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. Rust College – Holy Springs, MS

Established in 1866 by the Freedman’s Aid Society of the Methodist Epsicopal Church, Rust College was opened in Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1870, the school was chartered as Shaw University, honoring the Reverend S. O. Shaw, who made a gift of $10,000 to the new institution. In 1892, the name was changed to Rust University to avoid confusion with another Shaw University. In 1915, the title was changed to the more realistic name Rust College.


Rust College recognizes the three-fold functions of education as being teaching, research, and community service. It offers a well-round program designed to acquaint students with cultural, moral, and spiritual values, both in theory and in practice. Rust College provides an opportunity for education to all, regardless of race, religion, sex, national origin or ethic background.

For more information about Rust College, please visit

9. Clinton College – Rock Hill, SC

Established by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church during Reconstruction years, to help eradicate illiteracy among freedman. Clinton College is a historically black, private college and the oldest institution of higher education in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The college has operated continuously for 120 years. In 1894, Presiding Elder Nero A. Crockett and Rev. W.M. Robinson founded Clinton Institute and named it for Bishop Caleb Isom Clinton, the Palmetto Conference presiding bishop at the time.

In 2010, the college received a three-year Department of Energy Grant for $1.9 million to rest environmental development. Two Bachelors programs were implemented in Fall 2013. The programs are a Bachelors of Science in business administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Religion. The institution was awarded grant funds that were used to develop courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The institution endowment has increased from $89,000 in 2003 to $566,000 in 2013. The value of the campus has increased from approximately 2 million dollars in 2013 to 7 millions in 2013.

In May 2013, The Transnational Association for Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) approved the college to offer two four-year programs; a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies, a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. In view of the four-year programs, the school’s named was changed Clinton Junior College, to Clinton College. In keeping with its 120-year tradition, Clinton College offers an academic environment that not only promotes intellectual growth, but also fosters positive moral, ethical, and spiritual values.

For more information about Clinton College, please

8. Arkansas Baptist College – Little Rock, AR

Arkansas Baptist College, originally named the Minister’s Institute, was founded in 1884 by the Colored Baptist of Arkansas during their annual convention at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Little Rock. The primary objective of the institute was to raise the educational level within negro ministry. In April 1855, the college’s name was changed to Arkansas Baptist College.

Arkansas Baptist College offer degrees in business administration, human services, criminal justice and religious studies. The college also offers two-year associate liberal arts degrees and certificate programs.

As one of Arkansas’ most affordable institutions of higher education, the college strives to attract students who desire a personal approach to their education with smaller classes, dedicated instructors, a sense of community, and spiritual values and principles integrated throughout their collegiate experience.

For more information about Arkansas Baptist College, please visit

7. Lawson State Community College – Birmingham, AL

Founded in 1947, Lawson State Community College was first established as a result of the Wallace Patterson Trade School Act. The college was created in 1965, and was named after its first President in 1969. Another milestone was accomplish when the college received its accreditation by the commission on colleges of the Southern Association on colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. On October 1, 1973, Wenonah State Technical Institute and Wenonah State Junior College merged and become one institution known as Lawson State Community College.

Recently ranked as the best nursing program in Alabama by out of 40 accredited institutions. Lawson State is an rising historically black community college, located in the southwestern section of Birmingham, Alabama, and is composed of two main divisions — an academic division and a career/technical division.

In 2011, Lawson State was featured as a Top 50 community college, making history in the state. And in 2013, it moved from 33 out of 50 on the list (of top colleges) to #5. Lawson State has also been recognized by the White House (and celebrated by the Obama Administration) as a Champion of Change in 2011. In 2015, Lawson State received the epitome of recognition when it was selected to host a visit by President Barack Obama. And in 2017, Lawson’s Nursing Program was ranked #2 in the state (among both 2 and 4-year colleges) by

For more information about Lawson State Community College, please visit

6. Morris College – Sumter, SC

Established in 1908, Morris College was founded “for the Christian and Intellectual Training for Negro Youth,” by the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina. As an accredited, four-year, coeducational, residential, liberal arts and career-focused institution, Morris College awards baccalaureate degrees in the arts and sciences and in career-based professional fields.

Morris College serves on its mission that is primary a student-centered institution which seeks to fulfill this mission by evaluating the academic performance of students to ensure competence in communication, problem solving critical thinking, and the use of information technology, emphasizing specific professional and technical skills necessary to meet societal demands and emphasizing total development of the student for responsible citizenship in a global society.

Morris College offers Bachelor’s degrees in 20 areas of study. The school accreditation is held by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award four different type of Bachelor’s degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Science in Education.

In the seventieth year of Morris College’s history, on December 13, 1978, the institution achieved the goal of full accreditation. And, on January 1, 1982, Morris College became the 42nd member of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). The college has embarked upon a new era of institutional improvements that has moved it further into the mainstream of American higher education and that has enabled it to render even better service to its students and community.

For more information about Morris College, please visit

5. Stillman College – Tuscaloosa, AL

Stillman College, was authorized by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States in 1875, held its first classes in 1876 and was chartered as a legal corporation by the State of Alabama in 1895. At that time, the name was changed from Tuscaloosa Institute to Stillman Institute. In 1948, the name was officially changed to Stillman College. The following year, the college expanded into a four-year college and graduated its first baccalaureate class in 1951.

