Founded on or before 1964, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were established after the Civil War when southern states still practiced segregation in schools. These HBCUs have provided places for freed African-Americans to earn a quality education.
For more than 150 years, HBCUs have nurtured, provide, and serve academic excellence to low-income, first-generation, and academically underprepared students. HBCUs continue to thrive in its mission to building confidence to turning those students into educated testimonies.
According to UNCF’s 6 Reasons HBCUs Are More Important Than Ever, the nation’s 107 HBCUs make up just 3 percent of America’s colleges and universities, yet they produce almost 20 percent of all African-American graduates and 25 percent of African-American graduates in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – which are the critical industries of the future. And HBCU tuition rates are on average almost 20 percent less than at comparable institutions.
Smaller institutions are most affordable with an enrollment of less than 2,000 and tuition totaling less than $15,000 per year. These institutions are also student-centered which seeks to fulfill the academic needs and performances of every student enrolled and fostered academic preparation while providing high-quality educational opportunities for diverse populations.
This list provides you the top ten small private and public historically black institutions that are rising in providing affordable education with smaller classes, dedicated instructors, and spiritual values to its community.
10. Morris Brown College – Atlanta, GA
Morris Brown College, founded in 1881 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, is a private, coeducational, liberal arts college engaged in teaching and public service with special focus in leadership, management, entrepreneurship and technology. On October, 15, 1885, just 20 years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, 107 students and nine teachers walked into a crude wooden structure at the corner of Boulevard and Houston Streets in Atlanta, Georgia, marking the opening of the first educational institutional in George under sole African-American patronage. The institution was Morris Brown College, named to honor the memory of the second consecrated Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.
In May of 1885, the Sate of Georgia granted a charter to Morris Brown College. Under the leadership of interim president, Dr. Kevin James, the institution aims towards restoring and regaining its accreditation. Dr. James has heavily engaged in fundraising and in result, received various contribution from numerous donors. His mission is to keep the 138-year institution well alive.
For more information about Morris Brown College, visit www.morrisbrown.edu.
9. Simmons College of Kentucky – Louisville, KY
A few months after the end of the Civil War in 1865, members after the Kentucky State Convention of Colored Baptist Churches proposed the establishment of Kentucky’s first post secondary educational institute for its “colored” citizens. In 1879 the State Convention purchased four acres of land in Louisville to serve as the campus for Kentucky Normal and Theological Institute. In the period of 1893 to 1922, student registration increased from 159 to over 500. In recognition of Dr. Simmons’ leadership, the university was renamed Simmons University in 1918.
In 2015, Dr. Kevin W. Cosby was selected as the 13th president of Simmons beginning a resurgence that continues today. Under his tenure, Simmons has reacquired its original campus, secured accreditation, and has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a member of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).
Recently Papa Johns International donated $30,000 to Simmons to fund scholarships for students. For more information about Simmons College of Kentucky, visit www.simmonscollegeky.edu.
8. Denmark Technical College – Denmark, SC
Denmark Technical College is a public, comprehensive, Historically Black, two-year institution providing career and transfer education. The college was established by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1947 and began operating March 1, 1948, as the Denmark Branch of South Carolina Trade School System. At its inception, the institution functioned under the South Carolina Department of Education and was mandated to educate black citizens in various trade. In 1979, the institution was accredited by the Southern Association Colleges and Schools and assumed its present designation as Denmark Technical College.
In 1987, DTC was named the first and only Historically Black Technical College in the State of South Carolina. Under the leadership of interim president Dr. Christopher J. Hall, DTC mission is to provide an affordable, high-quality education with engaging classroom experiences, and personal attention.
For more information about Denmark Technical College, visit www.denmarktech.edu.
7. J.F. Drake Community and Technical College – Huntsville, AL
J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College is the first and only institution of its kind in Alabama. In 1961, Governor George Wallace founded a group of state, two-year technical institution. To support the technical/vocational career education needs of African Americans. Huntsville State Vocational Technical School was one of these schools.
In 1966, the school changed its name of J.F. Drake State Technical Trade School in honor of the late Joseph Fanning Drake, long-time president of Alabama A&M University. The Alabama State Board of Education granted Drake State Technical College status in 1973 and adjusted its name to J.F. Drake State Technical College, allowing the school to offer the Associate in Applied Technology Degree (AAT).
The final step in establishing the schools identity came in July 2013 when the college officially became J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College.
Dr. Patricia Sims was named the fourth president of Drake State in December 2018. Under her leadership, Drake State has transition to become the premier training destination for businesses in greater Huntsville. Dr. Sims and Dr. Hugine, President of AAMU signed a MOU on June 17th that will enable students awarded delayed admission to AAMU to begin their academic tenures at Drake State and earn credential as they prepare to transfer to AAMU.
For more information J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College, visit www.drakestate.edu.
6. Tougaloo College – Jackson, MS
Tougaloo College is a private, coeducational, historically black four-year liberal arts, church related institution. In 1869, the American Missionary Association of New York purchased five hundred acres of land from John Boddie, owner of the Boddie plantation to establish a school for the training of young people “irrespective of religious tenets and conducted on the most liberal principles for the benefit of our citizens in generals.” The Mississippi State Legislature granted the institution a charter under the name of Tougaloo University. Courses of college credit were first offered in 1897, and in 1901, the first Bachelor of Arts degree was awarded to Traverse S. Crawford. In 1916, the name of the institution was changed to Tougaloo College.
In March 2019, Dr. Carmen J. Walters was named as the 14th President of the College. For more information about Tougaloo College, visit www.tougaloo.edu.
