HBCU Resources

History of HBCU Colleges

HBCU colleges began to emerge after the Civil War (1861-1865) to provide Black Americans access to the basic human right of a college education. Prior to this, the use of Anti-literacy laws in the United States essentially made it illegal, in Southern states, to educate Black Americans in K-12 schools and colleges. During this time, even Northern states strongly discouraged the existence of Black schools. This is why only five HBCU colleges existed prior to 1861, all in Northern/Border States.

Following the Civil War, a key mission for HBCU colleges was to provide elementary and secondary education to any student who had no previous education. The Second Morrill Act (1890) provided support for HBCUs by providing a land-grant institution for Black students whenever another was established and restricted to white students (in states with racially segregated higher learning institutions). This contributed to an increase of HBCU colleges in Southern States. Their popularity continued to rise because these colleges provide a refuge for students from laws and policies that prevent Black Americans from attending the majority of colleges and universities. Between 1861-1900 over 90 HBCUs were founded. However, they were not officially recognized by the United States until the Higher Education Act of 1965, which defined them as “…any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary [of Education].” 

Our nation’s first HBCU college was Cheyney University, established in Pennsylvania (1837), and since then we now have over 101 recognized HBCU colleges. 

Transferring from a community college?

Learn more at ccctransfer.org/hbcu.

Upcoming HBCU Events

HBCU Virtual Tours

Click Here to register for a virtual tour at an HBCU college


Black College Expo

Click Here to register for an upcoming Black College Expo


Below is a complete list of HBCU Colleges

Click on a school to learn more

*Not recognized by US Department of Education as an HBCU
** Not currently accredited **