As a liberal arts institution, Stillman College is committed to fostering academic excellence and to providing high quality educational opportunities for diverse populations with disparate levels of academic preparation. Primarily a teaching institution, Stillman has a proud and evolving tradition of preparing students for leadership and service in society. Stillman College is on of the leaders in wireless computing, the college received the National Innovation in Technology Award by Apple Computers and continues to be on the cusp of technology innovations in higher education.

The college, via its constituents, is committed to service for the common good. The entire academic enterprise, under grid with the principles of faith and ethical integrity, manifests constructive compassion as it confidently pursues the best in scholarly inquiry and creative endeavors.

For more information about Stillman College, please visit

4. Paul Quinn College – Dallas, TX

A private, faith-based, four-year, liberal arts -inspired college that was founded on April 4, 1872 by a group of African Methodist Episcopal Church preachers in Austin, Texas as Correctional High School and Institute. In May 1881, the college was chartered by the state of Texas and changed its name to Paul Quinn College to commemorate the contributions of Bishop William Paul Quinn. The college relocated to southwest Dallas, Texas in 1990.

Since the tenure of Michael J. Sorrell, a former member of the Board of Trustees, the college has raised academic standards and embarked on an ambitious revitalization of the campus, which has included spending over $4 million in capital improvements. It has reduced institutional debt by 40 percent and resolved all previous issues with audit findings. The college has produced more than $2 million in budget surpluses in fiscal 2009, 2010, and 2011; achieved unqualified audits for 2009 and 2010. Invested more than $4 million in infrastructure improvements and formed a groundbreaking partnership with Pepsico to covert and unused football stadium into a fully operational urban farm.

And in 2011, the college received membership into the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) accreditation. In 2017, the college became the first HBCU to be named a “Work College” by the U.S. Department of Education. Paul Quinn’s enrollment is about 424 students currently.

For more information about Paul Quinn College, please visit

3. LeMoyne-Owen College – Memphis, TN

LeMoyne Normal and Commercial School opened officially in 1877, but it actually began in 1862. The school was moved to Memphis in 1863, but was destroyed by fire in the race riots. Lincoln Chapel, as the school was then known was rebuilt and reopened in 1867 with 150 students and six teachers. It became a junior college in 1924 and a four-year college in 1930, chartered by the state of Tennessee just four years later. The merger of Owen and LeMoyne Colleges in 1968 joined two religious traditions at the same time that it reinforced the institutions’ shared purposes of combining a liberal arts education with career training in a christian setting.

Current President Dr. Andrea L. Miller was recently named as a ten most dominant HBCU leader by HBCU Campaign Fund. She was recognized for her devoted work in moving LeMoyne-Owen College forward by stabilizing enrollment by nearly 1,000 students and increasing its endowment fund with $12.8 million inputted.

LeMoyne-Owen College offer 23 areas of study leading to the Bachelor of Arts, the Bachelor of Sciences, or the Bachelor of Business Administration degrees.

For more information about LeMoyne-Owen College, please visit

2. Huston-Tillotson University – Austin, TX

Established in 1875, Huston-Tillotson University is the first institution of higher learning in Austin, Texas. A private historically black institution, the school is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, and the United Negro College Fund. Huston-Tillotson College was formed by the merger of Samuel Huston College and Tillotson College, which was effective on October 24, 1952. Huston-Tillotson remained primarily a black college after the merger, although there were no restrictions as to race. Huston-Tillotson College officially changed its name to Huston-Tillotson University on February 28, 2005.

Huston-Tillotson University awards undergraduates, four-year degrees in business, education, the humanities, natural sciences, sciences and technology. A multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-faith institution, the university welcomes students of all ages, races, and religious. The university also offers alternative teacher certification and academic programs for undergraduates interested in pursuing post-graduate degrees in law and medicine.

As an historically black institution, Huston-Tillotson University will provide opportunities to a diverse population for academic achievement with an emphasis on academic excellence, spiritual and ethical development, civic engagement, and leadership in a nurturing environment.

For more information about Huston-Tillotson University, please visit

1. Paine College – Augusta, GA

Founded by leadership of the Methodist Episcopal Church, now United Methodist Church, and the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, now Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. Paine College was the brainchild of Bishop Lucius Henry Holsey, who first expressed the idea for the college in 1869. On November 1, 1882, the Paine College Board of Trustees, consisting of six members, three from each Church, met for the first time. In December, the trustees selected Dr. Morgan Callaway as the first President of the college.

Paine College offers a total of 16 majors offered in two schools through six departments that students can choose from as their field of study. The college was admitted to full membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1961. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $3 million to support academic programs and research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Though the institution is experiencing financial issues, it still remains a small, predominately Black, coeducational, church-related school, gratefully related to its founding denominations and open to all. Paine College continues to rise and produce significant academic excellence.

For more information about Paine College, please visit

4 thoughts on “Ten Top Smaller HBCUs That Are Rising

  1. This is a great article inclusive of my alma mater, Paine College. We must financially support this institution so it can continue to be a viable post secondary option for all students regardless of ethnic background.

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