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Historically Black Colleges and Universities

What data do you have on historically Black colleges and universities in the U.S.?


Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions that were established prior to 1964 with the principal mission of educating Black Americans (source). These institutions were founded and developed in an environment of legal segregation and, by providing access to higher education, contributed substantially to the progress Black Americans made in improving their status (source).

In 2016, there were 102 HBCUs located in 19 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of the 102 HBCUs, 51 were public institutions and 51 were private nonprofit institutions (source). The number of HBCU students increased 47 percent, from 223,000 to 327,000 students, between 1976 and 2010, then decreased 11 percent, to 292,000 students, between 2010 and 2016 (source). In comparison, the number of students in all degree-granting institutions increased 91 percent, from 11 million to 21 million students, between 1976 and 2010, then decreased 6 percent, to 20 million students, between 2010 and 2016 (source and source).

Although HBCUs were originally founded to educate Black students, they enroll students of other races as well. This diversity has increased over time (source). In 2016, non-Black students made up 23 percent of enrollment at HBCUs, compared with 15 percent in 1976 (source). Enrollment at HBCUs in 2016 was 61 percent female, up from 53 percent in 1976. Also in 2016, some 87 percent of HBCU students attended a 4-year institution, while 13 percent attended a 2-year institution (source). About 75 percent of HBCU students attended public institutions, while the remaining 25 percent attended private nonprofit institutions. Among Black students, the percentage enrolled at HBCUs fell from 18 percent in 1976 to 9 percent in 2010, then showed no measurable change between 2010 and 2016 (source and source).

In 2015–16, most of the nearly 48,900 degrees conferred by HBCUs were bachelor's degrees (69 percent) and master's degrees (16 percent). Black students earned 81 percent of the 33,900 bachelor's degrees conferred by HBCUs, and 70 percent of the 8,000 master's degrees conferred by these institutions. At both levels, a majority of these degrees were awarded to Black females (source).

Over time, the percentages of bachelor's and master's degrees awarded to Black students by HBCUs have decreased. For example, HBCUs awarded 35 percent of the bachelor's degrees and 21 percent of the master's degrees Blacks earned in 1976–77, compared with 14 and 6 percent, respectively, of bachelor's and master's degrees Blacks earned in 2015–16 (source, source, source, and source). Additionally, the percentage of Black doctor's degree recipients who received their degrees from HBCUs was lower in 2015–16 (11 percent) than in 1976–77 (14 percent) (source, source, and source).

The total revenue for HBCUs in 2015–16 was $7.8 billion, with nearly $1.9 billion from student tuition and fees. Total expenditures were $7.6 billion, of which $2.2 billion was spent on instruction (source).

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