5. Allen University – Columbia, SC
Allen University was founded by the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in 1870. The University has a distinguished history, rich in the tradition of promoting spiritual growth and training men and women to become productive leaders in an ever-changing society. Manifesting the dream of Daniel Alexander Payne, an apostle of black education in the United States, Allen University educated men and women for stellar leadership and service.
At the Annual conference, the deed for the land and buildings presented by Reverend Simon Miller, and the institute was named in honor of Daniel A. Payne. At the Annual conference meeting in Spartanburg in 1880, delegates agreed on the need for a more centralized location for Payne Institute and voted to move it to Columbia, SC. Concurrently, Payne Institute was renamed Allen University in honor of Bishop Richard Allen, founder of the AME Church.
The University is in its current strategic plan for growth. It’s preparation under the leadership of Dr. Ernest McNealey is plan for progression. It is growing in enrollment, finances, new academic programs, including its first graduate degree and has expanded the athletic program.
For more information about Allen University, visit www.allenuniversity.edu.
4. Lane College – Jackson, TN
In 1882, one of the nation’s early Black churches denominations founded what has since evolved into Lane College. Now referred to as the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, the organization was organization was originally named the Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church in America when it formed in 1870. For $240, Bishop Lane purchased the first four acres of land to be used for the new school, and they were located in the eastern part of Jackson, Tennessee.
On November 12, 1882, the “CME High School” began its first session under the guidance of its first principal and teacher, Miss Jennie E. Lane, daughter of Founder Isaac Lane. The College Department was organized in 1896, and at that time, the Board of Trustees voted to changed the name from Lane Institute to Lane College.
Named as the 10th president, Dr. Logan Hampton has led the campus to strengthen its brand and Christian ethos, approve associate degrees, expand online course offerings, establish a more conventional student residential community with a robust first year experience program, and improve the arts, recreation and athletic facilities.
For more information about Lane College, visit www.lanecollege.edu.
3. Philander Smith College – Little Rock, AR
Founded in 1877, Philander Smith College is the result of the first attempt west of the Mississippi River to make education available to freedmen (former African-American slaves). The forerunner of the college was Walden Seminary, named in honor of Dr. J.M. Walden, one of the originators and the first corresponding secretary of the Freedman’s Aid Society.
In 1882, Dr. G.W. Gray, president of Little Rock University, the institution for the Arkansas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, met Mrs. Adeline Smith, widow of Mr. Philander Smith of Oak Park, IL, while soliciting funds. The late Philander Smith had been a liberal donor to Asiatic Missions and had developed an interest in the work of the church in the South. In making her gift to Dr. Gray, Mrs. Smith designated $10,500 for Walden Seminary. The trustees accepted the gift and gave it special recognition by changing the name of the struggling Walden Seminary to Philander Smith College.
Philander Smith College was chartered as a four-year college on March 3, 1883. The first baccalaureate degree was conferred in 1888. Under the leadership of Dr. Roderick Smothers, the institution has immerse itself in enriching and worthwhile activities to move it toward the upper echelons of the country’s top historically Black colleges and universities.
For more information about Philander Smith College, visit www.philander.edu.
2. Edward Waters College – Jacksonville, FL
Edward Waters College (EWC) is, distinctively, Florida’s oldest independent institution of higher learning as well as the state’s first institution established for the education of African Americans.
Edward Waters College began as an institution founded by blacks, for black. In 1865, following the Civil War, the Reverend Charles H. Pearce, a presiding elder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, was sent to Florida by Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne. The school, established in 1866, was to eventually evolve into Edward Waters College. Construction of the first building began in October 1872 on ten acres of land in Live Oak. In 1892 the school’s name was changed to Edward Waters College in honor of the third Bishop of the AME Church.
Featured in DIVERSE Issues in Higher Education, Focus on Young HBCU President, Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr. was named the 30th president and CEO of EWC has been the visionary a strategic plan called “Eminence 2025.” His vision aims to implement and enhance EWC through a new honor college, launch of new online degree programs in the field of social work, computer and information science and forensic science, and the development of the college’s first MBA. The institution has also improved their athletics with the return of football and its reveals new transportation fleet and partnership with Kelly Tours, inc. valued at $100,000. Faison was also honored to Jacksonville Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.”
For more information about Edward Waters College, visit www.ewc.edu.
- Wiley College – Marshall, TX
In 1873, less than eight years after all hostilities were quieted from the Civil Ward, the Freedman’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church founded Wiley College near Marshall, Texas for the purpose of allowing Negro youth the opportunity to pursue higher learning in the arts, sciences and other professions.
Named in honor of Bishop Isaac William Wiley, an outstanding minister, medical missionary and educator, Wiley College was founded during turbulent times for Black in America. Wiley College opened it doors just south of Marshall with two frame buildings and an overwhelming desire to succeed in a climate fraught with racism and Jim Crow laws.
Under the leadership of Dr. Herman Felton, Jr. the college continues to offer educational opportunities to the citizens of Texas, the nation and the world. Under his leadership, he has achieved significant accomplishments, including spearheading a campaign with College alumni and supporters that has launched the work to renovate and modernize the Thomas W. Cole Library and partnering with the Marshall Economic Development Corporation to receive a $100,000 grant to renovate KBWC, the College’s radio station as well as training space for physical education majors. Felton has also created a Student Health, Counseling, and Wellness Unit for the College that is staffed with a full-time licensed practitioner.
For more information about Wiley College, visit www.wileyc.edu.