta, Georgia. Spelman is categorized as a liberal arts school, but offers degrees in over 30 academic majors including biology, mathematics, and engineering. In fact, Spelman is an HBCU known for their strong STEM programs, but the quality of each of their programs from history to psychology are what entice hundreds of women to apply every year. 

Meta: Daphne Smith, Spelman STEM graduate, now works as a business analytics advisor for Cigna.

For several years running, Spelman has ranked as the #1 HBCU in the nation overall according to U.S. News & Report. Their acceptance rate is about 40%, but their graduation rate is a whopping 76%; this is staggering, particularly when compared to the U.S.’s overall bachelor’s degree graduation rate of 46%. As a further testament to the range and caliber of Spelman’s academics, notable alumni include author Alice Walker, actress Keshia Pulliam-Knight, and House representative Stacey Abrams.

#2: Howard University

Howard University comes in close behind Spelman. Howard is one of the top post-secondary institutions in the nation in the country in general, but its academics rank highly particularly amongst HBCUs. The school’s undergraduate graduation rate hovers at around 65%, and an 86% full-time retention rate—referring to the first-year full-time students who continue at Howard for their second year. The low faculty to student ratio offers students a more personalized experience, and students describe professors as engaging, passionate, and approachable.

Meta: Student in the communication and journalism program at HBCU Howard University.\

Located in Washington, D.C., it is unsurprising that one of the most popular programs at Howard is the political science and government major. Similarly, the school’s communications and journalism programs are also well-developed, and include hands-on learning opportunities at the on-campus radio station WHUR-FM, and the Howard-owned TV station, WHUT

#3: Xavier University of Louisiana

Xavier University is a private university in New Orleans, and is the only Catholic HBCU. It ranks as #3 HBCU according to U.S. News & Report, and #16 (out of 134 schools) on the list of best regional universities in the south. Xavier is primarily known for its science programs, and is a nationally recognized leader in STEM and health sciences. In fact, Xavier produces more black students who graduate from medical school every year than any other university in the nation. 

Meta: Adeleke Oni graduated from HBCU Xavier University’s Chemistry program.

There are 50 majors offered at XULA between the undergraduate, graduate, and professional level programs. The most popular and widely acclaimed programs include biology/biological sciences, physical sciences, psychology, business administration and management, public health. Classes are fairly small, with 52.8% of classes having fewer than 20 students.

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